Saturday, 24 September 2016

68 Oystermouth School

68 Oystermouth School - 24 September 2016 (photos: two of the school)

British educational development during the last century-and-a-half is mirrored by the changes to Oystermouth Primary School.  In 1870 WE Foster’s Elementary Education Act set up School Boards to establish a network of what we would call primary schools, to provide free education up to the age of eleven.  These were non-denominational, whereas from 1811 the National Society for Promoting Religious Education had set up “National Schools” on behalf of the Church of England.  Pupil teachers were frequently used, gaining experience before often going on to study at a training college.  

In January 1878 Oystermouth Board Boys’ School opened with 47 boys, in the schoolroom of what was then Tabernacle Congregational Church in Newton Road.  Separate schools were also set up for girls and for infants, with all coming together on the present site in the shadow of Oystermouth Castle in August 1878.  Four years later 220 pupils were on the register, by which time school attendance had become compulsory.  When average attendance in 1907 was 332, alterations were needed to the buildings, with the boys moving temporarily into the vestry of Castleton Chapel, and the girls into the Victoria Hall.  The teaching of Welsh was introduced from 1928, two years before it became mandatory in the borough.

During the Second World War only two local children were among those from Swansea evacuated to Carmarthenshire, but school numbers increased with evacuees from London and elsewhere.  School dinners at a cost of five old pence were introduced for the first time in December 1942, a temporary expedient that was never discontinued.

Events local and national which prompted an extra school holiday for Oystermouth pupils include the day in October 1881 when the Prince of Wales visited Swansea, another in June 1887 when former Prime Minister WE Gladstone opened the new library in Alexandra Road, and again in October of that year for Queen Victoria’s Golden Jubilee.  The Relief of Mafeking in 1899 during the Boer War merited a half-holiday, with normal school in the morning.  School closures in the twentieth century included the day in 1904 when Edward VII opened the King’s Dock, and in 1920 when George V laid the University College’s foundation stone, and in June 1954 for the 150th anniversary of the Mumbles Railway.

In 1947 the school closed for the afternoon for the funeral of the eight Mumbles lifeboatmen who drowned while seeking to aid the shipwrecked Samtampa.  A happier occasion was a special assembly in 1948 after Glamorgan had won the County Cricket championship for the first time: a framed photo of the team was presented to the school cricket team’s captain – Jim Pressdee, who would himself become a fine Glamorgan batsman and left-arm spinner. 

RA Butler’s 1944 Education Act introduced Secondary Education for all, and raised the school leaving age to fifteen, so new classrooms were added for the change to Oystermouth County Secondary School in 1947, though the official name change came five years later, when 106 children were transferred to Grange School in West Cross.  In spite of rationing and post-war austerity, 134 pupils went on a school trip to London in 1949, and the following year there was a visit to Windsor.  The first overseas trip took place in April 1958, when three staff accompanied 19 girls to Lausanne in Switzerland.
From 1970 Oystermouth became a Junior Comprehensive School, often overcrowded with as many as 427 pupils in 1976.  In the early eighties it became Oystermouth Primary School, losing those aged 11 to 13 to Bishop Gore Comprehensive (formerly Senior Comprehensive), while acquiring pupils from the closed Dunns Lane School.  Currently Oystermouth has nearly 250 pupils aged from 3 to 11, whom the school seeks to nurture and educate - as it has been doing for 138 years.


  1. Two of my great uncle and my great great grandfather went to that school in 1878 there name are John sleeman William sleeman and Charles sleeman I would love a school photo of them and a picture of the school any help please

  2. If any one had information on the school 1878 on the sleeman name William John Charles and could any one no about a orphanage for girls in Northampton lane Swansea in 1901to 1911 there name Adeline and violet sleeman any photos I can't find much please email me