By Karl-James Langford

In a conversation with Peter Sampson of Cadoxton - who took these images - he asked me: "Karl-James Langford, you haven't written about the area's first proper school have you, in Cadoxton?"

The answer I gave was, yes! But, I was wrong. For in Cadoxton in plain sight there is a place of learning that is older than the 'Board School built on the old Cadoxton Common of 1879' (covered in a previous piece in weekly column).

We see a sign at the 'Old School House', of a building set back from Coldbrook Road East, with the corner of Coldbrook Road West, Cadoxton. This is a grade II Listed Building, of single storey, of three attached buildings; today mainly whitewashed exterior commanding an overgrown garden. We can presume that the whitewashed stone work is of locally quarried Carboniferous Limestone; probably from across the road.

The building quoin stones, window and door dressings were sourced from elsewhere it is presumed. The eastern long extended building is the school room, the central and western buildings are the accommodation for the school master. The building is a private residence today, and has been of that status for some length of time.

Barry And District News: HISTORY: The old school house in Cadoxton (Picture: Peter Sampson)

Accordingly, to the very eminent local historian Brian Luxton in his book (1977) 'Old Barry in Photographs', he describes the National School, Cadoxton that was opened in 1847, was built on part of a garden given by the Reverend Gabriel Powell - the rector; for the education of poor children in the parishes of Cadoxton and Merthyr Dyfan, and as a residence for the school master.

The National School as it was then known, was the only educational establishment in the immediate area in 1847. Although the National School was meant to be home to a school master, none is mentioned on the 1851 census as in residence there.

However, Maria Greatrex is recorded as living with her husband; the local butcher, and her profession? Maria listed her self as the 'school mistress'. Was she in fact the schools first educator resident from 1847? The Greatrex family have a tradition in the area going back many 100s of years; graves to be found at Cadoxton churchyard.

One further fact is that there may have been up to 25 scholars attending the National School in 1851; but certainly not all attending on the same day. Maria must have been a tough cookie!

The National School remained educating local children until the opening of the Cadoxton Board School; that could accommodate the much larger number of children by 1879 that required educating. But, that was not to be end of the former schools notoriety.

For, in 1887 the Welsh Congregationalists and Wesleyan Chapel goer's had a falling out; who had both used the Cadoxton Wesleyan Chapel, at which point the old school was to be the new home of religion. The Welsh congregationalists resided in the schoolroom for eighteen months; eventually moving to a new home in central Barry.

I do hope that we have seen a different side to the education of the Barry and District. More from the area next week.