Can You Help out with Old School's History? Next Year, the Cardiff Story Museum Will Open in the Old Library, the Hayes, Cardiff, to Celebrate the Welsh Capital's History. Today - in the Latest in Our Series to Mark the Event - Katie Norman Speaks to Exhibitions Officer Victoria Rogers about the Struggle to Unearth the Stories Behind the City's First Ratepayer-Funded School
Byline: Katie Norman
LOST records from Cardiff's first state-funded school have hampered efforts to unearth its stories.
As the team behind Cardiff's new museum strives to recreate the atmosphere of Butetown in the late 19th century, missing records from the former Eleanor Street Board School have proved a tough obstacle.
Researchers want to know what life was like for children who went to the Butetown school after it opened around 140 years ago.
Exhibitions officer Victoria Rogers and her team would normally find information stored in old school log books stored at Glamorgan Record Office in Cardiff's civic centre but the early documents for Eleanor Street Board School are mysteriously missing.
Victoria said: "Log books area great source of information because the headteacher wrote down what went on every day in the school.
"You can get some interesting information from them about the punishments the teachers used and the sort of naughty things the kids got up to.
"It's also a good source of social history. For example, at one school it was noted that attendance was poor one day and 'bad boots' was given as the reason. That was because children used to walk a long way to and from school and their boots were such bad quality that their parents wouldn't send them if the weather was bad in case they got wet feet.
"In those days, getting wet was much more than just an inconvenience.
If you caught a chill, it could become an awful lot worse very quickly.
"They weren't as well fed and nourished as we are today so infections would have been much more serious and there was no medical provision, no NHS and families often couldn't afford to call a doctor."
Victoria and her team are particularly interested in the log book for Eleanor Street Board School because it was the first school established in Cardiff under the 1870 Education Act.
Schools for poorer children had previously been run solely by charities, churches or volunteers but the 1870 Act gave local authorities the power to fund schools through local taxes.
Today, the school no longer exists, having closed in July 1973.
Since it was the first ratepayer-funded school in the Welsh capital, The Cardiff Story team wanted to find its early log books to use as part of the new museum's exhibition, but the documents are not in the record office as they should be.
Victoria said: "It could be that when they were demolishing the school people put the records in a safe place.
It could be that they were destroyed by a flood or a fire.
"They could even be in someone's attic somewhere. …