NORWEGIANS AT WENNINGTON – PHOTOS from 1948
A few months ago I received, by email, a batch of photographs from a Norwegian, Leif Thingsrud whose mother worked at Wennington for a year 1948 –1949. She was Thorbjorg Throndsen, known as Toby at school. Leif had found the photos among his father’s papers after his father’s death two years ago. “The photos were in complete disorder, mixed with pictures from my mother’s walks in Wales and Norway with her British scout friends”. All he knew was that his mother had spent a year at a boarding school in Wetherby, and wondered if we could identify any places or people. He said ” I looked at these photos once with my mother, and she told me a little about her stay, but it is approx. 45 years ago, so I can’t remember every detail”.
Over a period we communicated by email and gleaned the following information.
Thorbjorg (Toby) and her friend Bergliot (Judy) were scouts who had a scout leader friend in Leeds: it is thought that this friend may have been instrumental in Toby and Judy being employed at Wennington as ”kitchen maids” in 1948. After working at Wennington, In the summer holiday, Toby went to London to stay with Alfred Schweitzer’s family as an au pair. Alfred Schweitzer was a school governor until his death in a mountaineering accident in the 1950s. His son, Julian, whom Toby must have cared for, was a pupil at Wennington in the late 1950s/early 60s. Toby corresponded with Mrs. Schweitzer until Toby’s death 25 years ago.
Bergliot (Judy) was sent to another family on the opposite side of London. Apparently Judy’s English was not very good and she tried to avoid speaking her “poor English” by relying too much on Toby - or “walking behind her”. “Mr. Barnes therefore ordered that they should stay as far from each other as possible to ensure that Bergliot also had to“ jump into it”.
At some time – possibly during the Easter holiday of that year both Judy and Toby worked together as waitresses in Shanklin, Isle of Wight. Some of the photos are of their time there.
“My mother did not tell me much about her stay in England, mainly because I was too young to ask when I stayed at home with my parents. But what she told me was positive, and I should say that she was quite “anglofil”. Bergliot died only three years ago, but I had no contact with her during the last ten years of her life, as she suffered from Alzheimers disease. It was just when I started to scan the old photos, I wanted to find out a bit more. I’m therefore thankful for any information you can bring up.”
To view the photographs go to 'Archives', 'Image Gallery' and find the album '1948'.
Pat Mitchell - with quotations from Leif Thingsrud’s emails.