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Last Updated: Tuesday, 3 June, 2003, 15:49 GMT 16:49 UK
Wagon reveals gypsy heritage
wagon
Pupils have lessons inside the travellers' wagon
Gypsy children at a school in Pembrokeshire have swapped the classroom for a traditional travellers' wagon to find out more about their Romany history.

Youngsters at Priory Junior School in Monkton have been learning about the important role their ancestors played in the area's agricultural industry and have recorded their own thoughts on their heritage.

Romany gypsies first came to Pembokeshire around 300 years ago and one in four youngsters at the school now comes from a gypsy family.

The idea for a travelling wagon, charting the story of the Romany community in photographs and voice recordings, came after pupils visited the local museum and found little mention of their history.

I would not have liked to live in it because it's too small but my grandfather use to live in one of these
Cherell Boswell, aged 12

It is hoped the exhibition will help to foster better relations between the gypsies and their neighbours.

Museum's officer Liz McIvor explained: "When I first came to the school it was suggested that there would be some sort of display.

"But I was quite concerned in the museum world the gypsy population were not really covered at all and if they were exhibitions were temporary.

"We decided it was best to have a permanent display and the best way to get them interested was to take the museum out to them.

"The consensus from the community was the best way to do this was using a traditional wooden caravan if we could get one."

Bev Stephens
Bev Stephens inside the travellers' wagon

The travelling exhibition also looks at the gypsy community's importance to agriculture.

"Farmers in Pembrokeshire have relied on the gypsies every season," said Ms McIvor.

"The families tend to work for the same farmers that they have for generations.

The renovated wagon's first port of call was Priory Junior School where the idea first began.

For the past seven years it has run a project teaching 11 to 16-year-olds from the gypsy community who would otherwise have avoided education.

The teacher in charge, Bev Stephens, said as well the 26 youngsters also put on tours for younger pupils at the school.

"The children made badges for themselves and took the junior school children around."

Photos

"I think it's great having a wagon. I would not have liked to live in it because it's too small but my grandfather use to live in one of these," said Cherell Boswell, who is 12.

Fellow pupil 12-year-old Charlie Price said: "Inside there are old gypsy photos, pots, stuffed rabbits and stuff like that.

"I think it is a great thing."

Throughout June the wagon is on show at the Catshole Quarry gypsy site in Monkton before it is moved to Kingsmoor Common at Kilgetty near Tenby for July.

In August the Romany wagon will be on show to the public at Scolton Manor Museum near Haverfordwest.

"We hope eventually to even go out of the county and take it further afield," said Ms McIvor.




SEE ALSO:
Gypsies fight to live at Tor
27 Apr 03  |  Somerset
Award for gypsy leader
24 Mar 03  |  England


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