The only time I met Steven Messham after leaving Bryn Estyn, was in the Secure Dyffryn House, which formed part of the ‘Home Office Approved School’ that was known as Neath Farm School.
I was in Dyffryn House as I had recently arrived from Knox Road in Cardiff
It was immediately following my sixteenth birthday, and Neath Farm School, was going to be my home for the next couple of years.
This place where we met, had a fearsome reputation (so I learned later) among lads in Care. As an example, residents in the other homes for younger lads such as Bryn Estyn, Ty Mawr, Crick House, Bersham Hall etc were threatened with being ‘Sent To Neath Farm’ as a way of making them behave.
Countless records were ‘lost’ that showed the existence of the many, many lads and girls in the Care system.
There are undoubtably, many reasons for this, as many of the ‘Approved Schools’ and ‘Community Homes’ were either knocked down and the land rebuilt on or were closed completely, with some being utilised as other things.
The Neath Farm records were meant to be sent to a Council Archive, but a large number, as I later found out were burned in large fires as the site was being cleared.
Neath Farm School was one of those that were demolished, and a Secure Youth Detention Unit now stands in it’s place, and all traces of the original buildings have disappeared.
Bryn Estyn, I believe now houses some Wrexham Council Departments.
The picture above is the Secure Unit, ‘Dyffryn House’ at NFS, primarily designed, as you may be able to tell from the bars on the window, and the steel exterior doors, for the more troublesome or ‘disturbed’ lads.
I spent a few months there during my time at the Farm, for reasons I do not need to go into, but i can assure you, it is as grim and depressing on the inside, as it looks from the outside!
I am digressing somewhat, I did not really speak or even see Steven Messham during the time I spent at Bryn Estyn, or much of the other lads, and I will explain the reasons for this in a later entry on this blog.
What I knew of him at the Farm is that he was in one of the eight ‘cells’ that housed those who were not in the main school population, and if you happened to find yourself in there, it would have been difficult to strike up any sort of friendship.
What I can say for certain is, the young, fresh-faced teenage lad I saw in Dyffryn House in 1979, did not resemble the battered, world-weary and mentally shattered person that appeared on my Television and computer screens on November 2nd, 2012.