Looking nothing like a finishing school, La Wombwella ladies' finishing institute was supposed to resemble the kind of back to back house common young ladies would one day inhabit, with stone steps, a microwave and a scruffy kitchen. But now due to E.U. regulations the world famous Barnsley finishing school is to close.
Specialising in rudeness and Saturday Binge Drinking etiquette and protocol, La Wombwella attracted students from all over Barnsley. Originally, most were from open prisons, but as travel became more commonplace and cheaper in the 1970s, the Institute began to receive requests from Huddersfield, India and Castleford. As a result, they ran courses such as "international savoir-faire", which permitted students to familiarise themselves with the social and business customs of Barnsley.
With a smile, Tutor Nérys told me that her first students from the Middle East were from Libya. Not one to name names, she admits she's had students from all the Royal Families and some Arab heads of state, many of whom knew very little about their own customs "having been brought up by Barnsley nannies".
The irony that Gulf princesses could learn more about their own country in a finishing school in Barnsley, specialised in the technique of eating fish snd chips with the fingers, was not lost on the girls' parents. Still, the emphasis was on becoming 'international'. All cultures have equal place and the Institute's teachers were all extremely well travelled.