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The Aberdare Boys’ Grammar School

1896 to 1978

A personal record of the life and times of the
County Grammar School for Boys
published by the old pupils of the School


Latest additions

Updated  July 1st 2014

Established September 2001
by Steve Hammonds

July 2014


Welcome to the website of the old Aberdare Boys’ Grammar School. The web server continues to provide pages to visitors from all over the world, and the website continues to grow thanks to your contributions. If you have any photos or documents to share please let me know - my email address can be found in the panel on the right. Alternatively, you may wish to make a suggestion for an entry in the Former Pupils section, if so please let me have details, and a picture if possible. To see full details of what has been added recently, click the link shown below ‘Latest Additions’ in the column on the left. Thank you again to all those who have already made contributions by writing short articles or by sending in photos.


Past Students

We have heard of the deaths of several former pupils:

David James Pugsley, (ABGS 1929-36), of Well Place, Cwmbach, passed away on June 8, at Ysguborwen Nursing Home, aged 96. He is in this 1931 class photograph.

David Eric Pugsley (ABGS 1947-52) aged 77. David appears in this Swimming Gala photo of 1949.

Walter David Leonard, (ABGS 1947-54) passed away on May 31, at the University Hospital Wales, Cardiff, aged 77. His career included a period as a Police Officer, a Traffic Examiner and as Transport Manager for Taff Ely Council. He is in this 1952-53 Rugby 1st XV photograph, and in the 7th photograph taken at the Ron Jones Tribute Dinner in March, 2008. At the time of his death Mr Leonard was President of Aberdare Golf Club.

Roger J. Vallis (ABGS 1950-59) passed away on May 24 aged 75. He is No.107 in the 1957 panoramic photograph.

Gadlys School Buildings

RCTCBC instructed Lambert Smith Hampton to auction off some of their properties. Amongst the five RCT properties for auction was the Grade II listed Gadlys School and, separately, a plot of land behind the school. The auction took place on the morning of Monday, July 14th when the school building was sold for £188,000. However, the plot of land failed to sell on this occasion.

Gadlys School, designed by Aberdare architect Thomas Roderick, was opened on 7 October 1907 as The Higher Standard Schools, and took over the function of the Higher Grade School, opened in 1890, that was housed in part of the Town Council School buildings in Clifton St. These schools taught the higher standards, VI, VII and VIII, which smaller elementary schools were not able to provide. Initially, the intake to the County School was dominated by the pupils from the Higher Grade and later the Higher Standard Schools. Pupils spent one or two years at these schools after leaving their original elementary school. A photograph of the Girls’ Department side of the Gadlys School in its early days can be seen here; note the fence running from the central tower separating the girls’ playground from that of the boys! The school in its initial form was laid out symmetrically about the tower, with separate assembly halls for the boys and for the girls. The cost of building the school was £14,000 and it was opened by Rees Llewellyn of Bwllfa, as chairman of the Education Committee. When declaring the building open, his speech was straight to the point: he hoped that “all would come out better than they went in.” The Aberdare Leader report of the opening ceremony is on page 3 in the issue dated 12 October 1907, and is available online.

Aberdare High School, Cwmdare Road; Aberdare Girls School at Plasdraw & Gadlys; and Blaengwawr Comprehensive School have just a few days of their existence remaining. In fact the Gadlys school has already been vacated. A great deal of sorting out of equipment, books and mementoes is taking place with some of the materials being placed in scores of packing crates for transfer to the appropriate building when Aberdare Community School opens in September, albeit in three of the existing school buildings, until the new building is available.

Girls’ School Centenary Booklet

The Aberdare Girls’ School Centenary Booklet is available for purchase from the school, price £4 plus £1 UK p&p, Aberdare Girls’ School, Cwmbach Road, Aberdare, CF44 0NF. Tel. 01685 872460.

Aberdare Community School

Past students can keep abreast of the rapid building developments at the new Aberdare Community School by visiting its website, which is at See a video presentation including an interview with Carwyn Jones, Huw Lewis, headteacher Sue Davies & student Elis Nash in the ‘News’ section.

June developments at The Ynys (photographs from Clive Stanley-Williams)

A view from the Dare-Aman railway line.
13 June 2014

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A view approaching the site from Aberaman.
18 June 2014

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A view from the Cwmbach Mountain.
The relative size of the new school
and the existing Sobell Centre is apparent.
21 June 2014

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A view from the mountain above Abernant,
with familiar Aberdare landmarks in the
background. But not The Palladium -
now demolished!
21 June 2014
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A panoramic view.
22 June 2014
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Taken at 9 p.m. with workmen still
active inside and outside the building.
25 June 2014
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Cwmdare Rd School

Some Background Information about the School The school building was completed in July 1894 but, for reasons explained in the History section of this website, opened two years later on September 28th, 1896 as The Aberdare Technical and Intermediate Schools with Head Master W. Jenkyn Thomas and four assistant teachers: two men and two women. There were 141 pupils present by the end of the first term, 88 boys and 53 girls, taught in mixed classes for the majority of their subjects, although the building had separate entrances for boys and girls.

The school soon became known as The County School and remained so until the early sixties when the Grammar School name became more widely used. The pupils from the lower end of the Cynon Valley left in 1907 when Mountain Ash County School opened initially at Gwernifor, Miskin, moving to Dyffryn House much later in 1926. Then in 1913, the girls together with the women staff left for their own school in Plasdraw.

There was little significant change at the County School in terms of the nature of staffing and curriculum over the years until the Trecynon buildings were vacated in 1964 and the school relocated to the bottom of Cwmdare Hill.

In 1978 the Boys’ Grammar School closed and there was a fairly smooth transition to comprehensive status, when the Aberdare Boys Comprehensive School opened. Many of the existing staff were reappointed to the new school which was housed in the ex-grammar school buildings on Cwmdare Road, as the upper school. The buildings of Rhydywaun Secondary Modern School in Penywaun, which had also changed status, housed the lower school. The lower school at Rhydywaun was eventually brought to a new building at Cwmdare Road after two serious fires at Rhydywaun caused almost complete loss of its buildings.

From September  1st, 2009 Aberdare Boys Comprehensive School, was renamed Aberdare High School (opens in new window). The school adopted a new badge, which shows a similarity to the original grammar school design with ‘dragon and book’. The picture, above right, shows the school as it was in 1978, but additionally there is now a large sports hall on the site, behind the two-story block on the right. The new hall is both a school and a community facility. The decision has been made by RTCBC to close the Boys’ High School, the Girls Comprehensive (at Plasdraw and The Gadlys) and Blaengwawr Comprehensive School. It is intended that the pupils of all three schools will be housed in a new school to be built at The Ynys, near the centre of Aberdare, and which is planned to open in September 2014. Aberdare would then have three secondary schools instead of the current five.
For further details of the reorganisation scheme, click here.

Lower School 2013
Aberdare High School, The Lower School, Summer 2013.
Upper School 2013
Aberdare High School, The Upper School, Summer 2013.

Trecynon School Clock

clock tower

The asking price of ‘The Old Clock Tower’ is £275,000. The tower and adjacent room have been converted into a new home that featured in both the South Wales Echo and the Cynon Valley Leader in July 2009. The Echo article was particularly impressive with a three-page spread, including a full-page photo of the building on the front page of the homeWALES supplement. The current owner is Ray Radnedge of Radnedge Architectural Antiques in Llanelli. In the article he says he initially purchased the clock only. But he then heard that the tower was to be demolished by the developer, so he bought that too. The inside pages show several views of both the exterior and of the internal fittings. Details of the property can be seen on the estate agent’s website by clicking here.

A gallery of photographs showing the reinstatement of the clock can be found in the School Building section of this website. The weather vane now completes the architectural fittings at the top of the dome, and the clock faces are now illuminated at night. The clock, which had been removed for restoration and repair, consists of a two-and-a-half tonne structure made of solid oak with cast iron facings, copper roof, and a 10 ft pendulum.

Contact Us

If you have any comments, or contributions for the site, click here for a feedback form, or contact the editor via email:

Related Link

Aberdare Girls Grammar School


Use the box below to find something or someone on this site:

ABGS/AGGS sites only

Aerial Views

Aberdare is one of the areas in the UK where the online satellite maps from Google Maps are of a high resolution.
Go to Google Maps to look down on the old school site and to explore the rest of the town.