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The Aberdare Boys’ Grammar School

1896 – 1978

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

Contents

Latest additions

May 1st 2024

Established September 2001
by Steve Hammonds

May 2024

Old_School

Welcome to the website of the former 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.

 

Notices

News of the death of three of our past students came to us during the month of April.

D. Colin Davies

D. Colin Davies

David Colin Davies died at Prince Charles Hospital, Merthyr, on Thursday, 18th April aged 93 . Colin transferred from the Gadlys Secondary School to ABGS in 1942 and left in 1948 with CWB Highers in Economics, History and Geography. He entered UCW Aberystwyth with an entrance scholarship, but in his first year there he sat the Oxford entrance examination and gained a place in St. Edmund Hall and transferred there to read Politics, Philosophy and Economics. Called to the Bar at Gray's Inn, he practised, until his retirement in 2007, as a criminal lawyer in the Crown Court on the Wales and Chester Circuit.
In 1962, he married Menna M. Roderick, elder daughter of Mr. and Mrs. Dilwyn Roderick, of Maen Gwyn, Penderyn. At this time he was also skipper of the ABGS Scout Troop. Colin leaves wife Menna and three children: a son and two daughters.
 

We also report the passing of former pupil Stephen Lloyd on 27th March 2024, aged 68. Steve was a pupil at Caradog Junior School, and then from 1966–1973 at ABGS. Although born in Cwmbach, Steve lived most of his school life in Catherine Street, Aberdare. Many pupils at the time will remember Steve as an accomplished sportsman and he represented the school in both soccer and rugby. Steve also played for Aberaman Athletic for many years. After leaving the sixth form Steve went on to read economics at Hull University graduating in 1976. He briefly taught in Jamaica before returning to the UK and settling in Kingston upon Thames. Steve leaves a wife Kamla, two children and two grandchildren.

Lastly, we were sad to read about the death at the age of 90 of David R. Brockway, ABGS 1944–50. His funeral took place on 24th April, at St Lleurwg’s Church, Hirwaun followed by burial at Brynygaer Cemetery.


Terry Johns

Terry Johns

Terry Johns, (ABGS 1955–62).
In a radio programme marking his 80th birthday, horn player Terry Johns from Hirwaun, looked back at his life in music and working with John Williams on the Star Wars films. The programme also featured extracts from Terry’s book ‘Letters from Lines and Spaces’ read by Arwyn Davies. The programme was on BBC Radio Wales, Friday 26th April, at 6.30pm.

Rob Jones Cwm Book

Robert E. Jones, (ABGS 1965–72), has written a local history book entitled The Cwm: A lost Community. This small settlement was located along the banks of the River Dare accessed by continuing along Glan Road beyond Glandare House — now demolished and where St John Baptist School is now located. A few small terraces of houses were to be found there stretching as far as Brunel’s wooden viaduct. There was also a small place of worship for the residents. The book, published by the Cynon Valley History Society, has resulted from several years of research using old newspapers, photographs and interviews with the people, or their relatives, who once lived there.

May 2024


Victor Evans We report the sad news of the death of Victor H. Evans who died recently. Whilst at school, from 1946 to 1953, Victor lived in Bryn Terrace, Cwmdare. After attending UCW Aberystwyth, he became an English Baptist minister at Tredegar, but later joined the staff of Swansea Teacher Training College — living in Killay. On retirement from teaching he became the minister of the Welsh Baptist chapels at Gorseinon and Loughor. His wife June, née Ludlow, was from Trecynon. His funeral took place on April 22nd, at Killay English Baptist Church, Swansea.

April 2024


Gadlys Cottage Site

The Site of Gadlys Cottage
 
Pupils who attended the Trecynon school will probably remember the Western Welsh bus garage just a few hundred yards down Gadlys Road from the school.
 
The site is now occupied by a branch of the German supermarket, Lidl. In the last week of February, to the disappointment of Gadlys residents, this branch closed and was replaced by a much larger one in Aberaman – near the ASDA supermarket.
 
The plot, which was next to the Park Cinema has an interesting history. Initially, a large house, called Gadlys Cottage, was built there and occupied by Miss Wayne, a daughter of Matthew Wayne who co-founded the Gadlys ironworks.
 
In the early years of the twentieth century, it was the home of one of the sons of William Hodges, the outfitter and clothier of Victoria Square.
 
In June 1938, the house and gardens were sold to the Western Welsh Omnibus Co. for £1000, and buses from their garage in High Street were transferred to the new Gadlys garage.
 
This in turn closed in 1971, and the building became The Ready-Roasted Chicken factory; then it became an ATS tyre depot, and finally its last use was as Aberdare Corn Stores builders’ merchant before making way for the Lidl store.
 

March 2024


The New Hirwaun Power Station
The Greek company Mytilineos is now heavily involved in the construction phase of Hirwaun Power Station, part Drax Group plc group. It will generate electricity using a Siemens Open-cycle SGT5-4000F gas turbine (OCGT) with a gross output of 299MW. Huge components for the station are being transferred by road from Newport docks, complicated by the extensive road works between ‘Baverstocks’ and Hirwaun. Currently it is proposed that the power station will function as a peaking plant, operating for up to 1,500 hours per year to support the grid at times of peak electricity demand and during any stress events.

Two Old Welsh Traditions

MariLwyd

Mari Lwyd

Two events of particular interest to Welsh speakers took place in Trecynon recently. On 15th December, Mari Lwyd visited Capel Hen Dŷ Cwrdd, Alma Street, Trecynon. After the meeting both Mari and the congregation retired to the Mount Pleasant Hotel, where a collection and raffle to raise money for the 2024 RCT National Eisteddfod took place.
Mari Lwyd is the name given to a wassailing folk custom that involves a group carrying a large horse’s skull from house to house. The skull, fixed to the end of a pole, is carried by a participant covered with a white sheet. Members of the group would sing at the door of the house visited and would often be invited inside.

 
Plygain Booklet

Two former pupils, who are also brothers, Hywel J. Davies and David Leslie Davies, played a significant role in the organisation of the second event, which was a Plygain service held at St Fagan’s Church, Trecynon on 7th January, 2024. These services originally took place in the very early hours of Christmas Day. A distinctive feature of them, which has been retained, is the participation in the service by small groups of carol singers made up of members of the congregation. The last known Plygain that took place in the Cynon valley is thought to have taken place in 1845. Once again, a healthy sum was raised for the RCT National Eisteddfod. The 16-page booklet ‘A Summary History of Y Plygain in the Cynon Valley’ by local historian D. L. Davies, is now, (Jan 2024), available at the Cynon Valley Museum’s shop, Aberdare. The booklet, published by the Cynon Valley Appeal Committee, costs £3.00 per copy and monies raised will be in support of the National Eisteddfod fund.

More information about Mari Lwyd can be found here,
https://www.horniman.ac.uk/story/the-mystery-of-mari-lwyd/

and about Plygain here,
https://www.plygain.org/index_htm_files/Hywel%20Parry%20Smith.pdf

Memorial Service

Ann Clwyd

In mid-October the memorial service for Ann Clwyd, Member of Parliament for Cynon Valley in the Westminster Parliament between 1984 and 2019, was held in St Elvan’s Church. The service was attended by family members; several representatives from the Labour Party in Wales, a few from abroad, and Aberdarians. There were several tributes the first of which was given by Rt Hon Mark Drakeford MS: First Minister of Wales. On video, the former prime minister, The Rt Hon Sir Tony Blair, also paid his tribute. There were also poetry readings, and musical items, both instrumental and choral. Amongst the attendees were five members of the Senedd in Cardiff; seven Westminster MPs and two members of the House of Lords. Other prominent members of the Labour Party present included Tom Watson (former deputy leader, now Baron), and local boy Dr Kim Howells.

Cecily Bowen. The death occurred on 19th November at Llys Gwyn House, Pontarddulais of Mrs Cecily Bowen. As Cecily Manser she attended Aberdare Girls Grammar School, leaving in 1950. In 1968 she married Elfed J. Bowen, (ABGS 1938–1945, and staff member 1953–56). Until about five years ago the couple lived in Plasdraw Road, but then moved to the Pontarddulais area to be closer to their daughter Catherine. Elfed died in July 2021 also at Llys Gwyn House. Mrs Bowen’s funeral service took place at Llwydcoed Crematorium on Tuesday 5th December.

Robertstown Tramway Bridge

Repairs to the Robertstown Tramway Bridge and its abutments appear to be complete. It is now resplendent in a black protective paint, and there are substantial new side railings - probably required by modern H&S regulations. Thanks to Geoff Abbott for the photographs. (11/2023)

Robertstown Bridge 1 Robertstown Bridge 2

 
Robertstown Bridge 3 Robertstown Bridge 4


Rhian Samuel

Radio 3’s long-running series ‘Composer of the Week’ featured five Welsh composers during the week September 25th-30th. The fourth hour-long programme, broadcast on Thursday, September 28th, featured the music of Rhian Samuel, who was brought up in Abernant, and who was a former pupil of Aberdare Girls’ Grammar School. The programme also included several spoken inserts when the programme host, Donald Macleod, interviewed Rhian. (Rhian’s father, D.H.Samuel, has just been added to the Former Pupils section of this website.) The programme episode will be available on BBC Sounds for most of October at the following link:
https://www.bbc.co.uk/sounds/play/m001qmxk

Gwendolen Rees Aberystwyth University has renamed one of its major buildings in honour of Gwendolen Rees, FRS, a former pupil of AGGS. You can read the university’s account of the naming ceremony at the following link:
https://www.aber.ac.uk/en/news/archive/2023/09/title-266767-en.html

REPAIRS

Fossil We recently reported on the severe damage suffered by the calamites fossil tree that stood in the grounds of the Cwmdare Road School. The fossil has been repaired and erected back in its original place. Black mortar has been used to secure the many segments back in place - and it looks better than it did with the white mortar. Whether it is as high as previously ...
Robertstown Bridge A major repair is almost complete in Robertstown. You may recall that Storm Dennis caused serious damage to the Tramroad Bridge over the River Cynon. The bridge was fabricated in 1811 at Abernant Ironworks and Forge. The repairs could not be carried out on site, and consequently the bridge was completely removed for examination and reconstruction. The damage was so severe that additional girders had to be used, and new handrails fabricated. The good news is that the bridge is almost fully back in place, and nearing its re-opening. The original bridge was constructed to transport iron and minerals between Hirwaun, Llwydcoed and the canal head at Plasdraw. Before the Aberdare canal arrived in the town, the tramroad reached as far as the hills above Glynneath, so that Aberdare's iron could be exported via the Neath canal. Since the photo below was taken in mid-September, the bridge deck and handrails have been completed.

Bridge Repair

A great deal of progress has been made in the last ten days since this photo was taken. The deck is fully in place and new handrails installed. It is hoped that scour damage to the masonry abutments has also been attended to.

Repaired Fossil

The small stone to the right of the Calamites fossil tree with a plaque attached, does not describe it. The plaque was placed when a young sapling was planted at the time of the school centenary in 1996. This tree did not survive.

Photos: Dr Geoff Abbott

REUNION

A reunion for pupils who entered either ABGS or AGGS in the years 1971 to 1974 took place on September 30th. It was organised by Paul Harris, (ABGS 1972–79). We hope to have a report on the event soon.

Robert Servini, (ABGS 1954–61). An interesting six-minute video has just been uploaded onto YouTube in which Robert Servini discusses ‘The Story of Italian Migration to the South Wales Valleys.’ It’s well worth taking a look. You’ll find the video at
https://youtu.be/nHOKhJep45I

Bryn Roberts

Brynley F. Roberts, CBE The death has occurred in Aberystwyth on August 14th of Bryn Roberts. Professor Roberts was an eminent scholar of Welsh and ‘One of the giants of Celtic studies’. He was Professor and Head of the Department of Welsh, Swansea University; a former Librarian of The National Library of Wales, Aberystwyth; and a former pupil of ABGS. He has an entry in the Former Pupils section of this website. We extend our condolences to his wife Rhiannon and his two sons. The funeral took place at Capel Y Morfa, Portland Street, Aberystwyth on 4th September 2023. The BBC has placed a tribute to him on their website; it will be the first of many.
https://www.bbc.co.uk/cymrufyw/66521212
 



The National Eisteddfod of Wales, 2024 It was announced on August 7th, that Pontypridd will host the 2024 National Eisteddfod. More information can be seen at
https://nation.cymru/news/2024-national-eisteddfod-to-be-held-in-pontypridd/
 
Additional photographs taken in Aberdare at the Eisteddfod Proclamation in June can be seen at
https://eisteddfod.wales/rhondda-cynon-taf-eisteddfod-proclamation-0



It is a matter of great regret to report that we lost two former pupils during the month of July, 2023.

Melville Morgan

Melville Morgan, ABGS 1951–58, passed away peacefully on Saturday July 22nd at the Royal Glamorgan Hospital Llantrisant. He was brought up in the Gadlys and attended Park School, before ABGS. He won a George Hall Travelling Scholarship on leaving school and went on to university in Cardiff. He taught French in Aberdare Girls’ Grammar School in the 1970s. He and his wife Christine lived in Trecynon. The funeral was held on August 16th at Llwydcoed Crematorium. Mel is pictured on the right in 1958, and more recently on the left.
 

John Bowen

John Bowen, ABGS 1947–1954. John was the son of the ABGS deputy headmaster J.T. Bowen, who taught at the school from 1918 until 1958. John was brought up in Plasdraw and attended the National School in Cardiff Street before ABGS. He graduated in Law at UCW Aberystwyth and was articled with Marchant Harries & Co, Aberdare 1957–60; then assistant solicitor with G Houghton & Son London, and Gamlen Bowerman & Forward Lincoln’s Inn London 1960–64. In 1964 he returned to Wales to join Morgan Cole, firstly in Pontypridd then Cardiff, and became a partner 1966–99, and eventually chairman of the Management Board, 1989–99. There were many other positions including a directorship with the Principality Building Society; chairman of The Employment Tribunal, and an Audit Commissioner. He was made a Fellow of Cardiff University. Most recently he lived in Gwaelod-y-Garth, near Taff’s Well. The photos show John in 2008 and 1954 respectively.

Kevin Headford

Kevin Headford It is with sadness we report the sudden death of Kevin Headford, ABCS 1989–94. He was just 45 years of age. Kevin was brought up in Hirwaun, and recently lived in Cwmbach. At school, he was a talented football player, and can be seen as captain in the team photograph of the 1991–92 XI, and as the capped player in the 1993–94 XI photograph. He also has a place on the sporting individual achievers page. As an adult, he continued with his sporting interests and gave time to a local football club in Llwydcoed. He was very well known and liked both socially and at work. The funeral took place on 7th July 2023, at Llwydcoed Crematorium. It was a large funeral and attended by many of his friends and acquaintances. He is survived by his wife and two sons. We send our sincere condolences to his family and his many friends.



The Proclamation of next year’s National Eisteddfod of Wales took place in Aberdare on Saturday, June 24th 2023. The last time the Proclamation took place in Aberdare was in the summer of 1955.

Aberdare town centre was packed with onlookers on Saturday June 24th, as members of the Gorsedd paraded through the streets before the Proclamation ceremony, which took place at the Ron Jones Athletics Stadium at The Ynys. The town was bathed in brilliant sunshine, though the high temperature was rather challenging. Three former ABGS students were spotted amongst the bards, as well as former student Elfed Davies who was praised by the Archdruid in his speech during the ceremony. He pointed out that Elfed is the last survivor of the 1955–56 Aberdare National Eisteddfod organising committee, thereby linking the old with the new. Also in the parade was another Aberdarian, D. Wyn Rees who attended MAGS in the late 1960s. Regrettably, ABGS past student and member of the Gorsedd, John Samuel, (ABGS 1952–60), was unable to attend due to illness.

David Leslie Davies

David Leslie Davies
ABGS 1965–67

Jeremy Turner

Jeremy Turner
ABGS 1969–76

David E. Roberts

David E. Roberts
ABGS 1956–63

procession

The Gorsedd procession returning down Market Street and over the footbridge to The Ynys

Elfed, now in his 95th year was at the ceremony at the Ron Jones Athletics Stadium, seated in the VIP section at
the front of the audience. A section of the speech delivered by Archdruid Myrddin ap Dafydd focused on the long period of service that Elfed has made to charity, to the Welsh language, and as an author of local history books and to the Eisteddfod movement.

Elfed was a committee member of the annual Aberdare Juvenile Eisteddfodau in the 1950s and 60s, and in particular served on the local executive committee of the National Eisteddfod that took place in Aberdare in 1956.

Elfed, a native of Trecynon, qualified as a teacher at The Monmouthshire Training College in Caerleon, and after service in the RAF commenced his teaching career at Luton before being appointed to Hirwaun Boys’ School. He spent the rest of his teaching career in the village becoming the last Headmaster of the Boys’ School — the Tin Shanty School as it was known — and the Headmaster of the new Hirwaun Junior Mixed School, which opened in 1969.

Among his interests are bowls and charity work for Macmillan Cancer Support. He and his late wife, Mair, were founder members of the Cynon Valley Branch in 1985.

Elfed Davies

 

Elfed Davies
ABGS 1940–46



Aberdare Cenotaph The town was also busy on Sunday 25th June 2023 when citizens, members of the armed forces and veterans commemorated the 100th anniversary of the unveiling of the Cenotaph in Victoria Square. There was a parade and service at the cenotaph. In the afternoon, there were family events to include various stalls, displays, choirs and a band.



The Fossil Tree

Broken Fossil

Before and After

There are no prizes for spotting the difference in the ‘before and after’ pictures of the calamites fossil tree that stood on the site of the former Aberdare Boys’ Comprehensive School in Cwmdare Road. On the left we see the fossil as it has been for many years having been transferred under the initiative of the late Mr Tom Evans, (geography), from the grounds of Brynawel House, Clifton Street, where it had stood from around 1880. It was almost twice as high originally, and the mortar joints suggest that it had suffered a previous accident. The plaque on the ground alongside is not connected with the fossil; it is the plaque that was placed alongside the centenary tree in 1996. The tree did not thrive and died many years before the school closed.

On the right, we see the situation that greeted residents of Y Dolydd on the morning of May 21st. The pieces have been collected, and a decision has yet to be made about what happens to them.

Click/tap for further information about the fossil tree, and information about the centenary tree.

Photos: D.L. Davies & John Lewis
 



The Ven. Martyn Gough

Martyn Gough
November 2021

Martyn Gough We were very sad to receive the news of the passing at the age of 57 of The Venerable Martyn Gough, R.N., formerly Chaplain of the Fleet, and later Chaplain to the Royal British Legion. He died on April 28th, 2023. His loss will be felt by many. He was brought up in King Street, Cwmdare, and attended Cwmdare Primary School before entering Aberdare Boys’ Grammar School in September 1977.
You can read about Martyn’s career in the Former Pupils section of this website. The photograph shows Martyn officiating at the Royal British Legion Remembrance Service, at The Albert Hall, November 2021. Our sincere condolences to Martyn’s family.

Dennis Williams Gareth Williams has informed us of the sad news that his father, Dennis Williams, died on April 19th 2023 at the age of 95. Dennis was very proud of his Aberdare roots particularly of the Boys’ Grammar School that he attended from 1940 to 1945. He played Rugby for Aberaman RFC and he is pictured on this website as a member of the ABGS 1st XV for 1944-45. He trained as a primary school teacher at Trinity College, Carmarthen before working at various schools in Essex where he met his future wife, an Abergavenny girl. By the mid 1960s, he and his family had settled in Oxfordshire, by which time Dennis had left teaching to become a civil servant. Upon retirement, he and his wife moved back to Wales to live in Brecon, which incidentally allowed him to revisit Aberdare. He had a strong Christian faith and preached voluntarily until his 85th year in many local churches, principally at Dowlais Top. His funeral will take place at Brecon Elim Church on May 17th at 1pm.

James Meredith We have been informed of the sudden death at the age of 49 of James Meredith, ABCS 1985–92. James was the middle brother of three, who all attended the school. The funeral took place on Friday 14th April 2023, at Llwydcoed Crematorium. We extend our sincere condolences to James’ family and friends.

The Clock Tower House After a recent magnificent restoration and substantial enlargement the ABGS clock tower house has been put on the market. It’s possible to view the property, including 53 exterior and interior photographs, on the Rightmove website at the following link:
https://www.rightmove.co.uk/properties/133451513#/

Martin Wyatt

Martin Wyatt We report the death of Martin Wyatt on February 5th. His funeral service took place at St Fagan’s, Trecynon, and was very well attended. Martin attended ABGS 1961–65. After leaving school, he served his apprenticeship with the Thomson press and later became Head Compositor at the Leader office, and then transferred to the Celtic Press with the move to Dowlais. After he retired, he devoted himself to part-time work with ‘Busy Bodies Fitness’ in Aberdare, while Abernant residents may remember him working behind the bar at the Rhoswenallt Inn and the Golf Club. Most recently he lived in Cwmdare, and attended St Fagan’s where, as a volunteer, he served as manager of the church hall. In addition he had been a member of Cwmbach Male Choir. We extend our sincere condolences to Martin’s family and friends.

Fothergill Park WDL Homes of Penderyn is set to start preparatory work on its 299-home development at Abernant on the former Aberdare General Hospital site. The company has secured planning consent approval from Rhondda Cynon Taf Council. The scheme, to be known as Fothergill Park, will provide a range of homes with one to five bedrooms. Some 269 will be for private sale, with 30 designated as affordable housing. The first homes are due to become available in spring 2024 with all homes scheduled to be completed in 2028. The same company is completing a 94-home estate called College Gardens on the site of the former Further Education College on Cwmdare Road.

Rhondda Cynon Taf National Eisteddfod 2024 News is eagerly awaited of the location of the Proclamation Ceremony which is to be held in the summer of 2023, as well as of the location of the Eisteddfod itself to take place in August 2024.

Cynon Gateway North On February 14th, 2023, the Welsh Government announced a halt on all new road building in Wales. Amongst the projects that would be put on hold was the Cynon Gateway North bypass, which was to link the existing Aberdare bypass, near Penywaun, to the upgraded Heads of the Valleys road at Croesbychan. Further details can be found at the link below,
https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-wales-64661165

Extension of railway line to Hirwaun ? RCT County Borough Council has secured £239,633 to fund further studies on development work necessary to extend rail services from Aberdare to Hirwaun. If the extension is eventually realised, it will be part of the South Wales Metro, which aims to run four trains an hour up the Cynon Valley. The extension would also involve the preferred option of building new stations at Llwydcoed, Hirwaun Station Road/Penyard and Hirwaun (Tower Colliery). Basic railway line infrastructure already exists, and until recently was used for coal trains taking coal from Tower to Aberthaw power station. The line was originally part of the Vale of Neath Railway which enabled trains to run from Neath to Aberdare, and on to Pontypool Road, and The Midlands.

Dr Mike Thomas

Mike Thomas

Dr Mike Thomas — In the King’s New Year Honours List 2023, we were pleased to see Mike Thomas awarded an MBE for his services to the Choirs of the Pelenna Valley and the Cynon Valley. He is currently the musical director of both the Cwmdare Choir and the Cwmbach Male Choir, as well as Pelenna, a choir based in his home village of Tonmawr. Mike was a teacher at Blaengwawr Comprehensive School for 31 years, retiring in 2014 as its deputy headteacher. He has two sons: William, a former organ scholar at Oxford, and Jac who plays the trumpet professionally.

Robert M. Jones

Robert M. Jones

Bob Jones

School friends of Bob Jones might like to catch up on his activities by visiting his website, link below.
https://www.bobjonesmusic.co.uk/
 
Bob attended ABGS from 1955 to 1962, when his nickname was Sargy. He returned to teach at the school for a brief period and can be seen in the 1971–72 teachers’ photo on this, the ABGS, website.
He is also on Twitter here

 

A new Aberdare railway platform

A new arrivals platform is about to be constructed near Aberdare station. It will be situated slightly down the line from the existing Aberdare station, adjacent to the Sobell Leisure Centre car park and Aberdare Community School. This is in preparation for the new Metro system with its electric tram-trains running at greater frequency.

Departed Colleagues

We regret to record the deaths of three people who were associated with the school.
Mrs Phyllis Brace died on 23rd October at her home in Church Avenue, Llwydcoed. She was 92 years old. She briefly took over music teaching at the school in September 1962, (and can be seen in the 1962 panoramic school photograph). This was when Gethin Evans was on sick leave. But for most of her career Mrs Brace was a music teacher at Mountain Ash Secondary School; was leader of the Mountain Ash Mixed Choir for a long period, organist, and one of the stalwarts of St James Church, Llwydcoed. Her funeral took place on November 8th, 2022.
Former pupil Stephen Paul Kozok died recently, and his funeral took place on November 9th; he was 69 years old. He attended ABGS from 1965 to 1973.
We also heard of the death of Lee Charles Ford who died on Thursday, 3rd November. His funeral took place on 17th November 2022 at Llwydcoed Crematorium. Mr Ford was an inspector with the Gwent Police Service. Lee, ABCS 1985–92, can be seen in the School Prefects photograph of 1992, and he is number 508 in the Upper School, Panoramic Photograph, 1990. It was indeed a very big funeral. A large number of police men and women from the Gwent Constabulary attended, including six motorcycle outriders and a guard of honour on the drive formed by another group of officers. The Gwent Chief Constable gave the main oration in which she spoke most highly of Lee. Also in attendance were pupils from Aberdare Community School and St. John Baptist School. The Crematorium chapel was full and it was necessary for several mourners to use the overflow area, watching the event on CCTV.

Aberystwyth University’s 150th Anniversary Former students who went to UCW Aberystwyth will probably be aware that the university is currently celebrating the 150th anniversary of its founding in 1872. In addition to several events taking place in Aberystwyth and elsewhere, a commemorative book has been published to mark the anniversary. The book is called Ceiniogau’r Werin: Prifysgol Aberystwyth mewn 150 Objects / Pennies of the People: Aberystwyth University in 150 Objects, and details of how to obtain it can be found here. You can find out more about the anniversary by clicking or tapping here.

Aberdare Golf Club, 1921–2021

Golf Club History

Front Cover of the new book

Gwyn Evans, (ABGS 1959–1966), has recently brought out a new book that charts the history of the Aberdare Golf Club in Abernant over the one hundred years since its establishment in 1921. The 59 pages contain many old photographs, tables with names of captains, champions and Presidents, etc. The golf course is described in some detail in an early section, and in later sections, the clubhouse, the Ladies Section, Club Honours, Cups & Trophies, and of course Dai Rees, the son of the club professional.
 
Club members in the book associated with the school include E. Ceredig Jones, (Latin), Captain 1931 & 1955; J.T. Bowen, (Deputy Headmaster), President 1950 & 1951; and Meirion Jenkins, (Geology), President 1980. We also read that Miss Margaret Cook, the first headmistress of the Aberdare Intermediate School for Girls, (1913–1942), was an experienced player at the club.
 
Gwyn is a son of (Long) Tom Evans, Head of Geography at our school, 1948–1979. The book is available from the club and is priced £7.50.

Rhigos Road Video An interesting video about the mountain road between Rhigos and Treherbert, opened in 1929, was uploaded to YouTube a few weeks ago. Coincidentally, the road has been closed recently due to rocks falling onto the carriageway.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GHe8H9IAp7E

Robertstown Bridge Repairs to the ironwork of the 1811 Robertstown tramroad bridge damaged in the storms of February 2020 have been delayed. During the storm a large tree fell onto the bridge deck. The whole of the ironwork structure was removed for offsite repairs. As well as the bridge itself, there is substantial scour damage to the northern masonry abutment. This too needs urgent attention. See the RCTCBS news release here.

St Fagan’s Church Grant although not on the scale of the huge grant to St Elvan’s Church, it was reported in mid-August that St Fagan’s Church, Trecynon had been awarded £10,000 by the National Churches Trust for essential repairs. The news reader Huw Edwards who is Vice President of the Trust, is reported to have said, “I’m delighted that St Fagan Church is being helped with funding for urgent roof, rainwater goods and other repairs. This will safeguard unique local heritage and keep the church open and in use for the benefit of local people.” (The photograph of Huw Edwards in the article linked to below is from his London Welsh Chapels book, (2015)). St Fagan’s was financed by the Hon. Robert H. Clive and consecrated in 1854. However, in 1856 the church was burnt down, but was rebuilt with funding from Lady Harriet Clive, (Baroness Windsor).
https://www.churchinwales.org.uk/en/news-and-events/historic-church-secures-funding-for-repairs/

CaradogFest, July 16, 2022

Photo: Steven Graham

The Caradog Festival. The photograph shows the final item of the day-long activities in Aberdare on Saturday, July 16th. The venue is the library square with Green Street Methodist Church in the background. Combined choirs forming a group of around 200-300 choristers gave a programme of popular songs. Throughout the day there had been simultaneous performances at four different venues: St Elvan’s, the market car park, the square opposite Lloyds Bank, as well as the library square. There was a relaxed atmosphere in the town on Saturday as both Canon Street and High Street were closed to traffic. The festival occupied three days, with a concert in St Elvan’s on Friday Evening, and a Cymanfa Ganu on Sunday.

Mrs Prudence Williams

Prudence Williams

We report with sadness the death on July 19th, 2022 in Ysbyty Cwm Cynon of Prudence Williams. She was 99 years of age. Mrs Williams was Chair of Governors at ABGS, and can be seen in this capacity in the 1976 Certificate Ceremony entry on this website. As Prudence Doughton she married Harold V. Williams in 1944; the couple raised two children. She became a long-serving Protectionist Town and County Councillor. She was a past pupil of AGGS and can be seen in the 1938 Album in the 4 alpha class photograph. Mrs Williams was a lifelong member of Bethel Welsh Baptist Chapel, Abernant; and at the time of her death, she lived alone at 18 Fothergill Street, Abernant. She is survived by her son. Her funeral took place at Green Street Methodist Church on Tuesday, August 2nd.

Mrs Tydfil Thomas, OBE, JP, MA. We regret to report the death of Mrs Tydfil Thomas, former headmistress at the Girls Grammar, and later Comprehensive, School in Aberdare. She died on July 6th, 2022 aged 97. Her funeral will take place on Thursday 21st July at 3 pm at Llwydcoed Crematorium.
As Miss Tydfil Jones, she came to AGGS in 1965, retiring in 1985. Shortly after taking up her new post, she married Dr T J Thomas, a consultant radiologist. As an historian Mrs Thomas was an expert on the relief of the Victorian poor in the Merthyr Tydfil Union, which included Aberdare.

CaradogFest The programme of events for this large celebration in Aberdare July 15th-17th can be found at this link
https://www.caradogfest.com/timetable.html

Proposed Reunion/Reception at the Old Boys’ Grammar School Clocktower House. The owners of the clocktower house opposite the bottom gates of Aberdare Park would like to cordially invite former pupils of the Old Boys’ Grammar School to a reunion/reception at the building. No specific date has been proposed for the event, but this notice serves to gauge if there is sufficient interest to run this small event. If you would like to register your interest, please contact Adrian Harford by email at adrianharford1@gmail.com or send a message using the feedback form on this webpage - on the right.


 

Some Background Information about Aberdare County School

Cwmdare Rd 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. The school adopted a new badge, which showed 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 was a large sports hall added to the site, behind the two-story block on the right. The new hall was both a school and a community facility.

In 2011, the decision was made by RCTCBC to close the Boys’ High School, the Girls Comprehensive (at Plasdraw and The Gadlys) and Blaengwawr Comprehensive School. It was intended that the pupils of all three schools would be housed in the new school to be built at The Ynys, near the centre of Aberdare, and which was initially planned to open in September 2014. By September 2014 Aberdare had three secondary schools instead of the existing five. The new Aberdare Community School did open in September 2014, but only in name, and a move into the incomplete new school buildings was deferred until 2015. The temporary homes of the new school were at the former Blaengwawr, Aberdare High and Aberdare Girls (Plasdraw) buildings. Pupils started moving out of these old buildings and moving into the new building in the summer term of 2015, with examination candidates remaining in the Cwmdare Road building to take their examinations. The Girls’ School and its 3 acres of land in Plasdraw was sold at auction on July 13th 2015 for £415,000. The Cwmdare Road Boys Upper School building is being demolished during the first three months of 2017.

 
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 tower and adjacent room have been converted into a new home that was featured in both the South Wales Echo and the Cynon Valley Leader in July 2009, and again in October 2015. 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 owner at the time of the Echo article was Ray Radnedge of Radnedge Architectural Antiques in Llanelli. In the article he said he had 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.

From 2018 the property has been occupied by a private individual. In April 2023, the house once again appeared on the market, but with a large extension on the rear of the property, and with a luxurious interior makeover.

A gallery of photographs showing the reinstatement of the clock can be found in the School Building section of this website. The weather vane completed the architectural fittings at the top of the dome. Immediately after its reinstatement, the clock showed the correct time with the clock faces 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.

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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.
 

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