Derek Morgan, B.Mus.
Teacher, Musician & Organist
(ABGS 1945–1952)

Derek Morgan at the Calfaria Organ

Derek Morgan at the Calfaria organ

Derek Morgan was a school teacher, chapel organist and organ builder. He was born January 13th, 1934 to Lewis Morgan and his wife Margaret, née Harries. Derek’s father, who worked for Aberdare Urban District Council, died whilst Derek was still a young boy. He was for many years brought up by his mother at 6, Foreman’s Row, Abernant. Derek’s great grandfather and grandfather were deacons at Bethel Baptist Church in Abernant, a church which Derek also attended.

As a youngster he participated in the dramatic activities of his chapel, appearing in a performance at the Social Centre hall in Hurst Grove. As a teenager he was the accompanist for the Abernant Pensioners Choir.

He received his elementary education at the Abernant village school, transferring to the County School in Trecynon in 1945. He took his CWB School Certificate in 1950, the last year of the School Certificate. In the following year he gained a GCE O level in Economics. For A level he studied Welsh1, Music and Economics. He spent his university years at U.C. Cardiff where he graduated with a B.Mus. in 1956.

After completing his National Service in Wrexham, Derek came back in 1959 to his old school, Aberdare Boys Grammar, to fill the temporary post of music teacher for a year, while Gethin Evans was on sick leave. During this academic year, 1959‒60, as well as the Carol Service he rehearsed the school choir in preparation for the school concert2 in May at the Coliseum, Trecynon. The main work was Bach’s Cantata No.99, together with eight other miscellaneous choral pieces. Derek also conducted the orchestra when a 16-year-old pupil Terry Johns3 performed Mozart’s Horn Concerto No. 3 in E.

On leaving ABGS Derek gained a teaching post at Bryngolwg Secondary Modern School, Mountain Ash, which became part of the Mountain Ash Comprehensive School in September 1966. It was there that he spent his entire career thereafter.

In the summer of 1957, Derek married Marlene D. Price at Calfaria Baptist Church in Monk Street, Aberdare. The couple eventually settled at 4 Plasdraw Avenue in the early 1960s, and brought up three children: Hywel4, Gareth and Eirwen.

Calfaria Schoolroom Organ

Calfaria Chapel
schoolroom organ

Calfaria Chapel Organ

The main Calfaria Chapel organ
shown after closure of the chapel

Derek was the organist at Calfaria for a remarkable fifty years until the chapel closed. Not only did he play the organ there but he also undertook, with Jeffrey Lloyd (Cwmdare), a partial rebuild of the instrument in 19755. Later when the congregation reluctantly decided to move their services from the main chapel to the schoolroom, Derek located a smaller pipe organ6 in Cwmfelinfach, dismantled it and rebuilt it with several alterations at the schoolroom at Calfaria.

Derek also played the organ at Bethel, Abernant, and Bethesda in Abercwmboi. In addition, he fulfilled for a time the role of accompanist and deputy conductor for Cwmbach Male Choir.

In 2020 Derek and Marlene left Aberdare to live closer to their daughter Eirwen in Wantage, West Berkshire. Within a year of arriving in Wantage, Derek died in July 2021.


Abernant OAP Choir, 1950

Abernant OAP Choir, circa 1950

Front row: 4th from left Derek Morgan (accompanist),
5th, his grandfather, Tom Morgan (conductor), and 6th J.L.Rowlands (President)
Location: The Social Centre, Hurst Grove, Abernant



  1. As a student of Welsh in the upper sixth, Derek contributed an englyn to school magazine, The Aberdarian, in 1952. An englyn is a short poem in Welsh constructed according to strict rules. The poem was as follows:

    Gadael ysgol gyda’I lol,—a meddwl
    Meddu safle siriol
    Trin cloddiau hir ar dir dôl,
    ’Nawr !   ysgon fyddai’r ysgol.

  2. The School Concert programme for 1960 can be found on this website in the Music & Drama section.
  3. Terry Johns has an entry in the Former Pupils section of this website.
  4. Derek’s son Hywel is Professor of Bioelectronics at the University of Southampton. He was awarded an MBE in 2020.
  5. The Harrison & Harrison organ was installed at Calfaria in 1903 to a design of Evan Thomas Davies, FRCO. It was modified by Derek Morgan & Jeffrey Lloyd in 1975 when 32ft pipes were added on the pedal stops. As far as is known, no other church or chapel in the Cynon valley had pipes installed longer than the usual 16ft.

    E.T. Davies, (1878–1969), was from Merthyr: a composer, organist, lecturer, adjudicator and teacher. He was appointed Director of Music at UCNW, Bangor in 1920 and remained in this post until 1943. He retired to Aberdare and lived with his Aberdare-born wife Mary Llewelyn Jones at 4, Plasdraw Road, just around the corner from Derek Morgan. Mary was a member of the Jones, ‘Ceffyl Gwyn,’ family of chemists and medical practitioners, who lived at 1 Victoria Square adjacent to St. Elvan’s church where the coupled married in 1916.

    Organ builders Derek Morgan & Jeffrey Lloyd were at ABGS 1945–52, and 1953–58 respectively.
  6. The organ that Derek built in Calfaria Schoolroom was by Alfred Monk of London, and brought to Aberdare from Cwmfelinfach English Baptist Church. Derek lowered the pitch by adding new “bottom C” pipes for each rank, and shifted all existing pipes along a semitone. The swell box was extended by 5 inches to add an extra rank. Additional pipe work, by Binns of Leeds, came from Bethania Welsh Baptist chapel Blaengarw.


  1. John Samuel for providing valuable information for this biographical account, and for the photograph of Abernant O.A.P. Choir.
  2. Steven Graham for the photograph of the interior of Calfaria Chapel.