Arwyn Williams Chief Clerk, Aberdare
ABCS 1924 - 1929
Thomas Arwyn Williams was born in Aberdare on 12 May 1912. He was the youngest son of Thomas and Margaret Williams, (née Davies) of 18, Elizabeth Street in Foundry Town. He had two elder brothers, John Idris and Morgan David and a sister Gwyneth, later to become Gwyneth Hughes initially a nurse at the Elizabeth Street surgery of Dr Wilson, and later a well-known district nurse in the town. Both Arwyn’s parents had been born in Aberdare, and his father was employed as a miner, and later as a labourer with Aberdare Urban District Council.
He attended the Town Council Elementary School in Clifton Street, and transferred from there to the County School in September 1924. It was only when he had completed his second year at Trecynon that he was granted an award by the governing body of the school that gave him total fee exemption. It would appear from an account in the Aberdare Leader that Arwyn was a bright lad, for at the age of 10 whilst still at Elementary School, he won a merit award in a national competition run by the Daily Graphic newspaper1. By July 1924 he had gained his CWB School Certificate with Matriculation Equivalence, which would qualify him for university entrance. However unlike his friends Mansel Davies & Tom Barling who went on to gain high honours at university, Arwyn was obliged to seek employment due to financial pressures at home. Consequently, after spending five months in the lower sixth form, he left Form VIb in February 1929, having successfully gained a post as clerk at the offices of the Aberdare Education Committee.
Arwyn remained at the Education Office in Aberdare for all his working career of 41 years, until he died in 1970 aged 58, whilst still in post as Chief Clerk. Initially the offices were in High Street, presided over by Directors of Education T.J.Botting and T.J.Lewis, but later the office moved to the Rock Grounds where Brynmor Jones, Oliver Timothy and Edwin Roberts were Divisional Education Officers after transfer of the service to the Glamorgan Education Committee in 1945. When war came, Arwyn was not eligible for service in H.M. Forces due to a heart weakness, and to his severe short-sightedness. As for Arwyn’s brothers, they were two of the many who chose to leave Wales in order to find work: Idris to Avonmouth, and Morgan to Peterborough.
In his professional capacity Arwyn was known for total dedication to his duties and was highly valued by those in the education service who turned to him for help and advice. His wise and honest counsel was held in great esteem. He was an active member of his union, The National Association of Local Government Officers, and was at the time of his death the chairman of the local divisional committee, and a member of the Glamorgan central executive committee.
In the summer of 1940 Arwyn married Heulwen Mai Rogers from Croes Bychan, a small hamlet situated beyond Llwydcoed. Heulwen went to school in Aberdare, but such was the remoteness of her home that she lodged in Tudor Terrace on weekdays to ensure that she got to school on time! After marriage, they initially set up home with his parents at 18, Elizabeth Street. The couple subsequently enjoyed thirty years together; there were no children. Towards the end of her life, Heulwen’s mother Mrs Mary Rogers, lived with her daughter and son-in-law.
Outside his work activities Arwyn was a very active member of Highland Place Unitarian Church. Initially appointed as Deputy Church Secretary in 1955, he later became Church Secretary and remained in that position until 1970. During that period Rev D. Jacob Davies and Rev J. Eric Jones were ministers there. In addition when required, he led services from the pulpit in the absence of the minister. His committee work and his reputation for attention to detail led to him being appointed as auditor for the South East Wales Unitarian Society.
Arwyn was a great reader, enjoyed a game of chess and a visit to the snooker table with friends Jack Rees, Frank Morris and Bert Hughes at the United Services Club and Institute - also known as the “Shot & Shell”, at Bryngolwg House in Wind Street.
In 1945, when D. Jacob Davies arrived in Aberdare to take charge at Highland Place and Hen Dŷ Cwrdd, he decided not to live at Unity House which was the manse at Highland Place. Consequently, Arwyn and his wife Heulwen moved into Unity House next to the Highland Place Church, Monk Street, where they were able to keep a close eye on the Church building and its activities. Arwyn and his wife were keen dog owners and were often seen walking with their dogs along ‘The Line’ that ran from Cwmaman to Cwmdare across the top of Monk Street.
Arwyn became ill in the autumn of 1970, and after just four
days he died in September of that year. His funeral service took place at Highland Place2 and
cremation at Glyntaff Crematorium. Heulwen then moved to a flat Tŷ Fry and maintained
contact with the church and the community. However, towards the end of her life she
moved to a bungalow in Woodland Park between Hirwaun and Penderyn. She had not enjoyed
good health for some years and eventually succumbed to her illness and died in the summer
of 1995, aged 77.