Aberdare Boys’ Grammar School

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Report of planned building extensions, The Aberdare Times, Saturday, 27 May 1899

by permission, Rhondda Cynon Tâf Libraries

Aberdare Times cutting 1899

This cutting from the Aberdare Times of 1899 is reporting on the proposed extensions to the Aberdare Intermediate School. These additions would be the second set of additions to the original 1896 building. Further changes were to occur later in 1901 with the building of the block which supported the clock tower. The physical science laboratory referred to in the cutting is probably the lab that later became exclusively used for Physics, and the lecture-room is almost certainly Room 8 which until about 1950 contained tiered seating and had no windows facing the upper playground. The blank wall of Room 8, without its windows, can be seen in the 1938 panoramic photograph.

The extension described above was to become the wing that housed the shower block and dining room on the ground floor with the Art and staff rooms on the upper floor. An architect’s drawing of an elevation of this wing is shown on the History Section index page of this website. In 1960 another new dining hall, which also doubled as an assembly hall, was built on School House lawn. After these last additions, the 1899 dining room became the Geography room.

Seen in the line drawing of the school above, the inscription on the frieze over the main hall windows reads: Aberdare Intermediate and Technical Schools, which is the name the school had initially. Above the entrance on the right is carved Girls Entrance. This entrance must have been demolished when the clock tower extension was built in 1901. Although most lessons took place in mixed groups, there was nevertheless a degree of separation of the sexes. There was a separate Boys Entrance which can be seen on the right in the first photograph of Dylan Morgan’s page in the School Buildings section of this site.

The foundation of the Cycling Club no doubt gained some impetus from the achievements of the Aberaman cyclist Arthur Lynton who had achieved considerable fame nationally with his victory in the 1896 Bordeaux-Paris race.

The Rev Benjamin Evans (1844–1900), bardic name Telynfab, was the preacher at Gadlys Baptist Chapel and was a prominent person in the town at the end of the nineteenth century, as well as being one of the most popular and best known Baptist ministers in Wales. He was secretary of the Baptist Missionary Society, and financial secretary of both the Welsh Baptist Union and the Sunday School Union. As an active Eisteddfodwr, he acted as adjudicator and conductor in several important Eisteddfodau, and his skills in addressing large groups made him an accomplished speaker. He was a busy writer, and contributed to the Press on various subjects, but he is remembered for his biography of Dr Thomas Price (1820–88), minister of Calfaria Welsh Baptist Chapel, Monk Street, (published in Aberdare by Jenkin Howell, 1891). Locally he was a member of the Aberdare School Board for twelve years, and at the time of his death he was a member of AUDC as well as being clerk to the governors at the new Intermediate School. He played an important role in bringing an Intermediate School to Aberdare and during its building phase was intimately concerned with setting it up. For example, it was he who ordered the furniture, see this correspondence from The Educational Supply Association Ltd (ESA) and his draft reply. Known affectionately to all as Bishop y Gadlys, he died at the age of 55 leaving a widow and six children one of whom Sarah Kate was in the very first intake to the school. The the family lived at 46, Gadlys Road.

Reproduced below is a transcript of the main text of the newspaper article:

“There is no doubt that the Aberdare Intermediate School is making very rapid progress. The governors met the architect, Mr J.H. Phillips, Caerphilly, on Wednesday morning, to make arrangements for the preparation of plans for the extension of the building. Already a physical science laboratory and a gymnasium have been added to the school, and it is now contemplated having a new and commodious kitchen in addition to the one now used, for cooking instruction and a dining hall. We may remark that the gymnasium contains a capital lot of apparatus, and is exceeding popular. Adjoining the gymnasium is a very neat dressing-room. The physical science laboratory is, also, a very well arranged one, and has accommodation for 21 pupils at a time. There is a lecture-room adjoining in which the demonstrator fully explains the lectures.

We may also add that type writing is now taught at the school, a magnificent Yost Typewriter having lately been purchased. This important branch will be taught in connection with the shorthand instruction at present given in the school. Last but not least is the Cycling Club which has just been formed. A capital series of runs have been arranged. There is no doubt that the Aberdare Intermediate School is one of the finest in Wales and we heartily congratulate the headmaster and his able staff. A more hardworking staff it would perhaps be difficult to find. The general teaching arrangements are excellent, and there is a method and business-like appearance about the school which is most commendable. We have do doubt that Aberdare Intermediate School is destined to have a very brilliant future.”

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