Aberdare Boys’ Grammar School

School History

Old School

Report of the Ceremony to mark the Opening of the
Aberdare Intermediate School

From the Aberdare Times, Saturday, October 3rd, 1896.
A report describing the opening of the school that took place on
Monday, September 8th, 1896.


The opening of the Aberdare Intermediate School took place on Monday last.  The building, which is situate on a plot of ground near the lower entrance to the Public Park, has accommodation for 100 boys and 80 girls.  The school is an exceedingly neat stone building, with a central hall and a number of classrooms, the central hall being large enough to hold the whole number of the children.  There is also a cooking classroom provided, while a workshop and a laboratory are erected detached from the main building, and a space provided for a gymnasium.  The building, which cost some £5,000, was built by Mr David Jenkins, of Swansea, the architect being Mr John H. Phillips, M.S.A., St. John’s Chambers, Swansea1, whose plans were selected in open competition by the assessor, Mr Evan Christian, F.R.I.B.A., surveyor to the Charity Commissioners, London.  A master’s house is now in course of erection upon the site, the contractor being Mr John Morgan, Aberdare, and the architect Mr J.H. Phillips.   Some £1,800 was collected locally, and the whole of the work has been carried out under the superintendence of a strong local committee of which Mr D.P. Davies, J.P., Ynyslwyd, is the chairman, and the Rev. B. Evans, Gadlys the secretary, and both these gentlemen now occupy similar positions on the governing body of the school.

At 12 o’clock there was a large number collected to see the formal ceremony of opening the school, and Mr. D.P. Davies, JP, (the chairman of the governors) handed Mrs D.A. Thomas a silver key, bearing a suitable inscription, wherewith to open the girls’ department, a similar key being handed Mr D.A. Thomas, M.P., to perform the same ceremony for the boys.

Both having briefly spoken, those present inspected the school building, and at 12.30 the company present sat down to a luncheon, which had been laid out at the Central Hall.  Mr F.W. Caunt catering.  Mr D.P. Davies, JP, presided.  The chairman was supported on the cross-tables by Mr. D.A. Thomas, M.P., and Mrs Thomas, Mr. W. Jenkin Thomas, M.A. (the headmaster of the school, late classical lecturer at the University College of North Wales, Bangor), Mr J. Dixon (barrister-at-law Inner Temple) and Miss Dixon, Mr. L. Acomb (Lloyds Bank) and Mrs. Acomb, Mrs. (Rev.) R.J. Jones (Bron Iestyn), Mr. G. George, JP, and Rev. W. James.  The other governors of the school present were Alderman D. Morgan, Rev. W. James, Rev. B. Lloyd (rural dean Mountain Ash), Mr. M. Morgan, JP, and Rev. Thomas Jones (Carmel).   Among other representative men present we noticed Rev. H.R. Johnson, M.A. warden of St. Michael’s College, Aberdare; Revs. R.J. Jones, M.A., T.C. Evans, J.D. Rees, J. Sulgwn Davies, J. Griffiths, Aberdare; W.S. Davies, Llwydcoed; Dr. Evan Jones, JP, Councillor J. Roberts, JP, Pontypridd, C.C. John Howell, Aberaman; Mr. Charles Owen, headmaster of Merthyr Intermediate School; District Councillors T. Rees, Owen Harris, Rees Llywelyn, Lewis N. Williams; Messers W.J. Heppell, T. Railton, W. Charles, and Thomas Walters, member of the Aberdare School Board; Mr. W. Edwards, H.M. Inspector of Schools, Merthyr; Mr. Gomer Jones, B.A., assistant inspector; Mr. J.W. Morris, clerk of Aberdare School Board; Mrs. D.M. Richards, members of the Merthyr Board of Guardians; together with the staff of the schools, a number of the headmasters of the various elementary schools, and a large number of ladies and gentlemen from Aberdare and neighbourhood.   Letters of apology and regret at their inability to be present were received from the Dowager Lady Aberdare, the Right Hon. Lady Aberdare, Principal and Mrs J. Viriamu Jones; Messrs T. Ellis, M.P., R.H. Rhys, JP, E.M. Hann, High Constable of Aberdare; C. Kenshole, R. Bedington, Thomas Williams, JP, Merthyr; Dr. Turpin, headmaster of the Swansea Intermediate School; H.C. Lewis, The Mardy; Thomas Davies, C.C., Abercwmboy; Rev. Aaron Davies, Pontlottyn, D. Jenkins, builder, Swansea.

The loyal and patriotic toasts having been duly honoured, Mr D.A. Thomas, M.P., in proposing "Success to the School," said that was a proud day for Aberdare - a day that had been looked forward to with great anxiety.  It was twenty years since the claims of intermediate education in Wales was advocated, and sixteen years since Lord Aberdare’s Committee sat.  It was seven years since the Intermediate Education Act was passed, and that building, which was an architectural feature in the valley, had been now ready for over two years, and they had much reason to repeat that delay.  However, at last2 the school was open, and they had as teachers men of very high standing.   (Hear, hear.) Their headmaster (Mr W. Jenkin Thomas) was like himself, a Cambridge man, and not only a degree man, but had taken his M.A. degree with honours, and was beside a classical scholar of Trinity.  Speaking as an old Cambridge scholar, and one who was not a Trinity scholar, he could assure them that was a very high distinction.  They had now in Wales a better system of education from the bottom to the top than in any other civilised country.  (Loud applause.) They were now in a position to give every child equal opportunities, from the elementary school to the university.  (Hear, hear.) Of course they could not give them equal character, strength, power, or will; but equal opportunities were now supplied, and if they had any Miltons among them they need no longer be mute and inglorious ones.  (Hear, hear.)

Alderman D.P. Davies, JP, and Rev. W. James briefly responded; after which Mr G. George, JP, proposed "The, Staff," to which Florence White, B.A, (headmistress), and Mr W. Jenkin Thomas, M.A. (headmaster), responded.

Mr Gomer Jones, B.A., then read the list of those who had gained free scholarships at the school, it being announced that the governors had arranged to give 24 scholarships for boys and 12 for girls.  Mr Herbert C. Lewis, The Mardy, had also given four scholarships, and there were another two given by a gentleman whose name did not transpire.  The following are the successful candidates for scholarships and the marks obtained:- Norman Picton, Higher Grade3, 254; W.J. Harries, Higher Grade, 252; Samuel Shipton, Penrhiwceibr Board, 241; Alfred Morgan, Higher Grade, 212; Sidney Reed, Town Board, 210; Thomas Williams, Blaengwawr, 210; Gow Morgan, Higher Grade, 209; D.J. Rowlands, Llwydcoed, 206; D.T. Roberts, Higher Grade, 206; D. Davies, Blaengwawr, 205; W. Mason, Higher Grade, 205; W. Rees Davies, Higher Grade, 194; W. Crowley, Higher Grade, 194; W. Rees Thomas, Duffryn Board, 190; Levi Jones, Higher Grade, 189; C. Brain, Town, 188; Robert Williams, Higher Grade, 186 ; Morgan I. Jones, Higher Grade, 183; Willie Thomas, Town Board, 181; Rubert Hughes, Hirwaun, 179; Willie Jones, Higher Grade, 178; Daniel Griffiths, Blaengwawr, 174. Girls -May Daniel, Higher Grade, 234; Margaret Perkins, Town, 214; Edith Evans, Higher Grade, 212; Elizabeth J. Emanuel, Miskin Board, 210; Edith M. Evans, Higher Grade 209; Catherine Jenkins, Park, 201, Mary G. Davies, Higher Grade, 201; Gwen Morgan, Town Board, 200; Emily Griffiths, Park, 200 ; Elizabeth Evans, Park:, 195; Blodwen Jones, Park, 195 , Eliza Shaw, Park, 194 ; Mary Richards, Town Board, 193; Mary Davies, National, 195; Sarah Kate Evans, Park, 189; and Mary B. Griffiths, Park, 184.

Mr James Roberts, JP, Pontypridd, then in a highly interesting speech, full of reminiscences of Aberdare, proposed "The Governors," to which Mrs, H.J. Jones responded in a speech full of pathos, in which she dealt with the hopes and aspirations of Wales in the past and its responsibilities in the present; Rev. B. Lloyd, Mountain Ash, also responded.-"H.M. Inspectors" was proposed by Mr L. Acomb (Lloyds Bank), the treasurer of the governors, and responded to by Mr. W. Edwards, M.A., and Mr. Gomer Jones, B.A.  Votes of thanks to Mr and Mrs D.A. Thomas and to the chairman brought a most interesting function to a close.

1 The architect, Mr Phillips, was based in Cardiff and not Swansea as stated in the newspaper article.

2 The School Building had been ready for about 18 months prior to this opening ceremony taking place.  Due to a legal argument about endowments at Gelligaer, which affected all Glamorgan Intermediate Schools, the Aberdare school’s opening was delayed for a considerable time.

3 The Higher Grade School was situated in the buildings of the Town Council Elementary School, Clifton Street, in 1896.   It took pupils from several Aberdare Elementary Schools and taught them to more advanced stages than the fifth standard, Standard V — the highest practically attainable in many smaller Elementary Schools.   After 1905, this type of education was continued in the Gadlys School, which was known as The Higher Standard Schools at that time.   This name can still be seen on a carved tablet on the central tower of the school. The plural ‘Schools’ was used in the name because the girls and boys were taught separately and had separate headteachers. Indeed, there was a separation fence running perpendicularly from the central tower to the school gates in those days.