Aberdare Boys’ Grammar School
The clock tower was built about 5 years after the original school building was opened in 1896. The school’s appearance was very different before the clock was added; a photo in the RCT Libraries Archive shows this: school without the clock tower. An engraved stone on the clock tower indicated that it was built in 1901. Around this period there were several additions to the school buildings: the gym, staff room, dining hall, room 9, the chemistry and physics labs, and the workshop. Further additions were made and the mining laboratory, later the biology lab, bears the inscription ‘1914’.
The picture below shows a close-up of the face of our old clock. This matches very closely one of the dials that was recently (2007) offered in the catalogue of the clock maker John Smith and Sons of Derby, where it was described as "black and gold, with opal glazing, with a star centre". Click here to see their current website. The Governors’ Minutes of Dec 9th and May 13th, 1900 indicate that John Smith was indeed the manufacturer of our clock. An inspection of the recently (May 2008) restored mechanism would confirm this. There are several pictures of the restored clock being lifted back onto the tower in a picture gallery available from the menu in the School Buildings section of this site.
Jennie Williams told us that she originally used the Headmaster’s study, below the clock tower, as her office until she began to suffer some knee joint problems when Mr Warren changed offices with her at some time in the early sixties. She remembered that each week Mr Jones (Davy Jones) the old caretaker would climb the tower to the clock through a hatch in the office ceiling to wind the mechanism by hand. The weights from the clock hung down through a vertical cavity into Room 1 below and may have been housed in a boxed-in cupboard in the corner. She described to us an incident when a boy climbed through this cupboard and surprised her by appearing in her office.
Colin Rees knew one of the men, Glan Davies, who used to service
the ABGS clock. Glan used to work at Runge the jeweller in Cardiff Street, almost opposite
the National School, where he was the watch and clock repairer. He also
maintained St Elvan’s clock and, until 2002, he also adjusted it for BST/GMT. He
said the ABGS clock was very reliable and rarely needed attention. A good anecdote
he gave was the following: "because several of the mosaic glass pieces were missing
in the clock faces, and because the clock was illuminated at night, it attracted lots
of flies that got inside the clock. As a result the main task that he had to perform
was to clear out loads of dead flies that gummed up the works."