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Aberdare Boys’ Grammar School


old school

John Thomas Bowen (1893–1964)

Teacher & Deputy Headmaster, 1918 to 1958
Mr Bowen 1952

Mr Bowen in the 1952 Staff Photograph

Jack Bowen was one of the longest serving members of staff at the school. He completed exactly 40 years at Trecynon serving under five of the eight headmasters.

He was born on April 28th, 1893 at Penybank Farm, Llanarthney in the Gwendraeth Valley of Carmarthenshire and attended Cefneithin Council Elementary School until he was fourteen. He then gained a place at the Queen Elizabeth Grammar School in Carmarthen remaining there until he was 18.

Then followed three years as an uncertificated teacher at his old primary school before he went to the University College, Aberystwyth in 1914. He graduated from there with a degree in history in 1918.

He was appointed to the County School for Boys in Aberdare and started in the autumn term of 1918, teaching Welsh and Latin, with Scripture to lower forms. He retired from the school aged 65 at the end of the summer term in 1958; he held the position of Deputy Headmaster at this time.

During the 46 years that he lived in Aberdare, he remained very loyal to the county of his birth. Indeed, many a schoolboy was made aware of the superior qualities of Jack’s native county! However, he became thoroughly immersed in the life of the town and school. He was a keen member of the Past Students Association, even though he was never a pupil; he played bridge and golf; was a Freemason; and, the secretary of the school musical society taking a leading role in the administrative arrangements for the annual school concerts. He was an active member of the N.U.T and for a time became president of the local branch. He also chaired the Welsh Higher Education Committee.

Mr Bowen also co-authored the Teach Yourself Welsh textbook published by E.U.P. In this venture he teamed up with T.J. Rhys Jones who was County Language adviser for the Carmarthenshire L.E.A.

Jack assumed the role of temporary deputy headmaster when the headmaster, Mr Gwilym Ambrose, was assigned Principal of the Emergency Teacher Training College at Llandrindod in 1946. Mr T.B Reynolds moved into the head’s role and Jack into his deputy post. This arrangement was maintained until 1950 when Mr Ambrose returned. However, the permanent deputy post became available in 1952 and Mr Bowen, having been appointed, stayed in this position until he retired. He served firstly under Mr Reynolds, and then under Mr Warren from September 1954.

Mr Bowen remained in Aberdare after his resignation but enjoyed just six years of his retirement before he died in 1964. He lived with his wife Marjorie, née George, in Erwlon in Plasdraw, bringing up two sons John and Kenneth. Mr Bowen died at the age of 71 only a few days after contracting pneumonia.

The whole school lined the road outside the Park in Trecynon as the cortège started its journey to Mr Bowen’s final resting place in Llanarthney.


Additional information (click on the links to see these items):
An appreciation written by Mr Jess Warren
Death notice from the Aberdare Leader
An account of the funeral
Photograph of the cortège in Trecynon

A few pages of the Teach Yourself Welsh book can be seen in the Library section of this site, and
in the 75th anniversary booklet, which can be found in the History section, you can read Brynley F. Roberts’ appreciation of Mr Bowen’s work at the school.
Mr Bowen 1936

Mr Bowen in the
1936 Staff Photograph