Boys’ County School Prize Day.
Transcript of Aberdare Leader report on the 1936 Certificate Ceremony
for the class of 1935
Headmaster’s Last Public Appearance.
Review of Way School has Grown
BISHOP DISTRIBUTES CERTIFICATES
BY A STAFF REPORTER
The 39th annual distribution of certificates in connection with
Aberdare Boys’ County School, which was held at the Empire Theatre last Thursday
night, had special significance, for it marked the last public appearance as headmaster
of Mr. W. Charlton Cox, M.A., the headmaster, who is to retire at the end of this
year, after having been associated with the school since it was opened nearly 40
Alderman Mrs. Rose Davies, M.B.E., J.P., one of the oldest governors,
who presided in the absence of the chairman of governors, Mr. George Jenkins, referred
to this in her opening remarks, when she paid a high tribute to the valuable service
given by the headmaster to the school, and to the admirable guidance Mr. Charlton
Cox had given to successive generations of Aberdare young people, and the boys themselves
seemed to feel the touch of sadness about the occasion for their headmaster, for
they gave him a specially enthusiastic ovation that must have served to assure him
that there was no doubt about their feelings of respect and admiration.
The principal guest was the Bishop of Llandaff (the Right Rev. Timothy
Rees), and the headmaster revealed that there was a happy touch about this, for
he said, when he gave his first annual report as headmaster in 1905 the prizes were
distributed by the then Bishop of Llandaff (the Rt. Rev. J. Pritchard Hughes, D.D.).
On the stage with the chairman, the headmaster and the Bishop were
Mrs. Charlton Cox, County Coun. Mrs. M. E. Jones, Hirwaun; Mrs. A. N. Jenkins, O.B.E.;
the Rev. Richard Ward, B.D., vicar, and Mrs Ward, and Miss Margaret S. Cook, headmistress
of the Girls’ County School.
In her opening address, Mrs. Rose Davies apologised for the absence
of the chairman of governors, (Mr. Jenkins), and added that this gave her, as one
of the oldest governors, the honour and privilege of presiding over the function.
It gave her special pleasure to do so because it was the last prize day on which
the governors had opportunity of meeting Mr. Charlton Cox, and she welcomed the
opportunity of being able to pay tribute to the excellent service he had rendered
to successive generations of Aberdare young people who had passed under his care.
It was a terrible wrench to sever associations with Mr. Cox, and she felt certain
that parents felt this and appreciated the debt of gratitude they owed to him for
the work he had done on their behalf. The school, the governors and parents would
miss him tremendously, and they all hoped that he and Mrs. Cox would have many happy
years to enjoy their retirement. (Applause).
Mrs. Davies then went on to refer to “prize day” as an
occasion when parents could meet the governors and staff, and expressed her pleasure
that they had such a distinguished guest present in the person of the Bishop, who,
she said, had a soft spot in his heart for Aberdare. (Applause.)
When the headmaster arose to give his annual report he was given
a rousing ovation by the boys which lasted for several minutes.
Mr. Cox opened by saying that before he gave his report he would
like to express his appreciation of the kind remarks made by the chairman. He would,
too, like to thank Mrs. Davies and the governors generally for the unfailing sympathy
and help they had always given him during his career at the school. He would also
like to pay tribute to the Bishop for coming there that evening to distribute the
certificates. He then revealed that the chief guest at his first prize distribution
had been the then Bishop of Llandaff. When Bishop Rees had been told of the circumstances
he had only been too pleased to attend. (Applause.)
Giving his annual report (extracts from which will be found below),
the headmaster made special reference to a careers bureau, which had been formed
at the school during the year to work in co-operation with the Employment Exchange
at finding openings for boys at the school. Several boys had been placed in positions
through this bureau, and openings had been found for many more, but parents had
been unwilling to allow their boys to leave the district.
This year there was an improvement, however. More boys had been
placed in districts outside Wales. It was a great pity that boys educated at the
school could not find positions in this district, but that fact was due to the difficult
economic situation that existed here. The only solution was for parents to make
up their minds to allow their boys to go away, though that experience was not a
pleasant one for parents.
Mr Cox then proceeded with his printed report, extracts from which
are as follows.
Numbers on Register during the twelve months ended July 31, 1935,
were as follows: Autumn Term, 1934, 365; Spring Term, 1935, 348; Summer Term 1935,
331. This is an increase of 5 on the average number in attendance during the preceding
No changes took place in the staff during the year. During the Spring
Term two teachers in training, from the Education Department of the University College
of South Wales and Monmouthshire, attended the school for the purpose of gaining
experience in teaching.
During the year the school was visited and inspected by Mr. J. Norris,
H.M.I., who came specially to inquire into the question of the amount of home work
set, and the question of providing a Biological Laboratory and a new class-room;
also, by Mr. W.H. Robinson, M.A., of the Central Welsh Board, for the purposes of
the subsidiary inspection.
As usual the Pass Lists of the Central Welsh Board were issued and
submitted to you in September 1935. Full details will be found in the appendix of
this report. The summarised results were as follows:— For the Higher Certificate,
21 pupils entered, and 12 passed; for the School Certificate, 71 pupils entered
and 54 passed; one pupil gained a Supplementary Certificate. Seventeen marks of
distinction were gained, and 25 pupils secured certificates entitling them to exemption
from Matriculation. In future years no special marks of distinction will be awarded.
The percentage of pupils entered who were successful was this year 70. One pupil
passed the Welsh Matriculation examination in January.
On the results of the above examinations a State Scholarship was
awarded to Emlyn Howard Lloyd, and a County Free Scholarship to Derlwyn Howard Edwards.
Both of these students are now attending College in London. David Charles Marsh
was awarded a County Commercial Exhibition, and is now a student at Birmingham University.
An internal Llewellyn Scholarship was awarded to Ivor J. Leng.
The customary extra scholastic activities were well maintained throughout
the year. A party of the pupils visited Paris during the summer under the guidance
of Mr. T. B. Reynolds, B.A. We were again unfortunate in having to postpone the
athletic sports owing to torrential rain.
In May, the Silver Jubilee of H.M. King George V was celebrated by
a special tea provided by the County Authority, for all pupils (about 180) who were
able to attend, and an address was given by the head master.
The Careers Bureau, organised the previous year under the direction
of Messrs. Hoggins and Phillips, continued its efforts to find openings for pupils
who had finished their school career and wished to enter some branch of commercial
life, but their work was at times nullified by the unwillingness of pupils who had
been found openings to leave their homes for other districts.
The number of volumes issued from the school library during the year
was 936. The school magazine, “The Aberdarian,” was, as usual, circulated
among the pupils at the end of each term.
A commencement was made on the promised Biological Laboratory and
new classroom by clearing away the apparatus in the former engineering laboratory.
Plans were also passed for an extension of the offices. At the time of writing this
report the work of enlarging and adapting these premises is progressing well, and
we should be able to make use of the new rooms at the beginning of the next Summer
Many successes were gained by former students during the year under
review. The M.A. degree was awarded to H. B. Davies and R. W. Evans. First Class
Honours were gained by T. J. Williams, J. Richards, M. Lloyd, and C. G.
Gardener. J. Richards and M. Lloyd were both awarded Post-Graduate Scholarships
by the University of Birmingham.
In conclusion I tender my warmest thanks to Governors, staff and
all connected with the school for their co-operation and support throughout the
Mr. Cox added that the new laboratory and classroom had now been
completed, and the school was enjoying the use of them. He had, this year, no occasion
to complain to the County Councillors present about the lack of accommodation as
he had so often had to do in past years. (Applause).
Forty Years’ Growth
IN NUMBERS AND CURRICULUM.
The headmaster then announced that as this was his last appearance
at a school prize day he would give a brief survey of the way the school had grown
during the past 40 years, which might prove of interest to boys and parents. The
school was opened on September 20, 1896, which was a real gala day for Aberdare,
as this was the first intermediate school built in the neighbourhood. The opening
ceremony was performed by the late Mr. D. A. Thomas, M.P., and Mrs Thomas. Mr. D.
A. Thomas, afterwards Lord Rhondda, opened the boys’ department, and Mrs.
Thomas the girls’ department. The school had been built to accommodate 120
pupils, 60 boys and 60 girls. The first headmaster was Mr. Jenkyn Thomas, whose
name is still remembered in Aberdare, and a staff of four. It quickly became evident
after the first year or two that the people who had built the school did not have
enough faith. The school was immediately full up, and in the next two years the
number of pupils increased to 174. By 1902 it had actually increased to 250. In
1905, when Mr. Jenkyn Thomas left to take up the headship of Hackney Down School,
London, and he (Mr. Cox) became headmaster, it rose to nearly 300. By 1907
the average attendance was 368.
The school building was even smaller than it was now, and was so
overcrowded that the County Council took the step of opening a new school at Mountain
Ash. This took away a great many pupils, and the number at Aberdare dropped to 240.
It stayed at this number, approximately, until 1913, and the County Council then
decided upon another move and built the Girls’ County School. The number of
boys left was 130 and so they had to start building the school up again.
War broke out in 1914 and lasted for four years, and as a result
of the upset in social and economic life it was found impossible to increase the
numbers of pupils until 1920-21, and by 1923 the number grew to 280, and two or
three years afterwards to 300.
In spite of the long period of depression and economic difficulty,
the number had continued to grow, and during the past three or four years it had
averaged between 340 and 360. Now there was a headmaster and a staff of 17.
DEVELOPMENT OF CURRICULUM
There had been a corresponding growth in the work of the school,
added Mr Cox; the scope of education had also increased. At present there was a
Higher Form of 24 pupils working for the Higher Certificate, who were being given
a choice from seven alternative courses. For the rest of the senior boys there was
a larger curriculum available. Many more subjects were being taught at the school
than originally. During the past ten years new subjects had been introduced —biology,
economics, typewriting and several others. They were always
endeavouring to widen the scope of subjects so that every boy in the school might
have the opportunity of finding in the curriculum some subject that suits his particular
HEAD’S NEW RESPONSIBILITY
When the school started it was considered that the headmaster had
performed his duty if he educated the boy while he was actually at school. But there
had been a great change in circumstances, and now, in addition to educating the
boy at school, the headmaster had also to try to find an opening for him when he
left. That was why the careers bureau had been formed. Mr. Cox
added that he hoped (though he would not be there to see it) that it would be possible
to accomplish more in this direction, and he hoped that parents would not hinder
the work by refusing to allow their boys to accept suitable openings that might
The School had a proud past. Out of it had sprung the Mountain Ash
County School with its 300 pupils, and the Girls’ County School with 300 pupils.
This was a great tribute for the enthusiasm for education that existed in this valley.
Of course the school could never have developed without the sympathetic help of
the governors and the loyal co-operation of the staffs it had had.
Something had been accomplished, but he was still conscious that
there were many ways in which the school could be developed further if time permitted.
One thing in which a great deal more would have to be done was technical
education. The school had, in the past been rather handicapped by lack of staff
for this side of the curriculum, but now an additional master had been appointed
for these subjects, and it should be possible to develop them. (Applause.)
He was certain that with the help and co-operation of the governors
this valuable work would be continued, and that much would be accomplished. (Applause.)
The headmaster was given another prolonged ovation as he resumed
The chairman then introduced the bishop and paid tribute to the work
his Lordship had done to help the distressed areas.
The bishop then distributed certificates to the following boys: —
HIGHER CERTIFICATES.—W.F. Barling, G. Bateman, I.R. Davies,
D.H. Edwards, J.R. Evans, T. J. Evans, A.B. James, L. Jones, I.J.
Leng, *E.H. Lloyd, D.C. Marsh, R.J. Reynolds.
SCHOOL CERTIFICATES.—S. Bird, *F.T. Coles, *J.D.P. David, C.M.
Davies, *D.R. Davies, Emlyn Davies, John Davies, John Trevor Davies, Ronald
Davies, D.G. Ellis, A. Evans, Cliff Evans, E J. Evans, D.R. Eves,
R.O. Eynon, *D.D. Fowler, C.B. Griffiths, *W.P. Hough, L. Humphreys, *R.D.
James, Trevor James, W.T.D. Jenkins, T.B. John, W.E. John, *Gordon Jones, Haydn
Jones, H.H.M. Jones, Trevor Jones, A.H. Lewis, D.J. Lewis, *L.R. Lewis,
R.K. Lewis, M. Morgan, R.A. Nicholas, M. Pearce, D.C. Phelps, E.J.H. Phillips,
T.G.G. Price, A.W. Prowel, *J. Rees, W.E. Roberts, R.H. Sleeman, T.V. Sloper,
B. Stephens, Alun Thomas, *D.A. Thomas, D.J. Thomas, G.F.H. Thomas, T. Walters,
G.P. Walters, E.B. Williams, Emrys Williams, R. Wyatt.
SUPPLEMENTARY CERTIFICATE.—I.G. Norris.
* Denotes passes with distinction in one or more subjects.
HOUSE BADGES.— The following members of “Tudur” house
were awarded badges: Howard Edwards (captain), D.N.T. John, G.R.D. Jones, F.E.
Williams, F.C. Batten, W.A. Baker, J.R.C. Williams, J. Callaghan, Leslie
Evans, R.E. Thomas, J. Bennet, E. Davies.
RUGBY SEASON, 1934-35.—“Colours”
were awarded to the following: D.N.T. John (captain), B.J. Walters (vice-captain),
E.B. Williams, D.W. Jones, T.L. Moore, T.S. Rees, L. Jones, D.T. Lloyd, T.B.
Lewis, W.B. Williams, E.T. Davies.
Afterwards the XV gave their war cry.
When he rose to give his address, the bishop was accorded an enthusiastic
ovation and he immediately won the interest of the boys with a racy talk, which
included several good stories and humorous illustrations of his points.
After congratulating the school and paying a tribute to Mr. Cox for
his valuable work for nearly 40 years, the bishop went on to make some observations
on the school spirit, which was a great heritage for the boys of this country.
He referred to the founding of that great school, Winchester, by
William of Wickham, 800 years ago, and said that the founder had laid down
certain principles that must be observed if the school was to fulfil its true functions,
and these principles were as applicable to-day as they had been 800 years ago.
The first was that the education at the school must be a foundation
for a superstructure, which must be built on it in after-school life. He did not
mean going to the University, but that it should be of value to men and women in
whatever work they took up.
The second principle was that boys should live together and develop
a spirit of esprit-de-corps. The school spirit in England to-day was a great heritage
that had been handed down through many generations, and it was unique in the schools
of this country.
Protect the Weak.
The third principle was that the older boys should protect the younger
boys, and this had led to the monitor system. The principle of the strong protecting
the weak was an important one which should apply to people and nations.
Strong nations should protect the weak, not drop poison gas on them.
If this principle was observed it would obviate the spirit of greed and selfishness
that existed in the world today
A fourth principle laid down by William of Wickham was that the school
should be open to the sons of rich and poor alike, and this had led to the giving
of bursaries and scholarships.
The bishop ended by telling the boys that they should be proud of
their school and its traditions. (Applause).
During the proceedings, the school choir, under the baton of Mr.
P.E. Phillips, M.A., gave very pleasing renderings of unison and part-songs-“Gadael
(G. Davies and Garmon Jones), “Widdicombe Fair” (Traditional), and the
negro spiritual “Swing low sweet Chariot,” in which they showed nice
“Swing Low” was particularly well sung and ended very effectively with
the last verse unaccompanied.
At the pianoforte, Mr. R.E. Coppin and Mr. C. Davies.
VOTES OF THANKS.
After the bishop’s address the choir rendered “A Catastrophe,” a
humorous School-song by Sheldon and Sprague. This was heartily applauded by boys
and parents alike. A vote of thanks to the bishop was moved by Arthur Jenkins (6a
Arts) who said that the only condition upon which he was allowed to speak that evening
was that he did not speak longer than the bishop. It was a great honour to have
the bishop with them that night. When he heard that the Bishop of Llandaff was being
invited he began to wonder why they should ask a bishop of all people. He then remembered
that the boys said the Lord’s Prayer at a terribly fast rate each morning
at assembly. Perhaps the bishop had come to slow matters up. (Laughter).
The speaker thought that the Right Rev. Timothy Rees’s close
association with Aberdare brought him there, for he could be seen in the town quite
often. He was sure everyone had enjoyed the bishop’s speech very much and
would join with him in the vote of thanks.
The proposition was seconded by Dennis Griffiths (6a Science) who
said it was a great honour for him to do so. They were as a school grateful to the
bishop for coming to present the certificates, despite the fact that it might have
caused him considerable inconvenience. There was another matter he wanted to mention.
All the boys would be truly sorry to lose the services of their
esteemed head master at the end of the year. He wished Mr. Cox a happy retirement.
The bishop then responded, saying that he was very sorry that he
had forgotten, when he first spoke, to congratulate the boys upon gaining their
certificates and caps. He could see the boys fondling their caps lovingly. He did
not blame them, for he could honestly say that he treasured his cap as much as any
The bishop, proposing a vote of thanks to Ald. Mrs Rose Davies for
presiding, asked those present to join with him in doing so. Mrs. Davies was given
a hearty ovation.
A gymnastic display followed under the direction of Mr. E.J. Excell
(sports master). A fine exhibition of various muscular exercises was given as well
as a number of vaulting exercises. The display ended with a spectacular pyramid
which was heartily applauded by the audience. The following boys took part
in the display:—L. Jones (captain), D.N.T. John, B.J. Walters, I.R. Davies,
J.A. Chew, H. Jones, M. Pearce, L.R. Lewis, T.R. Thomas, D.J. Jones, T.L. Moore,
A.H. Lewis, T.C. Williams, T.S. Rees, W.C. Preece, W.B. Williams.
The proceedings closed with a fervent rendering of the National Anthem.