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



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 years ago.

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 year.

Teaching Staff.

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.

Examination Results.

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.

Corporate Life.

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 Term.

Past Students.

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 year.

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


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.


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 bent.


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 be found.

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 his seat.

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.


* 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 Tir” (G. Davies and Garmon Jones), “Widdicombe Fair” (Traditional), and the negro spiritual “Swing low sweet Chariot,” in which they showed nice blend. “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.


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 degree.

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.