Aberdare Boys’ Grammar School

Certificate Ceremonies

school building

Prize Day, 1897

This press report describes the first ever School Prize Day, which followed 15 months after the school opened in September 1896, as a mixed secondary school, called Aberdare Technical and Intermediate School. It admitted pupils generally at age 12 and it was expected that most would leave at around 16, although initially many left after just two or three years at the school. Very few stayed until 18 for the higher level courses. In the entry of 1896, pupils were admitted of all permissible ages so that all forms had some pupils, that is forms I to VI.

The scholarships referred to below were awarded to a minority of pupils. They were awarded to cover the school fees of a pupil, either fully or partially, (half). The donor of the scholarship is also listed, most were from the old Glamorgan County Council. Other donors included Herbert Clark Lewis, (2nd Baron Merthyr) the son of Sir W.T. Lewis; Charles Kenshole a solicitor in Aberdare, who as well as donating a school prize gave generously to Aberdare General Hospital in Abernant.

The Prizes listed below were awarded for academic merit in internal school examinations. As far as we know the prize would be a book.

Aberdare County School.


The first annual distribution of prizes of the Aberdare County School was held at the Constitutional-hall, Aberdare, on Thursday evening, Mr. D.P. Davies, chairman of the governors, presiding. The spacious building was crowded, and upon the platform were Mrs. D.A. Thomas1, Miss Hurlbatt, principal of the Aberdare Hall2, Cardiff, Mrs. Jenkin Thomas, Miss Madge3, Miss. White4, and other ladies. Mr. Griffith George5, J.P., Mr. J.W. Morgan, J.P. (Hirwain Vaynor School Board), Mr. Jenkyn Thomas, B.A. (headmaster), and the whole of the staff, with the children of the school, and the Rev. B. Evans, secretary to the governors. The children, under the conductorship of Mr. Tom Price6, Merthyr, rendered, “Llwynon,” “Codiad yr Hedydd,” and “The Flag of England Old.”

Apologies for non-attendance were read from Principal Viriamu Jones7, the Hon. Mrs. Bruce8, Sir W. T. and Lady Lewis9, Mr. and Mrs. Rees10 (Glandare), Canon Johnston [sic]11, the Rev. J. Robertson12, and others.

In opening the proceedings, the Chairman mentioned that after examining the work of 80 Welsh schools, Aberdare obtained an exceptionally high position. The scholarships would, now be increased to 45.

Mr. Jenkyn Thomas then read his report for the year, in the course of which he stated that on June 16 the school was inspected by Mr. Owen Owen13, M.A., and on July 19 and following days the first annual examination under the Central Welsh Board was held. The report had not yet arrived, but the schedule of the marks obtained by the pupils had been received, and he thought he might safely claim that an analysis of it would show that both the scope and the quality of the work done during the first year of the existence of the school were quite as satisfactory as could have been expected.

Mrs. D. A. Thomas then presented the awards to the scholars as follows: —


Form VI.: Norman Picton, Alfred Morgan, Eliza J. Manuel, S. Shipton, W.J. Harris, May Daniel, and Elizabeth M. Evans (county, full), W.J. Jones and Lizzie Bishop (county, half), Winifred Roberts (Aberaman and Cwmbach Stores), Eynon Davies (W. J. Dixon), John Lewis (D. A. Thomas), Gladys Rake (special).

Form V.: D. Davies, Anne Walker, D. P. Roberts, Mary Owen Davies, Maggie Perkins, and Gwen Morgan (county, full), Lizzie Shaw, W.R. Davies, Morgan I. Jones, May Davies, and Bonnie Griffiths (county, half), E. H. Foster (special), Gwen Garrett (D. P. Davies).

Form IV.: D.J. Rowlands, Henry B. Jones, and Catherine Jenkins (county, full), W. Mason, Sidney Reed, Daniel Griffiths, and May Richards (county, half), Alice Teague (special), Blodwen Jones, and Emily Griffiths (Herbert C. Lewis).

Form III.: Sidney Reed, May Heppell, Grace Grier, Winfield Howells, and Isaac Morgan (county, half), W.E. Probert, and Margaret Ann Williams (D.A. Thomas), Elizabeth Evans, and Darnel Morgan (Herbert C. Lewis).

Form II. Sidney Rake, Pollie Thomas, and Alice Evans (county, half), Henry Morgan (D. A. Thomas), Idris T. Davies (special), Arthur Pullin, and Gertie Harris (Charles Kenshole).

Form I.: Gwylim Hicks, D. J. Evans, Jeffrey Tunney, Rhys Jones, Thomas D. Jones, J.A. Jenkins, Lizzie Rees, Annie Evans, Eleanor Joan, and Ethel Millard (county, full).

The Vaynor School district also give three scholarships, which have been won by the following:—Form VI., Richard Harris; Form III, John Rees Jones and Rupert Hy. Hughes. They also provided for three other boys—Form III., Earnes Laucey14 [sic], William Richards, and Wyndham Evans.


Sixth Form; Form prize, Lena Jones; English prize, Tydien Jones. Fifth Form: Form prize, Winifred Roberts; languages prize, Winifred Roberts; mathematics prize, Norman Picton; English prize, Eynon Davies. Fourth Form: Form prize, David Davies; languages prize, Annie Walker; mathematics prize, Annie Walker; English prize, E. H. Foster. Third Form: Form prize, D. J. Rowlands; languages prize, J. R. Jones; mathematics prize, Daniel Griffiths; English prize, D.J. Rowlands. Second Form: Form prize, May Heppell; languages prize, Daniel Morgan; mathematics prize, Margaret Ann Williams; English prize, W. Probert. First Form prize: W. T. Evans. Award of prizes: Shorthand, D. Davies; book-keeping, W.J. Harris; hygiene, May Morris; physiology, Alice Teague; drawing (geometrical), S. Shipton; drawing (freehand), Alice Williams; regular attendance, Mary Gwen Davies.

Subsequently Miss Hurlbatt delivered an interesting address, in the course of which she dwelt upon the facilities now afforded for popular education, and went on to advocate the claims of manual training for girls. The singing of “Hen Wlad by [sic] Nhadau” and “God Save the Queen” terminated the proceedings.


  1. Mrs D.A. Thomas, (née Sybil Margaret Haig), was the wife of David Alfred Thomas, the M.P. for Merthyr & Aberdare. Mrs Thomas was born in Brighton, and became a prominent Liberal, a philanthropist, and active in women’s suffrage. Her husband, D.A. Thomas was born in Ysguborwen House. He later became Viscount Rhondda.
  2. Aberdare Hall, which still exists, is a hall or residence of Cardiff University for women students. It was built in 1893, but was founded in 1885 by Lady Aberdare of Dyffryn House, Mountain Ash. Ethel Hurlbatt was Principal of the Hall from 1892 to 1898.
  3. Miss Ethel Mary Madge was employed as an instrumental and music theory teacher at the school, and from 1908 at Mountain Ash Intermediate School as well. She also taught music privately in Aberdare. Originally she came from Uplands Crescent Swansea, and had a sister Miss Olive Madge, L.R.A.M. who also taught music. In the spring of 1909, at the age of 36, she married widower William Thomas Morgan, 42, a Collector of Taxes, Accountant and Auctioneer who lived very close to the County School at Newlands, Hirwaun Road. By this marriage Miss Madge gained two step sons and a step daughter. The children’s late mother was Elizabeth Morgan, née John, from Abernant. W.T. Morgan with his new wife Ethel and their family moved to Swansea in 1913, but Mr Morgan died soon after in January 1914, aged 46 after four years of illness. His body was returned to Aberdare for burial. When he lived in Aberdare, he was a councillor for the Gadlys Ward, and for one year he was chairman of the AUDC.
  4. This is probaly Miss Florence Julia White, a mathematics teacher at the school, who lived in Richmond Road, Mountain Ash.
  5. Griffith George was a draper who was the proprietor of The Bee Hive in Victoria Square; a J.P.; a member of the first Aberdare Urban District Council; a founding governor of the County School; a deacon at Heolyfelyn Welsh Baptist Chapel, Trecynon; and, a writer who competed in Eisteddfodau. More details about him can be found here in his obituary from the Cardiff Times, dated 19 February, 1910, and from other press cuttings.
  6. Tom Price was a visiting teacher of choral music and conductor of the school choir. He travelled from Merthyr to teach at the school, which at that time was directly linked to Aberdare via the Abernant-Merthyr rail link.
  7. Viriamu Jones became the first principal of the University College of South Wales and Monmouthshire in 1883, (now Cardiff University). He died aged 45 in 1901.
  8. The Hon. Mrs Bruce would have been one of the ladies from Dyffryn House, Mountain Ash, possibly the 2nd Lady Aberdare.
  9. Sir W.T. Lewis, later Lord Merthyr, lived at The Mardy, Aberdare. He was a hugely powerful industrialist in the south Wales coal mining industry. His statue stands near the gates of Aberdare Park. His home stood on the site now occupied by The Beeches Care Home.
  10. Glandare House, became a Barnardo Home (1950-1970) but was demolished in May 1971. The St John Baptist High School, Glan Road, was built on the site. At the time of this Prize Day, Glandare House was the home of the mining engineer Robert Thomas Rees and his widowed mother Gwenllian Elizabeth Rees. The house was previously owned by the Wayne family, ironmasters and coal-owners.
  11. A graduate of Clare College Cambridge, Canon Henry Robert Johnson, M.A., was a member of the Aberdare School Board, and the first warden of St. Michael’s & All Angels’ Theological College, founded as a Tractarian theological college in 1892. The college at this time was located in Abernant House, but the college relocated to Llandaff in 1907.
  12. Rev. J. Robertson, M.A., was minister at St. David’s Presbyterian Church, High Street, Aberdare.
  13. Mr Owen Owen, (1850–1920), previously headmaster of Oswestry High School became the first Chief Inspector of the Central Welsh Board, the CWB.
  14. This pupil was Earnest James Lancey of Belmont Villa, Hirwaun.