Aberdare Boys’ Grammar School

Certificate Ceremonies

school building

Certificate Ceremony, December 1906, for the class of 1906

Aberdare County School.

On Thursday afternoon the annual prize distribution in connection with the above school was held at the Constitutional Hall. Mr. D.P. Davies1, J.P., occupied the chair, and there was a large attendance of the parents of the children, as well as of the leading residents. But, unfortunately, as Thursday was the day of the Glamorgan County Council meeting a number of the Governors were unable to attend. Mr. D.P. Davies was, however, supported on the platform by Mrs. D.P. Davies, Mr. and Mrs. T. Walter Williams, Mr. Lewis N. Williams2, Mrs. F.W. Mander3, Mrs. W. Lloyd (Highland Place)4, Mr. W. Charlton Cox, M.A.,5 and Mrs. Cox, and Mr. J.D. Thomas, the clerk to the Governors; and Mrs. M. Mackenzie, Professor of Education in the University College of South Wales, Cardiff, who had agreed to attend and distribute the certificates and prizes on the occasion.

The meeting opened with a fine rendering of the chorus “May Morning” (Flotow) by the school children under the conductorship of Mr. Tom, Price6, the visiting teacher at the school. The accompanist was Master W. J. Jones.

The Chairman, whose rising was the signal for an outburst of cheering by the school children, in the course of his opening address said that the school was established 10 years ago. They had now an opportunity of judging to some extent of the value of the work done. Aberdare had done well, and many of the past students at the school were to-day holding important positions in various parts if the country. (Loud applause.) He hoped that in another five or ten years more of them would be doing so. He proceeded to deal with the scheme under which these schools were carried on, and contended that the basis of population upon which at present the grants were pad was not a fair one. The grants should be paid on the basis of the number of pupils in the school and on the basis of the work done. (Loud applause.) They had at present a headmaster and 15 assistants, whereas on the basis of the number of students, judged on the proportion in neighbouring schools, they ought to have at least 18 assistants. That was at present impossible owing to the grants being so low. If Aberdare had its fair proportion of the grant on the basis of the number of children in the school then that could easily be done. He referred to the fact that a new scheme was now being arranged, but he thought the scheme was a peculiar one, and it required a great deal of overhauling. (Applause.) After a reference to the large number of distinctions, certificates, etc., gained by the pupils at the school, he said that there was one feature of the work of the School to which he wished to draw particular attention, that being the way in which the junior classes were taught. They did excellent work among these, and that he looked upon as most important. That was solid work, and although the juniors did not gain certificates, the work told. He would say to the teachers, “Take care of the juniors and the seniors will take care of themselves.” (Cheers.) He also pointed out that from the start the Governors had arranged the prizes for each form so that the juniors as well as the seniors had a fair share of the prizes. (Loud applause.)

Mr. W. Charlton Cox, M.A., then presented the following report:—

Number of pupils on the roll, 317, an increase of 17 on the average number last year.


The practical examinations in cookery, needlework, woodwork, chemistry and physics, and the oral examination in French were conducted at various dates in March, June, and July, by the Examiners appointed by the Board for that purpose. The written examination lasted from July 11th to July 27th, and was of a searching nature. This year, for the first time, some of the Local Managers and the general public shared in the supervision of the examination with very satisfactory results. The Head Master hopes that the public will co-operate further with the School in this direction in July 1907.


On their work in this examination the pupils of the school gained 50 certificates, with 78 marks of distinction; this is the highest number of the latter ever gained by the school.


A scholarship of the value of £80 a year for three years tenable at any of the older Universities, was awarded by the County Education Committee in July last to May Williams, the senior prefect of the girls, who has now entered Girton College, Cambridge7. This is the most valuable single scholarship that has ever been gained by one of our pupils. The marks obtained by this pupil also qualified her for a County Exhibition, which, however, the gaining of this scholarship barred her from holding.

A County Scholarship of the value of £10 a year for three years was won by Ezer Griffiths8, who has since entered the University College of South Wales and Monmouthshire. This pupil’s marks also qualified him for a County Exhibition.

An Entrance Scholarship of the value £20 a year, tenable at the University College of Wales, Aberystwyth, was won in open competition by David Roderick.9

It should also he mentioned that Owen Evans, who has for some time acted as Laboratory Assistant, in September last won a scholarship in Electrical Engineering of the total value of £52 at the Northampton Institute, London; and that Miss Aenid Picton, a former pupil of the School, won an Entrance Scholarship of the value of £10 a year at Aberystwyth.


University of London Intermediate Science Examination.—Ezer Griffiths passed this examination in July last. He is the first pupil of the school to do so, and the only candidate this year who passed it direct from a Welsh Intermediate School. He has only one more examination to pass in order to gain the decree of Bachelor of Science.

London Matriculation.—David Roderick and Sarah Mary George passed this examination in January, and P. Basil Jones in June.

Welsh Matriculation.—Gwladys Jones passed this examination in June; also the Senior Certificates gained by Nancy Edwards10, Gwen Hughes, Mary Jones, P. Basil Jones, John R. King, Sarah J. Powell, Mildred Pratt, Tegwen Rees, and Ethel Watkins entitle them to exemption from this examination.


As there has been during the past twelve months considerable agitation about the teaching of Welsh in County Schools, and as a great deal of ignorance prevails in regard to the matter, it may be well to point out that the language has been taught and otherwise encouraged in this School for some years. The number at present receiving instruction in the subject is 256 out of 381. It should, however, be pointed out that those pupils who learn Latin cannot also learn both French and Welsh, as the available time is insufficient for the three languages. Such pupils will therefore be obliged to choose which of the modern languages, French or Welsh, they will take up.

In conclusion I wish to thank members of the Staff for their loyal support and hearty co-operation in our present difficult circumstances, and members of the Governing Body for their consistent sympathy with and interest in, the School. Without this it would have been impossible for us to have attained the measure of success that has fallen to us.

In the course of his report Mr. Cox also referred to the discussions that had been taking place during the past few months in the County as to the comparative merits of dual schools and separate schools for boys and girls, and he said that one of the arguments used in support of separate schools was that the girls were neglected in mixed schools. As a proof that the charge was not true in reference to the Aberdare School, he pointed out that out of five honours certificates won three were won by girls, 12 senior certificates out of 22 were won by girls and 11 junior certificates out of 23. In other words 52 per cent. of the certificates had gone to the girls. Taking also the number of distinctions in various sections, 2 in the honours had been secured by girls out of the 5; in the seniors 21 out of 32 and in the junior section 22 out of 41, making in all 45 out of 78, or 57 per cent. (Loud applause.) Also out of the 12 students who had matriculated in the London or Welsh University during the year, 8 were girls. (Hear, hear.) This did not look as if the girls were neglected in that school. (Loud applause.)

The School Choir then sang “Christmas Carol,” after which Mrs. M. Mackenzie distributed the certificates and prizes. The certificates won, in addition to those already named were as follows: —

Certificates:—Honours: Blodwen Edwards, Ezer Griffiths, Gwladys Jones, David Roderick, May Williams. Senior—Winnie Chapman, W.I. Curnow, D.F. Davies, E.W. Davies, Nancy Edwards, Gwen Hughes, Annetta John, Margaret M. John, J.B. Jones, J.T. Jones, Mary Jones, P.B. Jones, John King, S.C. Lewis, Lizzie Parfitt, Nellie Phillips, Sarah J. Powell, Mildred Pratt, Tegwen Rees, John Thomas, Ethel Watkins, Trevor M. Williams. Junior—Elizabeth A Davies, Norman Evans, May George, Peter Halewood, Mary Howells, Minnie Hughes, Gwladys John, Gwilym Rees Jones, Ivy Lea, Mary Lewis, W.D. Lewis, C.B. Morris, Miriam Nicholas, Gwilym Pierce, Irene Pratt, Dorothy Rees11, Margaret E. Rees, Brinley Reynolds12, Trevor Reynolds, R.V. Rosser, F.W. Smith, W. O. Twiny, Garnett Venn.

Certificates Awarded by the Associated Board of the Royal Academy of Music and Royal College of Music.— Pianoforte Playing—Lower Division —Nancy Edwards, Lilian Phelps. Elementary— Willie M. Morgan, Sadie Williams, Hilda Jones. Primary— Jennie Thomas, Emily Rogers.

Prizes (awarded by the Governors): — Form 6B. English and French, May Williams. Latin, May Williams. Physics, Ezer Griffiths. Chemistry, Ezer Griffiths. Form 6B Form Prize, P.B. Jones. French, Lizzie Parfitt. English and History, Gwen Hughes. Maths., L. Parfitt. Science, P.B. Jones. Form 5A. Form Prize, W.I. Curnow. Maths., D.F. Davies. French, W. Chapman. English, W. Chapman. History and Literature, W.I. Curnow. Form 5B. Form Prize, P. Halewood13. French, E.A. Davies. Maths., M.E. Rees. English and History, C.B. Morris. Latin, D.N. Evans. Science, P. Halewood. Form Shell. Form Prize, I. Pratt. French, W. Thomas and Elsie Jones (equal). English and History, M. Nicholas. Maths, E.M. Kent. Geography, M. George. Form 4. Form Prize, Dan Hughes. English and History, Enid Davies. Maths., Dan Hughes. French, A. Gibbon. Geography and Science, E. Bugler. Form 3A. Form Prize, E.M. Jones. English and History, B.S. Thomas. Maths., E.M. Jones. French, Enid Lea. Form 3B. Form Prize, H.R. Mills. English and History, H.R. Mills. Maths., Cyril Griffiths. French, Annie Rees. 2A, Form Prize, Maggie Evans. English, Maggie Evans. Maths., I.G. Thomas. French, Edith Thomas. Form 2B. Form Prize, A.L. Davies. English and History, A.M. Harris. Maths., Gordon Chapman. French, Emma Williams. Form 1. Form Prize, Jennie Powell. English and History, J. Powell. Maths., T.H. Lewis. French, T.H. Davies. Book-keeping, C.B. Morris. Shorthand, W. Oxenham. Dress-making, Ivy Lea14. Cookery, Mary Howells. Drawing, T. Millar. Woodwork, B.T. Howells. Welsh, Edith Thomas. Domestic Economy, Annie Henry.

Having distributed the prizes, Mrs. Mackenzie, in the course of her address, congratulated the school upon its success, and said she was exceedingly pleased with the work done by the girls, and especially that one of the girls from that School was proceeding to Girton, where that distinguished Welsh lady, Miss Constance Jones, was the principal. (Hear, hear.) However proud they were of their Welsh University, it was well that some of their brighter pupils should proceed to the older University, if only to show what Welsh boys and girls could do. (Loud applause.) She was glad the life of the school was so varied, and that dramatic entertainments, a school magazine and sports found place therein. (Hear, hear.) She was also pleased to find that the people of the town took a keen interest in the school. She was much struck when in America some time ago to find the keen interest taken by all in the school. When she asked in any town or village what was there worth seeing therein, she was invariably told “You must see our school.” She wanted the same interest to be taken in the schools in Wales. Continuing, she urged the children to cultivate self-knowledge, self-reverence and self-control. By means of a couple of fairy tales they should deeply impress the children with the importance of having a definite aim in life, and to determine early what they should like to be and to do, after they left school. (Loud applause.)

Mr. T. Walter Williams15, in proposing a vote of thanks to Mrs Mackenzie, after a reference to the ignorance of present day children of folklore and fairy tales, said he would like to hear Mrs. Mackenzie’s views of the comparative advantages of dual schools and separate ones. (Hear, hear.) He had heard a speech some time ago from Miss Hughes, a great authority on educational matters, on the subject, but it had not impressed him as it did some others, because he had a few years before heard a most able address by the same lady on the other side of the question. (Laughter.) The Chairman had referred to the proposed scheme of the Glamorgan County Council as a peculiar one. That was hardly the adjective he (the speaker) would use. He called it a screamingly funny scheme, and he could assure them that Mr. W.S. Gilbert never had hit upon so funny a one. (Roars of laughter.) The best thing that could happen to that school was for it to be placed under the control of the Aberdare Education Committee, and the Glamorgan County Council keep their hands off.” (Loud applause.)

Mr. Lewis N. Williams, Caecoed, in a brief felicitous speech, seconded the vote of thanks, which was carried with acclamation.

Mrs. Mackenzie, in thanking them, declined to respond to the tempting offer of Mr Williams to give her views on dual schools, further than to say that they should make every school the best of its kind. (Hear, hear.)

On the motion of Mrs. Lloyd, Highland Place, seconded by Rev. Morgan Powell, vicar of Aberaman, a vote of thanks was accorded to the Chairman, and a chorus by the children brought the proceedings to a close.

  1. David Price Davies was a member of the Davies family of Ynyslwyd. They were landowners who owned much of the land on which Foundry Town and Davies Town were built.
  2. Lewis Noah Williams lived at Caecoed, Graig Street, Aberdare. He was the son of William Williams, (Carw Coch), who in 1837 opened the Stag Inn, Harriet Street. L.N. Williams entered into partnership with Evan Thomas to run and own the well-known Cambrian Lampworks which was most successful in manufacturing miners lamps, oil fuelled initially and, in more modern times, battery driven electrical versions as well. Mr Williams served as chairman of governors 1913–1915, and was a prominent Aberdare citizen. He died in February 1919, aged 73.
  3. F.W. Mander, 1892 Mrs Mander was Mrs Gwenllian Mander, (née Lewis) the wife of Frederick William Mander (1857–1923), J.P., Glanynys House, Plasdraw. Gloucester-born Mr Mander was a governor of the school; the owner and founder of a very successful grocery business at 40–42 Commercial Street; a director of the Black Lion Brewery, and of the Aberdare Steam Laundry Company; Deputy Chairman of Bwllfa and Merthyr Dare Steam Collieries (1891) Ltd., a Freemason; and High Constable 1892–93. The Aberdare Leader reveals that he was an early advocate of the motor car, for in 1904 Mr Mander was fined 20 shillings for driving his car in Aberdare Park at an excessive speed—between 15 and 18 mph. F.W. Mander built the two mock-Tudor Glanynys Cottages on Cwmbach Road for his staff. He died in 1923 a very wealthy man.
  4. Mrs W. Lloyd, was Mrs Walter Lloyd, school governor, and proprietor of the ‘Gwladgarwr Office’, 14 Canon Street. Although known as Mrs Walter Lloyd her name was Mary Smith Lloyd. She and her husband, Walter, were founder members of Trinity Presbyterian Church, and until shortly after her husband’s death in 1883, they ran the newspaper Y Gwladgarwr. Originally from Denny, in Stirlingshire, Mrs Lloyd lived after retirement with her youngest daughter Isabella at 1 Highland Place. Isabella married Evan Emrys Evans in 1902, and subsequently Mrs Lloyd went to live with her son-in-law and daughter at 9/10 Victoria Square above the Chemists Shop. She died in 1921, and according to her obituary, she had been “a force to be reckoned with in the town.”
  5. Walter Charlton Cox, (1873–1937). Teacher 1897–1905, Head Master 1905–1937.
  6. Tom Price, (1857–1925) was born in Rhymney. After his elementary education at the British School in Rhymney he entered the mines at the age of 10 years. Self taught he was to become a visiting music teacher employed by the Glamorgan County Council, and lived at 17 Alma Street, Merthyr Tydfil. He was an accomplished choir master and a prolific composer winning prizes at the National Eisteddfodau at Caernarfon, London, Brecon, Bangor and Swansea where he won the Blue Riband for composition. For the Carmarthen Eisteddfod he trained three Cardiganshire choirs — and all three won! After resignation from his post he was succeeded by Miss Alice S. Williams, L.R.A.M. of Aberdare, who was permanently engaged as a music instructor to the two schools, attending one day per week. Tom Price is buried in Cefn Cemetery. He has a short entry in the Dictionary of Welsh Biography Online here.
  7. May Williams was the first pupil of the Aberdare County School to gain a place at an Oxbridge college.
  8. Ezer Griffiths was eventually elected a Fellow of the Royal Society. He has an entry in the Former Pupils section of this website.
  9. David Roderick was a son of the Aberdare architect Thomas Roderick of Ashbrook House, Clifton Street.
  10. Nancy Edwards, of Cwmdare Post Office, married D.O. Roberts and was the mother of Dafydd Roberts, the Aberdare dental surgeon. D.O. Roberts has an entry in the Former Pupils section of this website.
  11. Dorothy Jessie Charlotte Rees became a long-serving member of staff at the Aberdare Girls County School; she was appointed in 1917 and retired in December 1945. Prior to her appointment at Aberdare, she had spent short periods elsewhere: Compiègne, 1913–14, Marlborough G.S., 1914–16, and Llandovery County School, 1916–17. She was the sister of Alderman Florence Rose Davies, CBE, JP. At the age of 59, and after teaching for 31 years, Dorothy Rees married Johan Schaaf in 1952. She returned to Aberdare and lived in Plasdraw Avenue until she died in 1980.
  12. Thomas Brinley Reynolds became Headmaster of the school. There is an entry for him in the Headmasters’ section of this website.
  13. Peter Halewood was the son of Edward Halewood a Boot, Clog & Shoe Dealer. The mother of the School’s deputy headmaster, P.E. Phillips, (PEP), was Ellen Halewood – a member of the footwear manufacturing family.
  14. A daughter of Alfred Lea, the Jeweller of Commercial Street.
  15. T. Walter Williams T. Walter Williams, 1857–1929. Thomas Walter Williams was born in Hirwaun. His family moved to Trecynon where his father ran the London Warehouse. T. Walter was educated at Trecynon Seminary under the Rev. Rees Jenkin Jones, Broniestyn. Thence he proceeded to University College School, London, and from there to UCL itself where he took a first class degree in physics in 1879. Following the wishes of his father he converted to law, and by 1882 he was called to the Bar, Middle Temple. He practised at The Central Criminal Court and The Old Bailey, before joining the South Wales Circuit.
    For 15 years he took a prominent role in the municipal affairs of Aberdare, where he lived in Harriet Street: he was a local councillor, school governor, member of Glamorgan County Council, and served on the Military Tribunal in Aberdare during the Great War. He also deputised for Sir T. Marchant Williams as stipendiary magistrate for Merthyr and Aberdare. T. Walter Williams died at his home Glenview in Trecynon in 1929. He had two surviving daughters Eileen and Cynthia. Cynthia Williams married Walter Pontin who entered the school in 1908; the couple were the parents of Geoff Pontin, ABGS 1940–48.