Schools/Education in Llangiwg parish

(and surrounding area)

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This is a collection of references to local education which have been organised by village and then randomly without attempting to place references to particular schools together.

Sources/References

There are two invaluable local source books that form the backbone of this section;

Further sources (colour coded);

Further general reading;

 


Place Name Index

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Ammanford

Betws

Brynamman

Cilybebyll

Cwmgors

Cwmllynfell & Cwmtwrch

Garnant/Glanamman

Gellionnen

Godre'rgraig

Gwauncaegurwen

Gwrhyd

Pontardawe & Llangiwg

Rhydyfro & Baran

Tairgwaith

Ynysmeudwy

Ystalyfera

 

 

 


Introduction

From   History of Pontardawe and District

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INTRODUCTION

Six periods stand out in the educational development at Pontardawe  and District: first, the Charity Welsh schools of Griffith Jones, Llanddowror; second, self-appointed headmasters, who kept small private schools; third, the enterprise of the local people in erecting schoolrooms in about 1860-1870; fourth, the School Board taking control in the 1870s; fifth, in 1903, the Glamorgan Education Authority exercised their powers through the Divisional Executive Committee, which meets at Swansea. Mr. T. Gwyn Jones, M.A., is the first Divisional Executive Officer for West Glamorgan.

The historian, Professor Glanmor Williams, J.P., D.Litt., in his usual beautiful prose, writes about Griffith Jones: "To Jones more than any man, the Welsh owed a massive break-through to literacy. It was this which scaled the success of the Methodist Revival and the triumph of Nonconformity with all their immense attendant consequences for Welsh life. It did more than anything else to preserve and fortify the Welsh language and literature, of which the Bible was the corner-stone. If the Welsh of the last century and this have had an unusual respect for education and love of learning, credit for the origins of this is in large measure Griffith Jones's. He himself, limited in aims and circumscribed in vision, might be staggered and even appalled at what his handiwork has subsequently wrought. He none the less remains one of the prime makers of modern Wales and one of Britain's most notable educational pioneers.

National Schools under the Church of England, and British Schools under Nonconformists were administered by local committees, who received grants. National schools were held at Clydach, Pontardawe and Ystalyfera, and British schools at Clydach, Craigcefnparc, Penclyn, Rhydyfro and Gwauncaegurwen. Industrialists like Thomas Harper, Ynysgelynnen, and William Parsons, Pontardawe, M. N. Miers, a landowner of Clydach, and James Palmer Budd of Ystalyfera, and George Crane of Ystradgynlais, strong supporters of the Church of England, promoted National schools in their localities, but elsewhere the strong element of Nonconformists opened British schools. A more detailed account of the development of education in the various villages will be given later.

After the passing of the Education Act of 1870, the schools came under elected representatives who formed School Boards in different parishes. Later almost all the landowners and industrialists were ousted by yeomen, farmers, ministers of religion and workmen. After the Act of 1902, the Glamorgan Education Authority exercised their powers through the Divisional Executive Committee, which meets at Swansea.

Schools are divided into two stages according to the age of the pupils into Primary and Secondary. Primary schools are divided into Infant and Junior Schools. Infant schools are for children from the age of five years (the compulsory school age) to about the age of eight, and Junior for pupils from about eight to eleven plus. Before the age of five, children may go to Nursery schools, but in this district they arc often admitted to Infant schools at four years of age.

There arc six secondary schools in the Pontardawe District: two grammar schools, one at Ystalyfera and one at Pontardawe, a technical secondary school at Pontardawe, and three secondary modern schools: one at Clydach, one at Gwauncaegurwen and one at Pontardawe. At Ystradgynlais there is a comprehensive secondary school. To enter grammar and technical secondary schools, pupils must pass a competitive entrance examination at eleven plus and thirteen years respectively. The remainder attend the secondary modern schools. Grammar schools give academic education, the technical provides education for those whose abilities are of a more practical character. Secondary modern schools give general and practical education. All the secondary schools are intended to be of equal status.

 

EDUCATIONAL SERVICES

In addition to the regular education received at the schools, there were school health services with free medical inspection and advice, and maladjusted pupils were treated in clinics. Dental treatment was given in the clinic at the Pontardawe Infant School.

School meals and milk were provided in school canteens. The midday meal usually consisted of a two-course lunch, the present charge (1964) being 1/- per meal. One-third pint of milk was available free for each child.

Special educational facilities were received by mentally retarded pupils, and those who were handicapped by physical, mental or emotional disabilities. The County Education Authority provided for delicate, partially sighted, blind, deaf and handicapped children in other ways.

Students and pupils had financial assistance, when their parents were in need, to buy clothing and school uniforms. Grants were given to encourage older pupils to get the full benefit of Grammar School education. Students were also awarded grants to pursue courses in Universities and Further Education Institutions.

The radio, film, gramophone, television and other modern visual, aural and mechanical aids were supplied by the Education Authority, as well as libraries of not only books, but of films, film-strips, tape-recorders and records.

When children left school, the Youth Employment Service gave information and advice about suitable employment, unemployment insurance and assistance to those under eighteen years of age.

 

EDUCATIONAL RECORDS

For every pupil in schools, a record of the following was kept: Christian names and surname, schools, home address, Welsh speaking (yes or no), understands Welsh (yes or no), date of birth, progress through classes, date of admission, age on admission, date of last attendance.

Home circumstances were divided into five categories denoted by letters of the alphabet E.D.C.B.A., Occupation(s) and names of parents or guardians; Welsh or English speaking of father and of mother. Pupil's position in family.

Physical condition was recorded with teachers' remarks, any special disability, school Medical Officer's report and recommendations, notes of treatment and results and previous illnesses. Attendance: year, possible, actual, health rating, nature of absence with reasons.

Intelligence: Teachers' estimate E.D.C.B.A. Objective tests of intelligence, attainment tests used, word test, number test and results.

School work: year and form, intelligence quotient (I.Q.) and rank in form. Attainment rank in (1) languages and literature, (2) social studies, (3) sciences, (4) mathematics, (5) arts and crafts, physical education, other subjects, games and offices held.

A record was made of certificates obtained in public examinations, outstanding abilities and achievements (in or out of school), outstanding interests and hobbies (in or out of school; intellectual, practical, aesthetic, social and physical). Comments were made on potentialities and aptitudes, estimate of chiaracter and temperament: using the scale, E.D.C.B.A. on self-confidence, capacity for responsibility, self-criticism, perseverance, conscientiousness, sociability and stability.

Pupils' vocational preferences and parents' vocational preferences were taken before the headteacher's recommendations were written. Account was also kept of Further Education, and occupation.

 

GENERAL COMMENTS

 In 1738, the itinerant schools of Griffith Jones came to Llangiwg, as shown in the Annual Report of the Welch Piety. In that year, fifty-six pupils attended. The following year the number of scholars increased to 84, and in 1740-1 to 96, and in Gelligron in the same year the maximum number of 135 attended. Fifty seven scholars enrolled in Llangiwg in 1744-5, and in the same year, forty-two attended at the Parish Church.

Afterwards numbers decreased to twenty-four in 1745-6,  and to fifteen in the Parish Church in 1748-9.  Education was at a low ebb in the eighteenth century. The Rev. Thomas Jenkins, Minister of Llanguick, wrote to the Rev. Griffith Jones on June 8, 1741: "A Welch School is very much wanted here; for there are a great many of my Parishioners ignorant and poor, which I hope you will take into consideration."

In the meantime, Sunday Schools were not only a means of religious instruction but also of elementary education and this spread chiefly under the influence of Thomas Charles of Bala.

 


Ammanford

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Betws

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Brynamman

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Education at Brynamman

In 1800, the sparse population of Gwterfawr, later known as Brynamman, was scattered in farms. No schools, no church nor chapel, no main road, no industry, no public houses existed here at the beginning of the nineteenth century.

In 1825, on the bank of Gwterfawr, Dafydd William, Cwmgarw, held a day school on Twyn-y-cacwn in Gitto Goch's house.
The meagre eqnipment consisted of three books, a slate or two and an ABC card with letters as big as hands. The lack of equipment, furniture and books were, to some extent, compensated for by the ability and personality of Dafydd William, who in body was over six feet tall, strong and shapely. He was also head and shoulders above his friends and associates as a story teller, and in knowledge. His listeners enjoyed his wise and lively repartee. In (1832-34) he had his school at Dollgraig Cottage above Cwmtrubit. In this school he divided pupils according to ability and age into three classes: Big Class, Middle Class and a Coal-house Class

The experience of a boy in schools at the beginning of the second half of the nineteenth century gives information about the development in the area. When he was six or seven years of age, he attended William Edwards' school held in a loft near Bridgend Inn, Gwterfawr. Later Richard Williams taught him in a school held in a house beyond Waun Esgyrn, near Garnant. Although all the pupils were monoglot Welsh, only English was allowed to be spoken here, and if anyone used his native tongue, he had to carry the " Welsh Note " or " Welsh Not ": a square board with a cord through it to suspend from the neck of the culprit. The board had two letters, W.N., prominently carved on it.

When boys reached the age of eight years, they started working in a local colliery. School attendance of children was not compulsory in those days. Some boys left the mine to attend Capel Bach school, situated on a field near the railway which ran from Llanelly to Gwterfawr. This school was held under the auspices of the Church of England, Cwmamman.

Later William Prosser's school at the Crofte was far more modern than the previously mentioned ones, for he played games with the boys, introduced maps for the first time, brought tonic sol-fa to the school children; and in the evening he taught sol-fa to adults. In Thomas Davies's school, held in the clnb room of the Farmers Arms, the boys learnt the tables.

If boys happened to work with intelligent men, their education was not entirely neglected. At dinner time, workers formed a class to read in Welsh, write Welsh verses and essays, and compose a Welsh speech or sing a song. Although the Act of 1842 regnlated hours of work, boys under ten years of age still worked twelve hours a day for six days a week.

In 1856, workers started paying one penny in the pound of their earnings towards a school for children, and soon it was raised to twopence. The Government gave a grant to supplement the workers' contributions for the new school held at Gibea Vestry.
Keen and competent teachers taught the children in this school where George Gill was one of the first schoolmasters. He was short, lively, energetic and full of work during the week-days, and also on Sundays when he preached with the English Wesleyans at Cross Inn, now known as Ammanford. In 1860, Gill relinquished Gibea Vestry school to become a headmaster at Liverpool. Afterwards he published school books under the publishers' names of George Gill and Son. He started the first public library at Brynamman, which was a success in his time.

Another noted schoolmaster, Thomas Jones, M.A., afterwards known as Thomas Jones, inspector of schools, followed George Gill. Unlike Mr. Gill, he was a Welshman, which proved advantageons. In 1867, John H. Phillips succeeded Jones, and Phillips was followed by Albert S. Payne in April 1868. In 1869, the new British Schools (now County Schools) were opened, and Mr. Payne's staff at the time were: John Thomas Evans, afterwards headmaster in London; D. Watkin Williams, later headmaster of Bargoed schools; D. Prince Davies, who became headmaster at Llangathen, and Richard Lewis subsequently of Cwmtwrch schools.

Mr. Payne left in 1869, and James Williams filled the vacancy, and continued until 1873, when he left to become headmaster of Wern schools, Ystalyfera. He was followed by Henry Jones (late Sir Henry Jones, C.H.), who had passed out of the Normal College, Bangor, and when he was twenty years of age, he took charge of the Elementary School at Brynamman.

In his autobiography, Sir Henry writes:
"The school was new: the boundary walls had not been built. It consisted of a long room with several large windows, and a separate porch and lobby for boys and girls, together with a classroom opening out of it; and there were 190 children's names on the register. In a few months the names on the school register went up from 190 to 430. An addition eqnal in size to the original school had to be built."
Henry Jones loved music and he himself tanght it to his apt pupils.
" It was not necessary," he writes, " to make plans for training black-birds and thrushes; and song was not more natural to the birds than to my children."
He held two school concerts while he was headmaster, first The Cantata of the Birds by Joseph Parry, and second, Handel's Hallelujah Chorus. After two very successful years he left to become a student at Glasgow University. He wrote:
" I lift my hat in reverence and gratitude when I think of the working men and women of Brynamman."
The staff with Henry Jones were exceptional: T. M. Evans, M.A., Brynamman, afterwards at Ammanford; John Jones, the Rev. Joseph Jones, M.A., Brynamman, who became pastor at Sutton; Morgan Morgan, afterwards head-teacher at Borth; Tom Evans, later head-teacher at Portmadoc schools.

In 1875, James Gibbs, Swansea, followed Henry Jones as head-teacher of Brynamman Elementary School, and continued until he retired in 1896. Both were employed by the Amman Iron Works. The Works Pay List, month ending June 14, 1879, gives the following particulars:

During Mr. Gibb's illness, Mr. James Leonard filled the gap from May 11th, 1896, to June 15, 1896.
Mr. Jenkin Jones (brother of Rev. Towyn Jones, M.P.) succeeded Mr. Gibbs in 1896, and Mr. Jones was a very capable head and was well liked by pupils and parents.

The next headmaster, Mr. John George, filled the post for twenty-five years, and before that he taught in the same school for twenty-two years. He took an active part in the social life of the village, became a member of Llandilo Rural District Council in 1925, and in 1956 he acted as chairman of the Finance Committee.

For eighteen years he was one of the governors of the Amman Valley Grammar School, and in 1955-1956 he was elected chairman of the governors. Mr. George was an ardent Churchman. He played as out-side half for Brynamman Rugby Football Club in 1913-14, and continued to be a member of the club.

In 1955, Mr. Talbot Davies succeeded Mr. George as head-teacher of Brynamman County Primary School.

At the end of the year 1893, the Amman Iron Works Company, under Mr. Strick sold the Brynamman School to he Llandilo School Board for 1,200.
Amman Iron Works Company had a school here before the new building was erected, particularly under Mr. Strick, independently of the School Board, and the workmen paid a small amount out of every pound of their earnings to maintain the school. Mr. Strick gave 700 of the money received for the school towards the building of a public hall in the place.

After an increase in population in Lower Brynamman, the Llangiwg School Board, in 1895, built a new school on the Glynbeudy land below Park Street.
Mr. Griffith Morgan (b. July 1868, d. January 1933) was the first head-teacher of the Banwen School or Glyn School, as now known, which opened in 1896. Mr. Morgan served as a pupil teacher at Cwmllynfell and afterwards proceeded to Bangor Normal College. He taught at Derby, Tylorstown and Gwauncaegurwen schools before obtaining the post at Banwen or Glyn School. When the school opened, two hundred children attended, and the number increased to three hundred.

Many changes in accommodation, equipment, subjects and methods of teaching took place in Mr. Morgan's time. A new corridor and teachers' room were built, and a new Infant's school. Dual desks superseded the old long, backless forms and paper replaced slates. In his early days, the three R 's - reading, writing and arithmetic - were the primary subjects. Organized games, illustrated walks, school museum, brush drawing, clay-modelling, concerts, dental clinic, medical examinations, milk for children, individual work, phonetic method, school library, elementary science, teaching of Welsh, Labour and Scholarship examinations - all these were introduced in his time. Griffith Morgan moved with the times and he attended summer schools at the Royal College of Science, London, the Welsh School al Llanwrtyd and science courses at Swansea. He had travelled widely in the British Isles and in European countries. He took a deep interest in his young teachers and gave them special lessons before and after school hours. Hundreds of evening class stndents found in him not only an able teacher but also an artificer of mind and noble life.

 


 Cilybebyll

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Education in Cilybebyll

The first school that we know about in Alltwen and the parish of Cilybebyll was the one started by the Independent cause. It is certain that it was working in 1760,and possibly before that. There is no record as to who were the teachers. There was another school in the middle of the parish in a place now called Llwyn Celyn,the home of William Evans ---- between Cilybebyll Mansion and Ystalefera,where one with the surname Sherbone resided at that time.

Early in the last century,around 1819,a schoolhouse was built in Rhos Brynhir by subsciptions on parish land ---- it was called Ysgol Plas y Waun. A Henry Lloyd was a schoolmaster there who later went to Cae'r Doc,Pontardawe. The children of local farmers went there --- from Hendrelas, Blaenant,and Cilybebyll Fach. A story was told about one of the Blaenant children named John -- afterwards called Shon Blaenant. He was a strange character with an interesting history (see "Old Characters of Gellinudd"). In this school there was also a. John Wood,a co-pupil with Shon. One day Shon broke one of the rules of Henry Lloyd's school,and was called to account,and John Wood had to carry Shon on his back around the school with the master behind,a stick(similar to the ones used by the mule drovers) in his hand,and thumping the part that was near the floor. Shon writhed under every blow, and by wriggling spurred his two legged 'horse',until John Wood was suffering more pain than was due to him. Possibly the little 'horse' was losing his grip,and the 'horseman' kept slipping until his feet dragged on the earthen floor;and with that, Lloyd started shouting,"Hold him up John Wood,and I'll have his blood out!" Science has developed a great deal since then.Now a revolution has taken place in the butchery world,and instead of bleeding in the rear end as Henry Lloyd did,butchers have changed their methods by bleeding the other end.

The school afterwards became a dwelling house where a John Lewis lived, and his son,now an old man,is living there at present. Later, Howell Gwyn,Esq.,of Dyffryn,built another school at the bottom of the hillside coming down from Alltwen to Rhos,Cilybebyll. In 1839,Mr. Bird was the schoolmaster there,and he also went to Pontardawe. After Bird came David Davies ,a full red blooded. Welshman, but it was English that was taught in the school (Teaching Welsh to the Welsh was a crime).He was a comical man,and is well remembered for his bell and little stick giving us a 'welcome home' on our late return from our wanderings during playtime and dinnertime. Another thing that Davies did was to set offenders --- and there were many at times --- to stand on one leg on a stool,like rows of cockrels,with their hands up holding a slate with their faults written on them,to the shouts of the other pupils. .........

This school was a combination of "elementary school" and "training school". They were taught up to third standard,then the parents were asked to take their children from the school.If they went further,their education would be higher than the schoolmaster. The children were taught to be useful by teaching them to cut firewood,dig the garden,gather manure for the garden along the roads,so that when they left school they were also ready for work.

In 1873,the Council of the Board School (A new council by an act of 1870) built a school in Gellinudd to hold about 400 children,from infants and above. It stands as a memorial to the present age,and looks more like a prison than a school. The names of the members of the first Board were:- Herbert Lloyd,Esq(who was a member until the end of the Board); John Davies(Ieuan Ddu,now in America);David Smith,Esq,;Griffith Lewis,Esq.,Alltycham and Watkin Hopkin,Alltwen.

The school was opened in 1874. The first schoolmaster was John Hale along with his wife.They were there for three years. The writer of these notes has cause to remember them. as long as he lives on this blessed side of life. They moved from here on a Saturday,and George Jenkins and his wife moved in the same day,in November 1877,and they are still here. Some events remain alive in ones mind,and an important event makes me remember the arrival of Mr Jenkins to the place. Sunday morning after their arrival,I went,along with Llewelyn Lewis (Lewis Plasywaun,the chief of the children for making mischief) in through the window of the school to the 'Long Room'. Once inside,we took a wooden horse with wheels under it,and amused ourselves by dragging each other back and fore along the room,making enough noise as if there were twenty children there. Mr Jenkins heard the rumpus,and came in through one of the doors,and as he stood at the door demanding to know what we were doing there,we flew out of the other door,saying "Boreu da",as we went. We were afraid to face the Monday morning in case he would recognise us,but it was not to be. Although we did have an occasional taste of his "order rule",we do not know to this day whether he did or did not remember. It would look very bleak on him if he attempted to punish us today for that great mischief. We can. now 'flick' our fingers at him. Mr Jenkins raised several brilliant pupils,his own son heading the list. He is a 'Doctor of Science',and a barrister. Then there is Jenkins Evans,B.A.,who is a curate; Ernest Rees,B.Sc., a Superintendent of Schools in Glamorganshire; D.Hicks Morgan,B.A.;H.A.Rees,B.A.; William Conelly,B.A.; Emrys Rees,B.Sc.,and many colliery managers. Mr Jenkins is now teaching the children of the first children under his care,and the grandchildren of many he had in night-school.

The Board,comprising Herbert Lloyd,Esq.;David James;Morgan Jones; the Rev.David Jenkins(Rhos),and John Morgan,built a new school at the bottom of Alltwen in 1903,where George Jenkins,now an old man,is headmaster. There are many assistant teachers,and places for 600 children.

In 1883 - 84,an Infants school was built on the hillside of Craig yr Alltwen with room for 200 and more children. The schoolmistress here for many years was Mrs B.Morgan. The present schoolmistress is Miss James.

On November 10th 1908,the County Council opened a new school at Rhos, Cilybebyll. This was meant to hold about 216 pupils. The present number is 195 children. The schoolmaster's name is Mr Henry Jones,B.Sc., and he has a number of assistant teachers.There is a vast difference between the standards of the schools and the abilities of the teachers today,and the time of the old Plasywaun school and Henry Lloyd,and Ty'r Ysgol and old Davies. The children today know more than those old schoolmasters,whether they make good use of it or not. The name of the present 'Attendance Officer' is John D.Jones.

There was a sort of higher school for boys in Danyrallt ,opposite the railway station for many years,run by Mr Samuels, a patriarchal looking gentleman with a long flowing beard as white as snow.  He was an energetic old man in the cause of education,and at one time was connected with the recreational meetings held in the Board school,Gellinudd. After he died,his son Mr Astley Samuels took over the school,and everything went successfully until the Secondary School opened in Ystalyfera. This had a great effect on the school,and the master decided to change his course.He went to Swansea as an 'auctioneer',and in that calling he has remained. Around the same time as the old Mr Samuel kept the school,a Mrs Kirkhouse had a school in " The Ferns" on Graig Road where she taught girls only. Everyone did not go there --- everyone could not afford to go there,but many useful wives were raised there. Around 1895,a few years after Mrs Kirkhouse had left,a Mr Henry,B.A., kept a school in the same building. If it was girls with Mrs Kirkhouse,it was boys with Mr Henry,those who wished to study for the ministry and important supervisory posts. Mr David Jenkins(Urbanus) the present minister of Ebenezer,Rhos,was an assistant teacher there. Before this, Mr Henry kept a school in the Long Room,at the Cross Inn,Pontardawe. By this time,these 'high schools' have disappeared from the place.

 

Cilybebyll

In 1746-1717, the Welsh Circulating Charity Schools, organized by the Rev. Griffith Jones, Llanddowror, came to Cwm-mainllwyd, Cilybebyll, where twenty-six scholars were registered. This school was held for about four months, during which the students were taught the Church Catechism and how to spell and read Welsh. The Circulating Schools whetted the appetite of  people for education and prepared the way for permanent schools.

About 1819, the people subscribed to build a school at Plas-y-waun, where Henry Lloyd took charge. in 1839, he left to take up Cae'r Doc School, Pontardawe.
Plas-y-waun school-room was converted into a dwelling house.

Howell Gwyn, Esq., built another school in 1839, and Mr. George Gowing Charles Bird was its first schoolmaster.

Eight years later, William Morris, assistant inspector, wrote:

"Parish of  Kilypebyll. - ' I visited this parish on 25th February, 1847. It contains Ynisgeinon, Waun-y-coed and Primrose Collieries. I found a parochial day-school-room with a master's house attached, situated in the centre of the parish, about a mile from the church. On the school-house, which is built of stone and slated, is a tablet inscribed: - "The mistress appeared to conduct her part of the school efficiently. I could not, after a most diligent enquiry, hear of any other day schools "'

In 1839, Mr. Bird, who later moved to Cae'r Doc, Pontardawe, presided over this school, and David Davies (Dafydd Dafis) followed him at Cilybebyll. Davies, a Welshman, prohibited the children to speak Welsh, their mother tongue. A boy who attended this school later wrote about Dafydd Dafis:  he was a droll old man, with his hell and stick giving the pupils " Welcome Home " when late returning from play-time or dinner-time. Another method of punishment he adopted was to make the boys stand on one leg on the desk, like a row of cockerels, with their hands up holding slates on which their faults were written for all the others to see.

A couplet was often sung by the children:

Davies y Rhos, a'i gaib a'i gos,
Yn clatcho plant Ysgol y Rhos.

He taught children up to the third standard and then appealed to the parents to take them out of school. Children had to chop firewood, dig the garden and collect manure along the road.

The people of CilybebylI wasted no time in putting the Elementary Education Act (Forster's Act) of 1870 into operation. The School Board held its first meeting at the Reading Room, Alltwen, in the parish of Cilybebyll on June 8, 1871. Members of the Board present were: Herbert Lloyd, Esq. (chairman), Griffith Lewis, Esq. (vice-chairman), Mr. David Smith, Mr. Watkin Hopkin and Mr. I. I. Davies. Mr. William Samuel, B.A., acted as clerk to the Board for 12 a year.In those days distinction was made between esquire and mister.

On August 29, 1871, 352 pupils attended, 89 between the ages of three and five years and 263 between five and thirteen years of age.

In 1873, the Board built a new school at. Gellinudd, to hold 400 pupils. For the first three years, Mr. and Mrs. John Hale acted as master and mistress, and they were followed by Mr. and Mrs. George Jenkins in November 1877. Brilliant scholars passed through this school. Mr. Jenkins's son, James, became a doctor of science and a barrister-at-law.

 In 1903, the School Board built a new school to accommodate 6oo children, and Mr. George Jenkins continued as headteacher until he retired. The School Board built an infants' school to accommodate 200 children at Graig, Alltwen, in 1883-1884. For many years, Mrs. B. Morgan acted as schoolmistress, and Miss James continued until she retired.

On November 10, 1908, the Glamorgan Education Authority opened a new school at Rhos, Cilybebyll, to hold 216 pupils. Mr. Henry Jones, B.Sc., was the headteacher.

About 1889, when Herbert Lloyd, Esq., J.P., Y Plas, Cilybebyll, one of a county family, came along the road, he and his family expected all children to show respect, boys to salute and girls to curtsey to them. If some did not do so, Mr. Lloyd, the chairman of the School Board, called at the school to tell the headmaster how ignorant and barbaric the children were.  Mr. Jenkins then reprimanded the children and instructed them to salute or curtsey to the Squire and his family. They were driven in a carriage and pair, the driver, with cockade and whip, sat stiffly in his seat, and at the railway station, another man who accompanied the driver opened the carriage door and bowed to Mr. and Mrs. Lloyd as they alighted.

 


Cwmgors

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Cwmgors Primary School

The school was opened on September 2, 1912.

Rees Evans (Alltfab) was the first head-teacher of the Cwmgors Junior and Infant School.

He was succeeded by Daniel Davies, who in turn was followed by L. J. Lewis. Afterwards Mr. W. D. Evans is the present head-teacher.

The Infant School and the Junior Mixed School were separated at first.

Miss Matilda Jenkins, the first head-teacher of the Infant School, was followed by Miss S. Morfydd Morgan and Miss Maggie Evans.

The school later became under the head-teacher of the Junior Mixed School. The number enrolled in 1967 is 130.

 


Cwmllynfell & Cwmtwrch

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Between 1738 and 1761, circulating schools organized by the Rev. Griffith Jones, Llanddowror, were held at " Ystradowen ", " Gilfach-yr-haidd ", " Alltgrig " and " Cigerwen " and as al lthese places were near Cwmllynfell, the chances were that some scholars from the village attended these schools, where they were tanght the Church Catechism and how to read the Bible in Welsh.

A long period of eighty years followed without an account of a day or evening school for children and adults in the area.

In 1840, a school existed in Cwmtwrch and one in Cwmllynfell. English was the teaching language.

One of the early and notable headmasters was Levi Rees, who had 15 a year from the British School Committee, and his assistant, William Abel James, received 1 a quarter.

It was reported that in 1847, the Cwmllynfell. School, Llangiwg, held
"Evening classes four times a week at a rate of payment of 6d. per week in reading, writing and arithmetic, where an average of ten attended. Messrs. James and Aubrey, the proprietors of Cwmllynfell. Colliery, and Moira Crane, Esq., the proprietor of Cwmtwrch Colliery, also subscribe to CwmIlynfell."
The proprietors were not the only ones to subscribe: the workmen paid "one penny deducted from each Workman's Earnings for Educational purpose ".

The Cwmllynfell. school became important, chiefly because the owners and workmen paid at the works and clerks deducted school pence at the offices of the collieries. Although Levi Rees was a highly respected person in school, chapel and in public life, his methods of punishing children seem to us cruel. They were:

In 1860, Levi Rees retired from school and took up a more lucrative post at Brynhenllys Colliery. He opened up old collieries.

 Mr. Rees was followed by Edward Oak, an English monoglot, who was very short, full of energy and courage, kind and religious in spirit, and he always opened the school by reading a chapter and saying prayers. On the other hand, his successor, William Pughe, was different in many respects. He was tall, well-built and cruel to the children. He had great faith in discipline produced by fist and cane. When he left to take charge of a school in Cardiganshire, the people of the village had no regrets after his year's work as master.

The next master, Edward Lewis, a Welshman, known as " Lewis Risca ", was a short, fiery and enthusiastic man, who won the affection of both parents and children. He not only played games and joined in athletic sports, but also took an interest in eisteddfodau as recorded in the Log Book:

1863, September 3 and 4, "No school on these two days, the master having been at the Swansea Eisteddfod."
Evidently, Edward Lewis had freedom to arrange short holidays to suit his convenience.

On November 8, 1869, Richard Lewis commenced as master of the school. He stated that on November 1869,
" that the greater portion of the children were late this morning, and it was nearly 11 o'clock before all were assembled owing to an accident by firedamp at Hendreforgan Colliery, the children having gone to the scene of the catastrophe today."

When Mr. Binns, H.M. Inspector, called annually to inspect the school, the caretaker had spring cleaned the building and all the children came in their Sunday clothes, and walked quietly on the thick mantle of sawdust on the floor.

In 1870, Richard Lewis introdnced needlework for girls. The staff then consisted of Richard Lewis, Master, certificated 3rd degree, 3rd division; Samuel Williams, pupil teacher close of 3rd year; Jane Morgan, teacher of needlework.

When the late Rev. Ben Davies, Pant-teg, attended the British School in 1871-72, the schoolmaster ascended four or five steps to his pulpit, called the names of the children, and each pupil present replied: "Yes, Sir." Discipline was at a low ebb, and sometimes the master attacked the boys unmercifully, and occasionally the boys retaliated and clouds of dust rose. The worst culprits were placed in the " black hole " for the whole afternoon, and when the planks were raised, boys were thrown into the depths. To while away the time, boys looked for marbles which had fallen through holes in the floor of the school.

Ben Davies did not like playtime, because gangs from the " Cwm " fought against those of the " Bryn ", the fighting spirit was accentuated by the Franco-Prussian war. A cruel, unkind spirit pervaded the whole school. Ben Davies did not learn anything, as the teaching was in a foreign language, which he did not understand. He did, however, learn to hate English, for which he was sorry later.

After working as a door-boy in a colliery, he returned to school, and by this time the schoolmaster was praised by everybody. He was a young man from Abercrave, Mr. J. J. Roberts, later of Pontardawe. Mr. Roberts was very kind to him, especially when he found that he had worked at a colliery and returned to school. Ben Davies had a deep reverence in his heart for his new master, who placed the pupil in a cosy corner of the room and gave him personal attention in teaching sums and enticing him to read and write from the " Royal Readers ". He made him learn English poetry, and, with three others, he was prepared to become a pupil teacher. He had an exceptionally good verbal memory and he won the Roberts Prize for reciting "The Sofa" by William Cowper.

Mr. Roberts spent four successful years as master of the school, and Her Majesty's Inspector of Schools reported that
" the school is in excellent order and extremely well conducted; the energy and devotion to duty displayed by the master are most commendable, and the scholars are progressing well in consequence ".

In February 1878, the result of the election of the School Board was as follows:

The British School, Cwmllynfell, was transferred to the Llanguicke School Board in July 1879. Mr. Roberts continued as headmaster until October 2, 1882. On October 9, 1882, Mr. John Isaac took charge of the school and very successfully continued for thirty-four years. He was the last schoolmaster in the Old School, and on September 23, 1883, he led the procession of children to the new Board School. Althongh the journey was short, it marked an important change in facilities for education at Cwmllynfell.

Many people in Cwmllynfell resented transferring the British School to the Llanguicke School Board, as shown by the following entry in the Log Book.
" 1875 May 3rd to May 7th. On Monday night or very early Tuesday morning some person or persons entered the school for the purpose of damaging the premises. A panel in the lower portion of the cupboard was completely knocked in. Every now and then a window was broken. Undoubtedly, there are some persons who intend to destroy the school. Some time ago I was informed that rather than the schoolroom should be handed over to the School Board, the people would pull it down. It seems that by their proceedings last night, that such is the case."

On January 2nd, 1890, Miss Anna Griffiths took charge of the Cwmllynfell Infants' school as a separate department.

Mr. John Rees became Head-teacher on November 1, 1916, but he suffered ill-health and died on November 12, 1920. Mr. David John Price, formerly Head-teacher of Rhiwfawr school, commenced duties as Head-teacher of the Cwmllynfell Mixed School. John Watkins, Tom Ellis Phillips and William John Thomas were there before Miss M. Williams, the present Head-teacher. The members of the staff in Febrnary 1964 of the Cwmllynfell Junior school were Miss E. M. N. Harries and Mrs. M. Morris. Eighty-six pupils were enrolled. Pupils who pass the eleven-plus entrance examination may enter Ystalyfera or Pontardawe Grammar schools, and the remainder attend the Gwauncaegurwen Secondary County School.

 


Garnant & Glanamman

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 Gellionnen

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A stable attached to Gellionnen Chapel had a loft in which a school was held for the children of the district.

This school preceded the circulating schools of Griffith Jones, Llanddowror.

Mary Williams, of Gelligron, by her will, left 40/- annually to a school at ' Gelli Onen ' for ever, chargeable to the tenement of ' Glynmeirch '.
When the school closed before 1766, no payment was made afterwards.   

 


Godre'rgraig

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Godre'rgraig Mixed School

Miss Margaret A. Harris took charge of the Godre'rgraig School on June 26, 1882, when the attendance was forty-eight. On January 5, 1883, the Inspector reported that if the premises were to be occupied as a school in future, the playground and the approaches to the offices must be considerably improved, and a porch (which could be used as a cloakroom) built at the front entrance. There were no means of ventilating the cloakroom.

On February 19, 1883, Miss Mary Price became headteacher of the school. Afterwards she was appointed as headmistress of the Infant Department at Gwauncaegurwen.
The staff, in 1883, were: Mary Price, certificated, M. A. Samuel, monitress, and Gwen Jones, monitress.
The average attendance on week ending September 14, 1883, was 98. Absenteeism was due to bad weather, measles, chickenpox, scarlet fever, whooping cough, swollen faces, St. David's Day, Fairs, Menagerie, Circus, etc.

On September 28, 1885, Rachel Evans took charge of the school, and on June 4, 1888, Mary Williams followed. She was assisted by M. A. Samuel and R. A. Davies. The first standard was sent up to Pant-teg School.

Margaret Thomas commenced duties as mistress on April 7, 1896. She suffered from deafness.
In the Log Book she recorded: April 26, 1899 - " can't possibly keep school this afternoon. Children gone to see the procession of Wombwells Menagerie."

On November 16, 1905, the Glamorgan Education Committee opened the new Godre'rgraig Council School.
A Supplementary teacher was engaged in 1907 at 25 per annum.

Among the headteachers were: John James, D. L.. Rees, Gerwyn Rees, and in the month ending February 28, 1964, the staff were: Mr. G. Davies, headteacher, Miss D. J. Hopkin, Mrs. M. J. Griffiths, Mrs. P. Samuel, Miss M. Williams, Mrs. A. Morgan, deputy head-teacher. Total number enrolled was 154.

 


Gwauncaegurwen

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The first record of formal education at Gwauncaegurwen was that of the Circulating schools initiated by the Rev. Griffith Jones, Llanddowror.
In his reports he stated that a Mr. H -- T-- taught children and adults at Waun Cygurwen in Llanguke, in 1739-40, when forty-five were enrolled.
In 1741-2, forty-one attended at Cygerwen, and fifty-two in 1744-5.
A year later, twenty-eight scholars attended al Llwyn-y-celyn, in Llanguick. The original spelling of the records was retained.
At Neuadd in Llanguick, forty-three students were enrolled. This was Neuadd Farm, near Garnant.
The reports by G. Jones continued! In a school in 1750-1 at Cigerwen in the parish of Llanguick, forty-three students attended.
Later the records gave from Michelmas 1766 to Michelmas 1767 at Caegyrwen in Llanguick, sixty enrolled?'

After Griffith Jones's schools, Sunday schools, not only as a means of religious instruction but also as elementary secular education, began and spread.
The Rev. Noah Jones, Walsall, Staffordshire, a native of Gwauncaegurwen, gave the land at Cwmbach and paid for the building of a school in 1762. In addition, he gave 2 a year to pay for poor scholars, and 1 a year to pay the Rev. Josiah Rees, Gellionnen, for preaching in the school on Sunday afternoons during the summer.
In 1832, " Hen Abraham " kept a day school in the stable loft of Old Carmel Chapel.

A Government Inspector reported on Cwmbach (Independent) School in 1847, thus:
"English books only. Welsh spoken in explanation of English books. Age of master 25. Started at 24. Farmer's son. Income from school pence 26. Salary nil. Annual income of school 26."

" Thomas-y-school " followed Abraham.
Gwydderig, the poet, attended the school at Old Carmel.

As the population increased in Godre'rwaun, the school shifted to a room above the stable of Caegurwen Arms.
Philip Rees, the proprietor of Caegurwen Arms, who had lost a leg in the Crimean War, increased his living by teaching children in this school.
Afterwards the school was held at Pen-yr-incline house.
John Harris, Cwmbach, had a school at " Y Cwt ", and an English woman taught at Ty'n-y-coedcae, Cwmgors. Some boys attended a school kept by Sion y gwaddotwr at Pantyboblen, near Lletyycrydd.................

A pupil at the school, Pen-yr-incline house, said that the classroom was a lean-to with a backless form along the wall. He held his slate in the left hand and the slate pencil in the right. In this school, Evan Gethin, a winding engine-man at the Old Pit, succeeded John Davies as schoolmaster.

At Caegurwen Arms, miners and others held meetings in 1866, and decided to build a British School and contribute one shilling per month for the school and its maintenance. David Morgan, Cilpentan, became the first secretary and Benjamin Evans, Llwynrhidiau, treasurer. On the first page of the school Log Book was reported:

" The School Establishment consists of Evan Davies, master, not certificated, Hannah Davies, teaching of sewing."  This was signed by J. Bowstead, H.M. Inspector, 15th August, 1867.

A copy of H.M. Inspector Second Report was received on September 8, 1867:
"The Lower Classes in this school are creditably instructed. On the whole, the progress of the school is as great as it would be reasonable to expect under the circumstances. The new premises are well built and sufficient for the present need, but a classroom may be wanted hereafter."

On November 1867, David Evans took charge of the school, where fifty-four pupils attended, and this number increased to ninety by December 20, 1867. David Evans resigned, and on January 6, 1868, David Davies took charge of the school. He was assisted by Eliza Davies as teacher of needlework. On November 20, 1868, " the Parish doctor came to school to vaccinate ten children ". Another note from the school log-book on August 13, 1869, states: "Today I resign the mastership of the Gwauncaegurwen British School. David Davies."  His successor wrote on August 16, 1869: " I, Richard Morgan, probationer from St. Mark's College, Chelsea, S.W. Commenced duties as Master of Gwain-cae-gurwen British School."

On November 21, 1870, it was noted that
" This School 40 feet by 25 feet by 17 feet is a public one secured by deed " and a committee "appoint and control the teacher. It is connected with no  religious denomination. No. on roll 148, 75 boys, 73 girls. Signed by David Morgan (Cilpentan) and Benjamin Evans (Llwynrhidie)."
David Morgan was the grandfather of Mr. Morgan, butcher, Cwmgors, and Benjamin Evans was the grandfather of Miss Jane Evans, Her Majesty's Inspector of Schools.

On February 17, 1871, Richard Morgan ceased to be master. The local committee considered it advisable to appoint an Englishman as headmaster, so they appointed George Edmund, a Pembrokeshire man. In the school Log Book dated May 21, 1871, Mr.Edmund wrote:
"I George Edmund took charge of this school at this date - found the attendance very good 153 being present; but not a book, slate or apparatus of any kind suitable for instruction in school. - The Committee meeting this evening gave me 9.7.1d. to buy absolute necessaries - Tuesday I went to the Depot - Wednesday reopened school and found the children industrious and attentive the rest of the week."

With the increase in the number of children, more teachers were employed, and 1872 the establishment consisted of George Edmund, Certificated 2/1 Old Code, Harry Edmund, Pupil Teacher of 4th year; George T. Edmund, Pupil Teacher of 2nd year; Margaret Thomas, Pupil Teacher 1st year, and Mary Meredith, Sewing Mistress.
Mr. Edmund records many interesting things in his log book.
On January 10th, 1873, he wrote that
"The Mines Regulation Act compelling children in collieries to attend 10 hours weekly was now in force and many children were admitted this week. Ordinary routine in school work.
On February 23, 1875, the schoolroom was used as a Polling Booth by H. Cuthbertson, Esq., for the School Board."
238 polled here from the hamlet of Caegurwen. The result of School Board election for Llangiwg was: John James, 1,594; B. Evans, 1,446; T. White, 987; J. Williams, 910; John Morgan, 772; Charles Williams, 441; Daniel Lewis, 418. In the Minute Book of the Llanguicke School Board was written that "The Returning Officer (Mr. Howel Cuthbertson) reported that the following gentlemen, viz. John James, Godre'r Garth, Farmer, Benjamin Evans, Llwynrhidie, Yeoman, Thomas Richardson White, Fountain Hall, Ystalyfera, Civil Engineer, James Williams, Pwllbach, Rollerman, John Morgan, Penlan Fach, Farmer, Charles Williams, Ystalyfera, Baptist Minister, Daniel Lewis, Tanyrallt, Ystalyfera, Contractor, were elected to the Board."

The Gwauncaegurwen British School was converted to a Board School on May 1st, 1877, and enlarged by two classrooms in 1878.

" John Morgan and John James were proposed as Chairman of the Board. John James had 4 votes and John Morgan 3 votes. Mr. White was Vice-chairman. Mr. D. B. Turberville, Solicitor, Neath, acted as Clerk to the Board and Mr. Leonard D. Williams of Swansea Bank, Ltd., Swansea, as Treasurer without remuneration."
Although the post of treasurer was an honorary one, the first treasurer did not last long. At a meeting held on July 15, 1875, the Clerk reported that
" a cheque for 10 which had been given him for Quarter's salary had been returned by the treasurer dishonoured."
It was "resolved that Mr. Leonard D. Williams's services as Treasurer be dispensed with and that the manager of the Glamorganshire Banking Co. (George Young, Esq.) be appointed to the Board in his stead."

Alderman D. D. Davies [re]called that Mr. Harry Edmund, a nephew of Mr. George Edmund, was agile and alert, a trick cyclist with a penny farthing cycle of the day. In addition to being a conjuror, he was the first to play the violin at Gwauncaegurwen.

In 1879, an Infant Department was built, and the first mistress, Miss Dickens, was followed by Miss Cox of Cwmavon. Later, Mrs. Mary Evans (afterwards Mrs. Mary Morris of Porthcawl), a powerful personality, was headmistress for over twenty years.

Mr. John Hugh succeeded Mr. George Edmund as headmaster. A bitter controversy raged around that appointment; many of the inhabitants being keen on obtaining a Mr. Davies to the post. Davies was a musician, and a precentor was needed at Carmel Chapel. Mr. Hugh, a very clear thinker, was one of the best of teachers. He continued until July 1925, when he retired. Mr. John Morgan, L.L.C.M., succeeded him. Mr. Morgan left to become headmaster at Whitchurch, near Cardiff.

On Monday, June 26, 1939, the new Gwauncaegurwen Primary School was opened by Alderman David Daniel Davies. It had cost 13,000, and was situated at the rear of the old school which had been demolished and replaced by an ornamental space bordered with green flowering shrubs. The new school has spacious corridors, class and cloak rooms, lavatories, teachers' rooms, modern equipment and a hall with a seating capacity of 300. The headmistress, Miss Mary Evans, and staff and pupils removed to their new headquarters six months before the official opening.

.............................obtained permission for a fine Secondary Modern School, which was built on Gwauncaegurwen Common off the New Road, near the Public Hall. Children over eleven years of age who did not go to Grammar schools attended here.
The first headmaster, Mr. T. H. Griffiths, B.A., left to become headmaster of Llwynderw Secondary School, Maesteg.

Mr. Ellis Wyn Evans, B.A., Dip.Ed., succeeded Mr. Griffiths as headmaster. Mr. Evans was born at Gwauncaegurwen on April 11, 1904, was the son of William John Evans and Hannah Evans, and was educated at Carmarthen Preparatory School and University College, Swansea. He graduated with Final Welsh and History, and obtained the Diploma of Education. In religion he is an Independent and a deacon and honorary secretary of Carmel Chapel, Gwauncaegurwen.

The staff of the school in 1960 consisted of;

The catchment area in 1958 comprised of Ystalyfera, Godre'rgraig, Pontardawe, Rhydyfro, Cwmgors, Gwauncaegurwen, Tairgwaith, Glyn (Banwen), Cwmllynfell and Rhiwfawr. After the opening of the new County Secondary School at Pontardawe in 1959, pupils from Ystalyfera, Godre'rgraig, Pontardawe and Rhydyfro were transferred to Pontardawe School.
In 1940, during World War 11, one hundred and twenty evacuees attended the Gwauncaegurwen School.

The school age was raised from fourteen years to fifteen years in 1958, 500 pupils were enrolled, but in September 1959 the number on the register was 310. Seventy-five per cent of the pupils speak Welsh and twenty-five per cent, speak English. In the past, boys wanted to work in collieries, but now they prefer factories. Successful pupils attend Grammar Schools at Ystalyfera and Pontardawe, and Technical Secondary School at Pontardawe.

 


Gwrhyd

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Pontardawe & Llangiwg

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THE HISTORY OF EDUCATION.

It in not necessary to go back far to reach the period of the beginning of educational development. 60 years ago there was a different aspect on the country; a small school here and there,and the schoolmasters almost as small as the children from an educational point of view. There was little improvement in education before the establishing of the Board Schools. The government schools made some effort at paving the way for better ones.

The first school in Pontardawe that I have any information on was the school at Cae'r Doc, where Phillip's slaughterhouse is at present. John John, Ynysderw ; the.Rev.John James, Minister of Gellionen Vicar. Price,and Harper,Esq.,of Ynysygelynen all had a hand in this. Some of the elderly of the district claimed that Cae'r Doc and the upper part of Craig Ynysderw was once given to Pontardawe by Madam Turbil.  John John,Ynysderw and Harper, Ynysygelynen,were two trustees of the place, but somehow, through some misunderstanding between the two trustees --- one believing that the deeds were with the other, and the other saying that they were with the first --- possession of the place fell from their hands back to another. The school was built on district land --- a small' schoolhouse with a thatched roof; wooden benches resting on stones had to do as   places to sit on; and an earthen floor. It was raised by voluntary contributions from the people of the district. There was a dwelling house related to it for the  use of the schoolmaster.

There were several schoolmasters there in their time.The first was John Farrant; the second was Henry Lloyd, the old schoolmaster of Plasywaun, Cilybebyll; the third was William Griffith --- some say he came from Carmarthenshire,other, that he was from Pembrokeshire, but it does not matter. The fourth was "Yr hen dderyn"("The old Bird"). It needed a fair sized school to take his name. If some of the children were subject to "bronchitis" it took them four eff-orts to say his name. It was George Cowing Charles Bird,and if anyone stuttered over the 'G' , half the school would be over before he had "G'd" from one end to the other. This one flew over to Alltwen on a wet day from Rhos,Cilybebyll,where his nest had become uncomfortable. Philip Griffiths,Maesiago,was at the school with the first three masters,and William Griffiths lodged with his parents. It was customary for. Mrs Bird to comb the old Bird's hair in the school while the children did their lessons,and now and then she would go to Neath, to get him some golden apples. He was an above average scholar,and was prominent with the 'sick clubs' in the district. Several boys of the, school became shining stars in the district later,such as David Gibbs(Carnalun);Edward Young (Eos Wyn),and the late Dr Griffiths,Llwyncelyn, Pontardawe.
After the old Mr Bird came Mr Leonard Evans.Two of his children,Mr Morgan Evans and. his sister,are living at present opposite the Public Hall. He was teaching at the school for about two or three years.He went from Pontardawe to Ynyspenllwch near Glais,and it was there that he was buried. He was the last of the schoolmasters in Cae'r Doc. After the closing of the school,Einon Williams (Einon-Pentreharn,or Einon the Blacksmith --everyone had a name for him) worked a forge there.

In 1856,Mr William Parson,raised a school in Brecon Road to serve his workers. All the workmen gave a day's pay towards the building,and money was deducted from their pay towards the upkeep. By 1874 there were 185 scholars,and it was called the National School. A few years after this,it was taken over by the Council of the Board. The Board had it until 1885. The school is today in the possession of the church. Services are held there in Welsh and English every Sunday alternately,or in opposite arrangment to the service in St Peters. There is a Sunday school there every Sunday. This is where the Churchgoers worshipped in the village before the building of St Peters.

This school had several schoolmasters in its day. The first one that we have information about was Benjamin Griffiths,brother of the popular Ifander Griffiths. After him came a man named Smith. He was a Scot. After Smith came a Lloyd and then a Cubbard. Then came Watkin Jones,and the last in 1882,J.J.Roberts,Ynysmeudwy.

In 1869,a ' Reading Room' was built in Herbert Street by Mr. Wm.Gilbertson, for his workers,which is at present in the possession of the Rechabites,and called "Rechabite Hall". There was an infant school in this building for years,and I understand that in 1875,a Miss Spratt was the schoolmistress there. .................. (see under Ynysmeudwy)

There was another school in the loft of a stable of an old Tavern called 'The Lamb', a few hundred yards from Bethesda,the Independent chapel. The schoolmaster in this place was John Davies(White),who also preached,and was a deacon in Bethesda for many years.

On the seventh day of April 1885,the new Board School was opened,and Mr John Jones Roberts became its schoolmaster. He is the only one that has been there,and is now teaching the children of the first children that were under his care. There is room there for 200 boys and 200 girls,and quite a number of assitant teachers serving there.

Again,in 1899,an infant school was opened in the centre of Pontardawe near St Peters church. This held 250 children. In the first year the average number of children that attended there was 160,and at present,the average is 200. The schoolmistress is Miss Jones who has served here from the beginning,but her assistants keep changing like the moon,but not as consistent ..............(see under Ynysmeudwy)

 

Education at Pontardawe

The first school-house was on Cae'r Doc, between the River Upper Clydach and Palais de Dance, and near the Canal at Pontardawe. John John, Ynysderw, the Rev. John James, Minister of Gellionnen, Vicar Price, and Thomas Harper, Ynysgelynen, had a hand in starting the school.

A small school with a thatched roof; wooden benches resting on stones were considered good enough for pupils to sit on; the floor was of hardened soil.  Attached to the school-room was the headmaster's house.
The headmasters, in chronological order, were: John Tarrant, Henry Lloyd, William Griffith, George Cowing Charles Bird and Leonard Evans. He was the last of the masters in Cae'r Doc school.

The National School was aided or maintained by subscriptions, and owing to a change of proprietorship in Parsons' works, the school was closed on February 19, 1847.
Notes made by an Inspector on the National School, Pontardawe (Works and Church) were: The teacher conducted religions instruction, and opened the school with a hymn and prayer. The minister visited the school regularly. Although the pupils were monoglot Welsh, English books only and English Grammar only were taught by a master and mistress, each twenty-five years of age and not trained. Salary of both was 50 per annum.  Income from school pence was 4, and the annual income of school subscriptions and donations amounted to 50. There was no endowment.

When the pecuniary circumstances of William Parsons improved. he built the Church school-room in 1856, each of his workmen contributing one day's wages, and school pence were taken from the workers pay. On April 7th, 1859, H.M. Inspector of Schools inspected the school and found 91 boys and 76 girls present at the examination.

"These schools are in as fair a condition as can be expected under the circumstances of the case. They are at the present moment conducted by a master and mistress, neither of whom are certificated, but are fairly competent to manage them.

Many schoolmasters taught in this school, the first being Benjamin Griffiths (brother of the famous choir conductor, Ifander Griffiths), who was followed by a Scotsman, Alex Smith, who was succeeded by Henry Woodman and later by Will Jones, W. M. Jones and, lastly, by John Jones Roberts. In 1863, the Pontardawe Mixed National School was under the supervision of the clergyman, who reprimanded the schoolmaster, Alex Smith, for expelling a boy for disobedience and improper conduct of bringing gunpowder to school and exploding it, and covering his faults by telling lies. When the Log Books were examined by the clergyman, he commented upon the dismissal of a boy from the Night School for conducting himself so badly.

 "The Master cannot expel him from school, but suspend him until the clergyman was communicated with, when the boy may be punished as the clergyman may direct."

" Punishment ought to be inflicted with a cane in preference to a rod."

On August 18, 1863, the Rev. D. Jones and John Parsons visited the school. In September 29, 1864, the headmaster wrote in the Log Book:

" I have finished my career as master of this school, and heartily thank God for the great blessings He has showered upon us and pray that my successor may receive the sympathy of the Committee and the cooperation of the parents in all matters with the school. Alex Smith."

Smith was followed by Lloyd and then Cubbard. In 1868, the staff consisted of a Certificated teacher as master, Henry Woodman, and assistant mistress, Mrs. Mary Phillips. In 1873, several boys returned to school mainly as the result of Bruce's Mines Regulation Bill.  The boys were under age to work. It was recorded that three girls in Standard One, two of them were ill with smallpox and the other had typhoid. On February 8th, 1865, the school was visited by Dr. Price, who examined children's arms to see if they had been vaccinated.

 " He found seven in the school and nine in the infant school who had not been done, so he vaccinated accordingly."

The staff on March 1, 1877, consisted of Will Jones, Headmaster; R. D. Howel, Assistant Master; W. Hughes, 3rd year pupil teacher: B. H. Jones, W. G. Hodgson and Geo. Hopkin, 1st year pupil teacher. During this period, children had to pay their school pence. On May 30th, 1879, Arthur Gilbertson, who was Correspondent for the School, wrote:

 "I think 5d. must be charged for one child from parents in good circumstances and 4d. and 3d. for the second and third child. Children between 7 and 10 years old, 2d., children over 10, 3d. Skilled workmen at 4d. and exception in some few cases for poor people."

From August 15, 1881, the schools came under the jurisdiction of the Llanguicke School Board. On October 28, the Board decided on the following school pence: children under 7 years of age, 1d., 10 years of age, 2d., and those over 10 years, 3d. This document was signed by D. B. Turberville, Clerk to the Board.

The staff in 1882-3 were: W. M. Jones, 1st Class Certificated Teacher; M. A. Harris, Certificated Teacher; M. Williams, Assistant Mistress, and W. T. Taylor and G. Evans, pupil teachers of 2nd year. The master resigned because he had been appointed headmaster of Pontypool Town School, and he took leave of the children on October 6, 1882.

On Monday, October 9, 1882, John Jones Roberts took charge of the school. Her Majesty's Inspector reported on the Mixed School on April 4, 1884, thus:

" This school is well managed by Mr. Roberts and a good examination has been passed as a whole."

The school population had increased and the children left the old school for the new Llanguicke Board School under Mr. Roberts on April 7, 1885.
On August 10, 1885, the sexes separated and Miss Hannah Anne Davies, Treherbert, was the first mistress of the Girls' School.

In 1869, William Gilbertson built a Reading Room which afterwards became the Rechabites Hall.
An Infants' school was held in this building in 1875, when Miss Spratt acted as headmistress.

J. J. Roberts, the headmaster, kept up-to-date by attending special courses at South Kensington in 1898, and at the Royal College of Science, London, in 1901.

H.M. Inspector reported in July 1902, on the Boys' school:

" This is thoroughly a well-organised School, and its state is due to the approved methods of teaching adopted and the indefatigable zeal with which the work is carried out. The order and tone are exceedingly good."

The Boys' and Girls' schools and Infant Class received a total grant of 683.10s. In this century the three wars; South African, and the two World Wars are mentioned in the Log Books. Relief of Lady-smith and Mafeking and end of the South African War were recorded.

There was no school on Wednesday, July 15, 1903, because of Buffalo Bill show at Swansea. It was at this show that the writer first saw Red Indians. In September 1903, the School Board ended and the new regime came under the Glamorgan Authority. Instead of the control being under the School Board, School Managers of the Pontardawe Division had their first meeting on Thursday, November 30, 1903, Astley W. Samuel was Clerk to the Managers.

On January 4, 1904, Edgar Leyshon Chappell commenced duties as a certificated trained assistant at a salary of 80 a year. Mr. Roberts, the headmaster, introduced a violin class in 1904, and 40 boys and 37 girls started under the tuition of Mr. Whitaker, Swansea. The highest weekly average since the opening of the school in 1885 (boys) was 206.

Coal mining increased in Glamorgan at the beginning of this century and as many boys after they left school, worked in local collieries, Henry Davies, director of mining instruction, Glamorgan, recommended the following for teaching mining in the upper standards: one box of fossils, 1, one box of rock specimens, 1.1.0d., one Davy lamp, 6/6, one clanny lamp, 7/6, one set of anthracite 3 inches by 4 inches, one box of steam coal and one box of bituminous coal.

Children who wanted to leave school before the statutory age had to pass an examination, and on July 9, 1907, 37 boys and 23 girls sat the Labour Certificate examination. David Thomas, J.P., M.D., acting medical officer of health, visited the school in June 1906 and was thoroughly satisfied. In April 1908, Dr. F. E. Francis medically examined 36 boys, and in 1910 he excluded five boys from school: three with scabies, one with impetigo and one with ingrowing toe nail.

Until January 7, 1913, children sat on long backless desks, but dual desks replaced them. Many interesting events were recorded by Mr. Roberts in the school Log Book :

"Capt. Scott had reached the South Pole. He and his associates died in 1912. Petty Officer Edgar Evans, Rhosilly, was one of them."

On October 23. 1913:  " Prosser of Birmingham made a successful flying feat in a biplane from the Pontardawe Athletic Ground at 4.30 p.m."

County Councillor F. W. Gilbertson, J.P., opened the New Higher Elementary School on September 4, 1913.

The new Boys' School between Smithfield and Heathfield roads, was opened on March 2, 1914, the boys, numbering 220, marched from the old school to the new and celebrated St. David's day. In 1915-16, the Log Book contained notes about the first World War. After a long and faithful service, John Jones Roberts who had been headmaster at Cwmllynfell, Llangiwg and New Boys' schools, died on April 19, 1919.

T. Roger Williams took up duties as Head Teacher of the Boys' School on March 2. 1920, after having previously held a similar position at the Wern Boys' School, Ystalyfera. The number on books in 1921 was 274.

"The lock-out of the miners commenced on April 1st ", continued until June, "and to alleviate the distress prevailing, canteens for school children have been opened at the old Church School and at the Girls' Department, where free meals are provided every mid-day. So far the whole organisation has been maintained by subscriptions and voluntary assistance."

July 8th : "The local canteens have this week been placed under the County Council Scheme for feeding of necessitous children." Once the scheme for " necessitous " children came, there was a sudden drop in attendance at the canteen, so it was decided to combine the voluntary and Council schemes. On July 15, 1921, the canteen terminated.

Thomas Roger Williams, Head Teacher since March 1920, " to our deepest regret passed away on October 18, 1930, after an illness lasting since 5th May.

W. H. John commenced duties as head teacher on December 1, 1930. On the staff were D. J. Daniel, BA., CT.,;  D. Ll. Thomas, BA., C.T.,;  E. P. Hopkin, C.T., ; A. G. Rees, C.T.,;  D. M. Williams, U.T., Miss Laura Jenkins, U.T.,;  and Miss Gwen Lewis, U.T.   Mr. W. H. John left on July 28, 1939, for Newton, Porthcawl Mixed Council School, the transfer arising because the grade of Pontardawe Boys' school dropped from Grade III to Grade II.

From end of 1939 to 1945 during World War II, the school was affected in many ways. Arthur Moses followed W. John as head teacher in 1940, and D. J. Daniel took charge of Wern School, Ystalyfera. Fifty-two evacuee pupils of Glencoe Boys' School, Chatham, Kent, were admitted. Two teachers, Mr. F. B. Semple and Mr. C. T. Cox, accompanied them. On July 8, the number had increased to 82. From July in, 1940, to February 19, 1943, the siren warned the proximity of enemy aeroplanes. The boys soon marched to their shelters. Although teachers looked after their schools in the night, it was surprising how fresh they were for their day's work. Only once a plane flew low over the school, but fortunately no bomb was dropped.

The Boys' School is an excellent building, consisting of seven classrooms opening on to a corridor and flanking a central hall, and was completed in 1914. There are two cloakrooms and a Head Teacher's room. The recognized accommodation is for 320 pupils. One of the classrooms and the central hall are used as a dining-room and service room for the cooked mid-day meal which is provided for eighty-seven boys daily.

Arthur Moses on December 19,1947, wrote in the School Log Book:

" After having spent eight very happy years in charge of this department, I am retiring from the profession. I sincerely hope that my successor, Mr. E. P. Hopkin, C.T., who has been appointed temporary Head Teacher, will have the same feeling as I have when he relinquishes duties."

Mr. Hopkin was succeeded by Mr. Arthur Gwyn Rees, who was followed by Mr. Taliesin Williams.

In 1945, the new Education Act 1944 was operated as from April 1st. With the change came new nomenclature: the terminology applied to public Elementary schools such as Council Schools became County Schools. This school became the County Junior Primary School. In 1946, the antiblast walls were demolished, free milk was given to all pupils and in 1947, the self-contained kitchen prepared its first midday meal. A telephone was installed on December 9, 1948.

On January 4th, 1964, the Pontardawe Primary Boys' School had the following staff: T. L. V. Williams, head teacher; F. E. Ford, W. G. Thomas and C. Morgan. Number of pupils on the register was 113, and the catchment area was from Pontardawe Cross to Cilmaengwyn and from Herbert Street to Gelligron. Boys entered at the age of six years eleven months and continued until eleven years and eleven months. They came from Pontardawe and Ynysmeudwy Schools. Those who do not enter a grammar school are transferred to the Secondary Modern School, AlItacham.

 

Infant School

On the centenary (1861-1963) of Infant education at Pontardawe, Alderman Thomas Evans, J.P., M.R.S.II., Chairman of the Glamorgan County Council, gave a celebration tea on Friday, July 26, 1963.

In 1863, the  National School in Brecon Road was first divided into upper school and infant school. With an increase in infant population, the infant school removed on June 19, 1874, to the long room in the Reading Room, afterwards known as Rechabites Hall, now the Lyric Cinema. On April 7, 1885, again the infant school removed to the new Llanguicke Board School. Free education came in August 31, 1891.

The new well-built Infant School, off Thomas Street, Pontardawe, was officially opened on Friday evening, April 14, 1896, by Principal Roberts, Aberystwyth.

The headmistresses of Pontardawe Infant School were: Mrs. Margaret Smith; 1866-67, Miss Williams, Miss Butt and Miss Mary Watkins; Miss Elizabeth Michell, temporary head before Miss Mary Anne Lewis took over in 1868-1871; 1871-74, Miss Catherine Michell; 1874-77, Miss Elizabeth Brett; 1877, Miss Mary Wills; 1877-78, Miss S. L. Francis; 1879-1895, Miss Elizabeth Davies; 1895-1927, Miss Hannah Jones, M.B.E.; 1928-1947, Miss M. J. Williams; 1948-1950, Miss H. M. Phillips, acting headmistress; 1951-58, Miss Sal Jones; 1958-1963, Miss Mary Jones. At present-1964 - Miss A. Lloyd occupies the post of headmistress at the Pontardawe Infant School.

 

Pontardawe Secondary School

Pontardawe Secondary County School opened on September 8, 1958, when 362 pupils were registered. The establishment consisted of Cyril Benjamin H. Lewis, M.A., Dip.Ed., headmaster, and the following staff;

Name of Teacher & Subjects

The headmaster, C. B. Lewis, died suddenly in July 1961 at the age of 53 years. His first appointment was as lecturer in Welsh and English at the Pontardawe Technical College, where he was one of the pioneer staff. During World War II, he became an officer of the Pontardawe District Squadron of the Air Training Corps, and when Mr. William Gilbertson left the district, Mr. Lewis was appointed the Commanding Officer of the Squadron. As headmaster, he provided the pupils with a rich background of experience, fostered right attitudes to work, and inculcated self-discipline. He gave the school a wonderful atmosphere and a stamp of culture which will be felt for many years. One of the school staff, Mr. William Oswald Jones, B.Sc., succeeded Mr. Lewis as headmaster. Mr. D. T. Thomas, BA., in 1961, was appointed headmaster of Clydach Secondary County School.

 

Pontardawe Grammar School

The Pontardawe Higher Elementary School was formally opened on September 6, 1913, when 140 pupils enrolled. John William Thomas, B.A., the first schoolmaster, saw the school converted into a Secondary School on January 1, 1921. Pupils prepared for " senior " and " higher " examinations of the Central Welsh Board. On March 31, 1942, the headmaster resigned owing to failing health. David Thomas, M.A., was appointed to succeed J. W. Thomas, and he resigned owing to ill-health on September 16, 1946, after thirty-one years service in the school.

Stanley Gordon Rees, M.A., the next headmaster, founded the school magazine, instituted foreign visits and inter-school debates and dramatics. He was educated at Llanelli Grammar School and University College of Wales, Aberystwyth, and had experience in teaching English at Denbigh from 1927-1944 and at Gowerton Grammar School from 1944-1947, when he was appointed headmaster of Pontardawe Grammar School and continued until 1955. Then he left to become headmaster of the Boys' Grammar School, Llanelli.

 

Pontardawe Grammar County School

Mr. Percy Roberts, M.A., son of John Jones Roberts and Mrs. H. J. Roberts, both of Abercrave, is the headmaster of the Grammar School, Pontardawe. He was educated at Pontardawe Elementary School, Ystalyfera Grammar School and University College of South Wales and Monmouthshire, Cardiff, where be graduated as a B.A., Dip.Ed., and later M.A. with distinction and Llewelyn ap Griffith prize for original contribution to the history of Wales. Mr. Roberts retired in August 1965 and Mr. Sulwyn L. Lewis, B.A., succeeded Mr. Roberts in 1966. In the interregnum, Mr. T. I. Edwards, M.Sc., was Acting Headmaster.

School Staff

There are 408 pupils on the roll. The catchment area is the whole of the Pontardawe Rural District and parts of Loughor Urban District Council Area. The school publishes annually a magazine, Y Bont. Hilton Price, form six, conducts the school orchestra. Concerts, dramas, operas, Welsh plays, Folk dancing, annual eisteddfodau, art exhibitions and careers convention are held. In sport, rugby, tennis, hockey, cricket and athletics are played. The school is divided into four houses, viz., Ty Arthur, Ap Gwilym, Ty Ddewi and Hywel. The chief school societies are: Yr Urdd, Music, History, Current Affairs, Photographic, Literary and Debating, French, Arts and Science.

 

Technical College for Further Education, Pontardawe

Before the building of the Mining and Technical Institute, Pontardawe, in 1933 and paid for out of a grant from the Millers Welfare Fund, further education was carried on in different centres, such as Pontardawe, Clydach, Ystalyfera, Gwauncaegurwen, and advanced courses at the Technical College, Swansea. The classes were held in elementary and grammar schools in the evenings and in day classes on Saturdays. This arrangement was superseded by the Mining and Technical Institute, which was built for Further Education at Pontardawe. It was officially opened in March 1934 by Alderman D. T. Williams, J.P., Chairman of the Governors. In 1951-53, an extension was built at a cost of 30,000 and was officially opened in March 1953 by Alderman Tom Evans, J.P., M.R.S.H.

The Institute housed (1) Part-time Evening Classes, (2) Part-time Day and Evening Courses, and (3) Full-time Day Courses. A vast range of subjects was provided in evening and day classes as shown below: mathematics, science, drawing, English, woodwork, metalwork, mining science, engineering drawing, engineering science, workshop practice, mechanical engineering science, electrical engineering science, workshop technology, colliery plant and layout, regulations for mine mechanics, physical education, handicraft, economics, grocery, music, matriculation classes, etc.

During the Second World War, evacuees, pupils of the Chatham Technical School, came to the Mining and Technical Institute. They were accompanied by four teachers. Their Principal, the late Mr. George Liggett, B.A., had the pupils billeted at Gwauncaegurwen in order to be safe from bombing.

In the evenings, the Committee of the Air Training Corps, Squadron 1358 of Pontardawe and District, had its headquarters at the Mining and Technical lnstitute. Alderman Sir William Jenkins, M.P., was president, and Mr. Ivon A. Bailey, M.Sc., chairman; Mr. W. Craven Llewelyn, vice-chairman; Principal J. Davies, M.E., F.G.S., hon. secretary; Mr. T. H. Wilson, F.I.M.T.A., hon. treasurer; the Rev. J. J. Thomas, B.A., hon chaplain, and the late Dr. D. Trevor Jenkins, hon. medical officer. Mr. W. F. Gilbertson, the Commanding Officer of the Squadron, was ably supported by his officers, Messrs. O. Thomas, C. B. H. Lewis, Thomas Llewelyn, Cliff Hunt, Glyn Johnson, A. E. Kift and Charles Woodward. The Squadron was inspected by the Air Minister, the Rt. Hon. Sir Archibald Sinclair, and addressed by Sir Arthur Whitten Brown.

The Governing Body of the College of Further Education, in 1961- 62, consisted of five representing the Glamorgan County Council:   County Councillor Richard Roberts, J.P., Chairman; County Alderman Thomas Evans, J.P.,  F.R.S.H., County Councillor Sidney Woodard, J.P., County Councillor Brinley Richards and Mr. David Morgan, J.P. Representing the West Glamorgan District Sub-Committee for Further Education were: District Councillors John Davies, B.E.M., J.P., vice-chairman; J. D. Maunder, Wyndham Rees, D. G. Thomas, J.P., William Williams, J.P. There were four co-optative members representing local industries: C. L. Boult, Esq., A.M.I.Mech.E., F.B.H.I., T. H. Canning, Esq., J.P., M.I.S.I., D. B. Grieve, Esq., F.C.A., and R. H. Jones, Esq., FRIC.

Full-time Departments were:
(a) County Technical School for Boys, who were admitted by a competitive examination confined to boys between the ages of twelve years six months and fourteen years six months. The curriculum included: (1) English, Welsh, Civics, History, Geography, Religious Instruction; (2) Mathematics, General Physics and Chemistry; (3) Engineering Drawing and Engineering Science; (4) Workshop Practice and Woodwork, and (5) Physical Education and Organized Games.
Pupils who gained a good School Leaving Certificate may be exempted from the first-year National Certificate examinations. Some third-year pupils entered for the General Certificate of Education " O " level in the following subjects: English Language, English Literature, Mathematics, Engineering Science, Engineering Drawing, Welsh, Scripture Knowledge, Woodwork and Metalwork.

(b) Full-time Commercial Course was organized on a two-year progressive basis for boys and girls over fifteen years of age. Entrance was by a competitive entrance examination.
The curriculum consisted of (1) English, History, Geography, Arithmetic and Welsh (optional); (2) Shorthand and Typewriting; (3) Book-keeping and Commerce; (4) Physical Education and Games.
The pupils prepare for examinations of the Royal Society of Arts and the G.C.E. " O " level under the Welsh Joint Education Committee

(c) Full-time For the National Scheme for the Apprenticeship of Engineering Craftsmen in the Mining Industry.
Three days of each week were spent on practical work in the metalwork room or the machine shop, while two days were spent on instruction in Engineering and Mining Science, Drawing Calculations, Workshop Technology and English.

Twenty-three courses were provided with a total of  117 classes. Glamorgan Education Committee award scholarships to (a) the Glamorgan Summer Schools, (b) the College of Technology, Treforest, and (c) to University Colleges.

The staff at the beginning were Principal John Henry Davies, Min.Dip., M.E., F.G.S., Mr. Oswald Thomas, M.Sc., A.R.I.C., the late Mr. C. B. H. Lewis, M.A., Dip.Ed., Mr. Thomas Llewelyn, B.Sc., (Min.), B.Sc. (Eng.), F.G.S., the late Mr. D. T. Morgan, B.Sc., and Mr. John Morgan, B.Sc., Mr. Lynne Jones, B.Sc., and many other part-time teachers. Mr. Thomas left to become Principal of Bargoed Mining and Technical Institute; Mr. Llewelyn was appointed Principal of Barnsley Technical College, and the late Mr. Lewis was the first headmaster of the Pontardawe Secondary School.

The first Principal of the Institute and headmaster of the school retired in May 1952, after forty-one years under the Glamorgan Education Committee. It has been said that

" the Principal had given long, faithful and efficient service to the Institute and the Technical school. He guided its affairs judiciously and effectively and had earned the respect of all his students and pupils. During his period as Principal he kept well to the fore as a geologist and his work was recognized both in this country and abroad. He was a man of wide interests and this enabled him to take a broad view of the educational needs of his pupils. He took particular interest in advising those about to leave school and saw that they were satisfactorily placed in suitable employment."

In the interregnum, Mr. C. B. H. Lewis, M.A., Dip.Ed., was appointed Acting Principal. The present Principal, Mr. Oswald Thomas, M.Sc., A.R.I.C., was educated at Ystalyfera Grammar School and University College, Swansea. He worked as an industrial and analytical chemist in Nobel's explosives factory, Ardeer, Scotland. From 1933 to 1950, he was a very successful lecturer in science at the Pontardawe Mining and Technical Institute. For three years he was Principal at Bargoed. In  1953, he returned to the Pontardawe College of Further Education as a capable and conscientious Principal.

 

Pontardawe Collegiate School

Before the Ystalyfera Intermediate School was opened, all the schools of the Pontardawe District provided only elementary education, but the private Collegiate School founded by William Samuel, B.A.(Cantab.), gave post elementary education. Before he came to Pontardawe he kept a school at Carreg Cennen House, near Llandilo. Even in 1874 the Pontardawe Collegiate School had successful students in the arts examinations of the Royal College of Surgeons, England. Students came not only from Pontardawe, but from Aberavon, Llandilo, etc.

This school, situated at Tanyrallt, Alltwen, Pontardawe, above Pontardawe Railway Station, began in 1870, and it provided education for boys to sit external examinations to enter universities. The boys, with their " mortar boards " and gowns, attended St. Peter's Church on Sundays. The Master often led the students in field expeditions in geography, all riding bicycles to travel around Pontardawe and its environs. He, with his long, flowing white beard, a patriarch in appearance, was keen on education and prominent in entertainment meetings held at the Board School, Gellinudd. William Samuel, the founder of the Collegiate School, wrote a hook on " Llandilo present and past " in 1868.

After his death, his son Astley Samuel took control of the Collegiate School, and succeeded until the County Intermediate was officially opened in October 1896, when he left to become an auctioneer at Swansea. Astley Samuel was appointed secretary of the schools and further education for east and west Cower, under the Glamorgan Education Authority.

 


Rhydyfro & Baran

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EDUCATION IN RHYDYFRO

The village of Rhydyfro stands on the main road from Pontardawe to Cwmamman on the right of the river Clydach. The meaning of the word is unusual. "Rhyd" means'shallow' or 'river crossing' or the English word 'ford',while "Bro" means a piece of unpopulated land. The river Clydach has been flowing in the same bed for thousands of years,and during that time,the land on either side has not shifted,so the water has not flooded it,and it has heard its constant murmuring over the years as it goes on its way. Rhydyfro was a small village at the time the first place of worship was built ---- only a little cottage here and there, and in these dwelt nearly every sort of craftsmen,among them the following:-
(Richard Davies,the tailor and bard;John James(Shoni the blacksmith);Jacob the weaver,and Philip Davies,the tailor and bard(son of the above Richard Davies).

Traces of old factories can be seen there to this day,and they are not likely to be removed,as they are on the side of the river. As well as the various craftsmen living there,there were,and still are several farmhouses on both sides of the river in the direction of Cwmgorse and Cwmegel. The main part of the village stood at the place where the Egel and Gors joined to form the river Clydach. The Clydach flows into the Tawe and divides the parishes of Llangiwc and Rhyndwy-Clydach. Below the village is Cwm Clydach,deep and narrow.Further up it forms a letter "Y",with Cwmegel spreading to the right,and Cwmgorse to the left,with Garth mountain like a king on his throne keeping the two from coming across each other. To the North-East stands the mountain of Gwrhyd and Llangiwc, and on the western side stands Gellionen and Baran,where Roger. Howells served as minister and schoolmaster. In Rhydyfro there are several shops and two taverns ---"The Royal Oak",the home of John James the blacksmith,and "The Travellers Rest", where David Lewis,one of the district's oldest men,lives. There has been a Post Office here for years.

  When the church in Baran was incorporated in 1805,Roger. Howels,Nantymoel,was appointed its minister,and he kept a school there and later in Nantymoel House. The children of Rhydyfro went there. One of the children who attended the school at Nantymoel House lives in Alltwen today --- Evan Thomas (Evan Shon). After Saron was built,a William Griffiths came to keep a school there,and afterwards moved to "Tai'r Heol" houses in the upper part of Rhydyfro near Cwmclyd,and it closed down around 1849 - 1850. The schoolmaster went down to Pontardawe to Cae'r Doc school,and the children of Rhydyfro had to walk there after him. In 1856,a National school was built in Pontardawe,and the Rhydyfro children had to walk there. With each improvement their journey became longer,until,in 1876,the Board school was built to serve the place. The schoolmaster from then until now is Mr A.W.Owens,along with assistants.

 

Rhydyfro School

Before the Llangiwg School Board was formed in March 1875, a British School was held at old Saron Chapel, Rhyd-y-fro. The Board found the school was conducted in the vestry and gallery of the Independent chapel. The accommodation in every respect was very deficient, the room too small and unhealthy for teachers and children. The number of children on the register in 1875 was seventy-eight. The Board recommended the erection of a school for 150 children, with a teacher's residence. A suitable plot of land was obtained from Mr. Berrington for a rental of 2 per annum for half-an-acre. Henry Thomas built the Rhyd-y-fro school for 800.

On June 25, 1877, the new Board School was opened under the management of John James, Godre'rgarth, chairman of the Board. The average attendance on June 29 was eighty-two. John James missed the train from Swansea on July 2, 1877, consequently there was no school that day.

Alfred Williams Owen commenced duties as principal teacher on July 13, 1877, and Mrs. Williams was appointed sewing mistress to the twenty-nine girls. In a report on the school on August 19, 1878, it was stated that
" the School is now in a new and handsome building, which is in every way suitable to the requirements of the district. The master is painstaking and industrious, and has so far brought on his scholars with more than ordinary success. The school staff consists of Alfred Williams Owen, certificated teacher of the second class, and Gwenllian Philpot, assistant teacher."
Mr. Owen was congratulated by the Joint Committee of the Llangiwg and Rhyndwyglydach School Boards, because he was the first teacher of a mixed school under the Board who had succeeded in obtaining the " Excellent Merit Grant ". His salary for the year 1885 was 121.10.0d.

The Board decided that from and after September 1, 1891, being the day on which the Elementary Education Act came into operation, all children were admitted free to the school, and that a fee grant of 10/- per head per annum was accepted from the Education Department in lieu thereof.

In 1892, there was a mixed school and Infant Class.

In 1899, W. L. Evans, Clerk to the Board, reported that the school staff consisted of A. W. Owen, Mary Owen, Mary Scale, Mary Richards and Sarah Jevan.

In 1904, the school came under the Glamorgan Education Authority. A. W. Owen terminated duties after forty-two years' service, and on September 4, 1919, David Morgan commenced duties as Acting Head-teacher, but in 1922 he left to take up duties as Head-teacher of Tai'rgwaith Schools. D. J. Terry succeeded as Head-teacher and he continued successfully until he retired.

On February 4, 1931, manual instruction was given for the first time to the Rhyd-y-fro boys at Trebannws, and on February 9, 1931, the Authority provided conveyance of children from Baran District.

The staffing return in February 1964 gave the following information: Miss C. Lloyd, Head-teacher; Miss E Lewis, Qualified Permanent; Mr. D. G. Evans, Q.P. Number enrolled: 54.

 


Tairgwaith

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Tairgwaith Infant Department

The Infants' School commenced in the Carmel Vestry, Tairgwaith.

The first headmistress, Mrs. Spence, was followed by Miss Alice Thomas (later Mrs. Edgar L. Chappell).

On September 28, 1903, straight from College, Miss Millicent Jones of Brynamman became head teacher at Tairgwaith.
One of His Majesty's Inspector's wrote: "The school is doing well considering the drawbacks of the premises, which were only approved for temporary purposes."
Another Inspector's report for the year ending 1904, stated: "A nicely conducted little school. The instruction is on suitable lines and the order is satisfactory."

In 1905, P. B. Ballard, a Glamorgan County Inspector, visited the school. Later he left Glamorgan for London, where he carried out psychological tests on thousands of children for which a degree of Doctor of Science was conferred upon him. Dr. Ballard's mother was born at Glais, her son wrote many valuable books on various aspects of education. On March 3, 1905, the head teacher received instructions that Welsh was to be included in the curriculum and that one lesson a day of fifteen to twenty minutes duration should be given in all Infant Schools.

The staff of the Primary School and Infant Department in 1908 were: J. M. Evans, head teacher; Miss Daisy Morris, Miss Rachel Davies, Miss Davies, Pontardawe; Edgar Morgan and Arthur Moses; Infant Department: Miss Millicent Jones, head teacher, and Miss NI. A. Hopkin.

The new building of the Tairgwaith Infant School opened on April 23, 1922,  as a separate department. Miss Elizabeth Llewelyn was the head teacher.

In 1925, Mrs. L. N. Folland, LIwynderw, Swansea, gave 35, with which to buy a piano.

September 18, 1925- " An epidemic of measles now rages in the district." ............................

 


Ynysmeudwy

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In 1909, the Zinc School opened for infants of Ynysmeudwy area.

In 1909,due to the huge increase in the population of the place,a new 'corrugated iron' school was built on Graig Llangiwc for the infants of the area,and also to relieve Pontardawe and Ynysmeudwy. The schoolmistress here is Miss Dunn from Birchgrove.

The source has a class  photograph of Ynysmeudwy Infants School in 1910. The Zinc School built (of zinc sheeting) on Ynysmeudwy Ganol land was opened in May 1909.   (AP)

There were other schools in the Ynysmeudwy district. (A William Griffiths, a native of Pembrokeshire, kept a school in a dwelling house near the Cwm Shon factory,and there is room to believe it was the same Griffiths that was in Cae'r Doc school in Pontardawe.

 


Ystalyfera

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Griffith Jones, Llanddowror, arranged that the Welsh Circulating Charity Schools were set up in 1738-1761 at Ystradgynlais, Alltygrug, Gilfach-yr-Haidd and Ystradowen.  
The Church Catechism in Welsh was taught in these schools which were not confined to children, for adults also attended, especially in the evenings. The Reports of the Commissioners of 1847 mentioned Craigarw, Pant-teg and Wern, Ystalyfera. "Palmer Rudd and Mrs. Budd supported the Girls' school at Wern." Mrs. Budd took an active part in the encouragement of education for girls, and of women in the evening. The following information was extracted from the school Log Rooks, which are at the Records Office, Glamorgan County Hall, Cardiff.

On February 25, 1863, the Rev. B. J. Binns, Her Majesty's Inspector of Schools for Wales, examined the Boys' School and found 138 children present. The visitors were Mrs. Palmer Budd, Rev. D. Jones, incumbent, and the Rev. H. Hughes, curate. As in the other schools of the district, on March 10, 1863, no school was kept on the occasion of the marriage of H.R.H. Prince of Wales. In the afternoon, the children were treated at the schoolroom with tea and cake. " The Magic Lantern was exhibited in the evening."

H.M. Inspector's Report on February 28, 1863, stated that

" the schoolroom is about to be enlarged and a class-room added; these alterations are highly necessary owing to the increasing attendance. The discipline and instruction are good, and a general improvement is observable both in the mode in which the daily work is carried on, and in the order and intelligence of the Scholars."

The Ystalyfera school was a National School under the Church of England, which taught the principles of the Established Church throughout England and Wales. School attendance at this period was not compulsory, but a high percentage of children took advantage of the educational facilities provided. The staff of the Ystalyfera Boys' National School consisted of Robert Lloyd, master, Watkin Morgan Jones, pupil teacher 4th year, James Williams, pupil teacher, 3rd year, and William Biggin, pupil teacher, 2nd year. The Rev. D. Jones examined classes in the Church Catechism."

On December 23, 1863, the Master distributed Mrs. Budd's Christmas pence amongst the whole of the children present, and afterwards closed up for the Christmas holidays. On June 1, 1864, Mrs. J. Palmer Budd, accompanied by Miss Lancaster, visited the School and examined some of the classes.

In the Log Book was noted that on July 26, 1864, Trinity Church, Ystalyfera, was reopened after the enlargements and improvements.

On August 4, 1864, a concert was held in the evening for the benefit of the Church Organ Fund, when the debt of 30 was cleared.

September 28, 1863, the day being so fine, some of the children went up the mountain without permission, and to punish those who trespassed the previous afternoon, the other children were treated to cakes and nuts and a trip up the mountain. Mrs. Budd and her mother, Mrs. Rawson, called after the children had gone.

The end of the school year was on February 24, 1865, but to-day-1964-the end of the school year was at the end of August. On March 1, 1865, Ash Wednesday, 113 children were taken to Church at 11 o'clock.

During the cholera epidemic of Autumn 1866, the master, Robert Lloyd, stated on " November, 1866, cholera begins to disappear." Mr. Budd, Mrs. Buidd, the Rev. D. Jones and Mr. Newton came on June 10, 1868, to settle about plans of a new school.

Many occasions caused boys to stay away from school, but on July 30, 1868, the attendance in the afternoon was small on account of a Dog and Monkey Show, several played truant. When children were untidy about their heads, Parry would come to school to cut the hair of many children.

" The enlargement of the Boys School had been a great. improvement. The master seems to work as much as his strength will admit, but charged as he is with the care of a large Night School in addition to his duties during the day, he should be allowed the help of a qualified assistant master." The Night School was kept open four limes a week in 1872.

In 1873, James Williams left Brynamman School, and on April 12, he took charge of the Ystalyfera Boys' School.

On January 3, 1881, the School commenced under the Management of the Llanguicke School Board. D. B. Turberville, Clerk to the School Board, stated that the establishment in 1881 was James Williams, 2nd Class Certificate; W. C. Groves, 5th year pupil teacher; Gomer Price, 4th year, pupil teacher; Thomas Reynolds, 4th year pupil teacher, and Rees Nicholas, 2nd year, pupil teacher. On week beginning January 17, 1881, there was a poor attendance because of the very cold weather which, on the following day, became a very severe storm of wind and snow, so the school was closed for the week.

On September 7, 1881, a half holiday was granted on account of Ystrad Fair.

On February 27, 1884, Dr. H. Rees was appointed Chairman of the School Board.

 

New Wern Schools  

The old Wern Elementary and Infants' schools situated near the railway and canal were replaced by the spacious new Wern Schools which were built on Alltygrug Hill. Boys and girls occupied separate schools, and the Infants were mixed. James Williams, the headteacher of the old Boys' school continued in the same position in the new school. Miss Alice Williams was the first Governess of the new Wern School for girls.

Headmasters who followed James Williams were: T. Roger Williams, Abraham Jones and D. J. Daniel, B.A.
After the 1944 Education Act., boys and girls under eleven years six months formed a co-educational Junior School with T. Ellis Phillips as headteacher.

 In the Elementary Girls' School, Alice Williams, the Governess adopted a modification of the " Dalton Plan ", where every girl worked at the speed and in a way most suitable to her individual idiosyncrasies. After her retirement, Miss Williams was elected a County Councillor, and the Lord Chancellor appointed her a Justice of the Peace for the County of Glamorgan.  Miss Margaret Thomas succeeded her as head mistress.

Miss Nelly Cousins acted as headteacher of the Infants' co-educational school, and she was followed by Miss Mary Griffiths. Miss Maud Roberts (afterwards Mrs. Abraham Jones), Miss Gwen Maddocks, Miss Ceridwen Thomas and Miss Gwladys Roberts.

 

The Grammar Schol, Ystalyfera

Pontardawe and Ystalyfera fought for the first Intermediate School, and Ystalyfera won, mainly through the influence of Colonel R. D. Gough, the landowner, and particularly his brother-in-law, County Councillor David Thomas, M.D., Ystalyfera. Mr. Gough donated the land for the school, leased the ground for playing fields and finally sold the land as freehold. He attended the annual meetings of the Governors, and usually the vice chairman presided at the ordinary meetings. The Governors had been favoured in the vice chairman and, after Gough's death, in the chairmen. The first vice chairman, Dr. D. Thomas, was a tower of strength during the early years in the development of the school. On Dr. Thomas's retirement, Alderman D. 'I' Williams, J P., occupied the chair, and he in his quiet and influential way, guided the administration.

The New Building was officially opened  on October 31, 1932, by Alderman D. T Williams, Alderman David Daniel Davies, Gwauncaegurwen , followed as chairman. During this year he was chairman of the Glamorgan County Council.  Alderman Davies advocated Secondary Education for all, long before the Education Act of 1944.  As an administrator he had an uncanny way of solving difficult problems almost instinctively, but always acted on the principle of what was best for the pupils. The school was fortunate that he was chairman of the Building Sub Committee during the erection of the new building and renovations or the old building. Alderman David Morgan, JP., followed as chairman and continued successfully until his death. County Councillor Brinley Richards occupies the chair in an efficient manner.

At a meeting on August 9, 1896, the Governors chose Arthur Blount Sully, M.A., B.Sc. (born 1871, died 1946), as the first headmaster. He pioneered the Intermediate School under difficult conditions and placed it on a secure and firm Foundation. As an Englishman, he deprecated young pupils reading with a strong Welsh accent, but those whom he taught in Latin and History in the Sixth Form found his teaching "stern but effective; home work was frequent and long, text-books in the main, dull and difficult."  Mr. Sully's salary in 1897 was "150 per annum plus a capitation fee of 1.10.0d. on each of the first hundred pupils, and 1 upon all above that number."
Mr. Sully and some of the staff played rugger with the boys during practice, and he often practised dropping goals. The number of pupils enrolled in 1908 was 248, but by 1913 there was a sharp drop to 182. He relinquished his post in 1913 and Henry Rees, B.A., B.A.L., took charge.

Mr. Henry Rees, a native of Alltwen, son of the Rev. Rees Rees, Alltwen, and brother to Mr. F. E.  Rees, B.Sc., Director of Education of the Glamorgan Education Authority, was headmaster for thirty years, during which development and expansion took place. The number of pupils enrolled increased from 182 in 1913 to over 450 during Mr. Rees's headmastership. He was justly proud to show the renovated old building as well as the footbridge over the River Twrch to the 12 1/2 acres of new playing fields. He increased the staff, extended the buildings, provided better opportunities for teaching and furnished new equipment. Mr. Rees also took an active part in educational societies, such as secretary of the Welsh Secondary School Association; secretary of the Glamorgan Association of Headmasters and Headmistresses; Members of  the Court of Governors of the University of Wales, and a member of the Burnham Secondary School Committee. He was a wise counsellor, particularly to young headmasters. On his retirement, high tributes were paid to him as a teacher, headmaster and administrator.

Mr. Ben Jones, M.A., in September 1943, took charge of the school staff as Welsh master. He attained a reputation as a teacher and Welsh Scholar, and he made a valuable contribution to Welsh culture. He retired in 1945 and was succeeded by Mr. E. D. Lewis, M.A., D.Sc., F.R.Hist.S., who, for seventeen years, had many achievements to his credit in school organization, both on the practical and academic side.

"The Governors decided to place on record their appreciation of the excellent work done by the Headmaster since his appointment as a young man to his first Headship. The School staff had been blended into a happy team, with the result that the school had attained an excellent tone which was confirmed by the most satisfactory and encouraging report of H.M. Inspectors."

He was the author of a most valuable book on the industrial development of the Rhondda Valleys (Phoenix Press, 1959), the first edition of which was sold out in nine momhs and the second impression with a foreword by Sir Ben Bowen Thomas appeared in 1963.

A new block consisting of an assembly hall/dining room, memorial stage, advanced chemistry laboratory and general science laboratory, was built. The original school was renovated by conversion of classrooms and dining rooms into new classrooms and staff rooms and an extensive library. The school possesses a fme pipe organ, given by an old pupil, Mr. D. Glyn Meredith, B.A., solicitor, and Clerk to the Pontardawe Rural District Council. On January 1, 1963, Dr. Lewis took up the important post of Principal of the Glamorgan Training College, Barry. During his period as headmaster at Ystalyfera Grammar School, the number of pupils had increased to 580, with over 100 in the Sixth Form.

The Staff in 1959 consisted of;

 


Annibynwyr Gwaun-Cae-Gurwen

The history of the chapels of Carmel, Gwaun-cae-Gurwen and Tabernacle, Cwmgors

By Llywelyn C. Huws 1942

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Here is the chapter dealing with education copied from the complete translation on Genuki.

 

A look at education in the district

(Pages 79-94, Chapter vii.)

As mentioned, one can't separate the early history of education in the district from the history of Carmel Church because it was the church that was responsible more than anyone or anything else for that education given to the children until the Foster Act and the setting up of the School Board in 1870.

It is a very interesting little story, the early attempts to establish a permanent school in the village. I know nothing at all about the occurrences here before Griffith Jones of Llanddowror started his travelling schools, and it isn't likely that the first movements, such as the movements of Thomas Gouge and the S.P.C.K came any nearer than Neath, Llandeilo or Carmarthen. They set up three charity schools of the SPCK in Carmarthen between 1705 and 1708, one in Neath in 1706, and one in Llandeilo in 1721 [ Shankland; "Charity School Movement in Wales". --- Transactions of the Cymmrodorion, 1904-5]. We have to wait until 1738 before having a report of a school in Llangiwc parish. In the first list of charity schools in "Welch Piety", 1738-9, we have the note; "Llanguke, 56---The number referring to the number of pupils attending the school. I can't get further information about the place supporting a school; the most likely thing is that it was in the old Parish Church. In 1739-40, we have the name of Llanguke again with 84 pupils, and also, "Waun-Cygurwen in Llanguke,45" . There we are, now, getting nearer home, and for sure within the borders of the district, but again still not able to identify the place where they held the school. In the next issue , we have a letter from the clergyman at Llangiwc concerning a schoolmaster charged with breaking the law [ it seems his big failing was to be too much of a dissenter to be to the liking of the plaintiff]; "Rev.Sir,--Since you require an account how H-------T--------attended his school in the parish of Llanguick, I assure you I was very careful of it, and I really believe the Welsh Schools did a great deal of Good. I was informed that you were told H----T---- - published Meetings in publick Places as the Methodists do, which I believe is false, but I am sure he has been frequently invited to many private Houses, where he gave good Advice in compliance with the Request of the Family . I have been informed by credible persons who are Monthly Communicants at Llanguick, that he never received any Payment from the Parents of the Children who were under his Tuition. I Catechised his Scholars several times in the parish church of Llanguick, and likewise administered the Sacrament to him in the said Church once a month, during his Continuance among us. A Welsh School is very much wanted here; for there are a great many of the Parishioners ignorant and poor, which I hope you will take into Consideration. I should be very glad of having the Happiness of being acquainted with you. Which is all from, Yours etc., Thomas Jenkins, Minister of Llanguick." There are complaints in other places against this schoolmaster. [R T Jenkins suggested the possibility that it was Henry Thomas from Gellidochleithe[Henry Thomas, Godre'r Rhos] , but I must investigate further before I can confirm this]. It is apparent that he was welcome in the homes of the common people, and it appears he could not keep from preaching as well as teaching in the school.

In the same issue [1740-1], we have " Llanguick,96". Note that the spelling has changed, and the pupils continue to increase. We also have, " Gellygron in Llanguick, 135". In 1741-2, we have Gilfach yr Haidd in Llanguick 47; Alltygrig in Llanguick,52; Cygerwen in Llanguick, 41". There was no sign of a school at all in the parish in 1742-4, but in the next year is recorded" Llanguick,57; Llanguick Parish Church, 42 ; Cygerwen in Llanguick, 52". In the following year, namely in the year 1745-6, we have a a very important record relating to this district; " Llanguick Parish Church,24; Llwyn y celyn in Llanguick,34; Another school in Llwyn celyn, 28". There , we are further forward in knowing where in the district was the school of Griffith Jones. Llwyncelyn farm, which still stands today, stands in a central place in the district, and it was very convenient for the children of the place at that time to gather there. And that isn't the only connection of Llwyncelyn with life on the Waun, because Isaac Morris and W Henry Davies held a singing school there for some years before the vestry in Tai'rgwaith was built. I also recall sundry [people] holding Sunday school in the old farmhouse and crowds of children and people of Tai'rgwaith very regularly before the vestry was built. The old house should be ever sacred in the eyes of the inhabitants of the place. In 1746-7, We also have "Llanguick, 24" without anything more. There was no school in the parish in 1747-8, but in the following year, we also have "Llanguick Parish Church,15"[ the pupils fewer each time] and "Abertwrch in Llanguick, 59". In the next year came another interesting note, namely "Neuadd in Llanguick,43". Neuadd farmhouse is in the northerly corner of the district, on the edge of Cwmaman and Carmarthenshire, and it is likely that the children of Cwmaman as well as those from the Waun went there. In 1750-1, we have "Cigerwen in the parish of Llanguick,49" [I wonder whether that was a continuation of Neuadd school ?]. Whatever, that is the last record in "Welch Piety" about a school in the place. And was the district without a school at all for years afterwards ? There is no exclamation and no one replies. But as already mentioned, Noah Jones, after building on it the first Cwmbach school house in 1762, left two pounds a year towards teaching the children of the inhabitants of the district, and perhaps it is fairly certain that a school was held in the school house from 1762 onwards for some years at least. Early in the last century, there was a school in the stable loft of Old Carmel, although there are no further details on it. The next certain information is that a man called Philip Rees[ who lost his leg in the Crimea War, and came to keep the Caegurwen Inn] held a school in the loft of the inn. It seems there was scant approval for the old soldier's efforts to cram a bit of English and arithmetic into the heads of the children of the Waun, and the life of the school was brief. A little more recently, John Davies the weaver held a school in the old house at Penyrinclein, but its history went up in smoke  as well.

A better order of matters came when the colliery workers agreed to tax themselves, and they paid a levy of three pence a week towards keeping the school. The colliery manager , a man by the name of Noah Phillips, was much in favour of the movement, and he did his best to facilitate it. There was another man in the colliery, by the name of Evan Gethin, who looked after some of the machinery, and he was considered a fine scholar at that time, and he was allowed to leave the machinery and look after the school, with the other workers taking care of his wages. He had a rather original way of ensuring discipline and imparting learning, but his supervision excelled many at that time, and before then, in the district . All the same, he wasn't at the work for very long. He emigrated to America around 1865. It was in Penyrinclein that the school was held in his time. There were some who were leaders in the movement to give education to the children of the place, almost invariably, in the membership of Carmel church, and these came to feel by now that there was a need for a roomier and more convenient building to hold the school in than the old house, and they built a one room school house at the bottom of the Waun, and in 1867 , the school started there. That was the beginning of the British School. From then on, we have quite detailed records of the work of the school until these days. It is obvious enough that the idea of the new building began a new period in the history of education in the village, and interesting today, when building such fine places for schools, to consider the size of this room. Measuring 40 feet by 25 feet, and into this one cramped room were crammed the children by the score for many years.

It is very interesting to follow the old "Log Books" from 1867 onwards. A Page or two from the beginning of the book went astray, and the first note we have is; "August 23, 1867---Small attendance, Llandeilo Fair." It is observed that far off events affected the school in those days. The first master was Evan Davies," not certified", and his stay was short. Here is a copy of the Inspector's Report of his first visit to the school on August 8,1867; " Considering the disadvantages under which this school is at present conducted, the order and instruction are both fairly creditable." In November of the same year, a new master came to take care of the school, of the name David Evans. It is said the school was closed for some time before his arrival, and it is clear that he believed in hard work, because only one solitary day was given for holidays to the children over the Christmas time. But his supervision didn't last long, because before the start of the year came another master again to take control. This was a man very fond of self praise. After a day or two came the note ; "Order and discipline greatly improving", and came many other notes of the same sort.

The tradition of the schools of Griffith Jones had been missing long before this; English was the language of the school, and the teaching was completely secular from the beginning, an that despite it was the old democratic leaders and Welshy Carmel that were behind it. They even taught the pupils to sing in English, and according to the old book, the first hymn the children of the Waun sang in the school was " Jerusalem, my happy home !"

In the examination in May 1868, the teacher said; "On the whole, I noticed that those who were always present were most successful in the examination; the others either copied or failed, Most of the children were exceedingly nervous". Yes, poor things, no wonder, with the language of their homes banned from the school.

We have the names of the old leaders of Carmel often in the records, and the visits of some of them to the school from time to time. In July 1868, we see that Hopcyn Hopcyn, the leader of singing in Carmel, and one of the governors of the school called, and said the teacher; "He informed me that the children had greatly improved in singing". There is the judgement of authority on the singing of "Jerusalem, my happy home". Another name to be seen regularly in the records is Dafydd Morgan, Cilpentan, the committee secretary of the school, and he was also the secretary of Carmel church. Here are other names; Joseph Rees, Abernant; Benjamin Evans, Llwynrhydie, the treasurer of Carmel; John Jones, Beiliglas; Thomas Thomas, Cwm, who were prominent in the school and the church.

Further on, in the book, there is another example of the knack of the schoolmaster to praise himself, in referring to the visit of his majesty the Inspector; " A great number of the school committee and others met in school today. They were highly pleased with the mode and results of the examination". When the report came, he saw that the Inspector wasn't as pleased with matters as the school committee. Here is the note, all the same, which suggests that the schoolmaster himself had the occasional day of rowing against the flow; " August . 12,Wednesday; Small effects produced from hard work".

There were many things which influenced the attendance of the pupils. For example, a fair in the vicinity, and that didn't have to be that close by; meetings in Carmel; the harvest of hay or corn. Time after time, he complained that the proportion present was low because of the harvest, or that the children were being kept home to help cultivate the gardens. There was no hope of having a full school in the fine days of April. We have early records of incidents where the numbers were small because of the holding of some meeting or other in Carmel; it soon became the rule to give the children holidays whenever anything was held in the chapel, and several times in the year it said ;" No school today; meetings at the chapel". You can follow the records to get a fairly exact knowledge of the timing of different meetings ; quarterly services, prayer services, thanksgiving services, meetings to install a minister, jubilee meetings, Sunday school excursions or tea parties ; I think they are all on record.

Evening classes started in December, 1868, and said the schoolmaster; " I am to receive the school pence and grant should the scholars be examined ." Somewhat precarious, I would think, of being paid. Uncomfortable in the extreme, also, was the building around this time, we have the teacher noting in February;" Much warmer in school today in consequence of five panes of glass put in the windows." Pity the children in the month of January.

The language of the children was a daily bogey for the teacher and inspector. The former wrote; "I notice in the Reading lessons that the children in the higher classes do not understand what they are reading nearly so well as they ought". And again, in his visit report by the inspector ; "The children in this school are very backward in the English language". Oh what an unpardonable sin !

We have to wait until 1907 before getting a word in favour of Welsh. In his report said Mr J Evans, the inspector; "In this Welsh district, the upper division of the infants may have conversational lessons in English, in association with objects and pictures , but the rest of the work , including reading, ought to be in Welsh ." In 1910 Mr William Edwards the inspector said; "This is an intensely Welsh district , but there has been insufficient recognition of the fact. Much more systematic arrangements should be made for utilising and teaching the home language from the bottom of the school to the top." And again in 1915; "Recognition is now made of the fact that the district is typically Welsh, though some of the teachers are prone to teach Welsh through the medium of English as if Welsh were the foreign tongue".

Although there was so much emphasis on English in the early years, they held the occasional eisteddfod in the school house, and the occasional concert. It is recorded that a concert to Watcyn Wyn was held in the school house on a Saturday night [ despite there being a Gwynfryn school, it seems], and another concert that Llew Llwyfo was responsible for. Also, referring to the school house, was closed in February 1896 , to hold a drama. Therefore, we see that Welsh drama had pitched its tent down quite early in the district. There were also several very impassioned political meetings from time to time in the old building, and more than one school master complained about the damage done by these to the school furnishings.

There were several masters who looked after the school for brief intervals in the period of the early years, but in 1871, came a very interesting character as head master; a man by the name of George Edmunds, and he had a special genius for writing interestingly in the "Log Book". It is hard to resist the temptation to quote extensively from his notes, because he has something interesting to say about all the affairs of the district; the colliery, chapel, weather, and every happening of note in the place. Here are some of his comments on the weather; "September 6,1873; The rain ,it raineth every day. Fires continually kept during the summer, so that it is lucky we are in a coal country". It seems things changed got better after that ,because on December 19 he said; " Change of weather back to rain; the road opposite the school is in a miserable condition, ankle deep in mud----Scavenger not to be seen !" March 17, 1876; "A cold miserable, snowy, sleety, frosty, stormy week, a regular mixture of all the ills the weather is subject to." March 24--- "A repetition of last week's weather". August 13 1877--- "reopened school after holidays, which consisted of an uninterrupted succession of wet days". No one spoke at such length ever before about the magnificent weather that the fathers had . In the following period, is seen his reaction to fine weather; June 7,1889--- Lovely weather---outside ! "

Here are other interesting notes; July 10,1871--- "Lost from school this week,17 Darnell's copies belonging to the 2nd class, and 12 to the first class. Bought locks for the cupboards in consequence". There must have been considerable thirst for knowledge in the district in these years. October 3,1873--- "A big girl, or young woman rather, came to school one day this week, and learned enough !"

In 1875, we see notes about establishing a Board School in the parish, and Benjamin Evans,Llwynrhydie was elected to the Board. They held a meeting in Carmel on June 11 in that year, to transfer the school house to the Board, and there was considerable disagreement on the matter. It seems the authority wished to pay nothing for the building, only to take over any debt that might be on it, and as there was no debt at all, expected to get it for nothing. But the people of the area weren't having that. They had learned over a long time to stand up for their rights, and the committee of governors decided to close the school at the end of the year unless the School Board came to its senses. The end result was that the authority paid 375 for the school house, and that was the start of the fund to build the new Carmel.

In 1876, is noted the laying of the foundation stone for the new chapel on October 27 by Dr Howell Rees,Tirbach; and in 1877, October 22 and 23, its opening, and holidays at the school as a result. No wonder the old school master was so exact in his references to the chapel, because he was himself a member of the church. His custom, invariably, that has come in recently , of walking leisurely to his seat, but before arriving there, waiting , and taking his watch out, and turning to look at the clock, as though talking to himself;" Well, here you are starting too soon today, again."

Here is another most interesting note;1877, namely the year new Carmel opened;-- " According to the census made lately for the parish, Caegurwen has

Children of school age------------------------------------424

Attending school------------------------------------------283

........................................................................................[141]

Working---------------------------------------------------39

At home--------------------------------------------------102

The schoolmaster and inspector complained bitterly because of the lack of room, but here is the philosophy of the master on the matter;

" What cannot be cured must be endured".

But it is odd that the teacher succeeded so well, when over two hundred children of every age were crammed into one room 40*25 feet.

Here is a big day in the history of the school;

June 21, 1884---

"Dr Rees presented the children with buns and oranges".

We have a note nearly once a month about visits by the Rev. John Jones, and after him the Rev.T Selby Jones.

1891, Dec 12---

"School closed last week by consent of the manager, Rev Selby Jones".

It is clear that he exercised considerable authority over the school, something quite commonplace for him was to take the children up onto the common and throw sweets to them.

1888, July 6.---

"Rev.Mr Selby Jones visited the school and informed the children that his present of sweets would be distributed on the first fine day".

July 11---

"Cleared up, so that the children were taken to Carregfilfaen [ a bit of rock on the common] by the Rev.Mr Jones to receive the sweets as promised".

It is good to see the minister keep to his promise, but is said that his influence on the children often interfered with the order of the school. It seems that the old school master had been quite careless for a while, and that the proximity of the Caegurwen Arms, across the road from the school, had become an stumbling block for him, but when he was rebuked by the School Board, having received from that board an unfavourable report by the inspector, excused himself by saying that Selby Jones had come to the school on the examination morning and taken several of the children off to the common. Matters went from bad to worse, and in 1887, we have this note ;

July 17--- "Received notice to quit from the Board ".

But not for petty games was he removed; the old headmaster kept his grasp tight for several years after that.

There was considerable independent spirit in the children as well. For example, here is a telling note;

" Very close and sultry in school. Many playing truant in the river."

It doesn't surprise me that the teacher was not sympathetic and rather annoyed with the children in the circumstances. Here is another note;

June 11---

"Wombell's Menagerie passed by to exhibit at Brynaman. Allowed the children to go out and see the Elephants and Camels and the procession generally".

The children took full advantage of their opportunity, because here is the end of the note;

" No school !"

The school master was not above doing similarly himself ;

November 3---

"No school Tuesday. Bicycle race at Llanelly. Self went. The PT's putting glass in the windows".

The last note by George Edmunds came on July 28, 1892, and out of pressure he gave it up at that time. He was banished out of his temptation to keep a school on Gwrhyd mountain.

In the year 1892 came John Hugh to take care of the school, and the children went on strike immediately. Whether from nostalgia for the old schoolmaster I cannot say, but certainly from displeasure with the new master. Some eighteen came to the school in the first weeks after John Hugh arrived, and the number went down to thirteen , but at the end of a month or two, matters gradually came into place, and the new teacher proved that he was a competent man in his job. It is said that he and Selby Jones persisted in considerable disagreement, over the view that the new master should be a member of the chapel and be active in it. But on the testimony of those who remember, John Hugh was no chapel goer. During his supervision, came frequent change in the work of the school; they started using Welsh books; we have the story of the lecturer who frequented the school to address the children on "The Effects of Alcohol" , and one new factor came into the reckoning of absences of children from school, namely "seaside visiting". There was a close relationship between Carmel and the school still. In 1894, they had to close the school because of the Sunday school tea,; in 1895-6, they held the classes in the vestry of Carmel as the school house was being repaired.

John Hugh's time came to an end in 1925, and there was a good word for him throughout the district as a conscientious and accomplished schoolmaster. John Morgan was the next schoolmaster, and he was very successful, and it is seen from his notes in the "Log Book" that he was alive to the necessity of helping the children to reach wide culture, and delighted in teaching the children about their own region, their history and customs, and taking them outside for that purpose, and to look at the trees and flowers and birds of the place. In this period , a school had been held in the vestry of Tai'rgwaith for some years, and a reference is seen in an old account book belonging to Carmel, that the old saint felt that the education authority had an advantage over it, and went and raised the rent in 1911 from 6 p.a. to 12 p.a..

After the setting up a school in the district for the older children in 1935, John Morgan departed for Whitchurch,Cardiff and Miss Mary Evans came as principal in his place. She had a big influence on the children and took care to keep whole the link between the school and chapel. The district is very fortunate today in its head teachers and teachers.

They pulled down the old Waun school [ containing the original room built in 1867] in 1938, and by now the new school is on a lovely and convenient site, indeed, one of the most beautiful schools in the country. An old leader of 1867 would be astonished to see the building today. New schools also opened in Tai'rgwaith, 1907, and in Cwmgors,1912. In 1935 , they opened a lovely new school for the older children on Waun common, and this building too, is one of the most beautiful in the county. I should mention that the old Alderman D D Davies, one of Carmel's children and representing the district on the county council , had done a big service to these areas concerning education, and indubitably, it was his persistence and endurance that secured these fine schools for the district.

It can be said that there is wholehearted joint understanding and collaboration between the churches and schools of the district still, and great care to try and instruct the children so that they might reach a fuller life in every sense.


 

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