The Aberdare Boys’ Grammar School
1896 – 1978
A personal record of the life and times
Updated January 1st 2021
Welcome to the website of the former Aberdare Boys’ Grammar School. The web server continues to provide pages to visitors from all over the world, and the website continues to grow thanks to your contributions. If you have any photos or documents to share please let me know - my email address can be found in the panel on the right. Alternatively, you may wish to make a suggestion for an entry in the Former Pupils section, if so please let me have details, and a picture if possible. To see full details of what has been added recently, click the link shown below ‘Latest Additions’ in the column on the left. Thank you again to all those who have already made contributions by writing short articles or by sending in photos.
Ysgol Gyfun Rhydywaun Plans have been prepared to expand provision at Ysgol Gyfun Rhydywaun, the Welsh language secondary school located in Penywaun. The school was established in September 1995 and a phase 2 was completed for the autumn term of 2001. The school currently has 980 pupils enrolled, but the planned expansion would raise this to around 1200. The proposals include new classroom accommodation, music and drama studios as well as a new sports hall with changing rooms, fitness and dance studios.
Cyril Knibb The Cynon Valley Leader in its edition of December 24th reported the sad news of the death of Cyril “Cy” Knibb, on Sunday 13th December 2020, at Ty Victoria Nursing Home, Waunarlwydd, Swansea. He was a former Chairman UK Athletics and a Founder Member of Swansea Harriers. Cyril was at ABGS 1954–61. He was brought up in Meirion St, Trecynon, and attended Comin Boys School before ABGS. After school he went to U.C. Swansea. At school he was well known for his prowess in athletics, a passion that he pursued for the rest of his life. At Swansea, he qualified as a coach in 1963 under the supervision of Ron Pickering. Then in 1966 he moved to Essex becoming the Chief Coach and club chairman at Basildon AC. Following this, in 1974, after a three-year spell in Burton-on-Trent, he moved to Bristol, becoming the Bristol & West British Athletics League, (BAL), team manager, senior endurance coach and eventually club chairman. A move back to the Midlands in 1994 saw him coaching at Corby AC before becoming chairman of Corby AC. In 2009 he returned to Bristol and became the chair for the second time at Bristol & West. The news of his death on the Facebook Bristol & West AC Chat pages prompted an abundance of heartfelt tributes from club members and colleagues. Cyril leaves two sons, a daughter, and their families. We extend our sincere condolences to his family and friends. His wife Carol predeceased him in 1986.
Dr Morton John Davies died on 26th November aged 85. Morton was at school 1946–1953, and was Head Boy in his final year. He lived in Broniestyn Terrace and attended Park Boys School before entering ABGS. Although he gained a State Scholarship, he had to decline it as he had also won a prestigious scholarship at Imperial College London, where he later won a first class degree in mathematics. After spending some time at the UKAEA and a year at Harvard University, he was appointed to the mathematics department at UCW Aberystwyth where he became a Senior Lecturer. He continued to live in Aberystwyth during his retirement. The photograph is extracted from a Maths Department group photograph of 1967.
Malcolm B. Lloyd A loyal and strong supporter of this website Malcolm Beecham Lloyd died last month on November 20th after a period of ill health. He was 89. Malcolm was brought up above Beecham’s grocery in High Street, Aberdare, but not the street we see now. He lived in No 54 when the street leading down from the GPO to the Town Hall was narrow and built up on both sides. He attended the County School from 1942 until 1950 before leaving for U.C. Cardiff. Whilst at school he became very well known for his prowess in athletics, particularly as a champion hurdler. After two years National Service in the RAF, he worked in the scientific industries all his life, firstly with ICI in the UK, at The Frythe research facility in Hertfordshire and, eventually, from 1976 in the USA, living in Fairfax, Virginia where he and his wife Pam raised three sons and a daughter. Malcolm retired from his position as Director of Marketing (Europe) at Hunter Associates Laboratory, Inc. in 1996, and thereafter visited the UK almost every year until his last — pictured above in 2016 — as well as attending the large reunion in September 2011. There are several items on the website that involve Malcolm, one such being his reminiscences of growing up in Aberdare in the 1930s and 40s.
Alun Pritchard died at the age of 72 on 30th October last. He was at ABGS 1959–1965. When at school he lived in Bute Street and attended the Town Church School prior to ABGS.
Robert William Pritchard In mid-October, following a long illness, the sad news of the death of Billy Pritchard was announced. Billy was at ABGS 1961–69 after attending Capcoch Junior School near his home in Abercwmboi. Billy worked for 43 years as a civil servant, working in the DHSS, becoming a senior manager in the DWP. However, he is probably better known through his lifelong involvement in sport, in particular rugby. As well as his 8 years as a player with Glynneath RFC, Billy spent much of the last 50 years playing for or serving Aberdare RUFC where he held senior positions over a long period of time: club secretary, youth secretary, treasurer and latterly club chairman. As a younger man Billy was an excellent all round sportsman excelling at basketball, cricket and rugby. On this website, he is pictured as a team member of the ABGS rugby 1st XV, 1968–69. Our sincere condolences are extended to Billy’s wife, son, and wider family. There are currently two further tributes on the Aberdare RUFC website.
Our sincere condolences to the family members and friends of Morton, Malcolm, Alun and Billy.
Elfed Davies, (ABGS 1940–46), has just published his eighth local history book. It is entitled “Co-operative Societies in the Cynon Valley, 1859–1988.” 1859 is significant because in that year a meeting took place that led to the opening of the first Co-operative store in Wales at Cwmbach. It ends in 1988, when the Aberdare and Ynysybwl Societies were taken over by the Co-operative Retail Society. Elfed, who lives in Gadlys Road, is a retired Hirwaun headteacher whose well-researched books have all traced the history of various aspects of life in the Cynon Valley, such as Road Passenger Transport in the Valley; its Members of Parliament; and the histories of the chapels Carmel, Trecynon, and Bethel, Hirwaun. All the profits from the book will go to MacMillan Cancer Support, for which he is a long-time fundraiser. Elfed is a native of Trecynon and attended Park School, and ABGS before qualifying as a teacher at the Monmouthshire Training College, Caerleon. After service in the RAF, he taught in Luton, before moving to Hirwaun where he stayed for the rest of his career. He says it will be his last book, and at 91 he deserves to put his feet up!
Richard Prygodzicz ABGS 1967–73
A former pupil of the school has had some success with
his first eBook on Amazon. Richard, (pen name Jerzy Jones),
managed to achieve a number one spot for his children’s animal story book
for 3–6 year
olds titled ‘Corbus Saves His Friends’, in the ‘Superhero’ category.
The book also achieved No.2 status in the ‘Superhero Fantasy eBooks’ section.
The book is available on Amazon in both Kindle and Paperback
version and has accumulated 5-star reviews. A link to kindle
version is below.
Richard who has been writing off and on for over 30 years decided
to pursue the Amazon route because of his backlog of material,
and his lack of success through normal publication routes.
Additional Highway news
Zip World The Western Mail of October 31st displayed an additional planning application, reference number 20/1076/10, that has been made to RCTCBC for the erection of a ‘coaster kart’ circuit on the site of the former Tower Colliery near Hirwaun. A vast amount of information, plans and engineering drawings are available on line on the RCT Planning website, This attraction will have some similarities to this circuit in north Wales. The applicant, Zip World Ltd, has already undertaken to build a twin zip wire tourist attraction from the mountain top down to the Tower Colliery site.
Hirwaun Primary School Cynon Valley’s newest school opens its doors on Monday, November 2nd. It is the £10.2 million Hirwaun Primary School. It is situated near the existing school in Glanant Street, (Hirwaun), which will be demolished to make way for additional facilities for the new school. The development will enable the dual-language Penderyn Primary School to be converted to a full Welsh Medium school next year.
Proposed Highways Some interesting information
appeared on an RCTCBC website about the plans for the new road
that would link up the Aberdare Bypass, A4059, to the A465.
The link will be called the Cynon Gateway North. Interestingly,
a new structure is proposed to cross the Aberdare-Hirwaun
freight line, which gives some hope for a reopening of the
Aberdare-Hirwaun railway. See
The extended Aberdare Bypass would link up with the proposed dualled
stretch of the A465 from Dowlais Top to Hirwaun at Croesbychan.
Detailed plans of this dualled A465 route can be seen on this website
FOAP After four years’ work, the Friends
of Aberdare Park group, FOAP, have recently raised the funding
necessary to replace the Park’s defunct
paddling pool with a new water feature called a splash pad,
to be known as Aquadare. The group’s chair, Philip Rees, (ABGS 1958–65),
said, “We are
delighted to see the works commencing on the splash pad. A
great amount of money came from businesses, pubs and clubs.
The whole community has responded to help us.” During the fund-raising period,
events were organised, individual donations received, and a
major grant was received from the Pen Y Cymoedd Wind Farm Community
Fund. Congratulations to Philip and the FOAP group. If all
goes to plan, the new feature will open in April 2021.
New webpages During the lock-down Cynon Valley Museum volunteers
have been busy writing up some aspects of local history. Their results have been placed online at
Another online local history resource is the transcript of Rev
Ivor Parry’s evening class lectures. The 72 lectures were delivered between
1962 and 1965. Notes were taken by attendees Tom Evans, (Geography),
and Dafydd Roberts, (dental surgeon). Their notes can be found here:
Some Background Information about Aberdare County School
The school building was completed in July 1894 but, for reasons explained in the History section of this website, opened two years later on September 28th, 1896 as The Aberdare Technical and Intermediate Schools with Head Master W. Jenkyn Thomas and four assistant teachers: two men and two women. There were 141 pupils present by the end of the first term, 88 boys and 53 girls, taught in mixed classes for the majority of their subjects, although the building had separate entrances for boys and girls.
The school soon became known as The County School and remained so until the early sixties when the Grammar School name became more widely used. The pupils from the lower end of the Cynon Valley left in 1907 when Mountain Ash County School opened initially at Gwernifor, Miskin, moving to Dyffryn House much later in 1926. Then in 1913, the girls together with the women staff left for their own school in Plasdraw.
There was little significant change at the County School in terms of the nature of staffing and curriculum over the years until the Trecynon buildings were vacated in 1964 and the school relocated to the bottom of Cwmdare Hill.
In 1978 the Boys’ Grammar School closed and there was a fairly smooth transition to comprehensive status, when the Aberdare Boys Comprehensive School opened. Many of the existing staff were reappointed to the new school which was housed in the ex-grammar school buildings on Cwmdare Road, as the upper school. The buildings of Rhydywaun Secondary Modern School in Penywaun, which had also changed status, housed the lower school. The lower school at Rhydywaun was eventually brought to a new building at Cwmdare Road after two serious fires at Rhydywaun caused almost complete loss of its buildings.
From September 1st, 2009 Aberdare Boys Comprehensive School, was renamed Aberdare High School. The school adopted a new badge, which showed a similarity to the original grammar school design with ‘dragon and book’. The picture, above right, shows the school as it was in 1978, but additionally there was a large sports hall added to the site, behind the two-story block on the right. The new hall was both a school and a community facility.
In 2011, the decision was made by RCTCBC to close the Boys’ High School, the Girls Comprehensive (at Plasdraw and The Gadlys) and Blaengwawr Comprehensive School. It was intended that the pupils of all three schools would be housed in the new school to be built at The Ynys, near the centre of Aberdare, and which was initially planned to open in September 2014. By September 2014 Aberdare had three secondary schools instead of the existing five. The new Aberdare Community School did open in September 2014, but only in name, and a move into the incomplete new school buildings was deferred until 2015. The temporary homes of the new school were at the former Blaengwawr, Aberdare High and Aberdare Girls (Plasdraw) buildings. Pupils started moving out of these old buildings and moving into the new building in the summer term of 2015, with examination candidates remaining in the Cwmdare Road building to take their examinations. The Girls’ School and its 3 acres of land in Plasdraw was sold at auction on July 13th 2015 for £415,000. The Cwmdare Road Boys Upper School building is being demolished during the first three months of 2017.
Aberdare High School, The Lower School, Summer 2013.
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