John Yockney, m.a., ph.d.
University Lecturer
Aberdare Boys County Grammar School 1945–53

John Yockney

John Yockney

John was born in Aberdare on 22nd January, 1935 to parents George and Minnie Yockney. He was succeeded by a sister Joan, and brother Richard — Joan died several years ago, and Richard in infancy.

John was brought up in Windsor St., Trecynon, and attended St. Fagan’s Primary School. In 1945 he passed the 11-plus examination to Aberdare Boys’ Grammar School. At GCE A-level in 1953 he passed in Economics, English and Geography, with distinctions in the last two subjects. The quality of his examination results resulted in the award of a State Scholarship — one of three awarded1 to the school in that year. He then went to University College Swansea where he gained a degree in French and Geography.

After university he was appointed to a teaching post in London. There, he met Pauline Clarke whom he was to marry in 1959. John subsequently obtained a post in Luton, and by this time had two children born in the early 1960s— Ruth and Rosalind.

Later he was successful in obtaining a post in Cardiff University as Senior Lecturer in the Department of Education, and as a consequence, moved to Caerphilly where his son Jonathan was born. Pauline remained active and was awarded an M.A. entitled Women in Wilde’s Plays from Cardiff University in 1993.  Sadly, at the age of just 59, Pauline died in 1996.

John was involved in many aspects of activity at the University, and whilst there he obtained his doctorate. He had a meticulous mind for research, and published in several geography journals. He was also the chief examiner for several Examining Boards. John also authored text books for students. Some of his publications are detailed below.

He was a member of the Tennis and Cricket Clubs, and he was obsessed with fishing, a solitary activity, but he documented every type of fish that he caught, and where it was caught.

He was a family man and kept in touch with his family at Aberdare, and would make visits on a regular basis to his relatives, among whom were Pamela and Roger Jones. He produced his own personal family tree, and as a consequence would later teach Genealogy at Colleges of Further Education in Aberdare and the Rhondda on a night school basis.

John Yockney Field Excursion

Tom Evans, left, and John Yockney, extreme right, on a Field Excursion, circa 1970.
Tom was John’s teacher of Geography at A-level

As a person, John was extremely generous to his friends, and was warm and caring. He was second to none as an academic. For the last 11 years of John’s life, Marilyn (his friend) cared for him, and nursed him almost on a daily basis., John had seen Marilyn through a difficult period after her husband had died in 2006, and a firm friendship developed between them. John moved to Greenhill Manor Care Home, Merthyr Tydfil in April, 2012, and Marilyn was with him almost every day. The care home staff were very supportive and cared for John as if he was a family member. This care was extended to Marilyn herself, and helped make difficult times bearable.

John was many things to many people, from academic to caring friend, but he always approached matters with humanity and a sense of humour, and will be greatly missed.

John died on 17th November 2017 at Greenhill Manor Nursing Home, Merthyr Tydfil. His Funeral Service took place on 30th November 2017 at Llwydcoed Crematorium.


John as pupil
John as a pupil in the Form 2A photograph,


When John’s death was announced late last year, it prompted these two testimonials, one from a colleague and the second from one of his PGCE students:

My own experience of working with him was a joy. John was intellectually gifted, an enthusiast for the work he engaged in and a first rate organiser. As a senior lecturer in the Education Department of University College, Cardiff, he succeeded in motivating his young student teachers and more experienced Mid-Glamorgan LEA teachers who attended joint in-service training courses organised by the University and the Humanities Advisers of the Education Authority. One of the first day courses of this kind was a study of the Hirwaun Iron Works with his and my former geography teacher Tom Evans providing a wealth of knowledge for the participants. All benefited from receiving a resources pack of well chosen colour sides. John, again at the forefront, produced the acclaimed joint Mid Glamorgan LEA / U.C. Wales, Cardiff publication, ‘Environmental Studies in the Cynon Valley,’ where he was instrumental in attracting twenty-five Cynon Valley local history & geography experts to contribute articles. This format of a field study course linked to the production of invaluable evidential resources packs for teachers was repeated for the Rhymney Valley, the Cardiff Dock area prior to its major development as ‘Cardiff Bay,’ and a study of the Great Western Railways impact in south Wales. John had an immense capacity for research and because of the nature of his personality it was a pleasure working with him.

David Maddox, OBE


Dr Yockney, as he was at first to me, was very special indeed. I came late to study for the PGCE at Cardiff University, having changed my mind about a post graduate course in the University of Sussex. It was one of the best decisions I have ever made! Dr Yockney welcomed me and made sure I was befriended, sorted for lunch and understood my new timetable. I knew I was back home in Wales! He was one of the brightest and most talented teacher/tutors, yet he wore it lightly, as all the very best in life do. He mixed easily with students, academics and staff all over the university, treating everyone equally and, above all, kindly. He gave time to everyone and he was known throughout the canteen and the porters’ rooms as ‘a real gentleman’. His sense of humour was renowned and if you heard laughter around the department, you could be sure John was somewhere nearby. For my teaching practice, I was allocated a secondary school and thanks to John’s wise decision in the placement, it was exactly the right fit for me. John’s supervisory visits were greeted with whoops and some of the best student work - praise from him was so special to the young people! He was a fanatical tennis player, equally besotted with cricket and never stopped being curious about life. As Dean of Education, he really cared about all of his team and they knew it. He inspired everyone to give their best. They don’t make a lot of John Yockneys, more’s the pity! Aberdare Grammar can feel so proud that he was one of theirs. I am very proud to have known him.

Jocelyn Andrews

Some of John Yockney’s publications:

The Economic Geography of Aberdare since 1801. (1954).

An Excursion in Historical Geography, (A resource pack comprising details of the industrialisation and consequent evolution of the town, with details of a field study excursion by which most of the important elements of the cultural landscape may be identified and studied. Together with a set of photographic slides with notes, including early ironworks, brickworks and their systems of communications.), Evans, T.J., Maddox, D. & Yockney, J, Fieldworker Magazine, (1968).

Aberdare: a Study in Industrial Geography, Evans, T.J. & Yockney, J., Fieldworker Magazine, (1969).

Modern developments in the ports of eastern England, John Yockney, (1973)

The organisation, supervision and examination of teaching practice: a critical examination of the procedures developed at the Education Department, University College, Cardiff 1968–1975, John Yockney, 1975.

Evaluation of a school tutor scheme, John Yockney, Education + Training, Vol. 18, Issue: 5, pp.138-141, (1976)

The selection and training of graduate teachers, John Yockney, 1978.

The Railways of South East Wales, John Yockney; Neil Sprinks. British Rail and University College Cardiff, 1985.

Environmental studies in the Cynon Valley, [eds. J. Yockney, D. Maddox and T.G.L. Hopkins], Mid Glamorgan Education Dept.; University of Wales, Cardiff. 1984 & 1985.

Coal in South Wales, University College Cardiff, (1987).

The Geography of Tourisma new Basic test, Yockney, John, Teaching Geography, Vol.13 (2), pp.73–73, April 1988.

Basic tests in geography, John Yockney, OUP (1989), 7 editions published between 1989 and 1996.

Basic Tests in Geography: Teachers’ Edition, John Yockney, OUP, (1991).

Both Pauline and John have articles in The ports of South Wales, University College, Cardiff, (1983).

1. The other State Scholars were Victor Carney and Morton J. Davies.
Victor was brought up in Maes-y-Dre. He became a councillor in the Aberdare, and later became Registrar at University College, Swansea. He was a graduate of U.C.W. Aberystwyth.
Morton was from Broniestyn Terrace. He left for Imperial College, London and eventually became a Senior Lecturer in Mathematics at U.C.W. Aberystwyth.
(There was another Morton Davies, but he was Morton Rees Davies. He was from Werfa, Rhigos, and attended ABGS a little later, 1949–57. He went to the universities of Swansea and Oxford and became a senior academic in the Department of Politics, at the University of Liverpool.)

Thanks to David Maddox (ABGS 1954–62), Marilyn Davies, Gwyn Evans (ABGS 1959–1966) and Jocelyn Andrews for their invaluable help in compiling this account of John’s life.


31 March 2018