William Idris Thomas was born in Aberdare on 6 June 1889, the son of Theophilus Thomas and his wife Ann, who were Welsh-speaking West Walians from Pembrokeshire and Carmarthenshire respectively. His father was a collier and the family lived in Cardiff Road, not far from the Full Moon Inn.
He attended Aberdare (Church) National School in Cardiff St., where he gained a scholarship to the County School, Trecynon, which he entered in September 1902. Whilst there he took a part in the April 1905 drama production, A Midsummer Night’s Dream. Although there is a cast photograph — there is no indication of where he is in the photo1. Also, he was awarded the Form IV maths prize in the 1904 Prize Day.
He left school at the end of the summer term in 1906, and soon after went to Bangor Normal College to train to be a teacher.
He commenced his teaching career in 1913 at Cwmaman Boys’ School, later at Blaengwawr Boys’ School, then Gadlys Central School. Eventually he took up a post as Headmaster at Glynhafod Elementary School.
In 1914 he married Ellen J Pritchard whom he had met in Bangor whilst he was at college. She was brought up in St Paul’s Terrace, in the centre of Bangor. The wedding took place at the Merthyr Tydfil Registry Office on May 5th, and subsequently the couple raised two children, a son Bill, and a daughter Ann.
During World War I, he served in the Machine Gun Corps progressing through the ranks: Private 1914, Lance Corporal 1914 and to Corporal in 1919. In 1918 he was awarded the D.C.M.2 and the French Croix de Guerre with palm.
In World War II he served as an air-raid warden in the Blaengwawr area.
He was a talented musician possessing a fine tenor voice. He also formed and conducted a boys’ choir at Cwmaman that competed successfully in many Eisteddfodau. As both a soloist and conductor he was a gold medallist.
For several years he took a keen interest in the welfare of the Aberdare district’s blind persons, and became President of the Aberdare & District Blind Welfare Association in 1946–47.
During the inter-war period he became interested in football, in particular he helped to form the Aberdare ex-Schoolboys’ League and was its secretary.
W.I. Thomas enjoyed thirteen years of retirement before his death at the age of 74 on 14 April 1964. His funeral was conducted at Glyntaff Crematorium by Rev C.W. Arthur3.
Mr & Mrs Thomas’s home was at Blaengwawr Cottages, Maesyffynon Lane, Aberdare. They owned both cottages and lived in the larger one.
CR 31 August 2020