Trefor Jones, M.A., Ph.D.
ABGS 1919 - 1925
Dr Trefor Jones began his career as a teacher of French and quickly progressed to the headships of two prestigious grammar schools, the first in Surrey, and later, to a second in central London.
He was born on 2 July 1908 in Aberdare, one of five boys and twin girls1, and lived in the house named Gwynfryn, 13 Herbert St, in Foundry Town. His parents both came to Aberdare from north Wales: his father William Caswallon Jones from Penrhyndeudraeth, Merionehshire and his mother Jane, née Davies, from Llandyrnog in Denbighshire. Caswallon Jones was a teacher and became headmaster2 of two local elementary schools. All members of the family were Welsh speakers, but even though Trefor spent all of his career living in England he was able to maintain his fluency in the language throughout his life.
Trefor attended the National School in Cardiff St, and progressed to the County School in September 1919. He passed his CWB School Certificate in 1923, and again in 1924 with an improved set of grades. Trefor was awarded an entry scholarship to UC Cardiff. With several other sons and daughters to be educated, his father was keen for him to accept the offer and proceed to university without staying at school for CWB Highers. This Trefor did, so he left school in July 1925 after one year in the sixth form, although in later life he regretted doing so, as CWB Highers and his ability at football may have afforded him a wider choice of higher education institutions.
He graduated with an honours degree (magna cum laude) in French in 1928, and after a further year gained his teaching certificate with first class honours. Whilst at Cardiff, he played soccer for the University and would have played in an amateur international trial had there not been a date clash for a family funeral – for which his parents insisted he attended! He later submitted a thesis on Alexandre Dumas fils, which resulted in the award of an M.A. (Wales).
His first teaching post was at Truro School in Cornwall3 where he taught French and Economics. Trefor then moved to Mitcham to teach French, and in 1935 he was appointed Head of French at Woking County School for Boys4 in Surrey. There he coached soccer and cricket and was very much involved in the Air Training Corps. As Flight Lieutenant, he was commanding officer of the 998 (Woking County School) Squadron of the ATC. He was acting head at this school for some years during the illness of the head, George Lester.
His move from Cornwall occurred as a result of his marriage to Marion Edna Miles, an Aberdare girl whom he had met while at school. She was a teacher also, and was based in the London area, and consequently one of them had to move. The marriage took place St George's Church, Harrow on 17 August 1932 whilst Trefor was still at his first teaching post in Truro, however as Marion was a teacher the marriage had to be concealed as married women were expected to resign their teaching posts in those days.
It was from Woking that he was appointed Headmaster of Dorking County School4 in 1943 at the age of 34. It was his first experience of teaching in a mixed school but he gathered around him a first class team of teachers, many of whom stayed at the school for a long time While at Dorking he completed a Ph.D. thesis6 on the life and work of the 18th Century French priest and educationalist, Monseigneur Duponloup.
He left Dorking in 1957 to become Headmaster of the Latymer School in Edmonton in North London. This is a mixed Grammar School of 1200 students with a very long pedigree, having been established in 1624. There, as at Dorking, he was very successful and built the school into a major academic centre in North London, which it has remained ever since. The games, music, drama, as, well as the academic successes were very much of his inspiration. Whilst there, he was also instrumental in modernising many aspects of the School's buildings. He retired at the age of 61 in 1970, but continued to live in North London.
In retirement, he continued to work in support of people who were teachers but not those in schools or colleges: teachers at Hendon Police College; in Industry, and in Commerce. He played some golf and was very much involved in the local Rotary Club.
Trefor and Marion Jones brought up three children: David was Professor of Genetics at the University of Hull (1973–89) and was Professor of Botany at the University of Florida in the USA (1989–2003). Alun was ordained and after work in parishes and at Hampton Grammar School became Headmaster of Archbishop Tenison's School in Croydon. He was the Anglican Vicar of Twickenham in Middlesex. Avril, who like Alun went to school at Dorking County Grammar School trained as a nurse and has lived in Toronto in Canada for the last forty years.
Trefor died, aged 76, in 1984 the day after he had attended Glyndebourne where he had seen the youngest of Alun’s children singing. Trefor’s wife Marion lived for another thirteen years and died aged 88 in 1997 in London. Marion’s ashes joined those of Trefor and her mother in the same grave in the Churchyard in Mickleham, Surrey.
* The complete class
photograph is to be found in the Official School Photographs Section - ‘circa
1920 E. Ogwen Williams’ class’
Many thanks to Emeritus Professor David Jones for his invaluable help in preparing this account about the career of his father.