Aberdare Boys’ Grammar School
Memories and Memorabilia
with permission of Rhondda Cynon Tâf Library Service
This image of an Honours Board has been extracted from the School Hall photograph held at Aberdare Library and in the RCT Photographic Archive.
These large black boards listed the names of pupils who had distinguished themselves academically. Their names were highlighted in gold coloured paint. This particular board was placed on the wall of the old school hall, at the Broniestyn Terrace end. There were at least two others at the other end of the hall, which are visible in the class photo of 3 Classical taken in 1926. In both photographs however, in 1912 and 1926, the hall furniture arrangement suggests that the hall was being used as a single or possibly a double classroom. It is interesting to recall that in the 1950s and 60s the hall was used for its intended purpose to accommodate school assemblies, but when the new assembly/dining hall was built on the School House lawn in 1960, the old hall was divided once again, but with stud walls, into two classrooms.
Below the photograph are brief notes on some of the pupils.
Winifred Roberts went to U.C. Bangor in 1899 on the strength of her Senior Certificate examination results which gained her Matriculation Examination equivalence. She was amongst the first intake of the School in 1896 and was 17 years of age when she left for university. She was the daughter of Aberaman school teacher William Theodore Roberts who lived in Cardiff Road.
May Williams, a 1906 leaver, was almost certainly the first pupil to enter an ‘Oxbridge’ College from the School. (Why the quotation marks? Well, because it was not until April 1948 that women of the college were admitted to full membership of the University of Cambridge, and Girton College received the status of a College of the University.) May lived in Victoria Terrace, Aberaman and was aged 19 years when she left school.
Lilian, Eleanor and Gwladys John of Mount Pleasant, Trecynon, were three sisters and were the daughters of Richard John, a stonemason, originally from St David’s in Pembrokeshire and his wife Margaret from Portsmouth. The fourth child of the family was a son, Richard, and he too attended the school a few years later. Lilian John has an article in the December 1905 edition of The Aberdarian, which can be seen in the Aberdarian section of this website. Eleanor was awarded a First Class degree in Latin in 1905.
Aenid Picton was the son of Simon Picton an accountant of Ivy Green, Hirwaun. His subjects were English, French and History. Aenid has an article in the August 1906 edition of The Aberdarian which can be seen in the Aberdarian section of this website. Although we do not know what happened to Aenid after leaving school, his elder brother Norman, who started at School in 1896 and left in 1901, had by November 1908 gained PhD from the University of Heidelberg.
Irene Pratt was the daughter of Nellie Pratt, a schoolteacher in Penrhiwceiber.
Elizabeth Parfitt was the daughter of a collier from Mountain Ash. After spending a year at Aberystwyth she transferred to Girton College, Cambridge.
Ezer Griffiths later became a Fellow of the Royal Society, having spent his whole career at the National Physical Laboratory in Teddington. He has an entry in the Former Pupils section of this website.
Eleanor John and David Phillips Roberts took their Honours Certificate in English, Latin and French. Eleanor gained the Chief Inspector’s Gold Medal for the highest distinction in the examinations of the 95 County Schools in Wales. Elizabeth Ann Parfitt gained her Honours Certificate in Mathematics, Physics and Chemistry.
Many of these pupils sat the Honours Certificate of the Central Welsh Board, CWB, whose examination certificates were introduced in 1899. The Honours stage was taken at the age of 18 after the pupils had progressed through the Junior and Senior stages, and by 1911 the Higher stages, of the CWB examination system. It was intended that the Junior stage would be taken after two years of study at age 14, and Senior stage after four years of study at age 16, and the Higher Stage two years later. The School reported its first examination passes at the Junior and Senior stages in 1899, and added results at the Honours stage by 1900. The CWB dropped the Junior Certificate in 1921 and the Honours Certificate merged with the Higher stage Certificate in 1917. The Senior Certificate was renamed School Certificate in 1923 and together with the Higher School Certificate, these two examinations continued until they were in turn replaced by GCE O and A levels in 1951. GCSE replaced CSE and GCE O level in 1988.