Aberdare Boys County Grammar School
in
old picture postcards

 

This is the earliest card so far, from Colin Rees. It is postmarked 1904 and posted to Llandyssil.
Below it is an enlargement of the boys in the centre, who may be wearing some kind of uniform?

1904 close-up 1904

This next postcard is stamped October 16th, 1904. It was sent by an M.J. Morgan to Miss Monck, of 11 Pendarren Street.
Although other postcards show the flagpole, this is the only one we have where a flag is actually flying – the Union Flag.

County School October 1904

This next postcard is stamped November 11th, 1904 and has been sent in by Victor Carney.
It was posted to his relative Ivor Carney, a merchant seaman, on board the S.S. Cyfarthfa, c/o Houlder Brothers Shipping in Buenos Ayres.
The sender was Flossie Upton who lived in The Cambrian Hotel and who attended the school from January to December 1903.
Ivor Carney kept all the postcards he was sent while at sea, and this one like many of his others found its way back to Aberdare.
The lamp-post repair-men are seen again in the next-but-one postcard. The pile of horse dung appears in both photographs, suggesting they were taken on the same day.
(The photographer could have been J. Lendon Berry or his son Richard Lewis Berry.)

The SS Cyfarthfa (3,014 tons) was built in 1904. She was torpedoed and sunk on 11th April 1917 in the Mediterranean 32 miles off Cerigotto Island
by a German submarine when on route from Oran to Salonica with a cargo of hay and wine. The ship’s owners were Thomas Morel R.E. & Co. Ltd. of Cardiff.
 

1904 Carney

This next postcard was used in November 1905
and it was sent from Brickyard Farm, Rhigos.

1905 1905 reverse

A view looking up Hirwaun Road towards the Park School, now Ysgol Y Comin, Trecynon,  Aberdâr.
The postmark is very indistinct but could be 1907. The postcard is from the Wrench Series, No. 2104 and was posted to St Peter’s in Jersey.

1907

This one is the same image as above, but it has been tinted to give the effect of a colour photograph.

Park School tinted

A similar early view looking up Hirwaun Rd, but a wider view that includes the Park Gates as well as the school.
There’s no statue of Lord Merthyr, so this dates the view as being before 1913.

before 1913

Here’s one from Steve Hammonds. The print on front of the card is almost identical to the Wrench series card above and to other postcards.
On the back it says it was published by James Parr of 14 Canon Street Aberdare. It was postmarked September 1907,
though we think the photo must have been taken earlier because it doesn’t include the Chemistry block.
It was sent to Honiton, Devon.

1907 Honiton

The next card is from a similar period, 1901 to 1906. There is no indication that the children on the left are pupils of the school.

Children Park Gates

This next card is postmarked 1906, and it shows the school with a covering of snow.
Note that the block housing the Chemistry lab has now been added at the far end of the building.

1906 snow

This one is postmarked Aug 14, 1908, sent by a D. Jenkins to John Roberts of Manchester House, Aberayron.

1908 park gates and school

An undated card, but the picture was taken after the Chemistry block had been added to the top end of the main building
and therefore taken after 1906. This photo also shows the old cottages which were located in Gadlys Road near the school.

Gadlys Rd cottages

Here is a postcard showing some activity in Hirwaun Road. It was sent from Swansea to Llanelly, and is postmarked 4 July 1912.

4 July 1912

Another from the well-used view point opposite the old school.
Although the building is pre-1906, the card is post-marked 9 Nov 1912, and was written by E.W. Lloyd to Mrs Llewellyn, at Brynawel, Glanamman.

1912 School

Again, an undated postcard. However, because there are no rails or overhead electricity poles for the trams, a date
prior to 1913 is indicated. The presence of the Chemistry Lab indicates post-1906.
In the lower left corner we see that the postcard is captioned incorrectly; it states the school to be a council school,
a term applied to local Aberdare Board of Education Schools, but the school was funded by the Glamorgan County Council.
This is why the school was known as The County School during most of its existence. Although in 1896 referred to as
The Aberdare Intermediate School, we have never seen it referred to as The Aberdare Technical & Intermediate Schools,
which is the name carved into the grey Forest dressings above the main hall windows. All the Intermediate Schools were required to provide
a technical subject that was to be matched to the needs of the surrounding area.
In the case of the Aberdare school, Commercial Subjects were offered: shorthand and bookkeeping.
Subsequently, a strong commercial department developed under the leadership of R.V. Hoggins.

Detailed Black and Whie

Here’s one postmarked 1915.

1915

This is the same image as the last one, but it has been coloured, and the caption has moved.

circa 1912

This next postcard is undated. Looking at the women’s fashions, a date of around 1914 might apply.
This is a Berry photograph. The original, which is much sharper, can be seen in
The RCT Photographic Archive – search for number 12/a/020, where the time on the clock can be seen to be 2:35.
On the largest version of the archive photograph, (1024 × 779 pixels), it would appear that the man of the left is a coalminer with a genuine coal–blackened face.

ABCS circa 1914

Here’s the back of another postcard which doesn’t show the school but has an interesting postmark.
For many years mail from Aberdare was franked as "Aberdare". Since then the mark has changed more than once.
However, we were surprised to see the postmark on this birthday postcard of 1927.
It implies that Cwmbach must have had its own sorting office at that time.

Cwmbach Postmark

This one shows Lord Merthyr and the field gun that was on display at the Park during the inter war period.
It was a German 10cm Kanone which, from the early years of World War 1, became the main long range gun of the German Corps Artillery.
The view also shows the chimney stack of the mining laboratory, later to be converted to the biology laboratory.
The tramway support poles for the electricity supply cables can also be seen.
The card is a stained monochrome photograph with some careless addition of the red pigment.

German Field Gun

An unused postcard showing a view looking towards The County School, probably taken from an upper floor of Park School with the trees of Aberdare Park on the right.
The mining laboratory chimney is clearly visible (middle right), and just to its immediate left the school clock-face can just be seen.
The picture was taken before 1934 when the chimney was demolished.
The square-section chimney was 50 feet high and tapered to 2 ft 6 inch sides at the top; it vented a Babcock & Wilcox boiler that was housed inside the laboratory.
Siloh Chapel (Welsh Independent) is in the foreground and Carmel (Welsh C.M.) in the middle near distance.

From Park School detail


Detail showing the school clock to the left of the chimney stack.

This next one was posted by Pearl, staying at 27 Cemetery Rd, Trecynon, on August 8th,1928 to her friend Nina Morcom in Clydach, Swansea.
The iron gates of the Park disappeared long ago, it has been suggested they were removed for recycling during World War 2.
Close-ups of the two gentlemen leaning against the wall, and of the notice on the gates are shown below the main photograph.

Postmarked 1928
Park Notice
Two Men, 1928

This next card is postmarked 1932. It shows the school from the usual angle, but the interesting feature of this picture is that
on the far left behind the main building it shows the skylights which were located on the roof of the buildings in the upper playground which
housed our Biology lab, thus proving that they were built before this time. I haven’t seen any earlier pictures which show this part of the school.
The picture on the card is of poor quality, especially the colour, and the scan has made it even worse.
You might have noticed that none of these photos show the bus shelter which was below the bottom gate during the 1960s.

1932

This card is postmarked 15 August 1944 from Aberdare. It was sent by a boy named Brian to his parents in Playfield Crescent, Dulwich,
but there is no indication that he was a pupil of the school. In his message he expresses the hope that his parents
were not having flying bombs, and that his parents should be “down here” in Aberdare.

Card 1944

This card was first produced in the mid-1950s. It again shows the bus shelter that completely covered the pavement.  new Card circa 1955

Here’s one postmarked 1961. It shows part of the school buildings in the upper playground, and again shows the skylights
on top of the building which was the Biology lab in the later period of the school’s existence. This one also shows the bus shelter.
Malcolm Lloyd has told us that this bus shelter was present in his time in school (1942-49), and it is also visible on
the Christmas card photo from the late 1950s and early 1960s. However, this bus shelter may have been replaced with
something more substantial in later years as the OS map published in 1973 suggests that it was inset into the wall of the school grounds.

1961

Here’s a relatively recent picture postcard of the school sent to Leighton Jones in his first term at University, 1964.
This is the picture that we’ve adapted for use in the banner heading on the front page of the new web site because
it is a rare view of the whole face of the main building.

1964