TRIBUTE TO THE LATE WILLIAM JENKYN THOMAS
by Ezer Griffiths*
from The Aberdarian, 1960
My feeling is one of deep gratitude that I have had the good fortune to have Mr. Jenkyn
Thomas as my headmaster. His influence on my life has been lasting and I regard him
as one of the great men I have known. I remember the school being built, little realizing
at the time what a profound effect the school would have on my life.
The Welsh Intermediate Education Act was a blessing to the people of Wales for it
brought a grammar school education within reach of all and Mr. Thomas made full use
of the opportunities provided by that Act. He was the first headmaster and was ideally
suited for the post; an enthusiast and full of ideas. Although educated on the classical
side he saw to it that the science equipment of the school was of the best. In those
days we had Central Welsh Board Examinations. For these examinations each year texts
of certain of the Latin classics were prescribed for study as set books. Mr. Thomas
prepared special editions of these together with notes to facilitate study. It was a
tribute to his enthusiasm, for I doubt whether there was much financial reward. Some
of the pupils did remarkably well in the C.W.B. Honours Examination. One girl I remember
won the gold medal for Wales and a scholarship to Cambridge.
When Mr. Thomas resigned to become head of the Grocers’ Company School, Hackney
Downs, there was much regret in Aberdare. One cannot but speculate what the effect on
secondary education in Wales would have been if he had remained with us. Unquestionably
he was an outstanding headmaster and impressed his personality on all, staff and pupils.
*Ezer Griffiths, O.B.E., D.Sc., F.R.S. was one of the most distinguished ex-pupils
that the school has ever produced. He was a physicist who spent his entire career at
the National Physical Laboratories in Teddington. He was one of the leading world authorities
on heat insulation, heat transfer, evaporation, and related matters, such as refrigeration.
He entered the school in 1901, and left in 1906 at the age of 17. Whilst at
school, he lived at 23 Ann St, Gadlys, Aberdare. Dr. Griffiths died in 1962.