Aberdare Boys’ Grammar School

The Geology Collection

from Geoff Kerley

school building

The Geology Collection

We are not certain when the teaching of geology began at the school. The 1932 Report to Governors has no mention of any pupil with an examination result in geology, however by 1937 William Humphreys of Cwmbach is recorded as gaining a pass at CWB Supplementary Level in the subject. Later, by 1941, a Charles Edwards of Cwmdare gains what appears to be the first recorded CWB Higher Certificate that included geology. Thereafter the subject became quite popular and was often combined with geography by pupils for the their ‘Highers’, and later A levels. (The Supplementary examination was taken by pupils at the end of their first year in the sixth form, and could be taken in separate subjects, unlike the School Certificate which prescribed a set number of subjects in specified but broad groups. Higher Certificate was taken at the end of two years in the sixth form usually in three subjects.)

The first teacher of the subject was probably Deiniol Williams, who taught at the school from 1931 to 1937; much later after a period lecturing at The Normal College, Bangor he returned to south Wales as Director of Education for Breconshire. When Mr Williams left he was replaced by D.T.H. Price who stayed until 1948. While Mr Price was away on war service his teaching commitments were covered by Miss Dilys Quick of Cwmaman and by Miss Nellie Maylott from Stourbridge. In 1948 and 1949 respectively, Mr T.J. Evans and Mr Meirion T. Jenkins were appointed. Mr Evans taught Geography and Geology initially, but by the mid-fifties Mr Jenkins specialised in Geology. After a long reign in the Geology Department, Mr Jenkins was replaced by Mr D.G. Kerley in 1978. On Mr Kerley’s retirement the subject continued to be taught by Mr Andrew Owen until about 2005 when, as was the case in many secondary schools, it was discontinued to make way for other subjects in the sixth form curriculum.

It is almost certain that all of the above teachers contributed to what eventually became a very large collection of sedimentary, metamorphic and igneous rocks, fossils, mineral ores and and pure mineral samples. In addition, many pupils contributed samples that they had collected while on field trips.

Although the collection was retained at the school in Cwmdare Road until July 2010, it became necessary to dispose of it to make room for the teaching resources of other subjects. However, significant efforts were made to locate schools in south Wales that still taught geology, and fortunately a substantial number of specimens were transferred to new appreciative ‘homes’.

Before the specimens were transferred, Geoff Kerley returned to the school to take one last look at the samples that had been a vital part of his teaching resources for twenty years.

Geoff Kerley inspects a sample
Geoff takes a last look at one of the sedimentary rocks
The display cabinets were previously located in the geology room in the
Old Boys Grammar School in Trecynon.

Geoff Kerley inspects a sample
The echinoid fossil Micraster, the heart-
shaped sea urchin, found in the Chalk
which is Upper Cretaceous in age
Geoff Kerley inspects a sample
The fossil fern Neuropteris from the
Coal Measures. The school is also
home to another Carboniferous fossil,
the enormous Calamites specimen
standing about six feet high
outside the school.
The brachiopod fossil Rhynchonella
from the Jurassic.
Past pupil Professor Sir Alwyn Williams
became a world authority on this
type of fossil.

Geoff Kerley inspects a sample
Metal Ores
Galena (left), Sphalerite (right)
Mineral Ores
A selection of granites.
Mineral Ores
Minerals: quartz crystals on the left
Geoff Kerley
Geoff Kerley at the sedimentary rock section

And finally ..

A photo taken on a field trip in either 1963 or 1964, when it’s possible that some of the specimens were collected. Geography master Mr Tom Evans is extricating himself from a bedding plane while Geoff Kerley and Keith Eynon prepare to move on. The location was Cwm Pwll y Rhyd.

Ystradfellte field trip