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Aberdare Boys’ Grammar School

Memories and Memorabilia

school building
 

Correspondence to The Aberdare Leader
in defence of the new Assembly/Dining Hall, (‘The Cowshed’)

from School Archives
 

CAN IT BE DISMISSED AS A ‘COWSHED’?

Grammar School boys say their new dining hall is better than
acute congestion

• BOYS of the Aberdare Grammar School have re-acted sharply to criticism of the appearance of their new dining hall — described by one reader as a “cowshed” — and take the view that it is better than the acute congestion and restriction of movement which have so handicapped the school in recent years. Here is a selection of letters.

Prefects’ view of new school dining hall

Sir : Many hasty condemnations have been directed at our new dining hall (at the Aberdare Boys’ Grammar School), by casual observers, but before further comment is made, some understanding should be reached concerning the general circumstances which have made the building a necessity.

The school was originally built in 1896 to accommodate 150 pupils. At the present time there are 429 pupils on the register. This is the first addition to the original building and obviously indicates the extent of the intense congestion under which we labour; and the consequent rigid restrictions imposed on the movement of boys throughout the school.

Fortunately we have the use of a nearby chapel vestry for assembly and tutorial purposes. Without these facilities the congested circumstances would render school functions impossible. Is this position worthy of a grammar school, or of Aberdare?

With these points in view, it should be decided what deserves the most attention. Are we really concerned with the aspects of architecture? We are the persons who have to “endure” the “monstrosity,” being its inmates for five days of the week. Its primary function, that of providing us with more adequate amenities, is far more important than quibbling about its external appearance. The conditions are such in the school that any attempt at alleviation is welcome.

We appreciate the problem of blending the new with the old, but we understand that this building is regarded as a temporary measure to help us over the transitionary period before we aquire [sic] a new school building. Let us not jeopardise our chances of this coming about in the near future by destructively criticising the present efforts of the County Authorities. Let us not be ungrateful for small mercies and maintain the justification for our great expectations.

Yours etc.,

THE PREFECTS,

Boys’ Grammar School.
 

Fifth form tells of cramped conditions

Sir : When we read of the opinions expressed by Coun. T. Roderick and Mr. T. Carter, we wondered if there wasn’t something of “I’m all right Jack” attitude in them.

To us they seemed to say “We don’t like that new dining hall, tear it down.” Is this because the County Council went over the heads of the Aberdare Council?

They seem to forget or not realise that the present Victorian building is woefully inadequate for the housing of 400 boys, as it was intended for 150 boys. This can be illustrated by the fact that in most forms, boys have to sit in the aisles, resting exercise books on knees.

Boys generally complain about the cramped conditions, in which they eat their food. They also eat meals in the Art Room, off tables which have just been used by Forms doing painting!

Two years ago, owing to the cramped conditions in the main assembly hall, Forms 1 and 3 started to use the Vestry of Bethel Chapel for their assembly.

It makes us angry to think, that people who do not use the school, and do not experience the cramped conditions which we work in, criticise the efforts of the Glamorgan County Council to alleviate this position.

Yours etc

FIFTH FORM
 

And another reply

Sir : As a pupil of the Boys’ Grammar School, I was interested to reed Mr. T. Carter’s views on the “Cow-Shed” currently being built at the School.

To Mr. Carter’s professional eye it may not appear an artistic structure, but to me, as a person who daily has to endure inadequate conditions for eating school meals, it represents a building where I can enjoy my meals in a reasonably comfortable environment.

I agree, it is indeed refreshing “to see that support is forthcoming in this democratic country, when some bureaucratic body sees fit to tread on the toes of the other fellow.” However, if Mr. Carter feels that a practical demonstration is needed, I suggest he looks elsewhere for a suitable example, the need for a new dining hall at the Grammar School is too great to be sacrificed because some people dislike its appearance.

Yours etc.,

AN INDIGINANT STUDENT,

Boys’ Grammar School.


The original 1960 Aberdare Leader article can be seen here.
 


In an other edition of the newspaper, a report was published that described a Council meeting in which council members suggested how the appearance of the building could be managed.    added 1 Aug 2016 

County Council say ‘Give bricks time to weather’

Trees to screen Grammar School’s new dining hall?

IT is highly probable now that the Glamorgan Education Committee will arrange for the new dining-hall building on the lawn of the Aberdare Boys’ Grammar School, which aroused such controversy recently because it did not conform with the surroundings, to be screened by “judiciously planted trees.”

There were spirited protests from several members of the Aberdare District Council’s Town Planning Committee on Tuesday evening when the Clerk, Mr. D. G. James, B.A., read a letter from the Clerk to the County Council which stated that the County Council Surveyor “was satisfied that the appearance of the building was not unhappy.”

The letter went on to suggest that of Aberdare people still felt disturbed about it, a possible solution might be found by planting some trees between the building and the main road to break the view.

The letter added that the County Surveyor’s Department felt that if the stone were given time to weather, the building would not appear to be half as offensive as it seemed to be to those who had taken objection to it.

Coun. Eaton Williams (Protectionist): “If I had my way, I would insist that the pine-end facing the main road be re-built of cut stone to harmonise with the school buildings.”

STILL OFFENSIVE

Coun. Idris Evans (Protectionist): “The County Council suggest that we should wait a few years until the bricks have weathered. In my opinion, if the building is offensive now, it will be offensive in five years’ time.”

Coun. Cliff Edwards (presiding) dismissed as impracticable Coun. Eaton Williams’s suggestion that the pine-end should be taken down and re-built of cut stone. He felt that the Council should continue to express its dissatisfaction, and went on to suggest that the County Council should be asked to adopt a procedure which representatives of the Aberdare Town Planning Committee had seen at a recent planning conference—the planting of fully-grown trees.

He felt that the matter was serious enough to justify the sending of a deputation to County Hall.

In Coun. Sam Wilcox’s opinion ‘too much fuss had been made of the whole thing. It is what they are going to do inside that matters,” he said. “What is important in all this is the benefit the building will be to the children and the staff.”

However, he agreed with the suggestion that the building should be screened by the planting of trees.

Coun. Lily Lynch said she could not understand why the County Council had chosen to build in brick in a district where there was so much stone available.

Coun. Griff Pritchard, B.E.M.: “I am concerned with the students, and whether they can have their meals in comfort or not. If they are happy why should we disagree?”

Coun. Cliff Edwards felt that it should not have been beyond the ingenuity of the County architects to have found a more suitably-toned brick.

NOT SO BAD

Coun. David Hill, B.A.: “All we can hope for now is proper screening, and in saying that I would like to express the very definite opinion that the building is not as offensive as some people have tried to make out.”

Coun. Prudence Williams (Protectionist): “What the County Council want to get on with is the building of a new school. The conditions are shocking there.”

Coun. Idris Evans: “When the matter was first mentioned the Aberdare Planning Committee was doubtful whether or not they would allow this school lawn to be built on at all. Had we known that this sort of structure was going up there I think we would have stood out and refused. It must be said that we had other sites in mind.

“I still feel that the dining hall should have been built to conform with the school,” he said. “We have built a bus shelter there which fits in. They could have done the same with their building.”

The committee agreed to ask the County authority to provide a screen of trees.


The original 1960 Aberdare Leader article can be seen here.