Aberdare Boys’ Grammar School
The following account of the first decade of the school was written by Mr. W. Charlton Cox, who was the second Head Master of the school. The article first appeared in the 1906 edition of The Aberdarian, but was reprinted as a facsimile in the Diamond Jubilee edition of the magazine in 1978. Thanks to Judith Griffiths, the editor of the 1978 edition, for sending a copy of this issue.
THE FIRST DECADE
Early this term our school completed its tenth year of existence. Our editor has, accordingly, asked me to write a few lines in honour of the event.
It is now admitted by all that our Intermediate Schools have been a great success; but the establishment of such a school in Aberdare, as in many other places, was by many looked upon as a daring experiment. In fact, there were some who thought that the establishment of a school at Merthyr would amply suffice for both valleys.
In spite of these dismal forebodings, the Aberdare school was built, and, after many delays opened on September 28th, 1896. Mr. and Mrs. D.A. Thomas performed the opening ceremony, which was celebrated by a public luncheon, held in the Central Hall. On the following day, the school settled down to work with a staff of five, consisting of Mr. Jenkyn Thomas, the Head Master, Miss White, Miss J. Griffith, Mr. Dodgson, and Mr. Evan Williams. We are fortunate in being able to count the two mistresses named as members of the staff at the present day. The pupils on the register in the first term numbered 141. In the second term the number rose to 159, and the staff was augmented by the appointment of Mr. Cox and Miss Madge. Moreover, the Chemical Laboratory was finished and equipped, the adjoining room, which had been intended for a Manual Instruction room being converted into a Science Lecture room.
The following year, although not signalised by any great increase in numbers, showed a considerable development in other directions. At the commencement of it, Mr. Ogwen Williams joined the staff, and, towards the end of it, Mrs. Barrington (née Miss Gardner). In the course of it, our accommodation was enlarged by the completion and equipment of the Physics Laboratory and the Gymnasium. Moreover, a new development, which has proved very popular, took place in the organisation of the School Dinners, in the respect of which our school led the way for others.
The year 1899-1900 presents no feature of outstanding importance. The numbers, indeed, fell off slightly. In the following year, however, they rose with a bound well over 200, where they have ever since remained. To meet this increase, Miss Rowland was appointed on the staff, which now numbered nine. Further additions to the buildings were made in the shape of two new class-rooms, a laundry-room, a new kitchen, the dining hall, a store-room, an Assistant Masters’ room, and a Music room. Last, but certainly not least, the generosity of Mr. D.A. Thomas, M.P., enabled the fine clock-tower to be erected. This, unfortunately, was our last increase in accommodation, the powers that be having refused to do any more for us in spite of a large increase in numbers.
The latter had, by 1902, risen to 256, and, in September of that year, Mr. Roberts joined us for the first time. A twelve month later, a further rise in numbers to 275 led to Miss Morris and Mr. Edwards joining us, while at the end of 1903 Mr. W.R. Williams succeeded Mr. Dodgson, who had joined the staff of the University College, Reading. The following year, Mr. Evan Williams left us to become Head Master of the Boys’ Higher Grade School. In July, 1905, the first change in the Head Mastership took place, Mr. Jenkyn Thomas leaving us for a wider sphere in London, and being succeeded by Mr. Cox. It was in September, 1904, that our numbers passed 300. They are now 381.
The past ten years have seen various developments in the social life of the school. In spite of our lack of a sports field, the football teams have consistently upheld the school’s reputation, and now that the Rugby code has been adopted, we expect still greater achievements. Our Athletic Sports were first organized in 1903, largely through the exertions of Mr. Roberts, and they are now a popular annual feature. The school dramatic entertainments, which commenced in a very humble way, some five or six years ago, have developed remarkably and are now eagerly looked forward to every year. Another feature which is also very popular is the swimming competition in July.
In conclusion, the following summary may be of interest:—
During the past ten years, the number of pupil has risen from 140 to 380; the number of staff from five to fifteen; our pupils have won 360 certificates from the Central Welsh Board with 483 distinctions, including the Gold Medal; 15 County Scholarships or Exhibitions; 11 other Scholarships or Exhibitions; eleven pupils have passed the London Matriculation examination; 1 London Inter-Science; 44 pupils the Welsh Matriculation examination or the equivalent.
W. Charlton Cox