W. Charlton Cox (1873–1937)
W. Charlton Cox was the longest serving headmaster of the school by a wide margin; he was at the school for forty years, thirty-two of them as headmaster, twice as long as the next longest serving incumbent. Consequently it was probably Mr. Cox who was most influential in forming the character of the school, guiding it from well before the First World War up to the period just before the Second. Indeed, he was appointed as a teacher at the school in 1897, just one term after it was established. By 1905, he was the senior assistant master to W. Jenkyn Thomas and succeeded him in 1905 at the age of 32. After serving the school for what transpired to be one half of its 82-year existence, Mr. Cox resigned at the age of 64 in January 1937, but by December of the same year, he had died.
Walter Charlton Cox was born in 1878 in Hackney, the son of Josiah and Caroline
Cox whose home was in Ravensdale Road - now London N16. His father was a stockbroker,
and a member of the London Stock Exchange. In 1887, the family moved to Great Crosby
in Lancashire an area just to the north of Liverpool.
He was educated privately; firstly in Hackney and then at the Merchant Taylors’ School, Liverpool. He was also privately tutored in his teen-age years. By 1893, he had gained a B.A. in English and Classics and in July 1904, after he had started teaching, he had gained an external M.A. degree of the University of London.
Mr. Cox had three teaching posts before arriving at Aberdare in 1897: firstly at the Liverpool Institute, then in Bristol, and at Formby Grammar School, near Liverpool.
In 1901, he is listed as one of two boarders at the house of Mrs Catherine Williams
at 3 Tanybryn Street, Foundry Town. Later, in the summer of 1902, he married May Daniel
of Llwydcoed House. May was the daughter of David and Margaret Daniel, from Ystradgynlais
and Aberdare respectively; her father is listed as an accountant and farmer in the 1901
census returns, and according to the Aberdare Leader, he was the Cashier at
Abernant Colliery. May was 19 when she married the 29 year old county school master.
Three years previously Mr. Cox would have been May’s teacher, as she attended
the school from 1896 to 1899. The Cox’s had three boys who all attended the school:
David Walter Charlton, born in 1905, Arthur Charlton born 1906 and Alfred George Charlton
born in 1912. There was also a daughter Margaret, born in 1908, who would have been
too old to attend her father’s school, since it became a single-sex boys’ school
after 1913. Mrs Cox was a member of the Past Students Association and served on its
committee for several years.
Mr Cox not only taught his main subjects of English and Classics but also lent his
hand to both History and Mathematics. Indeed, as Mansel Davies comments in his contribution
to the 75th Anniversary Brochure, "Mr Cox was prepared and capable of teaching
Mathematics, Greek, Latin and several other subjects". Probably like many school
Heads of his day, pupils regarded him as a rather intimidating person. Former pupil
David Phelps (1931-1937), who later taught French and English at the school (1956-1979),
commented: "..he put the fear of God into us. He towered over me, had piercing
eyes and thick arched eyebrows".
You can see an image of the article in its original form by clicking here.
Click here to see Mr Cox’s application submission for the headship
Main photograph from The Aberdarian; 1922 &1936 photographs reproduced with permission of Rhondda Cynon Tâf Library Service