GENUKI Home page up Wales (NLW Journals)Contents Contents

 

 

The Journal of William Roberts ('Nefydd'), 1853-62

E D Jones, National Library of Wales journal Vol X/1 Summer 1957.

Extracted onto the pages of GENUKI with the kind permission of the National Library of Wales

This is a complete extract of this article [Gareth Hicks 2002]

This sixth part of the series includes the Journal entries from June 1857 to Feb 1858, which cover his visits to places in Glamorgan, Monmouthshire, Carmarthenshire, and Brecknockshire.

See the first part for links to all the other  parts


  1857

June 8.

Aberaman. I had visited this place about twelve months ago, and urged the friends of education to establish there a British School. The Rev. J. Davies, Independent Minister, being against Government aid caused the matter to be dropped altogether then.
Now the increase of the population, and the great want of schools in the place caused them to reconsider the matter, and they invited me to confer on the subject. I was sorry to find that Mr. Davies still entertained his Anti-Government-aid views, and at the same time thinks that they cannot build a schoolroom themselves at present. He therefore is about to establish a small school in the vestry of his own Chapel, and the Baptist Minister and the leaders of the Calvinistic Methodists, Wesleyan Reformers, and other denominations intend to proceed themselves in establishing a British School with Government aid. I should have been very glad to have seen all parties united in this effort, but we have only to hope the best as to the result. This place is increasing rapidly in population on account of new works being opened and Crawshay Bailey, Esq.'s Works being continually extended. Population about 4000.

June 9.

Mountain Ash. A school has been erected in this place lately, which as I always understood was to have been a strict National School. The erection was carried on under the superintendence of H. A. Bruce, Esq., M.P. and Sir Thos. Phillips. I was informed at Aberaman that H. A. Bruce, Esq. had said that there was no connection to be between this School and the Church, and that all children will enjoy equal privileges there, the same as they do at the Dowlais School. I could scarcely believe this on account of Sir T. Phillips's connection with it, and I went there to make further inquiries into the matter. I was glad to find that the present instructions of the Managers to the schoolmaster are in accordance with my information. However the continuance of it will depend upon H. A. Bruce, Esq. for Sir Thomas Phillips interferes with schools where he has no property or interest; as soon as he will find out that some Gentlemen Managers of Works are about to erect Schools, he endeavours to unite himself in the movement in order to have it established on the National system. This school had broken up for midsummer holydays. I was informed that there are from 60 to 70 children. I will soon make further inquiries about the school and see it at work.

June 10.

Aberdare. I visited this place with a view to make an arrangement for Mr. Baxter's visit and examination and also to know the intention of the Master, Mr. J. Anthony. He has had pupil Teachers and some Government aid for the school this last three years and has not yet been to try for a Certificate. He had promised faithfully to Mr. Bowstead to go to the Boro' Road last Xmas, but did not go, therefore Mr. Bowstead informed me in a letter that all aid from the Government will be discontinued if Mr. Anthony will remain. He informed me that he intends resigning his present school and to keep a private School. I was very glad to hear that. I arranged that Mr. Baxter should visit the school as early as possible, in order to give instructions to the Committee how to proceed, &c.

June 11

Hirwaun. I had visited this place on the 14th of May and found that the great impediments in the way of its being established under favourable and promising circumstances were removed. I called now by going towards Devynnock from Aberdare, and made an arrangement about Mr. Baxter's visit that he may put them on the way to recommence the school with a new Master in order to have an efficient school.

June 12.

Devynnock. Since my last visit to this place on the 22nd of May the Committee of the intended British School received a letter from the Committee of Council containing a copy of a letter from the vicar of Devynnock trying to oppose the projected British School. The Vicar's letter stated to their Lordships that children of all denominations are admitted to the National School, and to pay according to their means without being compelled to learn the Church Catechism or to attend Church. But the fact is that all children not attending Church are obliged to pay 6d. per week and upwards however so poor their parents may be. I wrote at the request of the Secretary a copy of a reply to the Committee of Council. I mentioned in my Journal for May that the Committee of Council had promised aid towards the intended British School in this village. This had taken place before the Vicar's letter reached their Lordships. This may cause some delay in the erection of this British School, but I do not anticipate any further difficulties in the proceedings than that.

June 16 & 17.

Llanddeusant. I had visited this place Nov. 7th, 1856, at the request of some friends who were anxious to have a good British School established here. I thought from the aspect of things as they appeared to me then that although the neighbourhood was very thinly populated, there was a field and a good prospect for a small school. There is no school for 4 miles round, (i.e. 8 miles in diameter), the Parish contains a population of about 1000. This district may be considered a part of the parish containing about a third of its whole population. The movement which was then commenced has now come to something more hopeful. The Committee that was then formed applied to the owner of the land for a site, and he replied that he would rather give it to build a National School upon. With this of course the inhabitants could [not] agree. They waited until the next half year's rent day, and a great number of the Tenants acted as deputations from this Committee and consulted the gentleman on the subject, and stated that they were all Dissenters, and could not co-operate with a National School. The Gentleman when he heard that said he would give the site towards a British School then, and that he would in July or August come to measure the ground for them. I advised them to be ready to proceed, by preparing their subscription list, and applying to the Committee of Council. They requested me to meet the Gentleman there when he comes to measure the ground for the school and to have a public meeting there at that time. I wished them to consult the feelings of the Gentleman on that point, and if it would be agreeable to him that I would endeavour to attend.

June 19 & 20.

Gloucester. Went thither to meet Mr. Baxter at his request to make arrangements for our tour through South Wales.

June 23.

Abergavenny. Visited this town in order to arrange about the time, &c., of the intended examination of the school by Mr. Baxter.

June 26.

[Beaufort. Having been given to understand that Dr. Bevan's school in this place had been discontinued I visited the place. There is a new schoolroom in course of being erected in connection with the Independent chapel for the British School. Dr. Bevan had collected about 200 with a view to build new schools, but now he has discontinued his school, and not being willing to co-operate with the Committee of the British School he intends returning the money to the subscribers. I am very glad however to find that Mr. Jas. Griffiths is proceeding as successfully as we can expect under the circumstances. But he is in great want of more room, more books and apparatus, and more teaching power. He wishes me to look for two candidates for him in some of the schools of the neighbourhood by the time Mr. Bowstead will visit the school this year.--- Crossed out.]

June 30.

[Swansea. I met Mr. Baxter this day at the Boys' School hereto commence our tour through South Wales.--- Crossed out.]

August I.

Travelling from Aberystwyth to Blaina, after having been with Mr. Baxter in the Counties of Carmarthen, Pembroke, and Cardigan.

August 6.

Writing for Mr. Baxter a list of places to be visited by me in the future months, to be laid before the Committee.

August 12.

Blaina. The Rev. J. Phillips of Bangor had visited Rumney, and he came this day to Blaina. he advised me to try to come to some arrangement to have the site of the British School, Rumney, given either by the Manager (Mr. Hubbuck) or the Directors on such terms as the Committee of Council will approve, and give aid towards its present debt of 600. His plan was to have public meetings held in Rumney and agitate the question so as to urge the Manager or Directors to grant the site. I told Mr. Phillips that the Directors scarcely ever do anything without the consent of the Manager, and as for having the grant by the Manager that it was hopeless. I told how I endeavoured to negotiate on behalf of the Committee of the British School two years ago. But it struck me that Mr. Levick of Blaina is on very friendly terms with Mr. Hubbuck and acquainted with some of the Directors and he being so friendly with British Schools perhaps he would interfere on our behalf. I promised to wait upon Mr. Levick the first opportunity.

August 13.

Talgarth. I visited this school to see how the new Master I had recommended to the Committee (Mr. W. George) was coming and what prospects there were before him. The school having been closed for about twelve months, will take some time to reach the state it was under the old uncertificated master, as to the number of scholars. I was glad to learn that the Committee intends meeting the requirements of the Committee of Council by putting the room in order, and paying the remaining debt. Providing the Committee will act with energy and spirit this school will be a very good one under a certificated master in a country where no such school either National or British can be found for 8 or 9 miles round. I was very much pleased with the Master.

August 14.

Builth. Since I visited this town in Sep. 1956, nothing has been done towards establishing a public school of any value. A small private school has been established which is under the charge of a young man, who is untrained and nearly self-taught. This time happened to be his holidays. Thus we have here an old town with a population of about 1,200 without a school of any value, but we cannot have any proper leaders to say 'we will do the work'---Rev. D. C. Davies, M.A., has been the means of establishing the above.

August 17.

Mr. Levick. Had a good opportunity this day of laying the Rumney case before this gentleman. We were together, only ourselves, taking luncheon and talking over the above case and other educational movements in South Wales for a long time. I was very glad to find that it is likely that Mr. Hubbuck of Rumney is likely to leave Rumney in a few months. In the meantime Mr. Levick will see the Chairman of the Directors in London, and lay the whole case before him, so that the successor of Mr. Hubbuck in the management may be requested by taking the management to make the necessary grant towards the British School, the only school recognised by the people in Rumney. Mr. Levick seemed to think strongly that he will succeed not only to cause the site to be given to the British School, but also that the new National School now in course of erection by Hubbuck will be on more liberal principles,

August 18.

Abertillery. We had a meeting respecting the additional rooms to this School so that the present room may be the boys school room, one of the new ones of the same size for girls' school and the other new one for the Infants. The work will be commenced immediately.

August 19.

Newbridge (Radnorshire). This is a small village in a rural district, without a School within several miles to the place. There is a strong desire to establish a British School but they seem to fear the greatness of the work, the expense, &c. However, I have some reasons to hope that they will ere long move in the matter. We had a comfortable meeting of parents and friends.

August 20.

Dolau. This small British School has been established about five years ago. The Committee receive 25 of the Gough Charity towards its maintenance. The Master, John Davies, had some training with Mr. Evan Davies at Swansea, and he now desires to be qualified at the Boro' Road. His harvest holidays happened to have taken place on this very day, therefore I did not see his school. A new National School has just been erected in the neighbourhood, and unless this school will be put under Inspection, and a new school-room erected immediately, I fear the British School will loose ground. It was not convenient for me to have a meeting of parents and friends, but we have arranged to meet them about the end of September. I shall then have something more to say about this place.

August 24.

Hirwaun. I went to [see] how the new Master (whom I recommended as a supply until the end of the year) is coming on, and how are they proceeding in their negotiations with the Committee of Council respecting the inspection and aid towards the school---I am glad to state that things appear as well as we can expect under the circumstances.

August 25.

Swansea. Mr. William Davies the schoolmaster of the Devynnock National School, who was the master of the British School at Landovery before the present one, is anxious to have a British School. He had sent to me wishing to have an interview with me somewhere out of Devynnock, fearing the Rector might know, and therefore refuse to sign his certificate, &c. Mr. Davies endeavoured to persuade the Rector some years ago to make Sir J. Davy's school a British School and Mr. Bowstead inspected it in 1854. He is Registered, and his school has been very favorably reported by the Inspectors. Mr. Davies being a member of the Independents is desirous to leave the National School to conduct at British School. I gave him to understand that we should be able to recommend him to a British School in South Wales.

September 1.

Lisvane. Having in the month of May last visited this place, and finding that there was a good opening for a school, I endeavoured to urge some of the inhabitants to establish one. Although the prospects at that time were not very encouraging owing to the apathy of some of the leading men among them, but by this time they had reconsidered the matter, and sent me an invitation to explain the principles of British Schools more fully, and also the terms upon which the Government aid can be obtained for the building and maintenance of a school. I delivered a lecture to that effect, and was very much pleased to see the zeal and spirit evinced. This is an agricultural district and without a school of any sort nearer than four miles from the Parish Church in any direction. They are now to make inquiry for ground, and to go through some preparatory Work, to let me know when this is done and at their request I promised to visit them again at that time, in order to assist them in applying to the Committee of Council, &c. Population of this parish, &c., is 350.

September 2.

Tredeler. This is also an agricultural district, about four miles from Lisvane. It was until lately without a school of any sort. The population of this parish and neighbourhood is 320. About three months ago the Baptist Minister in this place was requested by some of the leading farmers of the neighbourhood and he consented to send circulars through the district announcing his intention of opening a school adapted for the children of the poor and others. As soon as the Clergyman of the parish was informed of this he caused circulars to be distributed, stating that he would open a school on the same day. The two schools commenced on the same day the Clergyman with 8 children, and the Baptist Minister with 35. The number in School of the Clergyman diminished to 4 or 5, and the number in the other school increased to 42. It is the intention of the above Minister and his friends if he will succeed in this little school, to establish a British School adapted for the wants of the whole neighbourhood. A house is given for this experiment by one of the farmers free of rent.

September 7.

Blackwood. This schoolroom was built several years ago with Government aid, and the school has been under Inspection for years, but because they have not been able to have a qualified Teacher, it has been kept in the background. It was arranged about this time twelvemonths that Mr. Jas. Griffnths that was then at Borough Road should go there, but he had an offer of a better salary at Beaufort and settled there. The scarcity of Teachers make it almost impossible for such schools as these to have Masters that are not able to promise more than 50 (at the outset) with Government aid to them. The Rev. J. Prichard (an old Independent Minister) was engaged for some months in the beginning of this year. After he left in April the Rev. J. Thomas, an Independent Minister in the neighbourhood, took charge of the school. He expects Mr. Bowstead, but of course cannot have a pupil Teacher, or Capitation Government or any other aid. I am afraid that this school cannot he supplied again in January 1858. Mr. Thomas is unacquainted with the mode of teaching in British Schools, therefore we cannot expect the school to flourish, especially with a good National School within a mile of it, at Court-y-Bella (Sir T. Phillips's).

September 9.

Meeting J. Davies the Master of Dolau School in order to have conversation with him about the (1) Dolau School. (2) His intention of going to the Boro' Road in 1858. Respecting Dolau School, I am afraid that there is not much hopes of its being established on a lasting system. Mr. J. Davies intends applying to the Boro' Road for admission in January.

September 15 & 16.

Landilo. At the request of some respectable inhabitants of this town I went thither. There is a good British School within about half a mile to the town, in a place called Ffair-fach, which is a populous neighbourhood. I succeeded about twelvemonths ago to have the above school under inspection. Mr. Bowstead has been there since. At present there is a movement towards establishing a British School in the town. Lord Dynevor promised to build a National School in the town, some years ago. The Vicar when he heard that a Committee was formed for establishing a British School there wrote to the Secretary a long letter endeavouring to persuade the Committee to give up the project bringing forth many arguments to induce them to do so. Among others was the following, 'that Lord Dynevor intended erecting a school in the town on very liberal principles to be managed by a Committee of all denominations'. The Secretary sent to Lord Dynevor enquiring of him as to the nature of the management of his intended school at Landilo. He replied, 'that it would be entirely under the control of the Vicar, as National Schools are in general'. The Vicar therefore in order to induce them to desist from establishing a British School is supposed to have written what he knew to be incorrect. I read the letter of the Vicar, and Lord Dynevor myself. I gave the members of the Committee every encouragement and assistance in my power to proceed in their good work.

September 17.

Cross Inn. I had visited this place about 12 months ago. There was then no prospect of establishing any school, excepting a Dame School that was there. At present I was able to form a strong Committee to make a start, and I think that we shall be able to establish a good British School there in a short time. There is a good school-room, the owner will give that free of rent, and he with others will make up about 30 subscriptions towards the salary of a Certified Teacher in addition to the school pence, &c., and will guarantee 60 at once to a Master. But I am to visit the place again in about a month, and to deliver a lecture explanatory of the principles, and Government aid, &c.

September 18.

Hirwaun. I was requested to meet the Committee of this school, in order to render some further assistance in their negotiations with the Committee of Council. They seem to be in high spirits expecting Mr. Bowstead in October; and to have a Certified Teacher from Boro' Road in January. I hope that Mr. Baxter is keeping in view this school, as well as those of Neath, Aberdare, &c., &c., to be supplied with Masters knowing the Welsh language.

September 21.

Beaufort. There is a project of another British School at Beaufort, about a mile and a half from the existing school. The Committee wished me to meet them to explain the mode of proceeding, &c. The Committee seemed to be armed with strong resolutions to proceed.

September 22.

Called at the existing British School and was very glad to find the average attendance of children so high as 170. Mr. Griffith expects to have 4 Pupil Teachers this year.

September 28.

Talgarth. Mr. W. George having informed me that he will not stay at this place much longer on account of the inactivity of the Committee I went over, and was very sorry to find only  3 children in the school. Mr. George told me that some disagreement among some of the members caused the school to be neglected, and depreciated by many in the neighbourhood. I persuaded him to stay until Mr. Bowstead comes, that I would meet him there, and that if the Com. would not then pledge itself to carry out their promises to him and the school that we would find another school for him.

September 29.

Neath Abbey. Miss C. A. Price having informed me that Mr. Jno Phillips had given notice to leave, and being requested by her to inquire for another Master, I went thither to see what had J. P. in view, &c. I find that he has engaged as a Clerk in an office in that neighbourhood. Mr. Bowstead recommended Mr. F. Lowry of Farrington (I think the name is) to Miss Price, and she is therefore in correspondence with thim.

October 6.

Llysfaen. According to an appointment made here on the 1st of September, I met the Committee this evening. I was informed that the Clergyman had obtained some plans of National Schools of the Bishop of Landaff, in order to have a National School established here since I was here last. I was also informed that the whole of the population of the parish, excepting the families of the Clergyman and Parish Clerk, are Baptists; therefore I had to explain the nature of British and National Schools to them more fully. I soon became satisfied that they would have nothing to do with a National School; and that they were determined to have a British School. Although the whole of the population are Baptists they take some pride in keeping the Parish Church as well as their Chapel in very good order by voluntary efforts. Being (of course) the officers of the parish, (Church-wardens & Overseers) they intend to appropriate a piece of ground belonging to the parish for the site of the intended School. I wrote a copy of an application to the Committee of Council for them.

October 2.

This day I went with some of the members of the Committee to see the site, with which I was very much pleased.

October 13.

Having some occasion to go to London I spent the latter part of this week there, called at the Boro' Road with Messrs. Saunders, Baxter, Fitch, & Wilks; and with Mr. Owen at Whitehall on the 15th and 16th, and returned on the 17th.

October 19.

Beaufort. Met Mr. Bowstead at this School. There were 224 children in this school Examination, and Mr. Bowstead was upon the whole very much pleased with the state of the School. The average attendance is over 200 since the school has been held in the new room. This new school-room is attached to the Independent Chapel, and both were erected through the worthy efforts of the Reverend Thomas Rees Independent Minister of the place. Mr. James Griffiths of Boro' Road, I am glad to find, gives general satisfaction to the neighbourhood.

October 23.

Blaina schools. At the request of Mrs. Levick, I spent the morning of this day with Mrs. Levick, distributing presents to the children on the Capitation list. 105 had attended over 176 days, and we gave a shilling book to each of them. One-third of the whole of the boys were on the Cap. list, one-fourth of the girls, and one-tenth of the Infants.

Sirhowy. I was informed that they wanted a Mistress in this school (which is one of Mr. Brown's) and I thought that Miss Ellen Williams who is now in the Boro' Road might do, and that it would be near her home. I visited it therefore in order to ascertain the particulars respecting the terms. I gleaned all the information I could and sent by the Post of that day to Miss Williams that she may apply if she wished as early as possible.

October 26 & 27.

Llwynhendy. The Committee of this British School applied lately to the Society for a grant of books. I had had some conversation about the above application &c. with Mr. Wilks in London on the 16th and at his request visited this place. I had paid a visit to this neighbourhood about three years ago, and had found a small school here under the charge of a person who knew nothing almost about school-keeping. The Baptists (who are almost the only denomination in the place) had been then erecting a new Chapel, and under those circumstances it was impossible to persuade them to establish a school until the debt of it would be paid. Lately the above debt being nearly paid they became to feel the want of a good school in the place, which contains a population of about 1800. The old Baptist Chapel was therefore converted into a school-room, and a young man from the Swansea Normal College was engaged. The school has not been opened more than 9 days, and the number of scholars already reached 90. They expect before another week that the number will be 120. They want fittings, and although they had had 5 worth of books from the Boro' Road, it was very inadequate to the wants of the school. I had an interview with the most influential members of the Committee and they seemed to be wishful to have a Certificated Teacher, and to have the School under Inspection. They will guarantee 60 to the Master. The present Master Thos Davies will go to the Normal College Boro' Road, if admitted, in January next, so that we can have the place supplied by one of the Welshmen coming out in December next, It seems that we have good prospect here.

October 18.

Bryn. The Schoolmaster of this British School applied for admission to the Normal College Boro' Road lately, and in order to be able to report upon his application I visited his school. I had visited this School about 2 1/2 years ago, when his predecessor was here. This school is near an Independent Chapel, and the neighbourhood with a population of about 1500, (almost entirely Independents) has only this School. I am in hopes that it will be put under inspection the next year, and that they will want a Certificated Teacher in January next if Mr. Job Richards (the present master) will be admitted to the Boro' Road. I hope that the above Job Richards, Thos. Davies of Llwynhendy, and Joseph Price of Capel Iwan will be admitted because by admitting those they will be succeeded by Certified Masters, and they themselves will be preparing to have certificates.

October 29.

Neath Abbey. I called at these schools chiefly with a view to see the new master Mr. F. Lowry. The average attendance at the boys' school seems to be, as yet, lower than before, being only 70. The average of the girls' attendance is higher (50); and the average of Infants about 65. Mr. Bowstead has advised respecting the new fittings in these Schools, which must he attended before we can expect much progress.

1858

January 7.

Bristol. Visited this city at the request of Mr. Baxter to make arrangements concerning our proceedings in South Wales during the year 1858.

January 11.

Felin Foel. I had visited this school in 1854, in 1855, and in 1856. I found it each time in such an efficient state as could be anticipated under the circumstances. The master was energetic, and when I took into consideration that the school was then but newly established, that the number of scholars were about 70, that the master's advantages had been so limited, that his monitors were very inefficient, and that the children were almost without exception unacquainted with the English language I felt satisfied with its progress. The school has been erected and fitted by the only Church and congregation existing in this little village, (a Baptist Church), and support of the school is derived from the same source. At each of the above visits I endeavoured to persuade the Managers to put it under inspection, and by that to make it really efficient. There was a strong prejudice against Government aid, which caused all my persuations not to have the desired effect. I had read in the provincial papers that a new Church had just been erected in the neighbourhood by the liberality of a few gentlemen; it struck me that probably a National school would soon be added to the Church and that such an institution under inspection would soon counteract the above school and probably would drain out of it the bulk of its scholars. I lost as little time as possible to have an interview with the Rev. I. D. Thomas, Minister of the above Church, and a few others of the Managers of the school and laid these things before them. They became inclined to adopt my views, and to put the school under inspection. They expressed a wish that I should explain the whole circumstances of the case including the bearings, advantages &c. of Government inspection, and aid, to the whole Committee. We therefore arranged to meet again on the 26th instant.

January 18.

Llwynhendy (see above). The school is greatly in want of fittings, books, maps &c. The number of scholars is still on the increase.

January 9.

Kidwelly. When with Mr. Baxter in Bristol I laid the circumstances of this school (as well as a number of others) before him, and he promised to visit this town with me about the time the new schools at Neath will be opened. The object of my present visit was to make arrangements for Mr. Baxter's visit, to see how far the Committee had proceeded in procuring the site for a new schoolroom, and to inspect the school. The reading, writing, and spelling are very creditable. As a matter of course, under present circumstances, the education in this school is confined to elementary subjects as yet. It must be the case as long as the teaching power is so limited; and the Committee of Council will not grant P. T. until a new school-room is erected. Here is a very ancient town, not of high pretensions but with population of [  ] and in a rural district may be considered an important town, with only this small school, held in a Wesleyan Chapel; and it is one of the most inconvenient Chapels for the purpose that I ever saw. There are only two maps, and a very few books. Under all these disadvantages much good has been done. I think that we have now a prospect of a good schoolroom, and a master's residence, to be erected with Government aid, on freehold ground in a convenient place, and a pleasant situation near the old Kidwelly Castle. Mr. Baxter and I will visit them again either the day before, or the day after the Neath meeting, the time of which is not yet fixed.

January 20.

Neath. I called here this morning by returning from Kidwelly, in order to know, if possible, the time of the opening of the new schools, and was informed as above stated that the time cannot be fixed as yet, and that [the] Secretary will let me know as soon as he can so that I can arrange the Kidwelly meeting. The school under the charge of Miss Evans is now held in the Independent Chapel. The inconvenience of the place to hold the required number causes Miss Evans to refuse many children, therefore she has not more than 70, instead of 150, at present. They are all very anxious to see the new rooms ready, especially when they think that the new National Schools are ready to commence immediately.

Neath Abbey. I paid a short visit this afternoon to the Boys' and Girls' schools in this place. Miss Williams who came to this Girls' school from Boro' Road without a Certificate does not seem to be successful. The number in this school is about 40. The Boys' school is progressing satisfactorily. Mr. F. Lowry works hard under many disadvantages, and the school is felt in the neighbourhood. The number of scholars in this school is about 70. The greatest evil is that the children are taken out of school too young, because they can earn a trifle in the Works. Many are by that deprived of the blessing of education from 9 to 10 yrs. of age.

January 21.

Neath Abbey. Visited the Infants school. The mistress is an untrained young woman. She has lately spent a few weeks with Mr. Houlston the Certificated Master of the Dowlais Infants' school, by the advice and kindness of Miss C. Price, with a view to improve herself. There is a decided improvement in this school since my last visit. The number of infants present was 65.

Bryncoch. This school has just been opened. The Managers applied for a Master that would take a salary of about 40, to us. Mr. Wilks had no one in view. However as a trial they engaged a well educated but untrained young woman. Under the circumstances she is getting on as well as can be expected.

January 26.

Velin Voel. Attended a meeting at this place as we appointed on the 11th, in order to endeavour to persuade the remainder of the Committee to put the school under inspection. I was very [glad] to find that the greatest part of the work had been done in the meantime by the Minister, and the parties who attended the meeting on the 11th instant. I found that the fear of an opposition in the shape of National School had much to do in convincing them of the propriety of putting it under inspection. I explained to them all about it, and they resolved to apply at once, and requested me to write a copy of an application, which was done accordingly. It would surprize any gentleman unacquainted with rural districts, or even country towns, to notice the ignorance prevailing respecting the movements and measures of the Committee of Council, and that even by educated and generally informed persons.

January 8.

Blackwood. This school which was erected some years ago with aid from the Lords of the Treasury. It has been inspected by Mr. Bowstead several times, but the Committee has not been able to engage a qualified Master, and therefore the School has not been an efficient one from the commencement. In 1855, we partly promised that they should have a Master from Boro' Road and Jas. Griffiths was accordingly engaged at from 45 to 50 salary with Government aid, but he preferred going to Beaufort, therefore Blackwood could have no one. A young Minister who had just been established at the Independent Church with which the School was more immediately connected took the Charge of the School until a Master could be engaged. He has had it so ever since because we have not [been] able to supply them with a Master. The number of Children in the school this day, 35. Mr. J. Thomas having had no training is (of course) unacquainted with the approved organization and mode of teaching in British Schools, therefore as long as the school cannot be supplied with a competent Teacher the majority of the children of the neighbourhood will go to the National School of Sir T. P. at Courtybella which is within a mile of this School. From 6 to 8 years ago young Welshmen from Boro Road were glad to have 40 salary, (as was the case with Mr. E. Jones when he came to Blaina), but now we cannot have any for 50, hence the great drawback in such schools as these. We look towards the establishment of the Bangor institution as a means of releasing us from these difficulties.

February 9.

Gelli-groes. Having visited this place in 1856 when it was arranged to try to have a freehold piece of ground to build a British School I am sorry to find that they have been unsuccessful hitherto. The land in the neighbourhood is the property of Mr. Herbert of Llanarth who is a Catholic, and a charity school of a very inferior character is kept there at his expense. The Protestant version of the Bible is excluded from that school and therefore the inhabitants, being almost all Dissenters, cannot adopt such a school even if it were an efficient one. There is also a private school that has been kept by an old man in his own house for many years, and this is all the educational preparation for this place with an increasing population of about 800. Mr. Herbert will grant no land for his tenants to build a British School.

February 12.

Bryn Mawr. In this town there is a great want of a Girls' school under the charge of a Certificated Mistress, and I visited the place to see if it could be done. I find that there is some difficulty in the way not from the want of scholars and income, but from the nature of the Agreement of the Committee with Mr. Reynolds the Master. I engaged Mr. Reynolds for the Committee about 3 years ago at 60 with the house; he very soon found that the pence and Capitation Grant would amount to double that amount, and expressed a wish to have the pence and Capitation grant, and to relieve the Committee from responsibility respecting his salary. I then cautioned some of the members of the Committee not to enter into this new agreement because it would be an obstacle in the way of establishing a Girls' School but the majority passed a resolution in accordance with the desire of the master. In 1856 a desire was evinced for having a Girls' School established. Seeing that this would lead to a considerable reduction in his salary, he engaged at his own expense a Teacher that had served her time as a Pupil Teacher for 5 years, at Blaina School, and gave her a salary of 30 out of his own income. This was a good instalment but in a town with a population of 6,000 or 6,500, and a school where about 300 scholars attend, about the half of them being girls, there ought to be a regular Girls' School. Now this female Teacher having been married, and being about to leave the work, it struck me that it would be a good time to try to obtain the object in view. The subject will be mooted and an effort will be made in the next Committee meeting for the desired object.

(continued)


Return to top of page

InfoFind help, report problems, or contribute information.

Gareth Hicks 2002

Valid HTML 4.01 Transitional

Copyright GENUKI and Contributors 1996 to date
GENUKI is a registered trade mark of the
charitable trust GENUKI