The Journal of William Roberts ('Nefydd'), 1853-62
E D Jones, National Library of Wales journal Vol X/2 Winter 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 seventh part of the series
-includes the Journal entries from February 1858 to November 1858, which cover his visits to places in Glamorgan, Monmouthshire, Carmarthenshire, and Brecknockshire.
See the first part for links to all the other parts
Beaufort. Visited this place in order to see what progress was being made towards establishing a British School at the Eastern end of it. The school used to be in the centre of the place but when the new schoolroom was erected near the Independent Chapel at the Western end the school Was removed thither in October last. The inhabitants of the Eastern end, which is about a mile and a half from the present school, were dissatisfied with the position of the School and intended building a British School at the other end. Mr. Baxter having asked (when I was in Bristol) what became of the project, and not being then prepared to give him an answer I came today to see about it. I find that the late depression of trade and reduction of wages have caused the Committee to lay aside the project for a time, until things will improve.
Blaina. Having had the new forms from Mr. Wilks I visited these schools in order to fIll them, and also to see if the Master could spare a boy that might be apprenticed as Pupil Teacher at Beaufort British School. If there are in one school more Candidates than can be apprenticed there, we take them to another school where they are wanted if they and their parents are willing. This is according to the advice of Mr. Bowstead. The Blaina Master cannot spare any at present.
Writing a copy of my last Journal for Mr. Baxter and other letters. We have arranged that Mr. Baxter should have a copy of my monthly Journal so that he may have some of my movements and progress.
Devynnock. Visited this village in order to see what progress has been made of late in the correspondence of the Committee of the British School with the Committee of Council. I find that the Rev. E. Williams has been in London, and has had several interviews with Mr. H. Owen and that he has kindly promised to assist the Committee in this case after receiving a copy of the whole correspondence. That was sent about a fortnight ago. They are therefore anxiously waiting to hear from Mr. Owen at present.
Amman Iron Works. In consequence of receiving information from a friend stating the circumstances of this neighbourhood, and the great want of a good British School now existing I visited the place to see what could be done there. There is a private school in the place with from 60-70 children in it, and held by a drunken man in a Club room belonging to a public house. I had conversations with several respectable inhabitants, and there is a strong desire to have a good British School established. There is a good building that may be had;---it is an old Independent Chapel 30x24 ft. held upon a Lease of 999 years, only 15 of which are expired. This may make a good schoolroom. The population is chiefly made up of Colliers connected with the various Coal Works in the place. The population is about 800 or 900. It is supposed that if they could have a good school established there that the scholars would number from 100 to 150. We formed a Committee and I gave them all the requisite information in their present stage of procedure, and I promised to visit them again in April.
Llansadwrn. This is a rural district, in a part of the country where the Welsh language is the only medium of communication. The population of the neighbourhood is from 500 to 600, The parish is very large, and contains a population of about double that number. I was invited by some friends, not far from the place, to try to establish a British School there. (I have friends connected with the various Denominations, almost in all parts of South Wales; whom I request to inform as soon as they see an opening with some prospects of establishing, or extending the usefulness of British Schools.) There are several very wishful to have a good British School, but they are afraid of the expense, even with Government aid, thinking that the inhabitants generally will not sufficiently appreciate such a prospect to contribute liberally, and therefore that the burden would fall upon the few. However in order to make a trial of it we arranged to have a general meeting in April to confer on the subject. There is a poor Church School.
Cwmbach. This place contains a population of 1,500. There is a National School, but the inhabitants being almost all Dissenters, they are anxious to have a British School established there. There is an old Baptist Chapel held upon a Lease of 999 years. It is 35 x 36 ft., and may be had for the purpose of establishing a British School. It is about a 3/4 of a mile from the National School. I think that we have a good prospect here. We have arranged to have a general meeting of the inhabitants, as early as possible, and I have promised to attend, that we may try to form a Committee and put the thing in motion.
Aberdare. Visited this British School this first [time] after the establishment of Dan I. Davies from Boro' Road. I was afraid that the depression of trade, and the long standing out for wages, which took place in neighbourhood, would have produced a very injurious effect upon it, but the prospect seems to be beyond the most sanguine anticipations. I have had a letter written yesterday (Apl. 1) by Mr. Davies in which he informs me that the attendance now is 230, and that a much greater number of children above 10 years old attend now than ever attended the school before.
Llanelly (Copper Works). Visited these Schools in order to fill the new form of Report. I am glad to find that these Schools continue to be in a state of high efficiency and in possession of powerful influence in this neighbourhood.
Llanelly (Town schools). Visited these schools also in order to see the state of them and to fill the new form of Report. I generally endeavour to visit these and other Schools about once a year if convenient. These schools are improving. The new fittings which they have had since my last visit seem to do much for the schools.
Llanelly (Infants School). I had not visited this School for two years. At that time they were applying to the Committee of Council for aid to make the alterations suggested by Mr. Bowstead, inside and outside the building. Since that time the alteration has been made, and the conveniences of the fittings, the outbuildings, &c., are well adapted for the working of this school. Held a meeting of the friends of Education, Ministers &c.
Felin Foel. According to an arrangement on the 26th January I visited this School to see the result of corresponding with the Committee of Council and to fill the new form of Report. I was glad to find that the papers of the Committee of Council had been received, filled, and returned. The Inspector will examine the school in the course of this summer, and the Master intends sitting for his Certificate in December next.
Hengoed. This is an agricultural district where an old Baptist Church has been established about 200 years ago. The Church and Congregation extend throughout the country around for several miles. But there is no School of any value in the whole district, excepting Sunday School. My object in paying this visit to the place was to try to awake them on the subject. The majority of those connected with the place are farmers in good circumstances, but not having been in the habit of contributing liberally, they are afraid of anything new that will touch their pockets. However there are among them several that feel the want of a School very much, and these are confident that they will ultimately succeed to extend this desire. I gave them all the necessary information to proceed and promised to visit them again when they will be in a position to work.
Maesycwmwr. This is a neighbourhood where a population of about 1,200 live, consisting of Agriculturists and workmen connected with Coal Works and a Flannel Manufactory. There is only a Dame-school in the place, and a small National School within two miles of it. I had paid a visit to this place before, and I was glad to find that the few persons I had had an opportunity to consult on that occasion had succeeded to create a strong desire to have a British School established there. They are now ready for commencing to make inquiries about a site, and as soon as that is secured I promise to visit them again. They think that they are to meet with difficulties on this point because the land in the most convenient part is the property of a high Churchman, and a Tory.
Twyngwyn. The small School that was held in this place has been discontinued because the Master had a situation under the Post Office. The master had only £30 salary, made up partly by subscription and partly by the pence, and the Committee could not meet with another for that salary, therefore they were obliged to drop it altogether. The number in this school for the last 3 years varied from 40 to 60. This School was in connection with a Baptist Chapel which is the only Chapel in this neighbourhood. This sort of small Schools generally fail from time to time, and do their work when in operation very inefficiently, for want of good rooms, fittings, books, qualified Masters, and a staff of Teachers. The Government ignore, or at least has no system of aiding this class of schools at all. There are a great number of these in the thinly populated districts of South Wales, and I am at a loss to know how to advise them, for they cannot have competent Teachers for the Salaries they can give.
Bontnewydd. This is a neighbourhood similar to that of Hengoed where there is an old established Baptist Church but no School within about 11/2 miles. I have endeavoured to persuade them to establish a British School. The population is increasing rapidly, and I think that there is a prospect of establishing a British School. I have had some interviews with the leading men, and they are very anxious to have a school, they will endeavour to press the subject further (I hope with success) upon their neighbours, and will let me know the result.
Aberaman. This is a very populous neighbourhood in Glamorganshire and I have visited it twice before without being successful in making an effectual move for a British School. The population is about 4,000 or 4,500. There is no school of any importance in the place. Sir Thos. Phillips and other friends of National Schools are now endeavouring to establish a National School there. The number of Churchmen in the neighbourhood compared with that of Dissenters may be abont one-twentieth. The greatest obstacle in our way in this place, is that one of the best and most influential men is against Government aid for Education, viz. the Independent Minister. I have once more endeavoured to urge the leading men of the various denominations to have a British School with what success remains to be proved hereafter.
Cwmbach. When I visited this place on the 16th of March I promised to come again in April. We had a very good and promising meeting to form a Committee, &c. Some of the members of the Baptists in the place seemed more wishful to sell the old Chapel, or to let it for a few pounds per annum of rent for keeping a British School instead of giving it gratis. I gave them to understand that the Committee of Council would not sanction the paying of rent because it would be a drawback from the income of the school. I hope that this question will not stand in the way of establishing a British School in this place.
Mynyddislwyn. This school is in connection with an Independent Church and Congregation, is just such another as that at Twyngwyn, and is now in a similar position. The Master left, and the Committee can have no other one to succeed him. The Master had only the school-pence, and that is of course too low to induce any qualified Master to take such a school. Some of this class of schools by an extra effort of the Committee on their behalf become good schools under Inspection such as those at Cwmivor, Tabernacle, and Landilo two years ago, Kidwelly last year, Llwynhendy and Felin Foel this year.
Abercarn. This populous and increasing neighbourhood is not in a satisfactory state as regarding its schools. There is what is called 'Lady Hall's School'. This is the only day school that I know of where the Welsh language is taught. This is scarcely worth to be called a school, if we take into account the amount of information acquired by the children. The other school is in connection with the Coal-Works. There are about 55 children huddled together in a small room about half the size it ought to be. The organization, the discipline &c., &c., were anything but satisfactory. I did not think it worth my while to take the statistics.
Aberdare. Visited this place chiefly to arrange about Mr. Baxter's visit the next week. I was exceedingly glad to find D. I. Davies so successful. There were 270 children in school this day. I never witnessed such extraordinary change in any school in such short time. The average number last year was from 50 to 60, but when I visited the school before there were 170, which was considered extraordinary, but to see another addition of 100 in about a month from that time is wonderful.
Hirwaun. Visited this school for the first time after the establishment of W. Harris from Born' Road. There were 104 children in the school. The order was not satisfactory. I did not take the statistics because Mr. Baxter intends visiting this and Aberdare British Schools the next week.
Neath. Mr. Baxter and I attended the meetings connected with the opening of the British Schools in this town. This day a Teaparty was held and afterwards a very large meeting with the Mayor of the town in the Chair. We addressed the meeting on the occasion, with several ministers & others.
Mr. Ogden had prepared the children to sing several pieces very good. The large schoolroom was crowded to excess, and I never saw a more enthusiastic meeting on education anywhere.
Hirwain. I went with Mr. Baxter to Hirwain & Aberdare this day. I had informed Mr. Baxter of the weakness of W. Harris's (Hirwain) discipline and he gave him some valuable instruction in that particular. He marched before the children of the higher classes and drilled them so that in a little time they were in a very fair order,
Aberdare. We were highly pleased to see Mr. Dan I. Davies so successful in this School. Knowing that Mr. Baxter reports the number of children, &c., in these Schools I shall say no more about them at present.
Neath Abbey. We paid a flying visit to these three Schools this morning. Mr. Baxter was the greatest part of the time in the Boys' School and I was in the Infant School. I was very much pleased to see 78 little children, all except two under 8, and 13 under 3 years of age, in very good order, and quite happy. We were afterwards together in the Girls' school.
Bryn-coch. We went this afternoon to this little school which is a small one in a rural district. As soon as the Clergyman of the Parish found that a British School was to be erected there, he and his friends mustered all their strength to have a National School. The two schools are within about 200 yards of each other. The British School is under an untrained Mistress, and the National School under an untrained Master.
Neath. We came to the Teaparty that was given to the parents and children of these Schools, and another meeting similar to that of Tuesday evening was held this evening.
Went to London this day in order to be ready for the annual meeting on Monday. Spent the week, and returned on the 15th.
Blaenavon. Having visited this place four years ago and afterwards several times, and having failed in establishing a British School there, the Rev. J. Rees kept a school himself for the last three years, now he is going to give up and wishes to engage a Certificated Teacher at a Salary of not less than £40 with the Capitation Grant. The old established National School in this place has always been a good school, and is under Inspection, and since we tried to establish a British School here it has been on liberal terms towards children of Dissenters, which form at least 9/10ths of the whole, but Mr. Rees wishes to make an experiment in the schoolroom attached to his Chapel and if the school will succeed to have a new building---Can we have a Teacher?
Machen. This place is similarly situated to Blaenavon having had a good old established National School. We failed therefore about 3 years ago to establish a British School there, but the Rev. T. Morgan established one of his own, and he has about 45 children, and he could have more if he had a better room and more teaching power. There is a girl of 14 or 15 years of age that is very wishful to be a Pupil Teacher in a British School, and she is well adapted for the work. I shall endeavour to find an opening for her.
Tydee. I visited this place more than four years ago,---formed a Committee---visited again, ---had a good public meeting,---and while we were getting on very successful as we thought towards establishing a British School the Rev. Chancellor Williams of Bassaleg (about a mile from this place) rented an old Carpenter's shop here which was to be altered for a School immediately to be formed as a branch of the Bassaleg National School. He had this large shop for £4 per annum which was cheap. This discouraged the friends of the British School and the matter was dropped. But nothing was done by the Chancellor from year to year, and now Mr. W. Thomas who was one of the Committee of the British School resolved to build a good room himself to be used on trial, and if successful he will sell it to the Committee or if not he will turn it into houses. The Chancellor has had several interviews with him trying to persuade him not to proceed.
Tydee. According to an appointment made on the 20th of May I visited this place with a view of urging the Committee to proceed with the new schoolroom. I stated in my last journal that Chancellor Williams of Bassaleg had been endeavouring to persuade them not to proceed. I find that he continued to plead the case of his intended National School as having a stronger claim upon this neighbourhood; he brought forward the following reasons: that no British School had ever been nearer than Newport to this place, and that the Bassaleg Church School of which the Tydee National School was to form a branch had been in existence for a great many years. Also: that he had paid the rent out of his own pocket for the Carpenter's Shop which would be an entire loss to him if the School would not be established. These arguments were answered as follows: that he (the Chancellor) might proceed with his National School all the same for Churchmen but that a British School would be more in accordance with the feelings and sentiments of Dissenters which are very numerous in the neighbourhood. I am glad to find that the new room has been commenced. It is 33ft. by 15. The population of the neighbourhood amounts to about 800. We formed a Committee of 12 persons to carry on the building. As soon as the room will be ready they will want a Certified Teacher.
Newport. I went to meet Mr. Baxter, and we spent the day in Boys', Girls', and Infant schools in this town, and we spent the evening with J. Lewis, Esq. the Secretary. As Mr. Baxter will report on these Schools I need not enlarge upon them.
Cardiff. Mr. Baxter and I went to the British Schools in this town, and spent the morning in the Boys' and Girls' Schools. Mr. Baxter went in the afternoon to the promotion of the new British School to be erected (with Government aid) near the Docks in this town, and I went to
Canton British School. This is about a mile from Cardiff town, but it may now be considered a part of the Town. This school is in connection with a Welsh Baptist Chapel. It is kept by a Mistress. A new National School is in course of erection in this place, it is expected that it will reduce the number in this School when it will be ready.
Pontygof. Went in the afternoon of this day to meet Mr. Baxter at this School where he held an examination. And we went afterwards to
Tredegar. We arranged that evening to have a number of Ministers of various denominations, and we had a conference with them. The chief object of this conference was to show them the necessity of their taking more interest in the schools at Tredegar and Sirhowy, &c., to attend the public examinations, &c., in order to keep up, and even to extend, if possible, the liberality already established in these schools.
Tredegar. After attending the Board of Guardians in the morning of this day, I met Mr. Baxter; met again in the afternoon in order to confer as to the preparations for the public examinations to be held at the Schools of Tredegar, Sirhowy, Pontygof, Beaufort, Dowlais, &c., in July. Mr. Baxter gave me some directions as to how to proceed so as to carry out our intentions of gradually converting the above Schools into thorough British Schools.
Dinas. I visited this School in the autumn of 1857, and found that not much good could be expected from it as long as the old Teacher that was there then would continue. I am sorry to find that he is still there, and that a great number of children have left the school in consequence of a National School having been established within about 2 miles from it. The school is in connection with the Works, and the Master is paid by the Manager, the money that is withheld from the men's wages. I intended to have seen the Manager, Mr. D. Thomas, but he was from home. I must visit the place soon again and try to show him the necessity of having a qualified Teacher.
Cymer. This is the place where a new National School for Boys & Girls are established within 2 miles of Dinas. The small school that was here when I visited the place before is now shut up. This new National School is opened for Church Services and for Boys' & Girls' Schools. According to the rules of the Committee of Council it is irregular to use schools built with Government aid for worshipping, but this rule is often broken in Wales.
Ystrad-dyfodwg. Visited this place with a view to try establish a British School. T. Joseph, Esq., proprietor of one of the Collieries in this valley intended when I saw him in 1857 to erect a British School here, but the long 'standing out for wages' by the men of this valley, and the general depression of trade caused him to defer it until some future time. There is a large and increasing population in this valley, and it is to be hoped we shall be able ere long to establish a British School in it.
June 27 & 28.
I remained here over Sunday, and visited some of the Sunday Schools.
Cross Inn. There happened to be a misunderstanding between Mr. Beddoe and his Committee, which was likely to be very injurious to the school, and to lead to Mr. Beddoe's removal. I had an intimation of this and lost no time in visiting the place, and on this evening had an interview with the Committee and Mr. Beddoe. The misunderstanding arose from Mr. Beddoe's intention to take a Pupil Teacher from the National School of Llandybie at the request of the Clergyman, this Clergyman having previously done all he could against establishing the British School, some of the members of the Committee became determined that he should not have the boy recommended by the Clergyman from the National School. Mr. Beddoe on the other hand had expressed himself in very strong terms that they had no business to interfere with him and his Pupil Teacher, and that he would have him in spite of all of them. This had been carried so far that I was afraid at first that the parties could not be reconciled but I have every reason to hope that I settled the matter between them.
Landilo. Visited this town in order to know what progress has been in the movement for establishing a British School. I had visited it before in [ ] and they were very anxious to proceed. They are still without having had any promise of a site in a convenient part of the town. Lord Dynevor intends building a National School in this town; and he is the owner nearly of the whole vicinity therefore I find that it will be a very difficult matter to have a convenient piece of ground for a British School on any terms. However the Committee is still at work and they are determined to gain their point sooner or later.
Ffairfach. This School has not been at work for some time in consequence of the illness of the Master (Mr. Pugh) but it will now be recommenced very soon, Mr. Pugh has so far recovered his health as to enable him undertake the charge of it again. It was supposed that he would not live. Mr. Baxter will see this School for the first time in September if all's well.
Trevecca. At the request of Rev. David Charles B.A. I went to this town. When Mr. W. George went from this School in January last I recommended to the Committee U. A. Roberts (who came from Boro' Road on account of bad health early in 1857) as a supply. He was the supply at Hirwain before W. Harris went there in January 1858. At Talgarth the parents became very uneasy thinking that he was not adapted for the work, and therefore a very strong feeling had existed against him for some time. Mr. Charles therefore sent for me to meet the Committee to confer on the subject. We have nothing to do for them until the Bangor Students will be ready. I requested them to do their best with Mr. Roberts until we can get them a Certified Master.
Crai. This is a School that was erected in 1856-7 by the people of the neighbourhood in a rural district where there is no School of any sort within about 4 miles. The Clergymen of the two parishes adjoining have done much in order to have this School under their control, but they have been unsuccessful, and they applied to me through a friend of mine in this district. The leading men connected with this School desired me to find them a Certified Master if I could at a Salary of £40 with Capitation Grant. There are now about 29 children in School and it is supposed that double that number can be found if a good Master can be engaged.
Defynog. The friends in this place are very uneasy about the state of things here. They have corresponded with the Committee of Council for a long time respecting aid to build a British School. The Committee of Council promised aid to them and afterwards recalled their promise, and at last gave a decided refusal of aid to build a British School although it was expressly stated (which can easily be proved) that the Dissenters in the whole neighbourhood are from 12 to 15 for every Churchman. The Rev. E. Williams had an intereviw on the subject with H. Owen, Esq. in London. Mr. Owen promised to see if he could do something in the matter. Mr. Williams afterwards sent the documents to London and there the matter rests at present. I hope that Mr. Owen may be able to aid us in some way to teach the Committee of Council or rather their Officers that they must not show such decided partiality to Churchism.
Beaufort. Mr. Baxter had requested me on the 17th of June to visit this place, and to inquire fully into the state of things between the Master and the Committee. He had made to Mr. Baxter some complaints against the Committee, and Mr. Baxter had no time to look into the matter himself. I found the complaints of the Master to be almost entirely without just cause in my opinion for his salary amounts according to his own showing (after deducting all his expenditure on account of the School) to £85 without the Augmentation Grant, or the Stipend for teaching the Pupil Teachers. There are but very few in Wales, and not very many elsewhere, who get so much as that. I told him that he ought to be very well satisfied. I think that I succeeded to bring his mind to a state of quietude in the matter.
Machen. A girl in this place had expressed a wish to be a Pupil Teacher in one of our Schools. I went to see her, and to know all about her. I persuaded her to come the following day to Newport that Mr. Baxter may see her on the Prize School examination day. She came, and Mr. Baxter had an interview with her and her mother, and we shall recommend [her] to the first vacancy in this district.
Newport. This was the day of the Prize School examination. 250 children of National & British Schools examined.
Tredegar. I went thither to meet Mr. Baxter after trying to see Mr. Levick of Blaina to get his subscription of £5 5s- od. towards the Society. I could not see Mr. Levick this day, but I went according to my promise to see Mr. Baxter before he returned home after the examinations of the Sirhowy & Tredegar Schools.
Cwmsyfiwc. I had seen in the Star of Gwent that this place where some new Collieries are established is springing up rapidly and that it is destitute of Schools, Chapels, &c. I went thither to see what could be done there. I had an interview with a few persons, and promised to visit them very shortly in order to have a more numerous meeting.
Gwaunyreirw. There was a small School in this place before the strike that took place in the end of 1857, but it discontinued, and the room was shut. Now they are about to let a young man that has been working as a Collier have the room to see what he can do with it. Of course we must not expect great things from such a young man.
Dinas. About 3 years ago a good room was erected in this place by subscriptions in connection with the Collieries. An old man was engaged here as a Master that never kept a school before, and of course knew but very little of elementary Education and less than that of the system to teach. About 70 or 80 children came to him and he was paid from £50 to £60 for his services which was given voluntarily by the workmen in the shape of 1d. per £ from their wages. I visited the School in 1856 and persuaded them to put it under Inspection and gave them directions to that effect thinking that they would compel their old Master either to pass an examination for Registration, or to leave, when Mr. Baxter would report on the School. Mr. Baxter would come in 1857. Mr. Baxter's report shows to the Managers that no good can be expected from the School as long as the old man continues to be the master; he recommended to them books. I had tried to cause a change to take place, but with no success. Now they were about to be persuaded by the Clergyman and his friends to make it a National School and put it under his charge. Several of the Committee of management (including some Unitarians) had acquiesced in this arrangement. A friend of mine immediately sent to me, and I came hither the next day, and we had a good meeting of the members of the Committee which overturned the prospects of the Clergyman, and I promised to visit the place again August the 2nd to lecture on the advantages of British School. I was very much pleased to find that now it is likely this school will have a Cert. B. Teacher, and that it will be put under Inspection.
Cymer. This place had a small School before the strike which commenced in 1857, and it was then discontinued. The master was not trained ; he was obliged to leave, and the room which is 36 x 18 ft. was shut up. Early in this year the Church party erected a National School here and this took the children of the neighbourhood and some of the Dinas School children so that they have upwards of 160 children under the management of Certified Master & Mistress. However I find some of the inhabitants strongly inclined to re-open the old school, and to have a Certified Master because they are not willing that their Children should be compelled to learn the Catechism. Promised to meet the leading men of the denominations on the 3rd of August to consider the matter more fully.
Rumney. Went thither to meet Mr. Baxter, in order to have a public examination of the British School. We had in the evening a very large meeting of the parents whom we addressed in Welsh and English. The meeting was also addressed by Ministers of the various denominations.
Mr. Baxter went to Dowlais.
Cwmsyfiwc. Having received a letter from this place I went there immediately. I had a good meeting, laid the whole matter before, wishing them to try for a freehold site if they wanted aid to build a schoolroom. As soon as they will have some prospects of a site I have promised them another visit.
Abertillery. Went to meet Mr. Baxter to visit this School. I do not report on the Schools visited by us both because Mr. Baxter takes that upon himself.
Pontygof. This evening Mr. Baxter examined the School and addressed the parents. It was an excellent meeting.
Risca. We visited this school this morning and we went afterwards to the examination of the Beaufort School. Addressed the parents in Welsh and English.
Dinas. According to an appointment made on the 23rd of July when I visited this place, I delivered a Welsh lecture on 'Education, and the adaptation of British Schools under inspection to answer the requirements of Wales'. This School was lately on the point of being made a National School. A friend of mine living in the neighbourhood sent me a letter privately stating what was going on, and on the 23rd of July I succeeded in overturning the arrangement of the Clergyman and his friends. I then promised the Committee to deliver a lecture on the above subject on the 3rd of August. I am glad to state that the schoolroom was quite full chiefly of parents. They were listening with great interest, for an hour and a half. They were requested to ask any question that might occur to them, at the end of the lecture, and several availed themselves of the opportunity and their questions were answered. I wondered greatly that the inhabitants, being almost all Dissenters (some of the most influential of them were Unitarians), should overlook their own principles so far as to deliver up this school to the hands of the Clergyman which they were about doing. But now I think they are all right. They are ready to take a Welsh Certified Master as soon as we can furnish them with one.
Ystrad Dyfodwg. In this place there are four small Collieries, Church Colliery under the management of Mr. Smith,---Gelli-galed under Mr. J. Morgan as Agent of Captain Lewis,---Ty'ntyleu under Mr. Parsons & Twynypiau under Mr. Fowler. My object here was to try to persuade these Managers to have a good School adopted for the children of the whole neighbourhood, for 2 or 3 miles round. I had visited this valley in 1857, and I then reported the state of things in this district and I intended seeing the Managers in a short time afterwards, but the great strike that took place in the whole of the Glamorgan Collieries, which lasted for 7 months, put a stop to the prospects of all our movements. Now the Works having resumed their former positions I made it a point to see the Managers of the Collieries. I saw three of the above Gentlemen, the other was from home. They were all very anxious to have a school, and each of them had been thinking to establish a small School of their own. They saw the propriety of having a good one between the whole, but I could scarcely persuade them that there would [be] some difficulty in the management of such an institution. Mr. Smith is a Wesleyan, Mr. Parsons is an Unitarian or a Deist, and Mr. Morgan (who has the management of Captain Lewis's Work) is an Independent and they thought that on some occasions each might want his own way. However they promised to think of the matter, thanked me very kindly, and would be very glad if I could deliver a Welsh lecture to their workmen on the subject, in order to see how they would feel in the matter. I promised to do so as soon as convenient.
Cwmsaerbren. This is a place rapidly increasing in population. New Collieries are opening, and old ones extending their operations. But there is only a Dame school. I had a meeting of several of the leading men connected with the various denominations. The Chief Manager of the Collieries here being a Roman Catholic they thought that he would not co-operate in establishing a British School. Many were very anxious to have a good School but thought the undertaking rather too much now while they have to grapple with the debt of their newly erected Chapels; but they promised to have a more general meeting of their own, and if they could think that there would be some prospects they will let me know in order to pay them another visit, and to lecture on the subject of Education.
Cymer. I had visited this place on the 24th of July, and I stated in my last journal that the Clergyman and others have erected a National School here during the time of the strike, when the small School that was held here was discontinued. I found there a strong inclination in some of the inhabitants to reestablish the school, and to put it under inspection. The object of my present visit is to try to keep them up to that, so that they may not loose much time and by that loose ground. I find them still determined to proceed, and shall be ready to receive a Certified master as soon as we can have one for them. Salary £50 to £55 with Capitation Grant.
Newport Prize Scheme with Mr. Baxter.
Cwmsyfiwc. I had visited this place on the 28th of July, and had promised another visit as soon as they could fix on a site to build a school. I am sorry to say that they could not find a piece which they could purchase, they could only get a lease, therefore they must build without Government aid, but they are determined to have a room, and to have a school. I gave them every encouragement that I could to proceed. This place was a few years ago without a house. The new Collieries and other works that were established here brought together a number of people, and the houses were rapidly built, so that at present the population is supposed to be about 800 or 900, and is rapidly increasing.
Rumney. The population of this place is about 14,000. They are scattered within the dingle and a distance of about 3 miles from extreme end of the populous district to the other. About the middle of the district are the Works, near these works the old National School was erected by the Company from 15 to 20 years ago. When the Cardiff & Rumney Railway was made they had to take down this building and the Railway Company of course erected splendid schoolrooms instead of the old ones so taken down. These new rooms are not yet quite finished, ---in 1848, the British School was erected at one extreme end of the populous district, because this was the only place where the Manager that was there then would allow the Dissenters to have a lease of 99 years on a piece of ground for that purpose, in order not to have a formidable opposition to the National School. The British School is in the neighbourhood of the poorer class such as Colliers, Miners, and Labourers, and the National School is in the midst of the Forge Workmen, Mechanics &c. who are earning double or treble the wages of the others. We now want to have a British School at the other extreme end where it is supposed land can be got for the purpose, beyond the land of the Company. I called upon several Dissenters, friends of Education, and urged them to try this plan. It is a shame to think that only 400 children are in both Schools in this valley, when we think that 500 children are going to the British Schools at Blaina, with a population of about 6,500, not the half of that of Rumney. They will inquire for a site, and I shall know further about the matter ere long.
Canton. I had visited this School several times and had always endeavoured to persuade the Managers to place it under inspection, but without success. Lately a National School was erected in the neighbourhood, and now I had an intimation that it would be likely the School would be put under inspection. I lost no time in visiting the School and some of the members of the Committee and I was very much pleased to find that they will now have a Certified Teacher and put the School under inspection. I was requested to send to the Boro' Road at once for a Master, at a Salary of about £50 with Capitation Grant.
Blackwood. I received a note requesting me to attend a meeting of the Committee of this School this evening. I was in hopes that the Rev. J. Thomas was about to give up the School so that we could expect to have a good School here. This School is in connection with an Independent Chapel. It is a very good room built with Government aid, and a very good house attached to it, and now the Minister of this small Church keeps the School in order to have the house to live in, and the school pence to augment his small salary. However Mr. Thomas does not feel inclined to give up the School. They only wanted my advice respecting some improvements in the building, &c.
Crai. This School was lately rescued from the danger of falling into the hands of two Clergymen of the neighbouring parishes, similar to that of Dinas. I visited the place at present to see how they stood their ground, and what prospects have they. The drunken master has left, so now they are without any one. I hope that some[one] can be found for them ere long. Salary £40 with Capitation Grant. This being a rural district £40 here is equal to £50 elsewhere.
Tydee. Visited this place at the request of the Committee in order to make arrangements respecting the fittings of the school room, which is in course of erection; and also to confer with the Committee the mode of making up of a Master's salary &c. They wanted to know if we can supply them with a Certified Master as soon as the room will be ready. The Committee proceeds with energy and zeal, and we shall have to furnish them with a master about the end of October if we can.
Peterstone. I was invited to this little village by some of the inhabitants who are anxious to have a good school established there. This is nearly in the centre of a large agricultural district measuring each way about six miles; and without nothing better than a dame school for the whole district. We had a most interesting meeting, we formed a Committee and they seemed full of zeal for the good cause. I gave them the necessary directions about site, subscriptions, &c. and promised them another visit as soon as they will have made some progress in carrying the above arrangements.
Canton. When I visited this place on the 16th of August I promised another visit in September in order to have an interview with the Committee respecting the building of premises, and the alterations and improvements required therein in order to put the School under inspection. I suggested some alteration in the offices, so that the entrances of the boys' and girls' might be separated. This is always considered by Her Majesty's Inspectors of great importance, and indeed Mr. Baxter & I quite agree with them that this is essential to the cultivation of moral habits. I advised them to leave the inside of the schoolroom as it is for the present, in order to receive the suggestions & directions of the Government Inspector. I told them that I am afraid they cannot be supplied with a Certified Teacher before December or January next.
Pontaberbargod. Visited this place with a view of establishing a school. There are a few Collieries lately established in the district in addition to the rural and agricultural population; and the place is without any sort of a school for a distance of some miles. I had an interview with a number of the inhabitants. I lectured to them on Education, British Schools, etc. They seemed to be anxious to have such a school as we described, but they were afraid that they could not come up to the requirements of the Committee of Council and therefore could not avail themselves of its aid.
Cwmsyfiwc. In July I visited this place first, and it is pleasing to find that in less than two months from that time a new schoolroom is in course of erection measuring 30 ft. by 21, and it is to be 11 ft. high, with other conveniences. They could not get freehold land in order to have the aid of Government, but nothing daunted on that account they took a lease on a piece of ground and proceeded forthwith, moreover this is the movement of working men. This is a peculiar feature in connection with nearly all the British Schools with which I am acquainted, that they are the work of the people. The National Schools are not so in Wales, they are either built by endowments & Government aid, or by a few land owners, and sometimes by a single person with Government aid, so that the rule of the Committee of Council which require the inhabitants generally to subscribe in order to have aid is only a farce. I have promised them another visit in October to make further arrangements about fittings, schoolmaster and his salary, the opening of the school, &c.
Abertillery. Visited this School in order to attend the Committee meeting to make an arrangement about extending the buildings, so as to have two new rooms added to the existing one. It was resolved that we had better make the necessary preparations for commencing the work in the spring of 1859.
October 5 and 6.
Morriston. A British School was erected in this place in 1836 by aid of Government through the Lords of the Treasury. I had visited the place once before, and could get no satisfactory account of it further than that the room has been for many years used for a Church School. I then resolved to visit the place again when I should have time to know some of the particulars about it. I find that some of the original Trustees died, and when Mr. Vivian erected the excellent British Schools at Havod (which are within a mile of Morriston) the school at Morriston was discontinued and the room was given to the Clergyman to keep a small Infant School in it. It has been ever since in his hands and it is supposed that it cannot be taken from him because there are no proper deeds executed. [The Lords of the Treasury were not to particular in these matters as the Committee of Council.] # Morriston has, since the above time, been very much extended, and although the Hafod Schools are so near, they think that a mixed British School under the charge of a Master, or an Infant School under a Mistress might be well supported here. I have promised to call at another time, in order to see further into these prospects.
Tydee. The proprietor of the new School room at this place came to Blaina to inquire respecting the fittings to be adopted by them in their new School. I went with him to the Blaina Schools that he may see the fittings at those Schools and I also went with him to the Foundry where the Iron castings were made for the Blaina Schools to give orders for similar ones for Tydee school.
Aberdare. Visited this neighbourhood with a view of establishing another British School about 2 1/2 miles from the present school which is under the charge of Mr. Davies. Such a School is greatly to be desired for the children of that locality which is very populous have no School to go to, and Mr. Dan I. Davies has now as many as he can take, he has been obliged [to] refuse many children for want of room. But the prospects for such new School at the present time are rather discouraging from the want of some leading men; and also from the fact that trade has not yet improved very much since the depression that took place in 1857.
Cwmsyfiwc. At the request of the Committee in this place, I visited the place to deliver a lecture to parents and others, on education, and to have a consultation with the Committee respecting the new School room which is now in course of erection. I was very glad to find such congregation listening so eagerly and to witness such spirited efforts on the part of the Committee. They were rather afraid when I told them the salary of a Certified Teacher must be about £60, that it would be too much for them to be able [to] reach. However, I am almost sure that we shall have a good school here very soon, for new Coal works are being opened, and the present works are to be extended.
Tydee. At the request of the Rev. Timothy Thomas of this place and Mr. W. Thomas the proprietor of the school room I attended a Committee meeting at this place. The subjects of our consultation were:
(1) The adaptation of the room to their present requirements & purports. When the school was first mentioned here early in the summer, they only intended to have a mixed School under the charge of a Master; but now seeing that they can muster £100 per annum independent of Government aid towards the salary of Teachers, they think that they can have a Master & under the charge of a Master; but now seeing that they can muster £100 per annum independent of Goverment aid towards the salary of Teachers, they think that they can have a Master & Mistress for that sum, and the most influential person among them, Mr. J. Lewis the manager of the Tinworks has expressed a desire to have 'nothing to do with Government', meaning, no inspection or aid. The others were all for having inspection & aid, and for engaging a Certified Master at £60, and a Certified Mistress at £40, and each of them to have also half of the Capitation Grant. I did not see Mr. Lewis myself and did not interfere with the subject of their disagreement, but I had on previous occasions urged them to have their school under inspection, in order to have a good school. I am of opinion that when I or Mr. Baxter shall have an opportunity of seeing Mr. Lewis, that we can easily put him right. It is to be hoped that no bad feeling among the Committee will cause any obstruction to the prospects of this School. Mr. Lewis may be considered as something between a Baptist & a Churchman, his family were Baptists but he occasionally attends Church; and however well informed he may be in managing Tinworks and other subjects, he is very ignorant as to Government inter. with education, for one of his arguments against Inspection, was, 'that the Committee should have to pay the Government a large sum for Inspection, &c.' The school room is very small to think of having it divided for a Boys' School and a Girls' School.
(2) The opening of the School. They thought that at least one Teacher must be engaged before the opening can take place. They wish to have Mr. Baxter and I to address the meeting in Welsh and English as soon as they can engage a Master.
Mr. Jabez Moden came this day from Blakeney, (having been recommended to me for a School by Mr. Baxter) in order to know what Schools I had to offer to him. He wants a School under inspection, so that he can sit for his Certificate at December 1859. Dinas School must have a Certified Master next Xmas,--- Crai School has already engaged one. He not being a Welshman will not do for Cwmsyfiwc. Tydee School being now in correspondence with Mr. Wilks,---I recommended him to Canton School and if they could not agree as to terms, &c., I advised him to write to Mr. Wilks. Mr. Baxter had given me some account of Mr. Moden, his school,---the cause of his leaving, &c., before, we had some conversation on these matters. He slept at my house this evening.
Canton. This School is now shut and has been so for about 2 months. I wanted to know whether they could engage Mr. Moden to open the school at once. But they seem to fear the guaranteeing of £50 to him, and £10 to his sister for the industrial education, which were the terms required by him. The female Teacher that kept the School before, made an average of £48 per annum by the schoolpence, and they are willing to give the room, &c., for Mr. Moden to take his chance without a guarantee for any sum.
Blaina. This was the day appointed by Mr. Bowstead to examine the Pupil Teachers of the district. The Masters, Mistresses, & Pupil Teachers came from Risca, Abertillery, Bryn Mawr, Sirhowy, Ebbw Vale, Victoria, Beaufort, &c., &c. I attended in order to have an opportunity to know the circumstances pertaining to all the above schools, and to have a conversation with Mr. Bowstead on the South Wales British Schools.
Bryn Mawr. I went to Mr. Bowstead to this school.
Blaina. This was the day appointed for the drawing examination of the schools in this district, and being the last for Mr. Bowstead in the neighbourhood this year, I attended.
Canton. This school has been established several years ago, and has been carried on, hitherto inefficiently, some times under charge of a Master, and sometimes under a Mistress. The Committee were not quite willing to receive Government aid, and therefore they had only such Teachers as would be satisfied with the school pence; and these were all unqualified. Lately a National School was erected and the leading man in connection with the British School is about to leave Canton (for the sake of health) to live in Pembrokeshire. The consequence is that they will not guarantee £50 although the pence received by Mrs. Benjamin who kept the school last year amounted to £48 after paying all expenses. My object was to try to persuade them to do so. Although I did not succeed, I have reason to think that I shall be successful from this to Xmas.
Felin Foel. Having been informed that Mr. W. George the Master of this School with whom Mr. Bowstead was most pleased, and that he had been appointed Relieving Officer of the Parish of Lanelly, I wanted to know how they were going to proceed, &c. I found that they were about to engage a supply from the Normal College, Swansea, until they could get a Certified Master.
Bryn. This school is also without a Master, Mr. Richards that was here having left in order to be better qualified for Teaching. The school is to be put under inspection. The school at present is under the charge of a boy that intends to be a Pupil Teacher as soon as the Committee can engage a Certificated Master. I recommended to them Mr. J. Davies that is now at Bangor College.