History and Heritage

Former Pupils of Ystalyfera County School

There is a tendency to focus on former pupils of a school only through the lens of those who fell in the World Wars. The local newspaper (known as the Llais) would frequently, however, comment upon former pupils of Ystalyfera County School who had achieved something notable in their lives, or in the life of the county of Glamorgan. We have taken some of these newspaper articles and made a page featuring some of these exploits.

From the LLAIS LLAFUR 31st JANUARY 1914


Mr D J Phillips of Lower Cwmtwrch has secured the appointment of mine manager at the Betting Colliery Lower Cwmtwrch, which is owned by the Gilwen Colliery Co Ltd. Mr Phillips is a most ambitious young man and very determined in his sphere of life.
In addition to being certified as a First Class Colliery Manager, he is an Honours man in Mining, under the Board of Education, South Kensington and approved as a Member of the Institute of Mining Engineers. He is also certified as a Sanitary Inspector under the Public Health Acts 1875.
He is one of the old pupils of the Ystalyfera County School and the education he there received has provided him with a good foundation upon which to build up a successful career.



Mrs Hannah Evans BA daughter of Mr and Mrs John Evans Gorse Villa has been appointed assistant mistress at the Secondary School at Cowbridge. Miss Evans was trained at the Ystalyfera County School and the University College and Aberystwyth, where she secured her degree with honours in her native language.

From the LLAIS 15th JULY 1916

MA for Gwauncargurwenite

Mr Edgar Davies Gwauncaegurwen has been informed that he has been granted the M A degree of the University of Wales thesis which he presented for examination. He holds an important post in the secondary school of St Austell Cornwall. He is an old student of Ystalyfera County School.

From the LLIAS 21st OCTOBER 1916


Private J Jones BA of the 4th Welsh visited some of his old friends at Ystalyfera during the week and looks well. Private Jones, who is stationed at Scoveston, was engaged on the staff at the Llanelly Intermediate School and was an old Ystalyfera County School boy. He qualified for his degree at Cardiff and was also prominent in the world of sport, both at the college and when a pupil at Ystalyfera. He is now vice captain of the team in his regiment and is widely popular with the boys, as he is of a very bright disposition. His many friends at Ystalyfera will convey to them their best wishes.

From the LLAIS LLAFUR 4th AUGUST 1917


At a meeting of the Llanguicke Parish Council on Saturday last, Mr Tom Morgan, rate collector of Ystalyfera, was appointed clerk to the Parish Council in succession to Mr Stanley Alexander, who has joined the HAC.
Mr Morgan, who had the misfortune to lose his right arm when a lad, was educated at the Ystalyfera County School and was afterwards clerk at the Bryn Tin Plate Works Ynismeudwy for 7 years. He has held the office of rate collector for 8 years. He is secretary to numerous local organisations including the Ystalyfera S and S Committee and the war Work Committee.



Miss Betty Clee of Tegfryn, daughter of Mr John W Clee, has taken up duties as a pupil teacher at the Troírgleien Schools Cwmtwrch. Miss Clee has just completed a two-year course at the Swansea Training College, prior to which she was a brilliant pupil at the Ystalyfera County School.

From the LLAIS 8th FEBRUARY 1919


Mr Thomas, who was articled to Mr Richard Lewis MA Swansea, attended the summer advanced survey class at the Swansea Technical College in 1917-18 and at the annual examination was placed in the first class. His brother, Mr Daniel Ewart Thomas, who is only 17 years of age, is at present at Cardiff University College. Educated at the Ystalyfera County School, which he attended along with his brother, he last year obtained his London matriculation, having passed his Welsh matriculation before leaving Ystalyfera School. Their father is well known in Pontardawe, being of the firm of Messrs Thomas Bros., builders and contractors.



It is with regret that we have to announce the death of Miss Jesse Williams, youngest daughter of Mrs Williams and the late Mr James Williams schoolmaster, Wern House Ystalyfera, which occurred on Monday evening last at the age of 48.
Miss Williams had suffered a painful illness for about 14 months and the wonderful fortitude and cheerfulness that she displayed during this trying period were characteristic of her sunny and lovable nature.

One of the first pupils at the Ystalyfera County School, Miss Williams showed versatile abilities at an early period, taking a leading part in all school activities and this quality she continue to develop and exercise throughout her life.
After a period at the Swansea Art School she became art Mistress at Maesydderwen County School. She was an expert in art needlework and jewellery and a gold ring, set with jewels, executed by her, won the first prize at Pontypool National Eisteddfod.
She founded and was the first captain of a troop of Girls Guides and early during the Great War turned her undoubted organising abilities to the task of raising money for the Soldiers and Sailors Fund. In this way she was instrumental in collecting over £400.
In 1915 Miss Williams became a VAD and served at Netley Welsh Hospital. Later she became a commissioned officer of the WRAF at Fishguard and Fowlmere and it was during this period that she received an injury that ultimately caused her death.
Miss Williams possessed artistic and dramatic talent of a high order and no operatic or dramatic performance of note has been held in the place but that her assistance and advice was sought - and always freely given. Many will recall her success as "Gwen" in "Change" and "Eliza" in "Eliza Comes to Stay".
Since her fatherís death in 1925, Miss Williams has continued with the work of recording the rainfall in the district, which he had so faithfully carried out



Back to Ystalyfera Grammar School this week went Doctor Joseph Shepherd after a lapse of 42 years, but the Doctor did not return as a pupil. After visiting the classrooms which he had not seen since he left the school in 1915, he told the headmaster that he would give £120 to provide a prize to be awarded each year. I have left the details to be worked out by the headmaster, the Doctor said on Wednesday. He is at present holidaying in Caswell Bay, his first visit to South Wales since he left in 1923. I want the prize to be given each year to the boy and girl who produces the best literary work. It can be a part-time, an essay, an article or a play. The prize will probably be in the form of books. Why is the Doctor giving the prize?
He explained, I have always had a deep affection for my old school and now that I am in a position to do so I want to do something for it.
The Doctor has a practice in Hampstead. He left the Ystalyfera Grammar School in 1915, a fresh faced 18 years old student who had just won a Scholarship to Cardiff University. After taking a Bachelor of Arts degree there, he left Wales to study medicine. His visit to the Ystalyfera School on Tuesday was in the nature of a sentimental journey. The school has grown a great deal, he commented. When I was a pupil, there were only 200 boys now there are nearly 600 boys and girls.
There was one face there to remind Doctor Shepherd of old times. Mr Bell, now a teacher, was a pupil when Doctor Shepherd left in 1915. The doctor has noticed many changes since he returned to his old home. Swansea is completely different now he said.
---and Ystalyfera
Still as ugly as ever, chuckled the doctor.
Asked about the new prize, the headmaster Mr E D Lewis said, nothing has delighted me more during my 13 years as headmaster of Ystalyfera School than the continued interest in the school taken by old pupils.


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