Skip to topic | Skip to bottom
Search:
Home

The Carmarthenshire Historian

Historian


Start of topic | Skip to actions

Llanelli Schools 1800-1870

By NOEL GIBBARD, B.A., B.D.
Minister of Beria, Bynea, Llanelli.

Although 1800 is the convenient starting point for this study, previous attempts at educating the people of Llanelli must be mentioned.1 A Welsh Trust School in the town had twenty pupils in 1675. Thomas Gouge had turned his attention to Wales, probably in 1672, and the Trust was formed two years later to further his work in Wales. The main aim of the Trust was to distribute Bibles and teach children to read in English. The Gouge movement supported such schools in Wales, and distributed good religious literature. Stephen Hughes figured prominently in it, hut he had started on his literary work before he met Gouge. He was a Welsh-speaking Welshman and realised the importance of the language as a medium of instruction. In 1677-8 he brought out a new edition of the Bible in Welsh. Hughes the Apostle of Cannarthenshire, often visited Penderi-March and Wernchwith in the neighbouring parishes of Llannonn and Llanedi. He must have been well known to the Baptists of Llanelli at that time, as there was a close relation between Congregationalists and Baptists in the three parishes during the period of persecution.

In the eighteenth century the main work was done by the Gruffydd Jones circulating schools, and there was a good number of these in the town, Five Roads, Felinfoel, and Llwynhendy. There were "a few private schools" in Llanelli parish in 1748, and one of the schoolmasters mentioned often during the century was a Mr. Maurice. The school work was helped by the distribution of literature organised by the S.P.C.K. and Edward Dalton of Llanelli figured prominently in it.

1800 to 1840
Early in the nineteenth century two societies were formed for the promotion of education. One was the Anglican National Society, 1811, but it had only one school in Llanelli, founded c.1827. The other was the undenominational British and Foreign Society, 1814, but there is not a single reference to a British School in the whole of the county between 1800-1843. Indeed, in 1843 there were only two in the whole of Wales and they were in the North. Apart from the National School, there was a charity school, works school, private schools, and, of course, the Sunday schools. There is no doubt that the Sunday schools contributed greatly to the general welfare of the people of Llanelli, but their influence was not deeply felt until the eighteen-thirties. Three only are mentioned at the beginning of the century Capel Als, Capel Newydd and Felinfoel. The Anglicans, due mainly to the support of Mr. Nevin, had started a Sunday school in 1805, but there was not a regular one attached to the Parish Church in 1810, although "the children are often instructed by persons of the town alternately."2 Fifteen are mentioned in 1847, and will be discussed with the important report for that year.

The works school was that supported by R. J. Nevill, the prominent industrialist. This school provided education for the children of his workmen at the Copper Works and the collieries. Returns for two weeks in 1818 have been preserved. They were drawn up by William Williams for R. J. Nevill, Field House. The pupils, 56 for each day of the first week and 59 for the second, were drawn from the Copper Works, and the collieries of Caemain and Box. There was school on Saturday.3

A report of 1818 says of the parish of Llanelli, with a population of 3,891, "Two day schools, consisting of about 160 children, and two Sunday Schools comprising 200", but there were none endowed.4 One of the Sunday schools must have lapsed since 1810. The two day schools could be the Billy Williams school, opened in 1814, and the Felinfoel school in the Baptist Chapel. Some of the nearby parishes did not fare much better, according to the same report. Penbre had one endowed school, and Cydweli one unendowed school. There was a Madam Bevan circulating school in Llannonn and in Llanedy. Other places fared better, and Carmarthen, including the Chapelry of Llanllwch, with a population of 7,275, had eleven schools. Llandeilofawr, plus Taliaris Chapelry, had a population of 4,030, with thirteen unendowed schools and two endowed ones. But there was no Sunday school. Out of seventy parishes and chapelries, nineteen of them did not have a school at all. There was no return for St. Ishmael. The totals for the county for 1818 were:

  Schools Children
Endowed 26 732
Unendowed 75 2,016
Sunday Schools 130 1,748
Total 231 4,496

The Charity school functioned occasionally. It was alive in 1823 and was supported by many well-known figures and companies, including the Rev. Ebenezer Morris, Alexander Raby, R. Goring Thomas, R. J. Nevill, Ralph Pemberton, Marquis of Cholmondeley and Haynes and Co. In a letter from Llanelli, dated January 14, 1831, James Buckley says, "knowing the Misses Taylor to be friends of the poor and destitute thinks it not unlikely that they may be able to recommend to the ladies who patronize and assist in our Charity School (constructed on the same principles as the Carmarthen National School) some suitable person as a School mistress who would be glad to accept such a situation". He says that "The salary of the present mistress is 20 p.a. she is obliged to give up on account of indisposition".5 In the letter, Buckley refers to several of the friends who would like a Mathematical school in the town, but they knew that there would be difficulty in getting a suitable room.

It was about 1827 that the National school was started. A report of 1828 says, "there is a daily school on the national system supported by subscriptions".6 The parish schoolmaster was not licensed. There were about eighty boys and sixty girls at the school. The main supporter was the Rev. Ebenezer Morris, who was licensed as a schoolmaster on 13 August, 1835.7 This school was enlarged or rebuilt in 1837. It received two Parliamentary grants during this time, 21 June, 1837, the sum of 113, and 18 May, 1839, the sum of 87.8 In 1841 the building was shaken by colliery workings, and this trouble continued until 1848.

Llanelli Infants' school is mentioned in the year 1847, but its opening should be of interest in this context. On 20 July, 1840, there was a public meeting of friends and supporters of the proposed infants' school. R. Goring Thomas, was in the chair, and others present including Williams Chambers, James Buckley, and the Rev. Ebenezer Morris. Mr. Thomas had given the land in Prospect Place leading out of Thomas Street. Necessary arrangements were made. The school was opened in 1841. It was a building for 250 children, but 164 were present on the day of the examination in 1843. The first master and mistress were Mr. and Mrs. Boulter. By a deed, dated 14 October, 1840, the Methodists were granted use of it on Sundays, except between 11 a.m. and 2 p.m., and for occasional evening meetings. In return they contributed 50 to the school9.

There are numerous references to private schools during this period, and in 1828 there were several schools in the parish.10 Williams Williams started teaching in 1814, when he was nineteen years old. His school was in Oxen Street. David Lewis of Gelligaled taught in the old Baptist Chapel at Felinfoel at the turn of the century. In 1822 the first of a number of buildings was erected. The master then was John Bowen. From the time of David Lewis to that of William George in 1848, twenty schoolmasters are mentioned in connection with the school. At Capel Ifan, near Ponyberem, in the parish of Llanelli, John Raynor kept school in 1808. He lived for a while at Carnawllon and then moved into the Llangendeirne parish. When he died in 1827 he was 101 years old. John Howell, the well-known surveyor, is mentioned as a schoolmaster. The Unitarian John Thomas was teaching in the town in 1819. Sarah Roberts, later to become the wife of the Rev. David Rees, Capel Als, was taught by a Rev. J. Thomas, and this could be the Unitarian master. She also paid tribute to a mistress called Miss Horseley. In a membership list of one of the Friendly Societies of the town, one name is given as 'Rev. David Davies, schoolmaster, Town' and underneath is written Meline or Molgrove. In the following year, 1822-23, he is referred to as Rev. David Davies, Molgrove, Pembrokeshire. The colourful character, Zorobabel Davies, taught in the town for a short period. He gave a testimony before the Commissioners of 1847.

These are some of the schools and masters. A number were opened during the thirties and forties but they are mentioned in the 1847 report. One not mentioned is the school of Francis Francis which was in existence in 1844.

The Blue Books of 1847
The report of 1847,11 is a most valuable source for this study. On his arrival at Llanelli, the inspector witnessed a real desire for education: "I found the harbour master giving a gratuitous lesson in algebra to nine persons". He testified to the improved moral character of the town and concluded that "The Dissenting Sunday Schools appear to have been mainly instrumental in effecting this happy change". Thirteen of these schools are listed, but no Sunday schools had been held for some months in two other places, Horeb and Ponthenry. The thirteen were: Felinfoel B., 1791; Capel Als I., 1800; Capel Newydd, C.M., 1801; Llwynhendy B., 1812; Infant Schoolroom W., 1822; National Ch., 1831; Park Street, 1839; Tanygraig branch of Capel Als, 1839; Siloa I., 1840; Bryn I., 1842; Bethel P.B., 1840; Cwmbach B., 1845; and Sion B., 1823.

The figures for Church and Dissent are given:

Church Sunday School
140 under 15
50 over 15
Total 190

Dissent
1,178 under 15
797 over 15
Total 2,765

Of the 2,955 children, 819 of them attended a day school. Almost half of this total could read the scriptures. The Bible was the main book of course, and in all the schools it was committed to memory. Much use was made of catechisms, and those mentioned are the Church Catechisms, Watts' Catechism, Mother's Gift, and that of Thomas Charles of Bala. Geographical maps were also found in some schools. In three of the schools, National, Park, and the Wesleyan, English was the medium of instruction, and Welsh in Cwmbach, Sion, Soar, Tanygraig, and Capel Newydd. Both languages were used in the other places. In Capel Als two-thirds of the female classes were reading English, and some of the parents, whose children were going to day school, objected to their being taught Welsh on Sundays.

Much space was devoted to the Capel Als Sunday School. It lasted for two hours, which was the usual time, although it lasted for three and a half at the National. Capel Als had 454 children, of whom 90 attended day school and 258 could read scripture. Thus 168 children had been taught to read in the Sunday school, with help perhaps in some cases from the home. School was opened with a hymn and a prayer, after which the names of the teachers were called out. Many were missing at the copper works, as the furnaces were working day and night. David Rees, the minister, had a class of fifteen four colliers, one farmer's son, two carpenters, one brewery man, two clerks in the works, one shopkeeper, one very old man, and one "not ascertained." This class supplied the school with teachers. They had five scriptural maps and some commentaries. The teachers had to be busy during the week, as they had to visit the parents of absentees, Assistance was given to those who were too poorly clad to attend. It must have taken the inspector some time to visit this school, as there were 72 classes.

Twenty day schools are listed:

  No. on books
National (1837) 75B 49G
Infant (1841) 180
Union (1840) 19
Mrs. Barber (P. 1841), Seaside 40
Miss Brebyn (P. 1841), Seaside 14
Mr. & Mrs. Evans (P. 1844), Wern 75
Miss Constable (P. 1845), Seaside 30
Mr. Esau (P. 1842), High Street 40
Felinfoel (B. 1846) 60
Horeb (B. 1846) 40
William Williams (P. 1814), Oxen Street 45
Miss Lush (P. 1845), Hall Street 9
Llwynhendy (B. 1844) 50
Mrs. Marks (P. 1832), Water Street 120
Mrs. Morgan (P. 1839), Wern 26
Park Street (P. 1846) 11
Mr. Phillips (P. 1842), Seaside 45
Mrs. Pullen (P. 1845), William Street 19
Mrs. Thomas (P. 1831), Oxen Street 12
Mr. James Williams (P. 1836), Hall Street 16
  976

Nearly all the schools were recently established ones. Only five were established on their 1847 footing before 1837. It is interesting to note the location of the schools. Seaside had four private schools; Wern a National and two private schools; Hall Street two, and two in Oxen Street. Most of them were small schools, and only five had over fifty pupils.

Not many of them were highly commended, although the Infants' School was "capable of becoming a good one." Many of the teachers laboured under real difficulties; unsatisfactory buildings, as in the National; lack of funds in the Infants; or the problem of communication. The teachers of both the National school, boys and girls, and the Union Workhouse understood no Welsh at all. Only two of the teachers were unable to speak English correctly. One refused to address the inspector in English and insisted on speaking Welsh. The majority of the teachers did not have the necessary qualifications for teaching. A few had some preparation. The master of the Infants' School spent six weeks in Cheltenham and one year in a model school, while the master at Felinfoel spent eight months at Baldwin's Gardens. Both the mistresses at the National and the Union, who were sisters, had taught at High Lyttleton, Somersetshire. A list is given in the report of the occupations of the teachers when they took up teaching. A few continued in them. They were: druggist, tailor, custom-house officer's wife, housewife, dressmaker, clerk, usher, labourer, mariner, collier's wife, laundress, schoolmaster's wife, and governess. Nine of the teachers started on their work before they were twenty years of age and five when they were between fifty and fifty-five years old. Sixty pounds a year was paid to the teacher at the National and fourteen pounds plus rations and lodging to the master of the Workhouse school.

Five of the schools were directly connected with chapels and churches. The Infants' school "aimed at neutrality as far as denominations were concerned." Religious instruction was given in ten schools, and that by the teacher. The main emphasis was on the three R's, but sewing was regarded as important for the girls in some places.

Apart from the twenty schools, there was a Mechanics' Institute and the night school. The former was in the process of being formed and started in the Park Schoolroom. It had 111 members, who paid a subscription fee of ls. 6d. each. There were three night schools:

  No. of evenings Rate Subjects Average Attendance
Llanelli National 3 in winter 3d. per week R.W.A. 20
Mr. & Mrs. Evans 4     6
Felinfoel 5     6

The master at the Llanelli National night school had to provide candles, pens and ink.

There is no mention in the report of a school called the Llanelli Academy. The reason for this most probably was the particular nature of the school. It concentrated mainly on preparing young men for the Christian ministry. It was opened in January 1844, being promoted by the Rev. David Rees and the Rev. Thomas Roberts. The latter was the master.12 He had been ordained at Park Church on 27 September, 1843, and remained there until 1851. Many ministerial students were educated there, including Thomas Jones, Henry Rees, John Rees and John Bowen. Thomas Jones became well known not only in Wales but also in London, where he had Robert Browning in his congregation, and in Melbourne.

1847 to 1870
Many events of 1843-47 were to mould the future of education in Wales. In 1843, Hugh Owen made his appeal for British Schools, and in the same year James Graham introduced his factory Bill. One of Graham's proposals was to base religious instruction mainly on Church doctrine. The 'voluntaryist movement' held a meeting at Llandovery in 1845, with David Rees as one of the secretaries. It was decided to set up a Normal School for Wales. Then in 1847 the Blue Books appeared.13 Naturally, there were strong reactions. One lasting result was the formation of new schools.

In Llanelli Dissenters and Anglicans opened new schools, and this was done by the 'voluntaryist movement,' and by individuals. It is true that all education was voluntary until 1870, but the 'voluntaryist movement' did not believe that schools should be supported by the government or by works companies. Aid could be accepted if education was secular, but they could not think of it in that way. The movement and an individual, R. J. Nevill of the Copper Works, responded to the need for educating the children of the town.

When the Dissenters of Llanelli started discussing the voluntary schools, it was suggested that the Churchmen should he invited to join them. But R. J. Nevill had lost no time in taking action. Already, in 1846, he had some kind of school in the yard of his works. But he wanted something better. Therefore the Copper Works School was opened. Land was leased from William Chambers, Llanelli House, by an indenture dated 1 January 1847,14 between Chambers as part one, and Humphrey William, Cornwall, Esqr, Richard Jancion Nevill, Llangennech Park, Esqr., Alexander Druce, Steelyard, City of London, Esqr., and Thomas Deves, Steelyard, City of London, Esgr., as part two. The premises were described as "old cottages and gardens part and parcel of a certain farm or lands called Heolfawr situate lying and being near the Town of Llanelli." The lease, for 99 years, was dated from September 1846. The school was to be erected or substantially finished within one year. A report of 1848 refers to Llanelli and says of St. Paul's: There is one day school in the district principally supported by the copperworks company. It cannot be said to belong to any denomination in particular."15 No restrictions were made on Sunday worship.

A report16 for 1850-51 hears witness to improvement:

  1. British with gallery; Desks and furniture good.
  2. Books and apparatus good.
  3. Organisation, Monitorial Drafts, occasionally grouped into three sections; good except that the preservation of the same drafts for arithmetic as for reading is of dubious propriety.
  4. Discipline good.
  5. Methods good.
  6. Master and Mistress. Has completely revised his own methods and habits with the best effect, and is a valuable teacher.

The report says that the master had been to the Church Normal School at Carmarthen for two months. The girls were commended for "decided progress in cleanliness, order and plain needlework." In 1854 the school was described as "one of the best in Wales" and in 1858 it was referred to as "exerting a high influence on the neighbourhood ".17 The average attendance for 1861 was 180 boys and 110 girls and a 100 infants, and the rate of payment was 3d., 2d. and 1d. A lending library of 400 volumes was attached to the school, and it was said in 1852-3 that the books were "much read."

David Williams was the pioneer of this work and laboured at the school until 1863, when he was appointed the agent for the British Society.18 He was followed by John Jones, and under the new master the school even enhanced its reputation. He took further courses of study and later made valuable contribution to the Higher Grade school in the town.

Thumb The voluntaryist supporters had no qualms at all that money would be forthcoming for a school. They ventured forward, and the foundation stone of the Llanelli school (later Market Street) was laid by David Morris, M.P., on 14 August 1847.19 It was built on a field commonly known as Bresfield, with the frontage extending along Pottery Road. In eight months the two-storey building, capable of holding 600 children, was ready. It was opened on 21 April 1848. The Bible was to be read daily, but the school was not bound to any catechism. Four of each of the five denominations were to be trustees, and the land was leased by William Chambers to David Lewis of Stradey and nineteen others. A committee was to govern, comprising the trustees plus ten subscribers from the five denominations. R. J. Nevill and his sons contributed about 50. The first master at this school was David Nicholas of Kidwelly, who resigned at the end of 1852.

There had been a total outlay of a thousand pounds, but three hundred pounds still remained as the committee's responsibility. Reluctantly, in 1853, David Rees and others who shared his views accepted government aid. Rees, however, opposed works schools until his death in 1869.20 In February 1854, it was arranged to place the school under government inspection. Average attendance in 1861 was 215 boys and 150 girls, and the rates of payment were 4d., 3d. and 2d.

According to the 1854-5 report,21 the following grants were made to Llanelli schools:

March 11, 1854 Books, Maps.
Llanelli Boys and Girls, British 250 2. 17. 2d.

Nov. 26, 1852 Grant to Cert teacher.
Llanelli Infants, British. 20. 0. 0. 3. 15.0d.

  Books/Maps Cert. Teacher Pupil teachers
Copperworks School 6. 19. 6d. 91. 13. 1d. 284.

Thumb Apart from the Llanelli British School and the Infants, the schools at Llwynhendy, Bryn and Felinfoel were now established on a British basis. A new school was opened at Five Roads on 8 June, 1863. A new school at the Dock was under government inspection in 1859, and the masters there in the early years were Mr. George Spears and then in 1864 Mr. Scourfield from the Bangor Normal College. The Rev. Thomas Davies of Siloah was a staunch friend of this school, but the real pioneers were David Rees and his people at Capel Als.

Other schools can just be mentioned. The Rev. Llewelyn Bevan refers to the school kept by Mr. Hall from Swansea, and gives interesting detail of a class under Mr. Hancock, the minister of Park Street.22 It is a great pity that Bevan leaves a statement of his in mid-air when he says, "Amongst the hearers of the Rev. W. Lovejoy, who became our minister, and my tutor was a student of New College, Septimus March by name." A Mr. Lovejoy kept an Academy in Llanelli in 1856. Could this be the Academy that Thomas Roberts looked after until 1851? Later, in 1863, the Rev. Thomas Lewis of Brecon Theological College was master of the Academy. It could be, of course, just a succession of name. A new Rugged School was opened by the Wesleyan Society in New Road in 1867 and another was about to be opened then, near the Customs House Bank.

What about the National Schools in Llanelli during the period? There was a flourishing school at Dafen, the Dafen Tin Works School, and also at Felinfoel. But the old school in the town was closed in 1848 for repairs because it was undermined by coal workings.23 By 1849-50 the walls were so full of cracks that it became positively unsafe. An application was made to the Committee of the Council on Education for a grant to rebuild, but there was a controversy regarding the title deed. Eventually, the land reverted to the parish. Llanelli was left without a National School, while nearby Swansea had five. Fruitless efforts were made in 1858-60 and in 1862. However, at a meeting held on 22 July 1864, it was resolved to have a Church School at the cost of 1,000.24 Land was given by David Lewis of Stradey, part of a field and an old colliery yard, Caemain. Within three months subscriptions realised 600. The principal subscribers were Mr. David Lewis, Stradey, site and 50; Mr. R. Goring Thomas, 105; Colonel Stepney, 100; Mr. David Morris, M.P., 50 ; Mr. Charles Nevill, 50; Mr. R. J. Howsh, 20; and Mr. Richard Nevill, 25. In the general subscription list the names of well-known Carmarthenshire families appear, such as the Dyers and the Du Buissons. The contractor was Mr. Richard Jones.

Religious instruction in the school was to be under the exclusive control of the minister of the parish. In all other respects the school was to be governed by a committee, comprised of the minister, curate, churchwardens, and ten subscribers of twenty-one shillings a year, being members of the Church of England. The master and mistress were to be members of that Church, too.

Thus a Church School was opened at Llanelli, described by A. J. M. Green, one of the secretaries, in 1865 as "the stronghold of Dissenters in South Wales." He does add that the feelings of Dissenters were decidedly less actively opposed to the Church than they used to be. The opening day was 13 June 1867, but school did not commence until 6 June 1868, when Mr. John Vye Parminter took up his duties as master. He left on 1 July 1870, to be followed on the 18th of the same month by Mr. T. E. J. Spencer. His stay was a short one, and on 4 August 1871, Mr. Edward Henry Hutchins became the master.

After 1870, many of these schools came under the authority of the Llanelli School Board: Felinfoel, February, 1872; Llanelli, 31 May 1872; Prospect Place, 1 October 1872; Bryn, 22 May 1873; Five Roads, 6 July 1874; Llwynhendy, 27 March 1875; and New Dock, 22 May 1875. It was later, in 1893, that the Llanelli Copper Works School was transferred.

School Life
The life25 of the schools must be treated, although briefly. They were all one in their main emphasis, as they concentrated on the three R's. Other subjects included Geography and Music. The girls, including the infants at the Copperworks School, took sewing and the boys drawing. At Market Street, "the Principles of Horticulture" were included in the curriculum. At the Copperworks School, John Jones arranged classes in Machine Drawing, Physics and Chemistry, and the examinations were supervised by the Kensington Department of Science. A product of these classes was Alfred Daniel, the celebrated chemist, who became a Fellow of the Royal Society. Not quite so profound was the subject taught occasionally at the National School (Pen Tip), as on 28 February 1868, when "Signor de Beyson, Professor of Gymnics went through a series of athletic exercises this afternoon, and gave the children a practical lesson."

Llewelyn Bevan says that Mr. Hancock was a good musician and proficient in Latin. The discipline at this school was unusually lax. The pupils would dare to escape out of the window before the teacher would arrive for the Latin class. In most places this would not be attempted; discipline was strict, somtetimes harsh. When David Adams went to the Bryn in January 1867, he had no recourse to corporal punishment, but he soon changed his mind. The Llwynhendy master lost some of his children to the Bryn in 1864, because of strictness, and many left Llanelli School on 11 April 1864 for the same reason. Sometimes the children were "severely beaten," and there were examples of a parent asking a teacher to flog his child. It is refreshing to note that one of the regulating principles of the Llanelli school was that "the moral nature of the pupils was not to be blunted by undue corporal punishment." A real attempt was made to adhere to this principle, and for a while corporal punishment was abandoned. The children, however, took advantage of this, and the entry for 28 November 1866 reads: "Made an example of them."

School holidays are of real interest to us now as they were to the children then. Most of the schools had a holiday for Llanelli Fair on 5 May and 30 September, although the master of Market Street warned his children on 4 May 1864 "not to be absent tomorrow." Forty-two children were present on the afternoon of 5 May. The Copperworks School and the National had a holiday for the flower show in August. Special events called for a half or full holiday: the eisteddfod, chapel meetings, opening of churches, a sale, and the funerals of well-known people. There were unofficial holidays for potato and garden setting, accident at a colliery, ploughing match, market day, and Swansea Wool Fair (2 July). Other attractions were: the circus; visit of the "notorious Mace prize lighter", 19 May 1868; Edward's Zoological Collection, 7 May 1868, and Tom Thumb, 3 May 1868. The master of Llanelli School commented on the visit of the little man, "Very small school this afternoon, Tom Thumb in town, and like small people in general creates no small degree of stir and bustle."

Very often illness was the cause of low attendance: measles, whooping cough, smallpox, and scarlet fever in 1863, 1865, and 1871. Many of the schools and the town itself suffered from the epidemic sickness of 1866. The entry in the Llanelli School log-book for 16 July 1866 reads: "Owing to great alarm caused by numerous cases of Asiatic cholera, the attendance today is considerably less than last week. Two children belonging to this school were attacked and the cases proved fatal."

Members of the school committee and especially the ministers visited the schools regularly. Leading figures of the town sent their representatives, as happened at Llanelli School, on 12 Dec. 1866: "Col, Stepney's agent called and paid 2. 17. 3d. towards education of poor boys. He also selected 12 widows' sons to have a new pair of boots each at the Colonel's expense."

Reference to the children's games are rare, but there is no doubt that the game for the boys was cricket. Apart from local matches, there were a few excursions to Swansea. Some well-known customs are referred to. One is mentioned in the Bryn log-book for Jan. 1868: "Nearly all the children are running about the neighbourhood carrying an apple, standing on three stilts and having sprigs of evergreen stuck on the top; they persist in wishing everybody a merry Christmas although Christmas has been gone for a week. A singular custom, and as silly as singular." The National School log-book has this entry for 1 April 1870: "Caned a boy this morning for making April fool of another. Took the opportunity of giving a moral lesson on this evil custom." Lastly, there is the entry for 1 May 1868 in the same log book: "Erected a Maypole this afternoon around which the children sang and played to the great delight of themselves and visitors."

The schools could be the centres for social activity. Concerts were regularly held in most of them. The "gems" of the evening at the Dafen Tin Works School concert were a 'coronet' solo and a pretty Scottish polka, 'General Jackson.' Before the formation of a Mechanics Institute and the opening of the Athenaeum, lectures were held in schools. At the Llanelli Infant School, the Rev. T. T. Lynch, W. Chambers and others anticipated the immediate formation of a large and efficient music class in 1843. There was a class of 110 by April of that year. Mr. Williams, "Professor of Music in the Town", took some of the classes and adopted the Williem System of Singing.26

Briefly, the schools of Llanelli have been surveyed. No mention has been made of Higher Grade education, but the pioneers of that work, John Jones, Robert Innes, Canon Williams, and others, deserve separate and special attention.


Appendix
to top


You are here: Historian > HistorianVol5 > LlanellySchools1800_1870

to top