Some Captured History of Glanamman and Garnant

Garnant Schools

The National School in Garnant, which closed as a school in 1947. Now the site of the Raven Garage.

The "Glanamman Schools" page on this site gives a brief overview of the first schools in Cwmamman and the people involved. This page will deal only with the schools in Garnant from the 19th century onwards.

The Garnant National School was also known as the Cwmamman National School and Market House School (Ysgol y Farchnad).

The National Schools were established in 1811 by the National Society for Church of England Schools, the founder being an Anglican clergyman named Andrew Bell. The style of education promoted by Andrew Bell, was that of the "Monotorial system", or "Mutual Instruction", where pupils were taught certain subjects, and would then themselves teach other pupils. National Schools were charity schools, run by the Church of England. Bell's method is also sometimes referred to as the "Madrass System", because Andrew Bell developed it from observations he made whilst out in Madrass, India.

In 1842, Christ Church in Garnant opened and sometime afterwards the National School was established in the village, becoming a flourishing day school. Although there is little information remaining about the early years of the school, the Llyfrau Gleision (Blue Books), include interesting information from 1847.

Extracts from the books include some information about the Master, whose £40 annual salary was made up as follows: £10 from Lord Dynevor, £20 raised from school pence and the remainder from the incumbent of the district of Christ Church. The extract continues as follows:

"The Master appears to be an intelligent young man and has had an education somewhat superior to that of common country schoolmasters. However, few of his scholars could read with ease; only one could answer questions on the New Testament; not one was advanced beyond the rudiments of arithmetic. The schoolroom is a good one but the walls are damp..."

The 1st of June, 1888, saw the conveyance of the land on which the school was built (40 Perches), being transferred to Cwmamman. The Deed of Conveyance stated that the contracting parties were the Right Hon. Baron Dynevor and the Minister and Churchwardens of the Parish of Christchurch, Cwmamman. The Vicar at the time was Reverend David Griffiths. The document contained the following declaration:

"...The school is for the education of children and adults only of the labouring, manufacturing and the other poorer classes in the Parish of Cwmamman" who are to be taught "in the principles of the Established Church." It vests the Committee of the School with "the selection, appointment and dismissal of the school teachers and the selection of all books to be used in the school."

A former pupil, Mr D. O. Morgan, remembered that all the lessons were held in English and that no Welsh was spoken at Garnant National School.

The January 15th, 1914, edition of the Amman Valley Chronicle announced the marriage of Mr. Stanley Jones, Glanamman Schools and Miss May Davies, N.P. Schools, Garnant. The ceremony took place at Ebenezer Chapel, Swansea on Saturday 10th January.

The school was also the venue for various performances such as those by the Christ Church Band of Hope. The Amman Valley Chronicle announced the very successful performance of "Sherwood's Queen" at the National School on Thursday 16th April 1914. The event was staged by the Christ Church Band of Hope and presided over by Mr W. S. Wardlaw, M.E., Cawdor Colliery. A second sitting of the performance on the following Saturday was presided over by Mr John Rees, Nantyrafr, Twynboly.

Bible awarded to a pupil at Garnant National School

A survey carried out in 1908, showed that 325 children attended Garnant National School. The industrial growth of Cwmamman resulted in a population explosion and the need for more houses and school places. The Education Authority gave approval for a new school to be built in Garnant on 12th November, 1908, following a public meeting which was held at Stepney Hall, two days previously.

The May, 1913 edition of the Cwmamman Parish Magazine reported that a Physical Training Class had been set up at the School and that a good number had already joined. The brief article ended with the following statement: "We hope that every young man will become a member. It is confiined to Churchmen only."

In 1932, repairs and renovations were carried out to the building of the National School, the cost of which amounted to approximately £1,300. This was done in order to meet the requirements of the Board of Education. By 1942, there were 174 pupils on the school register: 114 in the mixed department and 60 infants. At this time, there were six teachers; four in the mixed department and two in the infants. In 1947 Garnant National School was closed and the children transferred to Garnant Council School. The building was then used as a church hall.

The siting of the new school did not go smoothly. In 1909, a committee, headed by Mr W. N. Jones and Mr John Lloyd recommended Wauntwyn Field, part of Bryncam Farm. Unfortunately, the land owner, Mr D. Williams of Gowerton and Lord Dynefwr, who owned the adjacent land, could not agree on a matter relating to access to the site. Lord Dynefwr offered to donate land near Coronation Road in February 1910, but in March, the Education Board received notice that Lord Dynefwr was now reconsidering which plot of land he would be offering. Two months later, a new site had been identified, but the change of plans resulted in a dispute between Lord Dynefwr's representatives and the local people, who preferred the original location. Lord Dynefwr's agent, Mr Henry Bishop, claimed that the proximity of mineral workings made the original site too unstable and this was proved to be correct, when damage occurred to properties in the vicinity of the original site, less than a year later.
A meeting of the local people in March 1911 resulted in the acceptance of Lord Dynefwr's "kind offer" of the second site on Nantmain Farm land and the Board of Education approved the site plans by April. The death of Lord Dynefwr on 8th June, 1911, however, resulted in a further delay. Before conveyance of the site was received by the Board of Education, another problem arose.
Mr T. George, Manager of the Raven Colliery, made it known that the site of the new school was in the direct path of planned coal workings from the mine. The Chairman of the Consolidated Anthracite Collieries, Mr Deakin, stated that for a shilling a ton compensation, which amounted to approximately £708 (£42,536 in 2007 terms), they would refrain from working under the site. Solicitors acting for the Trustees of the Dynefwr estate, however, refused to entertain the idea and offered yet another new site, on the other side of the valley on Glanyrafon Farm land.

Local opinion, reinforced by mining lecturer, W. H. Bellin's report, was that the Tyllwyd Fault ran too near to the proposed school site to allow for the profitable mining of coal and with the consent of the local people, and despite the risk, the Education Committee meeting on 14th March, 1912 resulted in a vote in favour of adopting the Nantmain site.

Plans for the new school were available in April 1912 and the builders, Charles Thomas and Co., of Llandeilo were asked to commence with building work in December of the same year. The amount tendered by the building company was £6,648.10s, which in 2007 terms would equate to approximately £399,442. It was built with stone from Gelliceidrim Quarry. Other contractors involved in the construction of the school were Messrs. Musgrave and Co. Ltd., who installed the heating and E. B. Burgess of Liverpool, who was responsible for the wood block flooring.

At the Amman Valley Schools Managers Meeting in February 1914, the Education Committee intimated that several local schools including Glanamman and the new school at Garnant were to be lit by Gas and that all oil lamps should be returned.
The Rev. J. Edryd Jones, informed the committee that they should make arrangements for the lighting of the new school in Garnant. He also recommended that the new school, which was in the process of being constructed, should have an entrance from the Gellyceidrim side as well as the Nantmain side, otherwise the children living to the west of the school would have an extra half a mile to travel. Mr Thomas Morris seconded Rev Jones' proposal and the motion was carried.

Gas was installed at the new school in October, 1914, by the Ammanford Gas Company and the school was formally opened on 28th December, by Councillor Thomas Morris, J.P., who was presented with a golden key by the building contractors. On the 5th January, 1915, more than six years after the decision was made to build the new school, the Staff and Children were finally in attendance.

The first headmaster of the school was Mr. J. T. Edwards, son of William Edwards; the first headmaster of the Glanamman British School. Mr J. T. Edwards' uncle, David Edwards, was the first headmaster of Glanamman Council School.

Garnant Council School c.1925

Mr D. O. Morgan, who attended the new school on it's first day, remembered that the lessons were conducted mainly in English and that Welsh was taught for only a short period each week.

Apart from it's academic lessons, the pupils were also taught social values, such as the importance of Temperance.

Certificate awarded to former pupil Glyndwr Walters in 1941

Garnant Council School re-opened on Monday the 15th of December 1924 after a fortnight's closure due to an epidemic of diphtheria. All of the teachers arrived for work but only approximately fifty children turned up. The following day was more successful.

Garnant Infants 1928. The little girl on the front row, 2nd from the right is Olive Nora Dicks, grandmother of the photo's contributor.

Electricity was installed in the new Council School in 1938, and the school stage was erected in the hall in 1965. Indoor toilets were not installed until 1972 and hot water was installed in the cloakroom the same year. Oil heating was installed a year later, in 1973.

In 1915, a piano was bought locally by Mr J. T. Edwards, the first headmaster of the school, who was repaid from the proceeds of a concert. Sixty eight years later, in 1983, Garnant School received its first computer, supplied by the county.

In 1958, the headmaster Mr David Thomas, was presented with an M.B.E. as part of the Queen's Birthday Honours List. He was known locally as "Dai Ty-Mawr" because he lived at Ty Mawr Farm in Gwaun Cae Gurwen. Mr David Thomas was the uncle of the world famous actress Siân Phillips.

Former pupils include the former Wales and Swansea Rugby Forward Trevor Evans, who attended the school in the late 1950s.

Garnant Primary being demolished, Sept 2007.

The Local Education Authority proposal, for the closure of Glanamman and Garnant Primary Schools and the Twyn (also in Garnant), Infants School, was received by the Welsh Assembly Government on 17th May, 2002. The proposal then had to undergo an objection period, which closed on 17th July, 2002, with no objections formally received. The proposal then received L.E.A. approval and implementation.

A new state of the art school opened at the site of the old Twyn School in Garnant, after Whitsun, 2005. The official opening ceremony took place on 8th December, 2005 and was attended by the First Minister of the Welsh Assembly, Rhodri Morgan. The computers and white interactive computer boards installed in every classroom are far more advanced from the first computer that Garnant Primary School recieved in 1983.

The location of the old Twyn school lies within the grounds of Ysgol Y Bedol (named after the River Pedol), to the East of the school gates. The Carmarthenshire County Council Website states that demolition of the old Twyn School took place on Thursday 20th January, 2005 and was carried out by Betws contractors TRJ. Present were Councillors Colin Evans and Kevin Madge as well as former teachers, headteachers and pupils.

Twyn School c.1965

Garnant Primary School, has also now been completely demolished to make way for property development on the site. The road name, "New School Road", now sounds somewhat redundant.

An open day at Garnant Primary School, held on 5th March, 2005, was attended by centenarian, Mrs Serviah James, who was one of the first pupils at the school when it opened in 1915. Mrs James arrived in a Rolls Royce, with another former pupil Mr David James, aged 99. Former staff were presented with special commemorative plates, marking the 90th year of the school. Commemorative mugs were available for the pupils of the school to purchase.

The log books, from 1915 to 1999, and the 75th anniversary book are kept at the Carmarthenshire Archives office in Carmarthen. Also there are the Govenor's / Managers' minutes from 1973 to 1988.

Thanks to Miss Enid Evans for her contribution to this page and to Gemma Loat for the class photo dated 1928. Thanks also to the Staff at Ysgol Y Bedol for the photograph of Twyn School. Other sources include "Hanes Ysgol y Garnant", by Olwen Richards; "Hanes Ysgol Glanaman", by Huw Walters; the Amman Valley Chronicle; "A Brief Survey of the Ecclesistical Parish of Cwmamman", by Rev. Tudor O. Hughes, B.A.; Vicar of Cwmamman, (1944). Also referenced were: Carmarthenshire County Council website the Welsh Assembly Government website and the Wikipedia website.

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