Ystradgynlais & District

History and Heritage

Maesydderwen School, Ystradgynlais

Driving from Ystradgynlais to Swansea several times a week one forgets, correction, I forget, that many of my readers now living miles away from their childhood valley, cannot possibly see how progressive development would definitely alter their memories, even within the thirty odd years I have lived here.

A few years ago I was sending photographs to a gentleman, now sadly deceased, in Canada because he was sharing his memories of when as a child he lived in Pantteg. We became friends and he did manage to visit Wales a couple of years ago and we spent a very happy morning chatting over coffee in Neath.

I think he was rather amazed at the appearance of Tesco supermarket, absolutely NOT what he remembered.

The other day I was kindly sent a photograph by Mr N. Davies along with his consent to use the photograph as I saw fit and because it shows the then headmaster, Mr Seth Owen B.A. of Maes Y Dderwen County School, I realised that the children in the picture would have attended a rather different looking school to the one which stands today. The photograph is dated 1938 when his father attended the school and is actually standing in the back row.

Maesydderwen School Sixth Form 1938
Donated by Nigel Davies

The photographs I took in 2015 show the new school after undergoing extensive modernisation.

Maesydderwen School - June 2015

Today there are two plaques on the walls which commemorate the new design of the school:

The Phase 2 building programme at Ysgol Maes y Dderwen was officially opened by JANE DAVIDSON Minister for Education and Lifelong Learning and Skills on March 22nd 2007.

and (shown to the left)

Ysgol Maesydderwen Pupils were first taught in this block on Thursday 6th September 2012. It was opened by Dr. Rhys Jones B.Sc. M.Phil., and Councillor Susan McNicholas, Chairman of Powys County Council on Wednesday 8th May 2013.

Also I would like to say thank you to any readers who find the time to send me an email as it gives me an extra push when I know the research I have done over the last 14 years is of interest to someone. Although Jon had created a page, these articles were still in my - to do file, but I believe it would be appropriate to speed the typing up and allow them to be finally entered:



The first public event to be held at the new Maesydderwen County School Ystradgynlais took place on Monday evening when the Dorian Trio gave a lecture concert. There was a very large audience and those present were given a musical treat by the Trio and School Orchestra, under the conductorship of Mr W Seth Owen B.A.

The chairman, County Councillor Idris Davies OBE, JP, referred to the fact that the concert that was being held that evening was the first public event to take place in the new school. The people of Ystradgynlais were very proud of the school; it was one of the finest public buildings in the County of Brecon. In short, it was a beautiful school on a beautiful site.

Up to that evening he, (Mr Davies) had never heard the Dorian Trio but could claim a share in introducing them to the County schools. They had done a great deal to foster the love of good instrumental music in schools. It was very much regretted that the scheme could not be extended to the elementary schools; the difficulty was caused by lack of finance and it was hoped that the scheme could be extended in time. The school was very proud of the orchestra, credit for the formation of which was due to the staff. The orchestra was being supported by the Education Committee, who recently gave a grant of £10 for the purchase of certain instruments that were beyond the means of the pupils.

Referring to new school, Mr Davies said that the day would be fixed shortly for the inspection of the school by parents and members of the public.

The Trio comprised the Misses P Taylor, 'cello; Violet Palmer, violin and Vera Towsey pianoforte. It was explained that Mrs Towsey deputised Miss Lewis, who underwent an operation last December.

Miss Taylor said the Trio acknowledged the honour of having been the first to hold a public function in the new school. It was pleasing to note that there were some tangible and concrete results of the work they were doing in the county. The school could be justly proud of their orchestra. What grand opportunities were being opened to boys and girls of today - which the older pupils sadly regretted they never had. In these days we had such opportunities forced upon us of leisure that one of the most crucial things in life was how to use it properly. We should use our leisure in pursuits that were really worthwhile and none was better than the study of music. It did not matter where we lived, in towns or villages, we were in touch with the world of music by means of radio and gramophones and some really made use of the chances afforded them.

There was very little real listening to music today, unless it was jazz; this was all very well as an incentive to dancing. Music was a secondary consideration in cafes and restaurants. It was not a case of music being pursued for its own sake. There was no music as glorious as instrumental music and it was pleasing to see so many present that evening in an instrumental concert. The boys and girls in the schools were being taught music at first hand and music that was of value -the works of the masters. So much of the music we heard nowadays was like clothing -it passed out of fashion. A tune that was the rage today was forgotten tomorrow. The works of the masters lasted for years after the death of the composers; their music was beyond fashion - too deep and too high. It was a mistake to call works of the masters a highbrow music; in reality they were humble and never rejected details.

Miss Taylor referred to the fact that this year was the 250th anniversary of the birth of Handel and one item in the program was being played that evening in celebration.

After the programme had ended Miss Taylor said that they could not be failed to be impressed by the obvious enjoyment with which the members of the orchestra played. She thought that orchestral work gave a far better opportunity of throwing oneself into the soul of the music than solo work. That was why in education, more than ever, emphasis was being laid on the development of school orchestras and dramatic societies. A schoolmaster said the other day that it was his one aim that every boy and girl in his school should take part in a concert or drama during his or her career in school. He firmly believed that this would help them to develop personality and character and was more valuable than regular schoolwork and examinations. It made them useful citizens in the world and they were more likely to be successful on account of the confidence and personality they gained.

The following program was gone through, school orchestra, "Gavotte" (Percy Fletcher) and "Cambria" (Marston); Dorian Trio, "Trio in B Flat, Op.14" (Beethoven); Miss Violet Palmer, violin solo, "Sonata in A" Handel; orchestra, "Duo No.2" (Pleyel); Miss Taylor, violin 'cello, "Apres un Reve" (Cassals) and "French Dance"; Miss Towsey, pianoforte solo, "Romance" (Schumann) and "Reel" (Pitfield); Dorian Trio, "Celtic Prelude" (Rutland Boughton); orchestra, "Minuet" and "Tambourin" (Fletcher).

The new school piano was heard to effect when Miss Towsey played her two solos.

The chairman proposed a hearty vote of thanks to the Trio and Orchestra and said they had given real evidence of the excellent work that was being done by the Trio.

Proposing thanks to the chairman, Mrs P E Rees JP, said that was not the first occasion Mr Davies had shown his generosity to the school, as a governor and chairman of the Board. It was very fitting that Mr Davies should preside at the first public function to be held at the new school.

Many of the old pupils felt that the new school could not have the same appeal as the old one. That was not strictly true as the traditions of the past remain and they should be carried on. They had strong links with the past and one of the strongest links was Mr Idris Davies.

Flying Officer Cedric Williams, who is home on leave, seconded. The program was opened with "God Save the King" and ended with "Hen Wlad fy Nhadau".

The second article covers the 50th anniversary of Maesydderwen School.

YEARGROUP Val Trevallion

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