History of Ysgol Parc y Bont school from 1870 to 1879
The Duchess of Kent’s school ceased to be of any use to the children of Llanfair P.G. and Brynsiencyn, both of which villages had by the early 1870s established their own schools. It was remote for from the concentration of the populations of Llanddaniel and Llanedwen. Therefore a school was built between the two parishes, near the Afon Braint opposite Bryn Celli Ddu, so positioned as to be accessible to children of both parishes. The old school was sold for £360 and this sum applied towards the cost of the present which amounted to £385; the parcel of land upon which it stands being the gift of Lord Clarence Edward Paget of Plas Newydd. The school was to be specifically used for the instruction of children and adults, or children only of the labouring manufacturing and other poor classes in the parishes of Llanddaniel and Llanedwen; the conduct of the school to be conducted in accordance with the provisions applied by the Elementary Education Act of 1870.
The minister for the time being of the parish of Llanddaniel should have the superintendence of the religious and moral instruction of the scholars attending the school under his exclusive control. In other respects the control and management of the school, premises, funds and endowments thereof, the appointment and dismissal of teachers and mistresses and their assistants were to be vested in and exercised by a Committee. The first Committee was composed of eleven members with five more being appointed. William Bulkeley Hughes, M.P., of Plas Coch and two others, the principal officiating ministers of the parishes of Llanidan, Llanedwen, Llanddaniel and Llanfair P.G., and their licensed curates. Those appointed were Lord Clarence Edward Paget, Plas Newydd; Florance George Henry, Lord Boston, Porthamel; Lewis Jones, Llwyn Onn; Hugh Pritchard, Ty Gwyn, Llanddaniel, and Griffith Roberts Bryn Celli Ddu.
On the closure of the old school in 1872 and the opening of the new in 1874 a time gap appears, during which interval it is assumed that education, such as it then was, ceased within the parishes of Llanddaniel and Llanedwen.
It was due to the Elementary Education Act of 1870 that education was really established as an integral part of the British system, thus removing much of the disjointed and very unsatisfactory state of affairs which had hitherto existed. The County Councils were directed by the central government to provide schools wherein instruction was to be given to children up to fourteen years of age, attendance at which became compulsory in 1874.
The establishment of this school and its opening on 12th January 1874, does not appear to have been an even worthy of much attention. No records exist to show whether or not any ceremony was held. There is ample evidence, nevertheless, to show the enthusiasm and eagerness of would be scholars, for eighty-three attended for instruction on the first day. One wonders how it was possible to house such a large number in such a small place. Needless to say, they would be subjected to much discomfort.
Some interesting facts in connection with the school have, fortunately, been recorded in the school’s log books which are continuous from the first day of it’s opening on the 12th January 1874, and constitute the only authentic record directly connected with the school. The first details contained in the first log book read as follows: -
”Height of school- 16 ft.; width-17.5 ft.; length-56.5ft.; number of desks-12; length of each desk-12 ft. 1 inch; area of room-984.5 sq. ft,; areas of the whole site-2 roods.”
Thus was the school arranged to accommodate 98 scholars. It is assumed that the desks were of the combined desk and form kind common in schools of the period. The first entry in the School’s Log reads: -
1874, commenced this school on 12th January, admitted on the said date eighty-three children. As there has been no school here before, the most of the children are quite uneducated... First visitors, Miss Roberts, Bryn Celli, and Mrs. Parry, Pontcrug”.
The first headmaster was Mr. O. I. D. Jones. He was assisted by his wife and two girl monitors, Ellen Thomas and Hannah J. Williams. The number of children on roll fluctuated as the weeks went by and by December of its first year the number has increased to 95. No details are given to show whether extra desks were provided for the increased number. The school was first inspected during April 1874. A note in the School’s Log on this reads - “Fairly promising, this school but recently opened, the results, under the circumstances very credible.”
September 1875 - “Many absent as they are gleaning in the cornfields and helping in other ways of harvesting.”
January 1876 - “The headmaster, Mr O. I. D. Jones, terminates his appointment on obtaining a similar post elsewhere.”
30 January 1876 - Mr. Jones was replaced by Mr. Richard E. Butler, who became master of the school .
March 1876 – “School closed for the afternoon due to launching of large launch at Portdinorwic.”
9 March 1876 - Mr. Butler came to live in the schoolhouse and his wife began teaching duties on the same day.
June 1876 – “At a school meeting, passed a resolution that children to sweep and clean whole school each evening before going home; agreed to pay monitors 1/- per week; two brooms authorised by committee; expelled a boy from school due to repeated misconduct.”
1878 - School roll at end of March 1897, 46 boys and 51 girls. “A special meeting held at the school to deal with the question of sending a pupil to the Training Ship Clio... Received a number of books for which the children must pay for themselves.”
1879 - Notes for January refer to the year opening with exceptionally severe weather: snow and intense frosts which did not abate until mid February. Attendance in consequence was extremely low. Staffing of the school at the end of April is given as follows: “R. E. Butler (Head); S. E. Butler (Mistress); Miss Butler (Assistant Mistress) and two monitors, Ellen A. Wright and Maggie Pritchard.”
May/June 1879 - “Scarlet fever rampant in Llanddaniel and Llanedwen, poor attendance, the pestilence ceased by mid-July.”
24 October 1879 - “Granted full day’s holiday due to Menai Bridge fair.”
Oct / Nov 1879 - “Incidence of measles, whooping cough and scarlet fever widespread in the area, school committee authorise closure of school for fourteen days.”
December 1879 -“I am to receive new brooms for the children to sweep the school.”