Arael School – Six Bells

Arael School – Six Bells.
In January 1901, tenders were invited for the building of a school, situated between Warm Turn and Six Bells, Abertillery. The tender notices were invited from builders and contractors to erect a school to accommodate 426 children along with a caretaker’s house, out-offices, boundaries, playgrounds and approaches. Tenders were to be received by Monday 11th February 1901, addressed to Mr I. Aled Jones, Clerk of the School Board.

Details of Each Tender.
On Tuesday 12th of February 1901, at a meeting of the Aberystruth School Board held at Blaina, the School Board members consisting of Mr J. P. D Williams (Chairman); Mr R. H. Williams (Vice Chairman); Rev Hugh Williams; Rev T. T. Evans; Rev H. S. Rees; Mr J. Price; Mr W. J. Allen and Mr I. Aled Jones (Clerk): The tenders were opened and the details were as follows – Messrs E. R. Evans and Bros of Cardiff £5,653. 2s. 3d.; Mr W. E. Willis of Pentre £5,777. 0s. 0d.; Mr A. H. Howell of Cardiff £6,570. 0s. 0d.; Mr D. Thomas and Son of Cardiff £5,698. 0s. 0d.; Mr W. Britton of Barry Dock £5,270. 0s. 0d.; Mr Charles Reed of Newport £6,500. 0s. 0d.; Mr J. Morgan of Blaenavon £6,087. 0s. 0d.; Mr N. Bagley of Abertillery £5,807. 12s. 0d.; Mr David Lewis of Llanhilleth £5,979. 0s. 0d.; Mr A. P. Williams of Abertillery £5,869. 0s. 0d.; Messrs Gaen Bros of Abertillery £5,709. 0s. 0d. and Mr John Jenkins of Newport £5,535. 0s. 0d.:

After some consideration it was decided to accept the tender of Mr A. P. Williams £5,869. 0s. 0d., the estimated cost of the work was £5,540 and it was decided to make an application for a loan of £6,500 repayable over 40 years at 3 and a half per cent.

The Contractor and Architect.
The contractor was Mr A. P. Williams of Oak Street, Abertillery.

The Land Dispute.
In April 1901 the building work was held up owing to a dispute between the Lancaster Co of Six Bells Colliery, the Park Estate and the Education Committee. Messrs Lancaster wanted a payment for their ground and surface interest in connection with the site of the school and the Park Estate intervened with their claim. The parties led by Mr Hawkins the mining agent, Mr Jeffreys of the Lancaster Co and Mr Roberts of the council. At a later meeting it was reported the dispute was as a result of a misunderstanding and had been resolved.

Teaching Staff.
In June 1902 advertisements were printed and issued for the posts of headmaster and headmistress and teaching staff at the new Arael School, Abertillery, starting on the 1st of September 1902. The headmaster’s salary – £120 to be increased by £2. 10s. a year for ten years and one fifth of a government grant. Headmistress’s salary – £85 to be increased by £2 a year for ten years and one fifth of a government grant. (Other wages details are available upon request).

The Completion of the Arael School.
On Tuesday 10th of June 1902, the building was completed and the furnishing was taking place. The tender of Messrs Bennet Furnishing Co of London was accepted £261. 9s. 7d.

The Official Opening.
The opening date was Monday 1st of September 1902. I cannot find any official confirmation of the opening date or any details of its opening, though notices were issued to parents that the Arael School were taking in pupils for the opening of the first term on Monday 1st September 1902.

The photograph of the Arael School in the main featured image was kindly lent courtesy of Angela Martin Llewellyn of Six Bells, Abertillery.

Miss Hilda Boots.
On Thursday 31st of July 1913, Miss Hilda Boots, a pupil at the Arael School, daughter of Mr E. Boots the attendance officer of Warm Turn, Aberbeeg, was presented with a silver watch inscribed as follows – “To Hilda Boots, for 10 years unbroken attendance at the Arael County School. Never absent never late. July 31st, 1913”. The presentation was made by Mr W. T. Williams, who with the Headmaster Mr G. H. Jenkins and Mr John Davies, spoke in the appreciation of the recipients record and Mr Boots thanked Mr Williams for his presence and for making the presentation on behalf of the Education Committee.

The Aerial Flight Problems and Safety Concerns.
The above map shows the Arael School, to the right are standards shown connected by a dotted line. These standards and dots show the route of the Six Bells Colliery Aerial Flight.

This aerial flight took the waste from the colliery to the top of the Areal Mountain to be tipped, the empty buckets coming back via the same route. In 1931 a survey was conducted over the concerns of residents of the dangers of the aerial flight being too close to the school and other residences. A report on the survey showed that over a period of just a few months during that year eleven buckets had fallen from the aerial flight, four of those fell in close proximity to the Arael School.

The Closure of the Arael School.
On Thursday 18th of July 2002, the last lessons at Arael Primary, Aberbeeg Road, Abertillery were taught and its 100th anniversary celebrations were held alongside events to mark its closure. Falling rolls and the age of the building contributed to the decision to shut the school, which now has just 34 pupils. Mrs Pat Thorley was the headmistress at the time of closure. 

Thanks to Mr Bryan Boots for supplying the later information and the date of closure. 

The Later Years.
The Arael School closed in 2002 (as stated) though wasn’t demolished and cleared until about 2011.


Points of interest – Mr Alfred Prosser Williams – A. P. Williams was one of Abertillery’s largest building contractors. He was born on 25th March 1849. He re-built St Michaels Church, The Market Hall, The Globe Hotel, The Abertillery Vicarage in Church Street, he built the Co-operative in Church Street, Blaentillery School, Queen Street School, Arael School, along with many other buildings and also re-built the Globe Picture House Blaina.

He was the first person in Abertillery to have a private telephone installed in his residence Gwentland House, Oak Street, Abertillery. Upon his retirement he went to live at Herbert Hall, Crickhowell, he later came back to Blaina to supervise building work and lived at “Lismore House” New Bennett St, he died in 1932.

His Mother was a direct descendant of the Vaughan’s of Tretower Court Crickhowell also Davy Gam who was killed at the battle of Agincourt 1415, and Knighted on the battlefield by King Henry V. Sir Davy Gam was a Llewellyn by name and was from the Herbert and Vaughan families.

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