The Abertillery County School Grounds – Rose Heyworth Road

The Abertillery County School Grounds – Rose Heyworth Road.
The County School Grounds were initially fields (as seen left above the Abertillery Rugby Ground) purchased by the council in 1921 upon which they intended to use as part of their housing scheme. They had been dumping refuse on its northern portion close to where the Millennium School, Rose Heyworth Campus is situated today. The tip was halted when the rubbish destructor at Six Bells was constructed, although when the destructor fell into disrepair, dumping resumed at Rose Heyworth. The County School Governors acquired the fields to the south adjoining the tip for their playing grounds and later allowed the council to use them as a tip so that the levels could be attained for the construction of a playing field. This playing field scheme was constructed in a series of three sections with the final phase being completed in 1949. The story of its creation can be seen below.

The Abertillery Intermediate County School formed in 1896 and in 1898 was the only secondary school in Monmouthshire and the whole of Wales without its own playing fields. The need for the school to have its own grounds was first raised as early as the early 1900’s, the school had shared the park and the extension though it desperately needed a playing grounds of its own. After many years of debating over and looking for available land the governors of the school began in earnest, a plan of action in acquiring land for the school playing fields.

Meeting of the County School Governors.
On Friday 22nd of June 1923, a meeting of the Abertillery Intermediate County School Governors took place at the Intermediate School Abertillery, Mr D. Thomas presided. Those who attended were as follows – Miss Athay; Miss A. Gregory; Councillors T. H. Prichard and W. Parry: Messrs W. B. Harrison J.P.; J. Snellgrove; L. Elliott; Mr W. D. Lewis Evans M.D. (Headmaster) and Mr D. R. Davies (Clerk): At this meeting the need for a playing field was mentioned. The headmaster Mr W. D. Lewis Evans stated the necessity of the provision of a playing field for the school. The question had been put before the governors many times and they had decided that a deputation be appointed to view available grounds available. The school had wanted to acquire the Abertillery Park extension grounds though the council were not very forthcoming in granting it to them.

The Rose Heyworth Road Site.
In August 1923 a letter from the Abertillery County School Governors was received by the council, it stated, they, the deputation, had inspected sites in the district and as a result it was resolved to apply to the council for a field on the lower side of Rose Heyworth Road, to the north of the houses, which could be made suitable with some improvements. The clerk of the council added that the land valuation officer had valued that site at £1,000. The deputation refused to contemplate that price and asked for a further meeting and a reduction in the valuation.

The Proposed Sale of the Land.
On Monday 29th of October 1923, the Abertillery Urban District Council held a monthly meeting at the Council Offices, Abertillery, the following members attended – Mr James Brown (Chairman); Mr T. H. Mytton (Vice-Chairman): Mr L. Elliott; Mr W. Williams; Mr J. Snellgrove; Mr W. F. Walters; Mr J. Lewis; Mr G. Williams; Mr R. Tudor; Mr D. Smith; Mr D. Thomas; Mr D. Walters; Mr H. J. Davies; Mr F. Athay; Mr J. T. Boots; Mr F. W. Chivers; Mr J. H. Godwin; Mr W. Gait (Clerk); Mr D. R. Davies (Deputy Clerk); Mr R. Prosser (Accountant); Mr F. J. Mortimer (The Electricity Works Manager); Mr Ifor G. Jenkins (The Gas Works Manager); Mr A. G. Jones (Surveyor); Mr F. Padfield (Sanitary Inspector); Dr T. B. Smith (Medical Officer) and Mr D. E. Williams (Superintendent Assistant Overseer):

At this meeting a letter dated September 1923 from the Ministry of Health was read stating the application of the Abertillery County School Governors to acquire a field. The site was said to have been 5.504 acres and would be sold for £750 subject to terms. The Minister said it would be desirable to purchase the land rather than it be leased. Mr T. Mytton obtained leave to postpone the resolution referred to therein. This proposal was later objected to by the Abertillery County School Governors, they did not see themselves paying £750 for a field on the side of a mountain and the sub-committee were asked to look at other available sites.

The Architects Findings.
After many years of trying to get another site the County School Governors came back to the original site on Rose Heyworth Road. The Monmouthshire Educational Committee had asked an architect to submit plans of the proposed playing field ground. He stated that the playing field was 550 yards from the Abertillery Intermediate School and belonged to the Abertillery District Council. The levels had been taken and owing to the steep gradient down to the railway lines, the cost of laying out a full-size rugby pitch would be about £900. Plans were put on hold.

Dr Hugh Dalton.
In February 1928 the Abertillery County School Governors met and decided to ask the council for a low or lowest price on the field at Rose Heyworth and also proposed to make an application for a grant from the National Playing Fields Association and write to Dr Hugh Dalton M.P., D.Sc. a lecturer in economics to the London University who had recently delivered an address at their recent prize distribution requesting him to use his influence regarding the acquisition of a suitable site. The request was taken by Mr Dalton but the application for a grant was refused on the grounds that funding for playing fields was only granted for public areas and not for school use only.

Mr Frank Hodges.
In December 1928 Mr Frank Hodges was invited by the Abertillery Intermediate County School Governors to distribute prizes. Mr Hodges had been a pupil at Queen Street School, Abertillery and had been later educated at Ruskin College Oxford. He became Miners Union leader and an M.P. The prizes were given out at the Wesleyan Church, Abertillery by Mr Hodges, the certificates were given out by Mrs Harry Jones and Miss A. Gregory who was the retiring chairman of the Board of Governors. Also present were – Miss E. Athay; Alderman L. Harris: Councillors M. Sheean; Bert Gill; H. V. Phinnemore and J. Snellgrove; Mr T. J. Aven; Mr W. D. Lewis Evans M.A. (Headmaster) and Mr D. R. Davies (Clerk to the Governors):

At this function Miss Gregory introduced Mr Frank Hodges, she said she was at Queen Street School at the same time Mr Hodges was a pupil there and was said to have been a good friend. Mr Hodges said he had heard of their plight in getting a playing field and said he “Would not promise but would try his best to help”, he stated he “Had many wealthy friends whom he would approach in obtaining the funding required, if any landlord without greed would sell land upon which to build playing grounds”.

On Monday 27th of April 1929, at a monthly meeting of the Abertillery Urban District Council, the following members attended – Mr John Morgan (Chairman); Mr W. Beynon (Vice-Chairman); Mr R. Downs; Mr J. Hillier; Mr T. Gale; Mr G. Williams; Mr J. Dixon; Mr P. Burchell; Mr J. T. Boots; Mr D. Thomas; Mr T. Aven; Mr F. Hayes; Mr D. Walters; Mr R. Wood; Mr W. F. Walters; Mr T. H. Mytton; Mr D. R. Davies (Deputy Clerk); Mr H. J. Williams (Assistant Clerk); Dr T. B. Smith (Medical Officer); Mr Gordon Jones (Surveyor); Mr R. Prosser (Accountant); Mr Dawson Thomas (Electrical Works Manager); Mr Ifor G. Jenkins (Gas Works Manager) Mr J. E. Blissett and Mr F. Padfield (Sanitary Inspectors):

At this meeting Mr D. R. Davies read a letter from the Ministry of Health consenting to the sale of land on the Rose Heyworth Road site for the purpose of a playing field. The amount of land to be sold was 8.182 acres and the purchase price was £575. Mr Davies added that the sale of land had been made possible through the generosity of Mr Frank Hodges, who had already personally paid a cheque for £57. 10s 0d. as ten percent deposit on the purchase price and added he was responsible for the whole of the money. Mr Frank Hodges had approached half a dozen commercial firms in England with a view to them providing the necessary funds for the acquisition of over eight acres of land and they did. It was decided to proceed with the sale as soon as possible.

A Meeting of the County School Governors.
On Thursday 9th of May 1929, a meeting of the Abertillery Intermediate School Governors took place at the County School, Abertillery. Those who attended were – Miss Gregory; Miss E. Athay; Mrs H. Jones; and Alderman Levi Harris: Councillors Mr C. Fear; Mr Bert Gill; Mr H. V. Phinnemore and Mr J. Snellgrove; Mr W. D. Lewis Evans M.A. (Headmaster) and Mr D. R. Davies (Clerk to the Governors): At this meeting the sale of the fields freehold for the playing fields for the school was completed.

The Official Presentation of the Deeds to the Freehold.
On Wednesday 22nd of May 1929, the official presentation of the deeds to the freehold took place at the Abertillery Intermediate County School. Mr Frank Hodges handed over the deed to the freehold site to Councillor F. Sheen (Chairman of the Abertillery County School Governors). Those present at the ceremony were as follows – Mr and Mrs Frank Hodges; Mrs L. Pritchard Jones; Misses E. Athay and A. Gregory: Councillors Mr J. Snellgrove; Mr W. Parry. Mr A. E. Meredith J.P., of Abercarn; Alderman Levi Harris J.P.; Mr Charles Dauncey (Secretary to the Monmouthshire Education Committee); Mr D. Walters; Mr W. B. Harrison J.P.; Mr D. R. Davies (Clerk to the Abertillery County School Governors); Mr W. D. Lewis Evans M.A. (Headmaster) and members of the school staff: Mr W. Beynon J.P. (Chairman of the Abertillery Council); Mr L. Chaffey (Chairman of the Nantyglo & Blaina Council); Mr C. Fear and Mr D. Watkins J.P. of Blaina: The chairman announced that the land would be handed over free of all costs. The purchase price was £575, the legal costs and compensation to the tenant amounted to £38. 13s. 0d. making a total of £613. 13s. 6d.

Miss A. Gregory unveiled a portrait of Mr Frank Hodges in commemoration of the great services he had rendered to the school by obtaining for them a playing field. Miss Doris Elkins, a pupil presented a bouquet to Mrs Hodges. The governors, staff, pupils and guests formed a procession to the new playing fields. While at the entrance Mr David Walters (Vice-Chairman of the School Governors) called upon Councillor J. Snellgrove to present Mr Hodges with a key to open the gates.

Mr Hodges presented the deed of the freehold to Councillor Sheen and stated that the land was given to the governors and in perpetuity to their successors or as long as there was a county school in Abertillery. Mr Frank Hodges said that the money for the purchase of the Abertillery Intermediate School Playing Fields was subscribed by the following companies – The International Combustion Ltd, Babcock & Wilcox, The English Electrical Company, The General Electrical Company Ltd, The Metropolitan Vickers Electrical Company and the Greater London and Counties Trust Ltd. After many speeches Miss E. Athay presented Mr Hodges with a statuette of a footballer and paid warm tribute to Mr Hodges. At the end of the ceremony Miss E. Athay promised she would get trees planted all along the playing fields.

The Scientific Method of Dumping Rubbish.
On Thursday 8th of January 1931, at a fortnightly meeting of the Abertillery Trades Council at the Powell’s Tillery Institute the following members attended – Mr Lance Winmill (Chairman); Mr Godfrey Jones (Vice-Chairman) Mr Bert Moore (Secretary); Mr Len Hill (Assistant Secretary) and Mr J. Kingston (Treasurer): At this meeting the scientific method of refuse dumping was raised. This method was first trialled in Bradford and was known as the Bradford Method. It was a way in which refuse dumps were treated and laid out in strips of between 200′ and 300′ feet long by 24′ feet wide and six feet deep. There was no smell, no fires, no flies or vermin. Layers of six feet were laid out, when finished another six feet, so on and so on. When the layers solidified they were never known to give way, they could make beautiful gardens and parks out of refuse. Abertillery Urban District Council intended to send two workmen to Bradford, England for two weeks to get acquainted with the system.

In February 1932 the council stated they had adopted the Bradford Principle of Refuse Waste Disposal and the playing fields ground was starting to be levelled off. The Abertillery County School Governors urged the council to tip more rubbish so the levels would raise.

The Handing over of the Rubbish Tip to the Council.
On Monday 28th of February 1932, a monthly meeting of the Abertillery Urban District Council took place at the Council Offices, Abertillery. The following members attended – Mr T. Gale (Chairman); Messrs J. T. Boots; Mr P. Burchell; Mr P. Frowen; Mr E. J. Smith; Mr D. Thomas; Mr T. H. Mytton; Mr J. Hillier; Mr J. Day; Mr H. Gill; Mr G. Jones; Mr G. J. Lippett; Mr A. T. Andrews; Mr J. Dixon; Mr W. Gait (Clerk); D. R. Davies (Deputy Clerk); Mr H. J Williams (Assistant Clerk); Mr A. Gordon Jones (Surveyor); Mr H. H. Tolson (Acting Accountant); Mr Dawson Thomas (Electricity Manager); Mr F. Padfield and Mr J. E. Blissett (Sanitary Inspectors) and Mr D. T. Bond (Shops Inspector):

At this meeting it was stated that after a meeting of the Ways and Means Committee with the County School Governors it was decided to hand over the “tipping rights” free to the council and in return the council would level the site. The council would use the site free of ground rent for the disposal of domestic refuse. The tipping to be controlled and the refuse to be scientifically treated, similar to the methods used in Bradford, so that the whole site may be levelled and made suitable for a playing field for pupils of the school. The tipping on the site (can be seen on the image above).

The council submitted plans of the levels to form a football field, a cricket pitch, a junior playing pitch, a site for four tennis courts and also for a pavilion, all to be approved. The council would engage their own workmen and will be responsible for their insurances etc under the Workmen’s Compensation Acts as well as other risks. After the refuse had been tipped and the site made up to the necessary levels it was to be returned to the governors of the school for completion, maintenance and full control by them.

Drainage of the Playing Field.
In December 1932 it was reported that arrangements were made for the Abertillery District Council to pipe the stream which ran through the playing field. The committee thanked the council and the surveyor for their co-operation and the undertaking the supervision of the work without payment. The drainage work cost £45. A tender was received for fencing off a portion of the ground for the cost of £43.

Blaina and Nantyglo Rubbish Request.
In January 1935 it was reported that the dumping of waste on the grounds was commencing satisfactorily and the committee asked the council to approach the Blaina and Nantyglo Council with a request for them to bring their refuse to the grounds to be dumped in hope that it would raise the levels more quickly.

A Caretakers House Proposal.
In July 1936 the Abertillery County School Governors proposed the erection of a new larger school, an extension to Dunmore House or to have an additional block constructed on land opposite the Abertillery County School Grounds playing fields. The proposed new block would house a gymnasium and if it was accepted and built the governors would have a caretaker’s house constructed on the Abertillery County School Grounds so that a caretaker could maintain both facilities.

The Levelling of the County School Grounds.
On Monday 29th of November 1937, an Abertillery and District Council meeting was held at the Council Offices, Abertillery. Mr W. F. Walters J.P., (Chairman) presided, the following members attended – Mr G. H. Jones (Vice-Chairman); Messrs A. T. Cann; P. Burchell; F. J. Dayton; Ivor Edwards; Ivor Morgan; Godfrey Jones; W. H. Hillman; T. Gale; W. Saunders; F. Hayes; W. Beynon; J. E. Day; W. E. Hodges; D. Walters; W. E. Hardwick; F. Sheen; Mr D. R. Davies (Clerk); Mr H. J. Williams (Deputy Clerk); Mr T. Lloyd-Robbins (Assistant Clerk); Dr T. B. Smith (Medical Officer); Mr H. Powell Accountant); Mr Dawson Thomas (Electricity Manager); Mr H. Maycock (Gas Manager and Mr Gordon Jones (Surveyor): During the meeting Mr D. Walters urged the council to continue tipping rubbish on the old tip at Rose Heyworth in order to build up a corner of the tip which when completed would provide a ground stable for football and cricket. The surveyor referred to the arrangements made between the Abertillery District Council and the Abertillery County School Governors to complete the levelling of the playing field site.

The playing fields were initially 80 yards wide by 125 yards long and will in future be enlarged. The one side is terraced so spectators can have a good view over the grounds.

The Tree Planting Ceremony.
On Monday 4th of April 1938, a tree planting ceremony took place at the Abertillery County School Grounds, Rose Heyworth. The South Wales Gazette reported “Beautifying Abertillery County School’s New Playing Field”.

It stated that lime and sycamore trees were planted all along the approach to the new playing fields of the Abertillery County School (as seen left) by members of the governing body and others. There were over 300 pupils in attendance under the charge of Mr Martin Lewis the headmaster and the staff, together with friends and workmen employed in the construction of the playing fields. It was said that the trees would beautify the grounds which adjoin the Rose Heyworth Road and overlook Cwm-er-Eglwys (Churchdale). The trees were planted by Councillors Mr John Snellgrove; Mr Fred Sheen; Mr E. Cousins of Blaina; Mr Frank Hayes; Mr Arthur Atkins; Mrs E. M. Hoskins; Miss E. W. Mabbott; Mrs Martin Lewis; Mr Martin Lewis; Mr Arthur Gait (Clerk); Mr Fred Davies (Foreman of the scheme); Mr F. Carpenter on behalf of the Old Tyleryans; Mr Paddy Sheean on behalf of his grandfather Mr Michael Sheean (who was at the time too ill to attend); Mr Fred Davies (Senior Prefect) and Master Ronald Brickell (the youngest pupil in the school):

In December 1938 the Abertillery County School Governors asked Mr Frank Hodges to officially open the County School Grounds, he replied that he would be busy over the following months but would be free and pleased to accept the invitation sometime in the following spring.

The Official Opening of the County School Grounds.
On Thursday 16th of March 1939, the official opening of the Abertillery County School Grounds Playing Fields took place. A souvenir programme (as seen right) was issued for the special occasion.

This programme belonged to Mr Jack Selwyn and was kindly donated courtesy of his daughter Mrs Judith Chamberlain.

The playing fields were opened by Mr Frank Hodges Esq J.P., in the company of many local dignitaries including – Councillor F. Sheen (Chairman of the School Governors; Alderman A. E. Meredith J.P. (Chairman of the Monmouthshire Education Committee; Councillor J. Phillips (Chairman of the Sites and Buildings Committee); Councillor W. H. G. Bull J.P. (Chairman of the Higher Education Committee); Councillor George Jones J.P. (Chairman of the Abertillery Urban District Council) and Councillor J. Snellgrove: Afterwards Councillor Snellgrove offered dedicatory prayer and the hoisting of the flag, after which a rugby football match took place on the grounds.

The rugby football match was between the Monmouthshire Secondary Schools XV and the County School XV. The Abertillery County School team featured the following players – J. Carter; C. Carter; H. H. Wilson; R. Thomas (Captain); H. G. Lloyd; W. H. Cook; A. N. Rees; F. Davies; A. L. McCarthy; H. J. Jones; D. Hatton; M. Williams; H. Williams; F. Butterworth and T. M. Peterson: The referee was Mr Wilfred Wooller Esq, captain of the Welsh Team 1938-39.

Following is a Link to – Souvenir Programme

The Final Stages and Enlargement of the Playing Fields.
In February 1949 the council put into operation plan 3 to convert the lower portion of the Rose Heyworth refuse tip into a playing field and to link up with the other two fields, this would complete the playing fields of the County School Grounds.

The Later Years.
The Abertillery County School closed in the late 1980’s though the fields were taken by the council and kept for the Old Tyleryan’s Rugby Football Team and is now being used by the Tyleryan Belles Sports Association.

(More information to come).

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