Porth Higher Grade School                
    Porth Secondary School            
        Porth Secondary Grammar School        
          Porth County Grammar Mixed  School
            Porth Grammar Technical School

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Some of the School's History

The building missed out on its centenary by a year and a few months, opening in September 1904 as Porth Higher Elementary School, the 'first school of importance which would be opened since the Council had replaced the School Board.' It catered for 240 mixed pupils under the Headmastership of John Stradling Grant.

The Public opening of the school did not take place until January 19 1905. After a tour of the classrooms in the 'magnificent building', the ceremony was performed by Mr W. E. Thomas, the chairman of the Rhondda Education Committee in the absence, due to ill-health, of Mr W. G. Howell, the Director of Education.
Because of the proximity of the Intermediate [later the County, now the Community] School 'the course of instruction should not be as advanced as Pentre or Ferndale' so  'the instruction imparted would not make [the students] lawyers or clergymen, shopkeepers or colliers' but would 'develop their brains so as to enable them the better to enjoy the pleasures of life, to make them more useful citizens, to make them better men and women. ... The vast majority of the children of the Rhondda were born to poverty, but we shall take care that they shall not grow up in ignorance. They were not so endowed with this world's goods but were compelled to look to sources other than riches for the pleasures of this life.... [It] was the duty of the Education Authority to provide the opportunities for the cultivation of their faculties in order to enable the coming generation to better enjoy the existence that they would be compelled to lead, and to make them better, more useful citizens of the realm.'

At the time, there was great deal of controversy on the subject of providing further education in the Rhondda. Tom John, Editor of the Rhondda Leader and the first Welshman to become President of the National Union of Teachers, commented that 'there was a laborious effort made by several speakers at the meeting [ie., the opening ceremony] to dissipate the fear that this splendid institution would work serious opposition and injury to the County school nearby.'
The school was built to cater for pupils between ten and fifteen years of age, but from the start didn't seem to 'know its place.' Horror of horrors, it held matriculating classes, included French and Latin on its curriculum, and as late as 1915, school inspectors found students aged nineteen still on its books.

In 1914, John Stradling Grant died and Richard Chalke took over as Head at the same time that the school was merged with the Pupil Teachers College, where, for one day a week, the students took turns to teach their peers, as a step towards gaining entrance to teacher training colleges to become teachers themselves

In January 1922, it became officially recognised as a Secondary School.

1946/7 its name changed to Porth Secondary Grammar School.

Sometime between 1951 and 1954, as detailed on the Home page, it became Porth County Grammar Mixed.

And so to the end.

Rhondda-Cynon-Taff education department had been running down the operation there for several months. They finally moved out on Friday April 11th 2003, and the demolition contractors moved in on the 14th.

RCT seemed to be in full demolition mode at the time. Porth Cottage Hospital and the Graig Ddu flats in Dinas were also being put under the wrecking ball.
RCT claim that the building was damp/unsafe (depending on who you speak to in the area) but it was a structure built to last. The walls were almost three feet thick, the roof was lined with timber, and the ceilings of the downstairs classrooms were fully timbered, so that in the extremely unlikely event of someone putting their foot through the floor of the upstairs rooms, there was the ceiling of the ground floor rooms to support you! The upstairs rooms were surfaced with maple flooring from Canada.
RCT insist that in wet weather, the walls were running with water. There is no evidence of water staining of the walls in any of my photographs, but as there had been no significant rain for six weeks, there was no way to argue the point.
One neighbour of the school in Grawen Street suggested that the days were numbered when staff were transferred to the Education Centre from the Welsh Office in Cathays Park, Cardiff. Working in an old school was not equal to their status, and their constant demands for something more in keeping eventually prevailed.

If it's any consolation, the slates and interior brickwork were salvaged and 'live on' in properties subsequently built, while the floor timbers and joists were resurrected as reproduction antique furniture. The Blue Pennant stone in the facade of the school was sold to a company in Bristol which incorporated it into new buildings, while the gymnasium and hall near the Chevron Street gates was dismantled and transported to Algeria where the plan was that it would be reassembled. (Whether this was actually accomplished, I have not been able to ascertain.)

Copyright Deryck Lewis 2003/4/5/6/7/8/9/10/11/12/13/14/15.

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Page Updated October 18 2015