Former National School

link to french translationFormer National School, Rosehill Street, Conwy

Conwy Visitor Centre occupies the former National School, opened c.1840. Previously the town’s National School was in a building on the site later used for the Guildhall.

One of the earliest headmasters was Thomas Roberts, who also wrote Welsh poetry under the bardic name "Myrddin". You can read more about him and his poetry on this page in our mini-tour of Conwy churchyard, where he is buried.

Some of the pupils came from Conwy’s workhouse, on Bangor Road. In April 1888, master William Allan reported that all of the workhouse children who attended had received full marks in their exams and their behaviour was “exceedingly good”.

Relations between the two institutions had worsened by 1909, when the workhouse guardians demanded an explanation from the National School’s headmistress after a child suffering chronic ear trouble claimed to be in worse pain after being hit on the ear by a teacher. The teacher denied the accusation, but some of the guardians said it wasn’t the first time workhouse children had been beaten at school.

Mr Allan devoted his career to this school, being master here for 40 years. It was estimated that half of Conwy’s population attended his funeral in 1911. Our page about his grave is here.

National Schools were created by a charity with a long name (the National Society for Promoting the Education of the Poor in the Principles of the Established Church in England and Wales). It was formed in 1811 and stipulated that the national religion should be the main thing taught to poor children. The creation of the National School in Conwy, as elsewhere, was overseen by members of the local Anglican church including the vicar.

In 1835 Conwy’s National School had 50 boys on its register. The schoolmaster received his £32 annual salary from vicar. At that time Conwy had a separate girls’ school, where the mistress received £11 a year from the vicar. This school opened in 1829 and taught 89 children in 1835. Children at both schools contributed to a weekly “penny club”. The proceeds were supplemented by income from subscriptions so that the children received new clothes every Christmas.

Postcode: LL32 8LD    View Location Map