Old grammar school, Bala

button-theme-bala-700It was unusual for a small town like Bala to have a well-established boys’ school. The school was founded in 1712 in the house known as Tŷ Tan Domen by Edmund Meyrick of Ucheldre, Corwen. The house name referred to the proximity of the nearby mound, originally part of a motte and bailey defence.

Portrait of Owen Morgan EdwardsThe present school building has the coat of arms of Jesus College, Oxford, on the gable. It was built in 1851, as indicated by the Latin inscription above the front door. It was later the County School. It remained open until 1964, when Ysgol y Berwyn was established. The building then became a restaurant and the printing works of local newspaper Y Cyfnod.

One of the school’s pupils was Tom Ellis MP, whose statue is in Bala High Street. He attended the school at the same time as Owen Morgan Edwards, who was knighted in 1916. OM Edwards (upper picture) was a writer, historian, chief inspector of Welsh schools and, for a short time, an MP. He started or published several periodicals including Cymru’r Plant, which allowed generations of children to enjoy reading in Welsh.

Portrait of Rev Father John Hugh JonesScientist John Castell Evans (1844-1909) won a scholarship to the grammar school aged eight. He conducted important research on ore processing, helped to improve technical education in Britain and was elected a Fellow of the Institute of Chemistry in 1888.

Another notable old boy was John Hugh Jones (1843-1910) – lower picture. His mother was a Methodist (grand-daughter of Methodist preacher Dafydd Cadwaladr) and his father Anglican, but he became a Roman Catholic in 1871 while studying at Jesus College, Oxford. Rev Father Jones opened a church school in Caernarfon and taught the children himself, as there were no funds to employ a master. He translated Catholic hymns, prayers and a catechism into Welsh. He was the Welsh tutor at St Mary’s College, Holywell, Flintshire, for his last two years and was buried at Pantasaph friary. 

Postcode: LL23 7EH    View Location Map

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