National School in Holyhead

The National Society was founded in 1811 to provide Anglican education for children. William Lloyd (curate of Holyhead) applied to unite the Charity School with the Society. A meeting was called at the “Eagle & Child”, following the acceptance of the application, to set up the school under the patronage of Sir John Stanley of Penrhos. The Vestry appointed six new trustees for administering Edward Wynne’s endowment of 1748. They were – Richard Griffith, Capt. Goddard, Capt. Weton, Capt. Johnson, Capt. Slieves and Capt. Rogers. It was decided to amalgamate the “Parish School” with the National School. This new school officially opened on March 1st, 1817 with 180 children. The new building was 35ft by 18ft. The school was run on the “Madras Method” which was based on a monitorial system which meant that older children could teach the younger ones – thus giving the teachers more free time. It was regarded as an efficient, orderly and inexpensive method of tackling mass illiteracy. Pupils progressed from learning the alphabet to reading the Bible, writing with pen and ink and classes were graded. It was compulsory to attend Church also. Henry William Owen was Master in 1820. He was later given the position of Perpetual Overseer of the poor, working from the old school building at Eglwys Y Bedd. William Williams became master in 1822. He was paid £40 a year. Elizabeth Watkins became the mistress and was paid £30 a year. In 1847, Ebenezer Lloyd was master, and Elizabeth Owen – mistress. At this time school fees were one penny per week for each pupil. Ninety-six boys and forty-seven girls attended the school. John Lewis of Llanelli was the next master with Elizabeth Thomas a 32-year-old local woman, as mistress. He died in 1856, by which time Elizabeth Thomas had left, and Mary Ann Jones replaced her. A new vicar called Thomas Briscoe came to Holyhead in 1858. He worked closely with William Owen Stanley of Penrhos to improve Churches, more services, more schools and more ordered social system. The population of Holyhead grew to almost 9000, and by 1859, a British School had been opened – therefore it was felt that something needed to be done about the National School. On 25th October 1859 Ellin, wife of William Owen Stanley laid down the foundation stone of the new school building. The architect was Henry Kennedy. It took 7 months to build and was opened by Thomas Briscoe. The Stanley’s had contributed £50 towards the new school, and Briscoe had contributed £417 for the school and £124 towards the building of the school house. Thomas Briscoe was respected by everyone and his kindness knew no bounds. He decided to leave £10,000 to the poor of Holyhead in his will, but upon his death, in 1895 the will was contested. The town came to a standstill on the day of his funeral in St. Seiriol’s Church., and he was “Thomas Briscoe Gravestone.buried St. Seiriol’s Churchyard, close to the pathway to the Church. In 1960, all the log books from the years 1863-1947 went missing. We do know, however, that by 1870 Owen R. Ellis was master and Nancy Rimmer – mistress and there were 207 boys and 207 girls at the school. Education was made compulsory in 1880 for children up to the age of 12 years and was made free in 1891. Owen R. Ellis was succeeded by Evan Jones in 1881, and Gertrude Seed succeeded Nancy Rimmer in 1891. In 1895 Chancellor Briscoe died, and John Walter Hughes and a Mr Rowlands were in charge of the school. A grant for £35 was successfully applied to build a proper infants department. It was opened in 1896. Infants were “mixed” classes, but in the junior school girls and boys were segregated. a £50 improvement grant was awarded in 1912 but it is not known what work (if any) was done. By 1922, the school building badly needed repair. There were also constant frictions between the school Managers following the 1902 Education Act as the L.E.A. became responsible for staffing levels. Also, there was not £1. 1.0d spare to pay for the annual subscription to the National Society. With this, the school’s Managers voted unanimously to seek terms for the transfer of the school to full L.E.A. control. Ellis Caswallon Willimas was appointed the first headmaster of the amalgamated National School in 1947m and together with Ellen E. Morgan Jones, guided the school through the last 7 years of its life in the old buildings. The school roll reached 400 and so, on 24th September 1954, from plans drawn by H. J. Slade, and built on a three and a half acre site by Pochin, the brand new £52,400 school was opened. It was the first new school building in the town for over 50 years. There was much debate, about the naming of the new school. One section of the Managers preferring the name of Thomas Ellis and the other (including Ellis Williams) preferring to honour the name of Chancellor Briscoe. The name of the founder of the Charity School back in 1748 was finally agreed upon. Managers and dignitaries assembled the old National School, and together with the children, proceeded to the new school. A guard to honour was formed for the Bishop of Bangor Dr J. C. Jones. He was handed a golden key inscribed in Welsh an English by the vice-chairman of Anglesey Education committee who was handed the key by a representative of the contractors. The Bishop unlocked the door of the school. Speeches were made and the school choir sang. Three hundred guests were given a tour of the new school. The following day the children were given a tea party. School trips began in 1958, with the infants going to Benllech, and the juniors going to the Lleyn Peninsula, New Brighton, Belle Vue in Manchester, and also to London. Music thrived a the school throughout the years with percussion bands and recorder groups, the latter especially under the guidance of teacher Miss Mona Preston Thomas. The school choir was trained by Mr Ellis Williams, headmaster, and they won many first prizes in competitions. Mr Williams retired in 1973, and Mr Emyr Salisbury Jones became the new headmaster. Mr Selwyn Davies introduced road safety classes, football reached a high standard with Mr Raymond Reynolds, and netball also reached a high level under Mrs Mari Jones. Mr Emyr Salisbury Jones retired in 1988 after 15 years as headmaster. He was succeeded by Mr Richard Hugh Jones, but the position fell vacant again in 1989 to be filled by Mr Selwyn Davies with Mr Eryl Wyn Rowlands filling the post of deputy headmaster. Mr Gareth Jones succeeded Mr Selwyn Jones in 1995. THOMAS ELLIS school can boast many famous names of people who were educated at the school, amongst which were:- TONY JONES – Footballer at Q.P.R. COLIN JONES – Footballer at MANCHESTER UTD. GLENNYS KINNOCK- Member of European Parliament. ELFRYN LLWYD -Member of Parliament.