Rowland Willlams

Bryn Golau, Rhiw.

Written in April 1946

When he was 72 years old.

           (Photo circa 1920)

School Days
There are advantages and disadvantages through being brought up in the country. Some of these children do not benefit from a regular education due to distance to attend school, sometimes having to walk two or three miles. Often rain would make it impossible to attend at all, and as a consequence the children reached the age when they went into service before passing the necessary grades, thus went into the world at a disadvantage. On the other hand it is an advantage to be brought up near the school. Fortunately I was brought up very near the school and could therefore maintain a regular attendance, and I was in a position to benefit fully from the lessons my teacher gave me. I remember many of the teachers in Rhiw school during my early days, but the one whose influence was greatest on my life and on that of my fellow scholars was Mr Morgan Williams of Arthog, near Harlech. And came here as a school master when he was a very young man, and his clean virtuous life was an example to everybody. He was a hard working man in every sphere, in both the chapels and outside, and his influence can be seen even today on those who were taught by him. He had the gift for educating the children and he could always fix their attention on whatever was going on in the school. His influence was always through logic and enlightenment, and the influence that follows such enlightenment is always the strongest. Through his influence I was able to go through the First Standards fairly well and on the examination day I was promoted to the higher classes once every year. We were taught to sing. We had lessons on the modulator very often. We could sing the Sol-fa fairly brightly. Before long most of us were quite proficient at reading the modulator. After all this he used to write a hymn tune on the blackboard and he used to teach us the time, how to pitch and how to cross the pitches and this was of great advantage to the children. Having passed through some of the classes I was appointed as a teacher to help my own teacher as best I could. In those days there was no need to go to college to prepare yourself for this type of work. Not much importance was attached to all this. All my work then was very simple. I used to teach the babies to count. There were beads of different colours, blue, red, yellow, black, green, and these had all been set on a wire in a frame. All the different colours proved very attractive to the babies and certainly made them very interested in counting. They used to count up to twenty to start off with, then to forty, then to fifty and then to a hundred. They were taught also to make figures on a slate with a slate pencil. You had to take hold of their hands in the beginning, then you taught them the twice and so on. In those day you had to pay something for your schooling and you used to bring a penny or two on a Monday morning as some sort of recompense for the teacher. You had to buy a slate, a slate pencil, a copy and something to write with. 
Mr. Williams also kept a night school for the young people to teach them to sing. And then, at another time a reading class. He was very busy throughout the week, he taught music to the young people, there was singing one night a week, then a reading class once every week. And many a time they used to argue about different topics that would arise from the Scriptures. Some arguments were bitter but in the end every-body fell in with the opinion of the teacher. 

Then later on they established some sort of a Literary Society in the district, very quiet to start off with, but very successful. Eventually they introduced literature, poetry, music, handwork, and people used to visit these from quite far distances. This was the means of educating the children of Rhiw. He used to take the children of Nebo chapel to teach them to sing and to recite, ready for a competition. Daniel Rowlands used to take the children of Tan y Foel chapel ready for the competition. Though we had our weaknesses the standard of the children was much higher than in those areas where they did not have a Literary Society in the locality. The children eventually came to read music and to be able to recite well and the adjudicator every time used to say that it was very obvious that someone had been very hard at work with these children. I can name some now, grown ups, who were able to read music very well and owe a great debt to these early Literary Societies. Those who missed these opportunities did not have the same capabilities as the ones who had enjoyed this early training during their lives. All the good influences have stayed for many years and have transferred from person to person, and family to family. Influences of this nature never finishes, it carries on, and it is these early influences stabilised later in life that improve and give a better tone to humanity wherever it may be. 

(To be continued !!!!)


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