Ancestry UK

Cardiff and Barry Truant Industrial School for Boys, Cardiff, Glamorgan, Wales

In 1899, the Cardiff and Barry School Boards opened a Truant Industrial School for Boys in purpose-built accommodation at Dinas Powis, near Cardiff. The premises, set in 8 acres of grounds, were formally certified for operation on April 21st, 1899, with places for up 120 boys. The School housed incorrigible truants who were subjected to a strict regime before being released on licence. Subsequent truancy from normal schools would result in re-admission to the Truant School for a longer period, coupled with corporal punishment. The School's staff initially comprised the superintendent, Mr William Davies; matron, Miss Millicent F. Toft; schoolmaster, Mr A.E. Vale; assistant schoolmaster Mr John Davies; drillmaster, stoker, cook, laundress and female assistant.

An inspection in September, 1899, gave the new building a mixed report. While the interior was bright and apparently well ventilated, the washroom fitting were said to be too complicated and wasteful. There was no drill or recreation shed, and another workshop would probably be needed. Gas was laid on and there was a good water supply. At the outset, the boys were chiefly occupied in getting the grounds into working order. Sock repairing, and house and laundry work employed some of the inmates. In time, it was proposed to introduce boot repairing, and manual instruction. Drill with physical exercises was carried on daily, and about 2 hours were allowed for play each day. Besides the play-yard, there was a good field where cricket and rounders were played.

The School site is shown on the 1900 map below.

Cardiff and Barry Truant Industrial School for Boys site, Cardiff, c.1900.

Cardiff and Barry Truant Industrial School for Boys, Dinas Powis, c.1908. © Peter Higginbotham

Former Cardiff and Barry Truant Industrial School for Boys from the south, Dinas Powis, 2013. © Peter Higginbotham

Former Cardiff and Barry Truant Industrial School for Boys, Dinas Powis, 2013. © Peter Higginbotham

Former Cardiff and Barry Truant Industrial School for Boys, Dinas Powis, 2013. © Peter Higginbotham

In February, 1900, Mr John Jackson took over the post of assistant schoolmaster. He was succeeded in December of that year by Mr Hezekiah Davies. Mr Vale also departed and was succeeded in January 1901 by Mr Alex Black.

The 1902 annual inspection recorded that a greenhouse, 20 feet by 10 feet, was under construction. Gardening remained the chief industrial occupation and was carried on at a profit. Boot repairing, darning, laundry and kitchen work, besides the general cleaning, provided the other occupations. Some of the darning was said to be particularly good. In the classroom, recitation and singing (sol-fa) were rated as 'very fair', while mental arithmetic and geography were 'good'. Object lessons had been given to the whole school. It was recommended that particular attention be given to those boys who could not read, otherwise their return to the School would be inevitable. The physical training provision was rated as 'very fair' but it was suggested that more might be done for the lower portion of the body by exercises such as were practised in military gymnasiums, including hopping, marching on the toes, etc. Football, cricket and rounders were played on Saturday afternoons. Two boys were singled out for particular mention. The first, James Ruby, was said to be too delicate for the training given at the School. The second, George Lloyd, was described as appearing to be "half-witted".

Mr H. Davies was succeeded as assistant schoolmaster in June, 1903, by Mr John H. Wales, and in October, 1904, by Mr C. Edwards. Mr Black, the schoolmaster, left in January, 1907, and Mr Edwards was promoted to his place. Mr Harry Edghill was appointed assistant teacher on 1st May, 1907. Mr Edwards left in November, 1907, and was succeeded by Mr David M. Davies, who held the schoolmaster's post until 30th April, 1908. Mr F. G. White succeeded him on 1st June, 1908. Mr Edghill left on 28th October, and Mr H. Goodwin succeeded him on 4th November, 1907. He, in turn, left on 28th December, 1907, and was succeeded on 2nd March, 1908, by Mr T. Heber Lewis, who left on 31st August, and was succeeded on 1st September by Mr E.A. Bidgood. Much of the blame for the constant turnover in the teaching and other staff was laid by the School's inspector on the superintendent, who was said to have a "want of grip" and needed to be in closer and more sympathetic relations with his staff and boys. As it turned out, the superintendent, Mr Davies, died suddenly on September 22nd, 1909. He was succeeded by a former schoolmaster, Mr J.H. Wales.

From 1903, the School's management committee consisted of representatives of Cardiff County Borough Council and Glamorgan County Council.

From May 4th, 1910, the establishment changed its status from a Truant Industrial School to also act as an 'ordinary' Industrial School, receiving boys sentenced by magistrates to a period of detention.

Also in 1910, the infirmary rooms, which had been used during the previous year or two as store-rooms, had been cleared; the lower front room had been converted into a shoe-mending shop; the upper front room was being used as a class-room where technical lessons were given in horticulture and shoemaking. A large shed had been erected for use as a garden stores and a tool-house.

By 1911, all the boys underwent a course of physical training which included club, bar-bell and dumb-bell exercises, squad and company drill, and gymnastics. Although the playing field wass on a considerable slope, improvements were carried out to allow football matches to be arranged.

The superintendent in 1915 was Mr J.I. Adcock; in 1920, Mr J.S. Scougall; and in 1930, Mr T.J. Lloyd Thomas. During the 1920s, the institution was renamed the Bryn-y-don School.

In 1933, Bryn-y-don became an Approved School, one of the new institutions introduced by the 1933 Children and Young Persons Act to replace the existing system of Reformatories and Industrial Schools. The School accommodated up to 120 Junior Boys aged up to their 14th birthday at their date of admission. The headmaster, as he was now termed, was still Mr T.J. Lloyd Thomas. In 1965, the headmaster was Mr T.K. Brown.

In 1974, the school became a Community Home with Education (CHE) under the control of Cardiff and Glamorgan County Council. The School closed in 1996.

In more recent times, the premises have been occupied by the Hebron Hall Christian Centre.


Note: many repositories impose a closure period of up to 100 years for records identifying individuals. Before travelling a long distance, always check that the records you want to consult will be available.

  • Glamorgan Archives, Clos Parc Morgannwg, Leckwith, Cardiff CF11 8AW. Holdings include: Admission and discharge registers (1910-75); Approved School licensing registers (1947-70); Log books (1944-54); Visitors' books (1913-75); Photographs; School plans.


  • None noted at present.