Matt Lewis

Retirement after nearly 48 years in teaching profession 28.12.1940

With the end of the past school term Mr Matt Lewis is going into retirement after a long and full career in the educational field in South Wales.  Mr Matt Lewis, was headmaster of Aman Central School for the past eight years, and one of the best-known figures in the life of the town.

Son of a fine old local teacher character Mr Tom Lewis (“the Milk”), young Matt, born at Aberaman and attending old Blaengwawr School, made a rather startled and quite involuntary entry into the teaching profession at the tender age of 12 ½ when, with two other boys waiting to leave (one of them Mr Tom Walker, now retiring from the headship of St. Fagan’s Church School, Trecynon), he was singled out by the famous old Blaengwawr head, the late Mr W.T. Roberts, to become a “teacher”!

This was on a never-to-be-forgotten day in June, and within six weeks young Matt Lewis was put in charge of a class of 36 boys! One or two of the brighter lads (he confesses now) could teach him something in at least one subject, but he took to his responsible task happily, and in due course proceeded to the Bangor Normal Training College to pursue “higher education” and to be initiated into the mysteries of “teaching method.”

In 1903 he returned a fully-fledged certificated teacher and obtained a post at Capcoch School, where he remained – except for a year at Ebbw Vale – until he was appointed to the staff of the Higher Standard School (now Gadlys Central), where he remained for 12 years.

At Penywaun

In 1925 he got his first headship at Penywaun, and although he was there for only two terms before being promoted to the headship at Llwydcoed, his stay had one notable result. As a consequence of his close interest in the little community, and his friendship with the residents, he was able to initiate the movement that led to the establishment of the Welfare Hall, now the centre of the activity in the village.

Six years at Llwydcoed, Mr Lewis became head of the Aman Boy’s School, afterwards transformed into a central school.

Like many other members of the profession who entered it so unorthodoxly and so young in those “growing years” of education in Wales. Mr Lewis became a fine teacher, human, tolerant, understanding of boys, and in all the schools of which he afterwards became head, and particularly at Aman, he enjoyed happy relations and full co-operation with his staff.

Tributes to his qualities and to the pleasant relationships he had developed with his staff at Aman were expressed by Mr D.D. Davies (senior assistant) when he presented Mr Lewis with a cheque at a “farewell meeting” in the school on Friday afternoon.

On behalf of the boys, Victor Balsdon handed Mr Lewis a pipe, and on behalf of the girls, Eiddwen Hughes prettily presented him with two books.

Mr Lewis was very active in the local N.U.T. Association of which he became president on two occasions. He presented the Aberdare Association on the Glamorgan County Association for some years – and in the busy and important period when the Burnham Scale was being drawn up and discussed> He only narrowly failed to secure a seat to the National Executive of the N.U.T.

Work for the Labour Movement

A Socialist almost all his life, he became identified with the Labour movement in the town in its pioneer days when he laboured strenuously and enthusiastically to spread the creed with the band of workers who formed Aberdare’s first I.L.P. group. He represented the I.L.P. on the local Trades Council, of which he became chairman and he represented the Trades Council itself on the committee responsible for founding the General Hospital, he, being a member of all the sub-committees. He was secretary of the Merthyr Boroughs Labour Party for 16 years in the time of the late Keir Hardie, to whom he and Mrs Lewis acted as host and hostess when Keir Hardie visited his constituency. Numerous other notabilities in the movement also enjoyed the hospitality of their home.

Mr Lewis has also been an active co-operator since the old Cwmbach Society was formed in 1912. When that society was taken over by the Aberdare Society, he became a member of the management committee and remained on it until last year.

He was a member of the local Unemployment Advisory Committee and, of the local Evening Classes Committee, of which he is now chairman, and on which he has sat for the past 5-6 years.

Many friends in the district wish him and Mrs Lewis. Herself a well-known in social and political circles in Aberdare, every happiness in the years ahead.

Mr Lewis will, one had no doubt, adjust himself to the big change in his life brought about by retirement from a well-loved job when he is still active in mind and body. He has many interests to which he can devote himself, and eventful and full years behind him to give, him a zest for the years ahead.

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