Watkin William Price 1873-1967

Schoolmaster, Researcher

He was born on the 4th September 1873 in 261 Cardiff Rd Aberaman Aberdare; his father was Watkin and Sarah Price of a Welsh speaking family from Breconshire. His father was a collier they moved to Aberdare by around 1866. William was educated at Blaengwawr elementary school until 1886 when he went to work in the office of Tariany Gweithiwr in Aberdare; he became a pupil teacher in two local schools until 1895. He then entered Cardiff University College as a ‘normal student’, In 1900 he returned to the Cynon Valley as a teacher in Dan Issacs Davies’s old school Ysgol-y-Comin (Park School) Trecynon which was founded in 1848 in reaction to the vilification of the district in the Blue Books, subsequently he was headmaster of Llwydcoed 1912. Cap Coch 1921 and Blaengwawr 1924 school until he retired in 1933.

He spent almost all his life researching his local and county history and biography; he began in response to a competition set in the national eisteddfod in 1920 on the history and folklore if any Welsh parish. He never completed the work; but he collected and interpreted widely the history on one of the most important areas in Wales in the 19th Century. His labours resulted in valuable essays, records and transcripts in fields varying from monastic to mining. One can marvel at his feat in copying during 1941-43, in his old age, many hundreds of detailed pages from the complicated mining deeds of the district. He rescued a unique 1827-28 volume of drawings by the nieces of Anthony Bacon which depicted the rural live of East Glamorgan before it was despoiled by industry.

His index of some 40,000 cards on persons past and present, in Wales continues to be of use to researchers (Copies at NLW and Aberdare Library). R.T. Jenkins invited him to contribute 30 articles to the Dictionary of Welsh Biography, several of them on some of the most important persons of Old Industrial Wales. He was also a socialist pioneer; secretary of the Independent Labour Party as Aberdare 1900-08, and consequently one of the chief supporters of Keir Hardie when he was M.P. in 1906. There is a tradition that he was one of the fervent members pressing for the nomination of Hardie in the Bethel Chapel Abernant in 1900 to contest the general election in October of that year. Eventually, however he turned to Plaid Cymru, supporting Gwynfor Evans in the Aberdare by-election in 1954. The luke-warm support of some of the chapels for Labour, ‘W.W’ left Saron Chapel, Aberaman and joined the Welsh Unitarians meeting in Yr Hendy Cwrdd Trecynon.

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