Pontfadog School, Ceiriog Valley
Written by Kirsty Williams

Pontfadog school was built in 1908 at the instigation of Lloyd George’s newly created Welsh Department of Education at Westminster, one of the first “new” schools where children were encouraged to speak their mother tongue and where Welsh culture was embraced.

Sir Alfred Davies, a good friend of Lloyd George, lived at Brynhyfrd in Pontfadog and was appointed to head up the Welsh Education Department. Thus Pontfadog school was considered a “model” school and described by Owen Morgan Edwards, historian and school inspector when he visited the school on the 9th January, 1912, “ the school has beautiful up to date buildings, the two classrooms are light, airy and spacious…It is clear that with the model buildings and newer methods, this school can take its place with the best country school of the district”.

The school is constructed of Ruabon brick under Ruabon clay tile roof, one of the best roofing materials, with cast iron guttering and down pipes.  Original fenestration is in remarkably good condition and our conservation architect, Rob Chambers, is impressed with the quality and standing of many original features; parquet mahogany flooring throughout the hallway and classrooms, concertinaed classroom divider [very few remaining], original internal doors, the school bell and glazed mustard and forest green coloured Ruabon bricks to a height of 1.2m internally. Although Wrexham Council deemed the building unworthy of listing, we are advised by CADW to submit it for listing once repairs and renovations are completed.

Extensive public consultation has been conducted continuously since the school closed in July 2019 to ascertain what the community would like to see the building and site used for; two petitions which garnered just under 1000 signatures, a survey conducted by a strong local group [constituted into a Community Interest Company] which showed the large majority of Glyntraian community want to see the site returned to community use, a fundraiser promise auction held at the Swan Inn, a family picnic tea party on the school field to celebrate the Queen’s Jubilee and two open afternoons at the school.

Inspite of continuous lobbying by the community for an asset transfer or lease, Wrexham Council tried for 4 years to sell the site to a housing developer. Thanks to Natural Resources Wales stricter regulations on phosphate run off into the River Dee [the Ceiriog being a tributary], and antiquated sewage plants for Pontfadog, Llwynmawr and Glyn Ceiriog, all planning permission for new builds in the valley is at a standstill currently.

Wrexham Council sold Pontfadog school by auction in March 2023 for £216,000. It was bought by Kirsty Williams, local resident and member of the community group, who recruited the help of three other local women to raise the balance; Edith Jones, Isabelle Waine and Alma Pierson.

The Community Interest Company is currently applying for grant funding for £1.4M to carry out repairs, renovations and build a new kitchen. To date £7K has been awarded by the Architectural Heritage Fund for a Project Feasibility study which has been completed and a further £20K is being sought for their Project Development Fund. This information will then be collated into applications to the Community Ownership Fund [Governments Levelling Up Fund] for £1.1M and £300K match funding from the Communities Facilities Fund [Welsh Govt.].

Plans for the site include a Forest school pre-school nursery, holiday club for primary aged children, specialist curriculum sessions for older children with learning difficulties and outdoor birthday parties. Also outside will be a community, sensory garden and sports field for recreational use [there is no other green space in Pontfadog where ball games are allowed]. Inside there will be a café, museum, desk rental, office space and treatment rooms, tourist information, local marketing hub and day care for the elderly. Further ideas are a Menzshed and wedding venue.

CPRW Clwyd Branch gave written support over a number of years to Kirsty Williams and team in their long campaign to achieve for Pontfadog a community hub at the ex School in this rural village.