Sunday, 7 January 2018

137 Glanmor School

137 Glanmôr School
Swansea’s district of St Thomas has three streets named after Crimean War battles – Inkerman, Balaclava and Sebastopol.  Likewise the housing estate at the top of Glanmôr Hill has four streets named after Oxbridge Colleges - Newnham Crescent and Girton Villas (Cambridge), with Lady Margaret Villas and Somerville Court (Oxford).  These colleges were founded in the 19th century as women’s colleges (though both Lady Margaret and Somerville now accept male students).  Those street names were chosen because Glanmôr School once stood on that site, and the college names are those of four of the seven “houses” in the Girls’ School.
As Carol Powell points out in “Glanmôr Remembered”, after the First World War Swansea’s Director of Education wanted to cater for children who were “not quite bright enough for Secondary Education, but too bright to languish in Elementary Education until they were fourteen”.  So Glanmôr was built as a “Central School” on the site of Cwmgwyn Farm, and opened in April 1922 for boys and girls, using surplus army billet huts from Codfood Camp on Salisbury Plain.  These wooden huts were arranged around a grassy area in a rectangle, with each linked by an open veranda, and were intended as temporary accommodation, expected to last from ten to fifteen years: in the event they would be in use for over fifty!  The boys’ section had 278 pupils in the eastern part, and the girls’ section had 243 in the western part.
In 1930 Glanmôr received full Secondary School status, becoming on a level with Swansea’s two boys schools, Dynevor in De La Beche Street and the Grammar School on Mount Pleasant Hill, and two girls schools, Llwyn-y-bryn in the Uplands and De La Beche (where the Orchard Centre now stands).  School plays – including Shakespearian dramas - would take place at the YMCA’s Llewelyn Hall or St Gabriel’s Church Hall in Bryn Road. 
During the Second World War pupils were evacuated to Oxford Street School, which was safer, being a solid stone construction; boys used the first floor, and girls the ground floor, while Glanmôr was occupied by American soldiers.  After the war, Butler’s 1944 Education Act raised the school leaving age to 15, and the Glanmôr boys were dispersed among various secondary schools, leaving Glanmôr as a Girls’ School.
The 618 pupils were divided into seven houses – the four mentioned earlier, with St Hilda’s and St Hugh’s, both named after Oxford colleges, and St David’s.  Netball and rounders took place on school premises, but hockey entailed a trek up to the playing fields on Townhill.
New buildings were put up for science, art and music, and following educational reform Glanmôr became a senior comprehensive school in 1970, when pupil numbers reached 898.  School trips were made to such places as Brecon Cathedral, the National Museum of Wales in Cardiff, and what was then called St Fagan’s Folk Museum, and to the Continent.
But after 50 years of use, the huts (known both disparagingly and affectionately as “the cowsheds”) were inadequate, especially once the school leaving age was increased to 16.  So Glanmôr School was closed in 1972 - some girls climbed on the roof and painted the words “Parting Is Such Sweet Sorrow”, from Shakespeare’s “Romeo and Juliet”.  However the buildings continued to be used, in 1974 by second and third year pupils of the new Olchfa Comprehensive School, while high alumina cement that had been used during its construction was removed, and as an annexe by Gorseinon College of Further Education.  When proposals for a Welsh-medium comprehensive school on the site did not materialise, Glanmôr was demolished in August 1989 to make way for housing. 
All that remains of the school is part of the perimeter wall and a stone entrance-Arch, on the corner of Glanmôr Road and Penlan Crescent, but the regular reunions of the Glanmôr Old Girls Association show that it is far from being forgotten.

1 comment:

  1. I was a pupil at Glanmor School from 1963 and it was a Grammar school then not a comprehensive school as previously stated. Also, at that time, there were only four Houses i.e. Newnham, Girton, Somerville and Lady Margaret.