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A Brief History of 
St. Brides Major Primary School

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The first Church School in the Parish was adjacent to St. Bridget's Church in the area now known as The Plantation.  Headmaster Mr. E. Hayden, having been brought from Ireland in 1863 by the Dunraven family, subsequently moved the school into temporary accommodation at Pitcot until a new school was completed in the centre of the village, on Ewenny Road.

St. Brides Major School with children in playground, Ewenny Road site

  St. Brides Major School, Ewenny Road site

This new school was built at the behest of Countess Caroline by Dunraven Estate workmen who used local stone, including Sutton Stone, and was occupied in March, 1865.  A cottage was also provided for the Headmaster.  Pupils proficient with pen and ink were given special lessons in copperplate writing.  The younger pupils used slates and slate pencils.  In 1874 it was noted that the school “received a supply of inkwells and had them inserted into desks.  A decided change for the better over the moveable inkbottles previously used”.  A school log was kept which charted the many changes that occurred over the years.

 Extracts from School Log: 


May “Scarlet fever broke out in the school in consequence of which the school was obliged to close until the 3rd of July, even then it was raging fearfully in the village.  




July 3rd “There was a violent storm during the night, with the result that many children were absent searching the beach for wreckage.”




March 19th “The school closed because of diphtheria.”  The school did not re-open until May 4th.




July 19th “The boys’ garden plots and the girls’ flower gardens garden look very well.  The boys and girls intend competing in the Dunraven Flower and Vegetable Show which is to be held in Dunraven Park on August 7th.”




October 7th “The electricity meter has now been fitted, so the school is now completely equipped with electric light.”




September 4th “All children of age group eleven plus transferred from today to Pencoed Secondary School.”




November 12th “The Parent Teachers’ Association was formed.”

By 1960 pupils could attend either St. Brides village school or Oldcastle Primary School in Bridgend then transfer to one of the three senior schools in Bridgend; Heol Gam Secondary Modern School, Bridgend Girls Grammar School and Bridgend Boys Grammar School were “closed” in the 1970s and Brynteg Comprehensive School was formed, occupying the adjacent sites of the latter two schools.

Building of the present larger primary school in St. Brides Major began in 1969 and the new term in the new school started on 6th January, 1970.  The official opening by Colonel M. H. Maxwell, with a dedication by the Archbishop of Wales, was held on 10th October, 1970.  The original bell tower from the school that stood on Ewenny Road was recovered from the demolition rubble and displayed in a villager's garden for some years before being donated back to the school in 2005 and placed in the Sensory Garden. 

   Bell Tower

Following Government re-organisation of local authority boundaries in the 1990s, children at St. Brides Major Church in Wales Primary School began to transfer to Cowbridge School.  There was a transitional period whereby children already at Oldcastle or Brynteg could continue to attend these schools and their younger siblings also transfer.  However, many schools throughout the district admit children from outside their catchment area and run buses to enable them to attend these establishments.

In 1996 a St. Brides Major Church in Wales School Gardening Club was set up.  An open day was held at the school on 25th March, 2002, when everyone was welcome to go along and help with planting a senses (sensory) garden to complement butterfly, Mediterranean,  Easter and organic vegetable gardens, as well as a woodland and nature reserve.  Some of the money won by the school for collecting the most Yellow Pages for recycling (in total and per head) was used to purchase plants for this innovative project.  Pupils planted and maintained the plots by gardening at lunchtimes as well as during family/community gardening evenings.  Their hard work paid off when they came first out of 1,000 schools throughout Britain in the Royal Horticultural Society Greenfingers Challenge (the aim of the award being to promote life-long commitment to environmental improvement).  Also in 2002, the school won the Wales in Bloom final. 

On the closure of Horeb Chapel in 2003, the Bible used by the Minister was given to the school; the inscription reads: Presented to Horeb Chapel in affectionate memory of Edith Rose Sharratt by St. Brides Major Social Services Club, 1975.  In 2005 a sundial was purchased by the family of May Hollanby; she had been a member of Thursday Club for some time and a donation was made by the group and given to the collection in her memory. 

In May, 2006, Year 2 schoolchildren used flowers and plants within a bedding scheme to create St. Bridget's Cross outside the plantation near the Church and underneath the tree planted by the first Headmaster, Mr. E. Hayden.  St. Bridget, the Patron Saint of the village, is said to have visited the sick of the locality. 

The School's Gardening Club developed and maintained the themed gardens and sections within the grounds during weekly after-school meetings which by 2009 had added: Craft Willow Bed; Faith; Flower Diary; Jewish; Maze; Organic Fruit; Patchwork; Warm Welcome; Wild Flower Meadow; Woven Willow Playground. 

Several items such as candlesticks were made and donated to the School by Ewenny Pottery. 

Worship table, St. Brides Major School   Rear playground of St. Brides Major School, Heol yr Ysgol site, 2005

Left photo: Worship Table at St. Brides Major School
Right photo: St. Brides Major School Playground, Heol yr Ysgol site, in 2005

In May, 2012 during phased redevelopment of the school building which included extending a classroom, year six pupils buried a time capsule near steps in a new junior playground.



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Holidays:  2014/15   2015/16

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