Fight for School ... Vicar Warns of Riots

Article Number Nine in Hook History Society’s Lockdown Series.


If the County Authority builds a school in Hook there could well be rioting in the streets of Llangwm and such action would create a grave and dangerous situation.

So warned the Rector of Llangwm, the Rev Henry Adams, who canvassed determinedly in an effort to block a move to build a primary school in neighbouring Hook. There will be serious consequences, he warned, grave danger and serious public trouble. He even hinted there could be riots in the streets of Llangwm.

He was supported in his bid to ambush the Hook campaign by the Headmaster of Llangwm School, a Mr Thomas Carr.

Perhaps even the pious can be disingenuous. The Parson was chair of the Llangwm Church School and may well have feared that with a school in largely non-conformist Hook the children would be more influenced by the burgeoning Mount Zion Chapel and the headmaster realised he would lose over 60 pupils from his school. The fact that the children had to walk several miles in all-weather appeared to be of little relevance.

The fight for the school in Hook was led by a rugged campaigner called Joseph Davies. He was known throughout the area as Joe Boss.....largely, it is understood, because of his powerful position within the labour intensive Hook Colliery.

He was also the long serving clerk to Llangwm Parish Council.

The school pictured in the early 1930’s...the Headmaster stands at the door!
Above: The school pictured in the early 1930’s...the Headmaster stands at the door!

Mr Davies continually drew attention to the 60 to 70 children who trudged to Llangwm school in all weathers. Often, they sat in wet clothes with only a meagre coal fire to heat the classroom. They carried a few sandwiches and would not have a proper hot drink until they walked home in the evening.

Joe Boss organised petitions: lobbied councillors and made astute use of the local media. He was obviously the lead campaigner and it turned out that the vast majority of Llangwm citizens had the understanding and good sense to support the bid for a school in Hook and there was huge relief when in January 1912 the Board of Education gave the go ahead for a village school in Hook.

Tenders went out and a site was sought. The land cost £40 and the fixed tender price was £986 and awarded to a local company.

During construction the original petition asking for a school was placed within one of the walls......but today the position remains a mystery.


The school was formally opened in March 1914. The colliery closed as did Llangwm School and an estimated 200 people crammed into the playground to watch S.B.Sketch perform the opening ceremony. After construction it was decided to add buttresses to the corners of the building to compensate for any subsidence that could occur.

The first head was Gwilym Rhys Jones, a native of Hirwaun and on day one 71 pupils were enrolled. 59 of which had formerly been pupils at Llangwm.

 A number of Hook 12-year olds were ordered to complete their education at leaving age was 13 at that time. It was not long before the school received acclaim as in July 1914 the Western Telegraph reported that with a percentage of 98.2 for the month of May Hook was the best attended primary school in the county, where the average was 87.7 percent.

To mark the great day and to recognise the debt owed to Joe Boss he was presented with an armchair......and a pair of spectacles! His photograph still hangs in pride of place in the school as does that of the Headmaster...........but for different and very sad reasons.

The first child to be entered on the admissions register was Nancy Davies, who married Major Jack Evans, who was the local councillor for many years and became Chairman of both the Haverfordwest Rural Council and its successor authority Preseli Pembrokeshire District Council. In September 1921 the school celebrated its first pupil passing the entrance examination to Haverfordwest Grammar School. He was 13-year-old William Henry Davies. To mark the event, he was presented with a bag in which he could carry his lunch and books.

At the outbreak of war and the huge wave of patriotism that swept the country the headmaster volunteered for the Royal Welsh Fusiliers and he was commissioned in March 1915 only to be killed a few months after in debacle of Gallipoli. He died at a place called Chocolate Hill and was buried by colleagues on the battlefield.

A moving ceremony was held in the school when a framed photograph of Lieutenant Jones was unveiled. Present was the regimental band of the Third and Fourth Royal Welsh Fusiliers which was stationed at Hearston Camp on Hill Mountain, Burton. At its peak in WW1 the camp housed nearly 1,000 soldiers.

More recently the school was presented with a framed picture of Mr Jones; an account of his wartime action and copies of the medals he was awarded.

Pupils proudly display the picture of their hero headmaster and the medals he was awarded. In the picture are members of Hook History Society and Sam and Stuart Blaxland.
Above: Pupils proudly display the picture of their hero headmaster and the medals he was awarded. In the picture are members of Hook History Society and Sam and Stuart Blaxland.


The Pastor’s reference and warning that the people of Llangwm would riot in the streets was alluding to an incident in 1920 when a row between a brother and sister over the occupancy of a house in the village led to a disturbance which meant that police had to be drafted in from several parts of the county to restore order.

At one stage there were over 200 stick waving, stone throwing locals besieging a house and issuing dire threats to a local man.

The situation ended up in court and seriously enhanced Llangwm’s long standing reputation as a village perhaps best described by an extract from the Western Telegraph of the day....”The Llangwm people are industrious and peaceful but when their sympathies are aroused, as they seem to have been on this occasion, it requires no small amount of moral and physical courage to brave them.”

Recommended reading to cover the fight for a school at Hook and the Pastor’s determined struggle to deny the village and a comprehensive account of the infamous Llangwm riot is SOME REMARKABLE PEOPLE OF LLANGWM AND HOOK by W.G.Thomas.

(Richard Howells 2020)