Ruthin primary school development

A new school year is upon us, and school pupils across the county are adjusting to their new school routines. Next September will see an even bigger change for some, as the pupils and staff of Ysgol Penbarras and Rhos Street School in Ruthin relocate into brand new purpose built school buildings. On 14th September Denbighshire County Council’s planning committee granted planning permission to build replacement school buildings and facilities for on a new shared site in Ruthin. Both schools are currently on the same site, and the buildings have for some years been in desperate need of replacing.

Rhos Street School

Hard evidence of the date of the foundation of the British School in Rhos Street is difficult to find. The Schools in Wales 1500-1900 by Malcolm Seabourne, dates the building as 1846 and names the architect as Richard Cash. However the British school (not the building), predates this by three years. Until then, the school room was provided by Edward Jones of Brynhyfryd, a local solicitor.

It was a large school, even in its early days, with 173 boys in 1846. As with Ruthin National School, the poor of the town were catered for in these schools, In 1847 girls were admitted, then in 1849 children from the workhouse were also admitted.

Log book records began in November 1873 with Hugh Williams as Head teacher of a Mixed Junior and Infants departments. By the 1880s there were still 200 on roll but received glowing praise from HMI. In Aug/Sept 1894 there were alterations to the building to accommodate growing numbers, as by October 1895 there were 289 pupils on roll.

A HMI report of September 1897 criticised the school for lack of teaching staff – the Head teacher was responsible for teaching 67 pupils!

Rhos Street Pupils c.1910 (PPD/90/140)

Rhos Street Pupils c.1910 (PPD/90/140)

1st September 1925 JCJ Ellis Edwards became Head teacher – a well-known, conductor of choirs, he was responsible for opening a school penny bank and introducing a school cap. Girls wore navy blue and the boys green. Each had a badge showing the red dragon and the letters R.C.S. – Ruthin Council School. Known as Ruthin Mixed Council school by January 1930, there were 132 on roll.

The Infants department had separate log books from 1876 when there were 60 plus on roll. The department was officially designated as separate from the Junior Mixed school in April 1901 but suffered also from too many children for one teacher to teach.

The records of Rhos Street School can be found on our online catalogue.

Ysgol Penbarras

The accommodation problems at Rhos Street increased with the opening of the Welsh-medium primary school, Ysgol Penbarras, on the same site in 1984. Discussions had been taking place about the provision of a Welsh medium primary school in the town since around 1956. The initial intake was 58 pupils, which grew to well over 200 by the end of the century.

Watch a fly through of new buildings here


ED/LB/90/1-4,8 – Log books of Rhos Street School

History of Ruthin- Ruthin History Society

Schools in Wales 1500-1900- Malcolm Seaborne

Ruthin Local History Broadsheet 1985-2003







One Response to “Ruthin primary school development”

  1. Roger Edwards Says:

    Having read some of the Rhos Street School log-book entries, I can highly recommend them as fascinating evidence of Ruthin’s social history.

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