In 1871 the Board School Act was passed and in 1876 the Mynyddislwyn School Board opened a school at Greenfield, Newbridge, at a cost of £4,000.Mr George William Stoker of Frome, Somerset was appointed as its master.He writes on June 28, 1876:-
“I George William Stoker, took charge of the Mynyddislwyn Board School at Greenfield, assisted by Rachael Marsh and Gwyn Jones, paid monitresses.The children are very backward and many have never attended school before”.
The following years were very difficult for the village schoolmaster.Mr Stoker’s log book gives us a day to day commentary on that day and generation.Epidemics of diphtheria, measles and scarlet fever were common.Inclement weather meant children come to school soaked to the skin.
In his book he faithfully records the joys and sorrows of the community which were reflected in school life.For example when the travelling circus and wild beast show would raise the ‘Big Top’ in a field which is now the shopping centre of the village.And days when the school would close because of :-
“Christian Endeavour and teetotal meeting in an influential chapel”.
Poignantly, one entry datedSeptember 11, 1878 reads:-
“Attendance very small by reason of a pit explosion at Abercarn”.
When this curt entry was recorded, did the schoolmaster know that he was recording the the worst pit explosion the locality has ever known? A terrible tragedy in which 269 men and boys lost their lives.
Due to the industrial development a great increase in the population took place and in spite of the opening of Tynewydd school in 1895, Her Majesty’s inspectors reported the following:-
“This school is seriously overcrowded. In a room accommodating thirty boys, I found no fewer than seventy-six boys in the charge of one assistant master”.