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Y Fesen (‘The Acorn’) was described in its opening pages as ‘The magazine of the Maes y Dderwen County School, Ystradgynlais’. Planned as a termly publication, its first number appeared in December 1937. Its founding coincided with the appointment of a new Headmaster, Mr Seth Owen, previously the English master at the school, who succeeded Mr W. Ernest Rees, who had been the Headmaster since 1917. The magazine clearly expressed the school’s appreciation of its history and traditions, printing a photograph headed ‘Yn y dechreauad’, which dated from the school’s beginnings in 1907, and showed all the pupils (about sixty of them), with the Headmaster, Mr J. Walter Jones B.A., his two assistants and his family. In an accompanying article, the school’s first three years (1907-1910) were recalled by a former pupil as ‘good old days’ of academic, musical, dramatic and sporting successes, despite being spent in ‘an inadequate, ram-shackled, rat-infested edifice at Claypon’ – the old ‘College building’ which still exists, though modernised, between the rugby field and College Row in Ynyscedwyn Road. The magazine’s Editorial also evokes the school’s literary associations, mentioning the novelist Captain Marryat. The author of Mr Midshipman Easy and The Children of the New Forest had lived for a time in the mansion called Maesydderwen, which in 1911 was converted for the school’s use: the local newspaper, the Llais Llafur, described it in 1917 as ‘the most beautifully situated school in the principality’. However, the building was destroyed by fire in 1932. By the time of the first number of Y Fesen, the school was housed in new, purpose-built premises, as shown in the photographs included with this item, which were taken around that time. The magazine, which included original work by pupils, in English and Welsh, together with reports of society activities, eisteddfodau, concerts, public examination results, sporting fixtures and news of old pupils, continued for many years. One notable inclusion, in June 1946, was a specially-drawn cartoon, ‘Cricket in Cwmscwt’ by the then art master, Mr D[avid] G[wilym] John. As the Editors noted, it was ‘the first reproduction, other than in a newspaper, of a Dai Lossin cartoon’: the adventures of his much-loved character had appeared regularly in the Football Echo. The magazine was briefly revived in the 1960s, by which time the school had undergone a further transformation: Y Fesen was now the ‘Magazine of Maesydderwen Comprehensive School, Ystradgynlais’.

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