Achievements & Events Links


Miss Emily Armstrong

As the first headmistress, she established the school's reputation and attracted pupils from all over the UK. She ensured that the school curriculum offered a challenging and balanced approach to female education in comparison with the usual domestic subjects for girls in that era.
The school in the 1880s

Pupils in the 1880s

Prize Day 1885


Miss Eliza Fewings
She became a prominent figure in the campaign 
to further the cause of higher education for Welsh girls, pressing for more scholarships for girls and for improving teachers' training in Wales.  She became a member of many public education bodies in Wales and encouraged parents to provide a proper education for their daughters.  

When she left the school in 1896 Miss Fewings went to Australia to become the Headteacher at Brisbane Girls' Grammar. In 1899 she  set up the Brisbane High School for Girls, which still today has the original Dr Williams' School motto 'Honour before Honours'.
Scholarship examination

Prize Day 1886

Success in public examinations 1887

Sampler - 1890s

1896-1897 - Miss Lucy Thompson
Green & white were adopted as the official school colours in 1896.  The official school motto became  "Honour before Honours". 

The school magazine was published for the first time in 1897 as a link between the pupils and the old girls.  It included  an article by Eluned Morgan Jones (see link)
A school rebellion

Mattie Roberts and Miss Rutter sail to Australia to work at Miss Fewings' school

1897-1906  Miss Diana Thomas The field was bought between the School & Trem Hyfryd for use as a hockey pitch.  A new wing was added to the school in 1906, with an official opening by Mrs Lloyd George, who visited the school with her husband, David Lloyd George. 
The whole school went to see Buffalo Bill's Wild West Show at the Marian in 1904.
Hockey on the new field

Programme for Prize Day 1902

Croquet on the lawn 1903

The new buildings 1905

1906-1924  Miss Florence Anstey
The new school wing was completed in 1910, comprising a large dormitory, 2 classrooms, studies, staff rooms & cloakrooms, so the school could now accommodate 80 boarders. Tremhyfred was bought & opened as a boarding & house craft centre.
The 1st World War saw the girls sewing articles for numerous charities to help the war effort and refugees in the local area.  Bazaars were held for the Red Cross, and a concerts for the wounded soldiers at the Military Hospital near Dolgellau. The Prince of Wales visited the school in 1923 & signed the visitors' book.
Old Girls Association Meeting at 10 Downing Street

Hockey Team, 1910

How DWS celebrated the Armistice 1918

A Midsummer Night's Dream, 1923

The Prince of Wales visits the school 1923

1924-1940  Miss Ellen Constance Nightingale
Miss Nightingale was a Quaker and believed in the brotherhood of man and the worth and dignity of the individual.  More day girls attended the school and Welsh increased in importance in the curriculum.
'Ardua Semper', the new school crest and motto was introduced in 1934.
A gymnasium, dormitories and a staffroom were added in 1928 in time for the Golden Jubilee.  The school bridge was opened in 1938 to enable the pupils to walk to Penycoed, the new school house.  The new Hall was built in 1939, principally designed by Miss Nightingale.  The furniture was designed by Edward Barnsley of the Arts & Crafts Movement.  The number of pupils increased to 295.
Ellen Constance Nightingale: A Life, by John Griffiths Pedley, published Feb 2022
pub: Gnat books, ISBN: 9780578351322
Letter 1931

'Woolly stockings' diary entry 1930

Diary of an 11 Year old 1931

A Walk up Cader Idris in 1934

Pupils sitting on the school bridge, 1939
images/orford.jpg 1940-1946 Miss E M C Orford  The wartime years saw an increase in boarders as the location was in a 'safe' area & Llys Mynach was bought for use as a junior school. New societies were set up such as the Guides, Rangers, & Training Corps. The school was affected by the rationing & blackout (see linked stories). There was a visit by the Old Vic Company in 1941 with Dame Sybil Thorndike & Lewis Casson, playing Macbeth and in 1942 for Medea. Hear Elinor Owen, a pupil talking about it.
Guides & Rangers attended a rally in 1945 at the Temple of Peace in Cardiff and were presented to Princess Elizabeth.
Letters home in World War II

Safety of the mountains

Picnic with Miss 'Do' Davies 1942

'Jottings' of DWS in wartime 1939-43
1946-1969  Miss D B Lickes  Glyn Malden & Dolrhyd were bought as boarding houses, with Glyn Malden becoming the junior school. The 1949 National Eisteddfod was held in Dolgellau and the school building was used for this.
'Do' Davies, ex pupil (1906-12) and teacher (1919-61) retired.
The school swimming pool was opened in 1961 and a state of the art Language Laboratory followed soon after.
The railway line between Ruabon & Barmouth closed in 1965, a huge blow to the school.
Trem Hyfred became the Senior House in 1968.
With the establishment of Ysgol y Gader as the new comprehensive (and now  coeducational school) for the area in 1962, it was necessary to concentrate on attracting more boarders. Day girl numbers fell to 80 due to local competition.
Teatime at Glyn Malden 1956

Parti Deuddeg 1949

School Library & Hall in 1956-7

A swimming lesson 1966

Memories of The Golden Lion in the 50s
'The Roar of the Greasepaint'1967
1969-1974  Miss N L Lloyd-Jones  Glyn Malden was sold & Llys Mynach became the Junior House.
Many rules were relaxed making life for boarders easier, giving the senior pupils more responsibility & freedom.
Pillars of the school retired: Miss Lee, (Lotty) Deputy Head (staff 1941-73).  Miss K M Thomas (Ma T.) Head of Music (staff 1944-71).
Sponsored walk 1969

Skiing in Leysin 1969

An Upper Third's notelet home 1970

Girl guides with Miss Lloyd-Jones 1970

School was an adventure 1972-73
1974-1975  Miss V E M Shepherd The closure of the school was announced early in 1975. The reason given was financial reasons, caused by the Houghton Committee pay award to teachers.  Parents fought to keep it open but the increase in fees would have been too steep to attract more pupils in the future.  The 229 pupils had to find alternative schools, school buildings had to be sold, and items were sold or donated.  The proceeds of the sale formed the  Dr Williams' Educational Fund to provide grants for educational purposes to old girls and local residents.

Thanksgiving service was held at St Mary's Church, extracts from which can be heard on the Audio page
'Sick Wing' 1973-75

Last days of 1975's Upper IIIrds

Last Supper at DWS

'A summer serenade' 1974