Ty Mawr Residential School, Gilwern, Nr Abergavenny

Ty Mawr Residential School, Gilwern, nr Abergavenny

Gwent’s Operation Flight started in January 1998 following the referral of some cases from South Wales’s Operation Goldfinch.  The complainants had been in Ty Mawr, a large former approved school situated in a manor house in Gilwern, five miles from Abergavenny.  At first, only a limited investigation was carried outbut the police quickly realised, after much talking to some victims, that the problem of abuse was much more extensive and therefore merited a much wider enquiry.  Gwent Police, therefore, decided to contact all 7,000 former residents of Ty Mawr, which was open between 1949 and 1993.

At first, it was an approved school, but the police have been surprised at how many children who stayed there in its early years were taken for social reasons, such as the death of a parent or their separation, and had not been offenders.  As one of the investigating officers put it: ‘The system failed those children.  It turned them into criminals’.  By November 1999, the inquiry team – consisting of both existing and former officers – had identified 2,000 residents, talked to 1,500 and had received 150 allegations of sexual or physical abuse against 73 suspected perpetrators.

The police claim they were acting in concert and knew what each other were doing.  There is a concentration of complaints relating to the late sixties and seventies, though the earliest relates to 1962.  Nearly all of these concern Ty Mawr, but the investigation spread to 15 other homes in Gwent, some of which have already been the subject of allegations.  Offences range from minor physical assaults to buggery.

The team is made up of 31 officers and is expected to take several years to complete its investigation.  The first defendant to come to trial was acquitted in November 1999 but, at the time of writing, there had been two successful convictions at a joint trail which ended in February 2000: Barry Alden received 15 years for a series of offences including buggery and Robert Wright eight years for offences including attempted buggery.  Several other cases were pending.

Forgotten Children, Christian Wolmar, 2000, pp.34-35

Approved school teachers jailed for abuse

Ty Mawr school The Ty Mawr Approved School in Monmouthshire
Two men who abused young boys when they worked in an approved school in Monmouthshire have been jailed for a total of 23 years.
A judge at Newport Crown Court jailed 66-year-old Barrie Alden, the former deputy principal at the Ty Mawr School near Abergavenny for 15 years after being convicted of 10 offences against young boys.Ex-housemaster John Wright, 56, from Talgarth in Powys was sentenced to eight years after being found guilty of six counts.

These defendants took it upon themselves to satisfy their sexual desires on them, and made a bad situation considerably worse.
Roger Thomas QC
Both men were cleared of a number of other charges.The court heard the attacks took place between 1966 to 1983 and the complainants were vulnerable figures, many from broken homes or single-parent families.

Prosecuting, Roger Thomas QC told the jury that their victims were timid boys who were frightened and bullied while at the school.Morally and socially corrupted

He said: “Some boys as young as eight were sent to the local authority school after ending up in court for trivial offences.

“Once there, they were subjected to indecent assaults and serious sexual assaults by Wright and Alden.

“At a time when they needed discipline, moral support and guidance, the exact opposite happened.

“They were abused, morally and socially corrupted.

“These defendants took it upon themselves to satisfy their sexual desires on them, and made a bad situation considerably worse.”Alden and Wright were arrested as a result of a Gwent Police inquiry into alleged abuse at children’s homes codenamed Operation Flight.

Both denied all the allegations, claiming the complainants were lying or attempting to gain compensation.

But they were found guilty by a jury of six men and six women who were praised for their “great commitment” in hearing harrowing evidence.


Judge Thomas Crowther QC told the pair: “You abused boys in their early to middle teens who were less equipped than the rest of the population to know how to resist and complain.

“It is regrettably a common feature sometimes described as grooming.


“You used your position and power to discourage these boys from reporting you by threats and punishment.”

The pair were ordered to register as sex offenders for the rest of their lives.

Det Chief Inspector Terry Hapgood, senior investigating officer in Operation Flight set up to probe the abuse, said afterwards: “It was a multi-agency investigation with police working closely with social services to bring about the results we have today.

“We welcome the decision of the court.

“It has been long and intricate task to bring these people to justice but it underlines the determination of the team.”

He said it was first trial in Operation Flight which is continuing and is expected to result in more charges.

BBC 18/02/00

Ty Mawr report fails to satisfy home’s critics

 Tuesday 04 August 1992

CHILDREN’S rights campaigners were last night disappointed by the findings of the Ty Mawr inquiry report into abuse at the home, in spite of its recommendation that it should be closed. They said the report was ‘uninformative’ and had failed to uncover the truth of life in the home.

The inquiry was announced in May last year after an investigation by the Independent revealed emotional and physical abuse at the children’s home near Abergavenny, Gwent, and that Phillip Knight, a boy of 15 who killed himself in Swansea prison, had attempted suicide at the home. According to his social workers, his suicide attempt was not taken seriously by staff at the home, who sought to punish him for it.

The investigation revealed that 17-year-old Leslie Clements, who also committed suicide last year, made five attempts on his life before he was moved to a psychiatric unit where he could be treated. Leslie told the Independent that he was woken each morning by a member of staff who told him: ‘You’re going to fail.’

Alex Saddington, of the National Associaton of Young People in Care, said that while the report singled out the former director of social services, Roger Perkins, for ‘autocratic, verging on dictatorial’ management style, the report failed to focus on the abuse of children and young people by members of staff.

‘Lord Williams, the inquiry chairman, spoke of ‘low level violence’ and said young people accepted punishments such as being ‘knuckled’ on the head, but I don’t believe they did accept it. The language of the report seems to qualify the violence,’ he said.

‘Slaps and knuckles were part of it, but there was much more. There was punching and there was emotional and psychological cruelty. It misses what Leslie Clements talked about. Staff telling him he was ‘shit’ and that he would never do anything with his life. The report does not address this and does not particularly say anything. It is nowhere near as informative as the Staffordshire pin- down inquiry.’

The inquiry report found that ‘neither Ty Mawr nor its staff could be fairly blamed’ for the death of Leslie Clements and that while the home was an ‘inappropriate placement for him’, staff treated him with ‘affection’.

There was also disappointment in Dyfed with the report’s finding that Ty Mawr staff could not be criticised for their handling of a suicide attempt by Phillip Knight in June 1990. The report says: ‘There is no fair basis upon which staff at Ty Mawr or employed by Gwent County Council could reasonably be criticised in respect of Phillip’s treatment at Ty Mawr.’

Dewi Evans, Dyfed’s director of social services, said he stood by his social workers’ reports that staff at the home had called police instead of an ambulance when they discovered the damage Phillip had caused to his room. A Dyfed social worker said: ‘Staff were more interested in damage to property than to life and limb.’

Mr Saddington said he was surprised that the inquiry report had rejected criticism levelled at the home’s use of secure unit cells by the Social Services Inspectorate. Its report published in June last year criticised the home for locking up children for ‘prolonged and persistent’ periods in 1989.

The report also stated that while the secure unit was intended to protect children from harming themselves, young people at the home believed it was being used as a punishment.

The report criticised staff for poor record-keeping, which made it difficult for inspectors to check how long children were being kept in solitary confinement. But the inquiry report found there was ‘no abuse of secure accommodation’ at Ty Mawr.

‘We are pleased that Ty Mawr is to close and that the management has been heavily criticised, but I’m disappointed. I don’t think Leslie Clements would have been happy with it,’ Mr Saddington said.

He also claimed members of the inquiry had refused to disclose how many young people had given evidence and how many were allowed legal representation. He said this information would highlight the scope of the inquiry.

The great irony was for all the Government’s guidelines on ‘listening to children’, the two most important witnesses, Leslie Clements and Phillip Knight, were not heard. They were dead before the inquiry began its work.

The Independent 04/08/92

144 responses to “Ty Mawr Residential School, Gilwern, Nr Abergavenny

  1. Steve halford aka arffy

    I was at ty Mawr I’m 43 now that shit whole didn’t just end my childhood it’s wrecked my intire adult life my mind is such a wreck at the moment I’m running out of steam I’m tired mentally and ready to end my mind of pain and mental taurment every day and at the point of ending my long battle of taurment I lost my life years ago keep up the good fight lads I’m done with they agony nobody knows the pain except us lads it’s beyond fucking words

  2. andrew

    i was there 1976/77 rowley house . house master dogget and his wife evil bastard . i was from swansea

  3. Don

    I was given an award that belongs to my dad today and decided to research the school that give it in absolutely gobsmacked there’s no wonder he’s never spoke to me about his childhood or his school etc I’m currently set up reading all of ur stories at 1.23am absolutely appalling!! My dad was there 1980 or so it says on his award anyway does anyone remember him? Leslie evans from South Wales

  4. John Campbell

    I was there Jan 89 until March. I was one of the lucky ones, I was big for my age but I could see what was going on. Mr Evans and an old bloke called Jim, ex army, they were one of the bad staff and a filthy chain smoking old bastard with a bull dog that always tried to shag your leg and he laughed with both hands in his trouser pockets playing with himself. Filthy bastards and Julie Williams the dirty filthy bitch. She knew what went on and did nothing to prevent it and encouraged the boys to be “nice” fk you all and I hope you all get and got what you deserve

  5. Richard Walker

    Hi, does anyone remember a David Walker my late brother , he was at Ty Mawr from around 78 to 82.
    Thank you
    Any info would be great

  6. Gwilym

    Mark I remember now tried to forget but never can

  7. Allan Harty

    After four years of investigation the crown prosecution service are unwilling to prosecute .I was in the school four three years I witnessed abuse received abuse physical and mentally I was told I was good for nothing would spend the rest of my life in prison and generally belittled the biggest bully has never received justice all the boys from 1980 on know who he is so do the police not to mention his last name( Mike) .if you were in roily Jones and you were in a room were the above named staff member was choking the life out of me please contact gwent police all I need to get the basterd is you to come forwards remember the circle A tattoo if you read this you know who you are one love to all

  8. Alan Pinkerton

    I was at Ty Mawr in 1952 aged 8. While I was at the farm a lad threw TVO (Tractor Vaporising Oil) at me it went down my right leg causing server burning, I was taken to Crichowell Hospital and had a 6 week stay, as I was from Ty Mawr they would not do any remedial work like skin grafts. I have and am still having great pain and weekly treatment at the age of 75, I have been told it will never heal. I would be interested to know if any one from 1952 has memories of the place.


    what a dump

  10. Pingback: [1] Ty Mawr Childrens Home | cathy fox blog on child abuse

  11. Deanhuish

    Still gives me nightmares at the age of 57yrs, police did contact to ask about my time in ty mawr, but said everything was fine, but believe me, it was far from fine, but at the time, just met a women in Swindon, and did not want her to know anything about my past, concerning sexual abuse and bullying, found it embarrassing to tell anyone, only told my sister this year, mr pakie Alden, yes that was him, probably deceased now Good

  12. Den

    I was in my Mawr early 80s my up bringing before then was shit any way but wen I got their got Evan worse I was only little beat the fuck out of by one of the big lads in rowly I was used to that shit knuckles with the keys back hander cane but. Holden words can’t disciple the devastation he cases so many kids and the other monsters staff and boys some boys wet from victims to abuser and they will know who they are just like the staf

  13. chris lukacs

    when you sit down and look and read how many of the boys say the same thing over and over again about the physical mental and sexual abuse that went on there over then years and like myself no one has tried or been in contact with us but were supposed too just get on with it , I still remember every slap and cruel word like it was yesterday, but I suppose were the lucky ones who are still here too write about it rip too all the ones who haven’t made it this far

  14. michael brookes

    Been reading this thread for awhile now, i was sent to this shit hole when i was 14 in 58/59 different time scale i know but its probable there were things going on even then, being now aged 75 can’t or don’t want to remember names except the boxing/fitness guy was Teddy Best a welsh champion i believe, Mr Wright was the bricklayer/building instructor, i done a runner from there and got to London, got caught and was sent to another place which was a damn sight worse, the names of a couple of lads i remember was ALAN COFFIN i think is how its spelt and his younger brother.

  15. Mark roberts

    I was there not a nice place. I thought it was part of the punishment for being a naughty boy at the time. I done a runner the first night I was there with a boy from Pembroke tubszy and another boy from blackwood can’t remember his name but anyway the police caught us on the 465 and took us back. What a battering we got for that the nightwatchwach nearly had the sack so he hit us with his torch for running. I remember a boy woody and a boy Jonathan bustin and another boy called rabbit. There was more going on than what I’ve been reading about. Does anybody remember Mr lorry he was fond of hitting you on head with the a1 key as well. PAPPA SMURF WAS THE WITH THE SHOWER BUISNESS AND HE DIDN’T WATCH ME. HE DONE IT FOR ME. WHAT A PLACE.

  16. chris

    i was in there 89-90. some of the staff were great but others not so. had physical abuse from mr williams, think it was robin. he gave you 3 stages of punishment depending on the ‘offence’, knuckles on the head, the A1 key or the golf club on his keyring–they all fucking hurt mind!! had a few slaps off budgie the fat lump and a few pecks…the first was at the request of some other lads saying ‘show him your peck budgie’ on my first day in education. i had a few dead legs off glyn richards the blue eyed assassin. got abused racially because i was dark by a few members of staff and other lads there.
    got knocked out during birthday beat which the staff allowed..had about 10 boys on me as it was ‘tradition’ so staff not only let it happen they just stood and watched.
    john vein (big nose and a moustache) on my first day there stood and watched me in the shower using that delouse lotion that every new person had to use, made me feel very uneasy!
    i had an argument with some lads and they came in my wing at rowley and tried to batter me, i had a go back but it was 4 2 1, still how did this happen, its meant to be a safe place for people?
    they constantly didn’t care if you ran away and if you said you would they actively encouraged it saying don’t worry the police will just bring you back…which they did with most lads and usually in the middle of the night which woke you up!
    i saw so many wrong things going on, i was stronger than most and had loads of newport friends in there but some of the other lads didn’t have a good time at all.
    its defo had an impact on me.

  17. I remember this homes from hell detroyed my life life still have flash backs now today still receiving counciling 38 years later evil bastards all of them and we thought it was the rite way to be corrected they should ave all been send to same place and let it b run by us ?

  18. raymond o'callaghan

    Hi gents my name is Raymond o’callaghan i was also in ty-mawr from 1980-1983 and witness what some of the stuff done to young lads by the hard nut bullys…. most mention above…. lads do not let them tossers play or shadowed any more part of your life, simply not worth it…. good luck to you all xx

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