Following the passing of the 1870 Act, which allowed for the establishment of school boards in every parish, ‘Cribyn Board School’ was opened on the 23rd of April, 1871. Welsh was the language of every home but – as in schools throughout Wales – English was the language of tuition. Indeed, the promotion of English and the implicit eradication of Welsh was central to ‘progressive’ government thinking of the time. Cribyn’s first headteacher was a monoglot English speaker. However, by the turn of the 20th century with the appointment of William Barrow Griffith – a young Welshman trained at the celebrated Bangor Normal College – the situation was greatly improved even though the formal language policy prevailed.

Remembering Barrow Griffith is important as his impact as an educator was not confined to the school in terms of time or place. He played a prominent role in the community’s cultural life as did his successor, J Ffos Davies (1921-27) who spent much of his out-of-school time collecting local folk songs. It is only in recent years that his skill and dedication in hand-notating songs that are now treasured nationally has been fully recognised.

During 2023 the community of Cribyn came together at Troedyrhiw chapel to celebrate the lives of Dai and Beryl Llewelyn. Mr Llewelyn was the last headteacher to live with his family in the school house (what then became the ‘new’ classroom). A central feature of his teaching was his use of the surrounding meadows, footpaths and woodland as teaching areas. In these limitless ‘classrooms’ he taught his pupils to love Cribyn’s rich natural environment as well as its wealth of history, language and culture.

With the school’s closure (2009) Cymdeithas Clotas was formed to sustain his vision and develop the school’s potential as a centre of culture and collaborative education.