Tom Jones captured for posterity

13th February 2009 at 00:00
Admissions register revealing early days of pop superstar is one of a number of celebrity school records held in archives

Long before he became an international superstar and sex symbol, crooner Tom Jones was just a schoolboy from the Valleys.

A recently discovered school register serves as a reminder of the singing legend's humble beginnings in the mining town of Pontypridd, far from the bright lights of Las Vegas where he later made his name.

The document shows an eight-year-old Sir Tom enrolled as Thomas Woodward at Wood Road Boys' School in Treforest, Pontypridd, on September 7, 1948.

The school is now closed, but officials at Rhondda Cynon Taf council have unearthed the record as part of a new history project based on school admission registers.

The documents, along with other school records such as log books and punishment books, will be digitised and preserved for future generations, and pupils in the county will be able to use the information in class projects.

The "Tom Jones register" joins a number of other fascinating celebrity school records kept in archives across Wales.

Swansea library holds the complete run of Swansea Grammar School's magazine, which includes numerous contributions from poet and playwright Dylan Thomas.

Thomas published his first poem, "Song of the Mischievous Dog", in the magazine at the tender age of 11.

A school log book kept by West Glamorgan Archive Service documents Hollywood screen legend Richard Burton's first taste of success at the age of 12.

It shows that Richard Walker Jenkins, as he was then called, was one of 10 boys to pass an entrance exam for Port Talbot Eastern Boys' School on June 24, 1937.

In many schools, famous alumni are held up as role models for pupils and give kudos to prospectuses.

The founding members of rock band Stereophonics - Kelly Jones, Richard Jones and Stuart Cable - all attended Blaengwawr Comprehensive in Aberaman, Aberdare, which owns a platinum copy of their second album Performance and Cocktails.

David Evans, the headteacher, said all three regularly return to the school to speak to pupils and distribute prizes.

Oakdale Comprehensive near Caerphilly boasts a number of famous alumni, including world champion boxer Joe Calzaghe and the members of the rock band Manic Street Preachers - James Dean Bradfield, Nicky Wire, Sean Moore, and the missing, presumed dead, Richey Edwards.

Although he never taught them, Chris David, Oakdale's headteacher, says having such famous former pupils is an inspiration to his youngsters.

"All the pupils know the Manics and Calzaghe attended the school, and they are proud of that," he said.

"We can point to their success and say to the pupils, `You have those same opportunities'."

Before they were famous .

  • Shirley Bassey (singer) Moorland Primary, Cardiff
  • Rob Brydon (comedian) Porthcawl Comprehensive
  • Charlotte Church (singer) Howell's School, Cardiff
  • Gareth Edwards (rugby legend) Pontardawe Technical School
  • Gavin Henson (rugby player) Brynteg Comprehensive, Bridgend
  • Anthony Hopkins (actor) Port Talbot Central School, West Monmouth School in Pontypool, and Cowbridge Grammar School
  • Ruth Jones (comedian, creator of Gavin and Stacey) Porthcawl Comprehensive
  • David Lloyd George (former prime minister) Llanystumdwy Village School, Gwynedd
  • Carol Vorderman (TV presenter) Blessed Edward Jones RC School, Rhyl
  • JPR Williams (rugby legend) Bridgend County School
  • Catherine Zeta Jones (actress) Dumbarton House School, Swansea.

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