THE ABERDARE REPORT AND EDUCATION IN WALES, 1881 IN late-Victorian Wales, nonconformists in particular would remember 1881 as the year of the 'Sunday Closing Act'. Few would have thought that the formation of the Welsh Rugby Union would merit greater attention a century later. In November 1881, Sir Hugh Owen died and Wales was reminded yet again of the significance of the year 1881 in her educational history, for it was only three months earlier that his name had figured prominently in the Aberdare Report which was, to a very great extent, the summation of his educational philosophy. The publication of the Aberdare Report in August 1881, following an inquiry into the nature and extent of intermediate and higher education in Wales, has been regarded by contemporaries and later historians as an event of major importance in the history of Wales. The Reverend Daniel Rowlands of Bangor Normal College thought it was a very satisfactory document' which symbolized a change for the better in the fortunes of Wales.1 For T. I. Ellis, the Report heralded the beginning of a new era in Welsh education' and deserves to be regarded as the educational charter of modern Wales'.2 Professor David Williams's considered judgement was that it embodied a revolutionary proposal',8 whilst Dr. Kenneth O. Morgan viewed it as a 'remarkable Report' which came out boldly in favour of a Welsh educational system, more advanced than that of England'.4 Dr. Leslie Wynne Evans thought that its tangible result over a short period of twenty-seven years was the creation of an educational blueprint for Wales which had no parallel in any other country in Western Europe'.5 There is much justification for this laudatory appraisal, but a perusal of the Report and the volume of evidence will also highlight its limitations. In essence, the Aberdare Report embodied a con- servative philosophy of education and missed the opportunity of providing an educational manifesto that was in harmony with the Committee's own analysis of the particular circumstances and » Y Traethodydd, 1881, t. 474. » T. I. Ellis, The Development of Higher Education in Wales (1935), p. 54. » David Williams, Modern Wales (1935), pp. 278-79. Kenneth O. Morgan, Wales in British Politics (1980 edn.), p. 49. Also see idem, Rebirth of a Nqtion: Wales 1880-1980 (1981), pp. 23-24. • L. W. Evans, Studies in Welsh Education (1974), p. 6.