South East Wales

Baron Aberdare: Mountain Ash blue plaque for politician

Pupils and dignitaries with the blue plaque
Image caption The plaque has been erected at Mountain Ash Comprehensive School, the site of Baron Aberdare's former home, Duffryn House

The life and career of politician and educationalist Baron Aberdare has been commemorated with a blue plaque.

The plaque was unveiled at the site of his former home, Duffryn House, which is now Mountain Ash Comprehensive School in the Cynon Valley.

Baron Aberdare, born Henry Bruce, was a Liberal Party politician who served as home secretary from 1868-1873.

He was responsible for ensuring a charter for Cardiff University in 1895, the year he died.

The plaque is part of a scheme adopted by Rhondda Cynon Taf council to recognise significant people, places and events in the county borough.

One of Baron Aberdare's descendants, Alastair Bruce, the 5th Baron Aberdare, unveiled the plaque on the old gates at the back of the school which was the original entrance to the Duffryn estate.

Economic reform

Eight plaques have been unveiled by the council this year including to a Victorian engineer, a sculptor, a prominent preacher and a coaching inn.

Educated in Swansea, Bruce became a lawyer before coal was discovered below the Duffryn estate which he had inherited through his mother, making his family very wealthy.

After a period as stipendiary magistrate for Aberdare he was elected Liberal MP for Merthyr Tydfil in 1855.

He was under-secretary of state for the home department and Gladstone made him home secretary in 1868.

After the Liberals left government he devoted his life to social, educational and economic reform.

More unusually, he was involved in a commission to establish how far a person of a certain weight should be dropped when hanged to ensure an instant death.

Image caption Henry Bruce, who became Baron Aberdare, promoted educational, social and economic reform

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