Giant crocodile found under floorboards of primary school classroom goes on display

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The remains of a saltwater crocodile found underneath a classroom at a Welsh Primary School have gone on display after being restored. (Rhondda Cynon Taf Council)

A 120-year-old crocodile found underneath the floorboards of a classroom has gone on display at the Welsh primary school where it was discovered.

The body of the giant saltwater crocodile was found in June 2019 by workmen carrying out improvements at Ysgol Gynradd Gymraeg Bodringallt in Pentre, Rhondda.

The remains had suffered significant damage after lying unprotected for potentially 100 years but experts spent two years painstakingly restoring it so it could return to the school where it has now gone on display.

The discovery ties in with a tale told across generations about a crocodile said to be associated with the school.

The story describes a local person who served in the First World War bringing back the body of a crocodile as a souvenir for the school. It is believed the crocodile was put on display then was hidden beneath the floorboards to protect it during later times of conflict.

Following its discovery, local council Rhondda Cynon Taf Council worked with conservation experts Pure Conservation to restore the crocodile, which they have dated back to before the 1900s.

The creature's entire underside was missing along with its feet and the base of its tail, while its teeth had fallen out and its general condition was said to be very poor.

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During work carried out from September 2019 to December 2021, the crocodile's entire body was frozen to remove pests and it was tested for dangerous materials before it was then wet cleaned.

The restoration process then involved meticulously dry cleaning the crocodile’s body, removing dirt, cobwebs and soil then cleaning the bones as well as creating a supporting mould to help define the crocodile’s overall body shape due to so many missing pieces.

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The crocodile and its supporting mould were completed just before Christmas, and were put on display at the school on the evening of 11 January, ready to surprise the children the following morning.

Councillor Joy Rosser, Rhondda Cynon Taf Council’s cabinet member for education and inclusion services, said: "The story of the crocodile at Ysgol Gynradd Gymraeg Bodringallt is absolutely incredible – it was the last thing workmen thought they’d find underneath a classroom! I’m delighted its conservation is now complete, and that the legendary crocodile which was rumoured to have been associated with the school is now proudly on display.

"I’d like to thank Pure Conservation for their dedicated work in restoring the crocodile, and for making it safe for the school to keep. Their thorough analysis dates the crocodile back to the 19th century – and its condition when discovered in 2019 is consistent with it being potentially untouched for up to a century!

"It was fantastic to see the excited look on pupils’ faces when they saw the crocodile on display. I’m sure it will become a cherished part of the school going forward – representing a one-of-a-kind, real piece of local history which can be enjoyed by pupils and staff members for generations to come."

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