The history of the chapels of Carmel, Gwaun-cae-Gurwen and Tabernacle, Cwmgors
By Llywelyn C. Huws 1942
Translated and indexed by Gareth Hicks 1999, the translation contains 109 pages.
Copyright Notice; This translation from the original Welsh is the property of Gareth Hicks.
Please feel free to take copies of it for personal research purposes only.
INDEX PREFACE CONTENTS TRANSLATION
"It is a great pleasure for me to have the honour of writing a word or two of approval for this rich and valuable volume. My good neighbour, the Reverend Llywelyn C.Huws,B.A, the dedicated and successful minister of Carmel Chapel, Gwaun-Cae-Gurwen, through his diligence in going everywhere and asking everyone for their material, has succeeded in making this history of the "Waun", its people and things, an accurate, complete and most interesting book.
It was for the National Eisteddfod in Aberpennar in 1940 that he originally compiled the book's material, and as a reward for his labours Mr Huws received first prize in the competition, together with the enthusiastic praise of the adjudicators Dr Thomas Richards, M.A. and Dr R.T.Jenkins, M.A.
But, despite pleasing the adjudicators, he was not satisfied himself and set to work re- writing large sections of the essay, and adding to it. He obtained, from time to time, a number of small local essays dealing with a variety of subjects, but he saw beyond this a whole collection of items which were knowledgeable about the village and district Gwaun-Cae-Gurwen, and most certainly, a good thing for its people and children, near and far, at home or away from home, to have such an useful volume available. I think there will be a great demand and much thanks for it.
I also recommend it to anyone who is interested in the history and various developments in the rural and industrial areas of Wales.
Thos. M. Roderick Cwmgors, October 1941.
A word of thanks
I feel I must give thanks for the great assistance I have received in the task of writing this history from Mr John Griffiths, Secretary of Tabernacl. Also a thank you to Alderman D.D.Davies for his help too, and lastly to my old Teacher Dr. Ifor Williams for his helpful advice.
I am an illiterate Welsh speaker with no formal schooling in the language, where I have struggled over the author's exact intention with a particular word or expression I have tried to interpret the original in keeping with the overall context, but , hopefully, without corrupting the ambience of the period. Some words/expressions defeated me, these are highlighted in red below, I am open to suggestions. (Gareth Hicks)
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It doesn't require extraordinary imagination to envisage the district of Gwaun-Cae-Gurwen as quite an inaccessible place, with nothing but the occasional tiny cottage on the slopes of barren hills. Nor do I have to go back very far to have the place the habitat of a single shepherd taking advantage of the wide open spaces to feed his flock. When he pitched his tent as a one night cottage, with one chimney, and started to enclose the bare fields on the hills and commons in the winter to shelter his flock from the extremes of winter , then started the agricultural age in the district. When did that happen ? That can't be answered now, but it easier to determine the next period, namely the age of industrialisation, for I can say that this period started with the opening of the Old Pit in 1837, and Pwll y Fan in 1847.
Before that, there were only a few cottages on the slopes and the edges of the Waun. Almost all of these were small and very simple,--a place to keep a cow or two, a few pigs, poultry and mountain sheep. As seen by the frequent holes, here and over on the hills, the hearths were not short of a fire,and the simple inhabitants were well aware of the places where the coal was on the surface. All in all it can be inferred that the old inhabitants lead simple lives, healthy, and although poor enough, their lives knew nothing of the luxuries enjoyed by the working classes of today,
and on the whole they spent their days in genuine happiness. They and their animals lived almost entirely on the produce of their own land, despite that often being in short supply; they made the wool of their sheep into clothes , and whilst there was an abundance of firewood outside their doors, they could face the winter storms reasonably confident.
Geographically, the district is a joining link between the Aman and Tawe valleys, with the waters from the Waun running to the Aman, and from Cwmgors to the Tawe, as if to give succour to the two together.
I don't know anymore about by whom or what the district got the name Gwaun-Cae- Gurwen, but the name on the lips of the inhabitants in the middle of the last century was Godre'r Waun, and even today it is called Waun Gurwen by many of the old inhabitants, and you would think that was good enough. But hardly the feeling of the correspondent to Welch Piety after mentioning Wayn Cygurwen being satisfied after that with Cygerwen[see chapter vi]
The main track through the region in the early days, and that one, in winter, was nothing except muddy ruts between two ditches, was the way from Cwmllynfell passed Wernbwll and Pencaedu, Penybryniau and Llwynhen, and across to Nantymelyn, and towards Llangyfelach. You can see traces of this old track in places today. The attraction from these parts was to Llangyfelach in those days, and there was no end to talk about Llangyfelach fair the length of the land in those days. There were two other routes in the area, namely Heol Hir and Heol Fyr; the one joining Waun common and Penlle'rfedwen mountain past Old Carmel, and the other going past
Beili-glas Uchaf to the mountain. Heol Fyr was closed when they opened the Focsen coal mine towards the middle of the century, but we still today use Heol Hir to get to Hen Carmel and the mountain, and the villagers entrust it with their last journey still . The main road that connects the region through Pontardawe,Rhydaman and Brynaman opened about 1817, and tollgates were placed on it as the means of paying for the road, and every owner of an animal was obliged to pay a special charge for going through them. It was noted about paying sixpence at the "gate" more than once in the old record book of Carmel. To start with they placed the gate for it between the Old Star and Efail y Gof, but later on moved it between the Waun and Cwmgors, and the spot is known today as "Siop y Gat" on "Heol y Gat "road.
By today, industry has left its mark on the district, beyond the imagination of the unfamiliar it is an ugly and defiled region, the Waun is smoky and dusty, and although the waste tips raise their stark tops here and there, still didn't blemish the natural beauty of the area, and the breezes sweeping from the Mynydd Ddu and Mynydd y Betws over the whole common, and its workers live in one of the healthiest places in the country.
The Welsh language thrived here too, as well as anywhere in the land, it is on the lips of the children at play, it is used on the roads and in the markets, around the hearths and in the houses of worship.
As the village is young, it doesn't claim the literary and musical traditions as in nearby Brynaman; still, we quickly see that it has traditions of a different sort, namely some originality and
stout character which typifies people who have lived a hard life, and overcome difficulties towards attaining a standard of living, which as regards worldly comforts, was little more than ordinary. Thrifty people, careful, the old inhabitants were hardworking, and their sort hasn't vanished yet. Before the council houses came, most of the houses were owned by those who lived in them , apart from the company houses in Tairgwaith and some other rows on the Waun. You can count on this tradition as well by reference to the close affinity of the old inhabitants and the land. A land poor and bare enough, but it had to produce its share towards the livelihoods of the old inhabitants, and despite the collieries opening in the area, the old natives didn't relinquish their hold on the old bare small holdings at the bottoms of the hills, and kept the skill to cultivate a garden in their glory in the place through nationalism.
One must acknowledge also the influence of religion on the life of the district despite being early in its history; in fact, one can with great propriety hold that the district's history is tied to the history of the old church and plain that this condition stays strongly the same today and snug on the slopes of Penlle'rfedwen mountain, because the deacons and leaders of the Carmel church have been prominent in all social and teaching movements over the generations.
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At the beginning of the 18th century the district of Gwaun-Cae-Gurwen began to feel the influx of the Dissenters. Before that, if the few people of the district took any interest at all in religion, they wended their way to the old church at Llangiwc, but before the end of the 17th century, the influencing waves of Tir Doncyn[Mynydd Bach] chapel started to wash into the corners of the region, and by 1692, there was a nonconformist church in Gellionen, and the church at Cwmllynfell was established before 1701, because, one can see in the Book of Mynydd Bach church a record handing over to Llywelyn Bevan the care of the churches of Gellionen and Cwmllynfell in that year.
Also, in "Book of Essays" by Thomas Morgan, Henllan we have a note of a visit by that man to Cwmllynfell and Blaenegel , November 24 1741: so, we can see that there were attended preacher meetings in Blaenegel fairly early in the century. It is more than likely , thus, that inhabitants of this region, some of them at least, frequented the above places, and some of them, to be sure, were members of the churches. In the History of Cwmllynfell, Dyfnallt mentions an old church book which names all the members and receipts during the ministry of William Evans; " Wife of John Jenkins of Gegyrwen" is the first on the list, we have also;
"Griffith Thomas Cwmgors-1767".One can imagine them holding such prayer and preacher meetings in each other's houses for a period, in the manner of that time; whatever, in the year 1762, they built a school house on the land of Cwmbach farm as a place to preach in. That was the start of Carmel chapel , but a church was not formed in the school house for several years. Nor was this the first schoolhouse in the region, because there were the schools of Griffith Jones , Llanddowror, in the parish, many times , and sometimes, as if to show the way forward, in Gwaun-Cae-Gurwen district.
It is evident enough, however, that a number of small holders of the area were ardent dissenters by 1762, and that there was a need for a more convenient place than dwelling houses for them to meet together to worship. They built the first school house on Cwmbach land given by Noah Jones, a native of the district, and who was at that time a minister in Walsall, Staffordshire. There is not much of his background known, but it is known that he was in Carmarthen College, Thomas Morgan,Henllan, who was a fellow student with him, gives a tribute to him as a devout and worthy young man, and an excellent scholar . He went from the college to Newtown , Montgomeryshire for a while, but was not inaugurated there . In 1750 he moved to Cradley, in the county of Worcestshire, where he was ordained. He moved to Walsall in 1762 and it seems intended to spend the rest of his life there. We notice that he moved to Walsall in the same year as the start of the building of the school house at Cwmbach. It was he who bought the farm land, and not only did he give the land for building on, but met the cost of building the school house, and to all that, gave two pounds a year towards the cost of education of the poor children
of the neighbourhood in the school that was held in the school house, and a pound a year to be paid to Josiah Rees, Gellionen, for preaching in the school house on Sunday afternoons during the summer time. It can be concluded therefore, that Noah Jones was a man in affluent circumstances, and perhaps he got his inspiration from the ideas of Griffith Jones, and his purpose was to evangelise the district, and to aim towards that through employing the ideas of Griffith Jones, namely that giving schooling to the children was teaching them to read the bible. It is easy to believe that whilst recalling that the schools of Griffith Jones were very popular in the district for a time.
It is not possible to get much more detail about it over the next period. We know that the school house alone was here until 1822, without a church being incorporated, and that its sole purpose was not to preach and maintain the medicine of religion, but also for the purpose of teaching the children for some time at least. I would be interested to know what happened to the amount that he left for the purpose of teaching the children of the paupers of the district, and for how long the school was maintained in the old school house. It is sure enough that a school was maintained in the loft above Old Carmel very early in the last century, but that is the only thing that is certain.
Within ten years of the Cwmbach school house being built, John Davies became the minister at Cwmllynfell, and it was he that preached most in the Cwmbach school house until the end of his life. About the time John Davies came to Cwmllynfell, the cause started in Alltwen, and because he lived there, the school house at Cwmbach was linked to the name of Alltwen. In the History of Cwmllynfell Chapel, is a note concerning the payment for the gravestone of John Davies, and he was the minister of the three
Chapels of Cwmllynfell, Cwmaman and Alltwen;
- Collection at Cwmllynfell- - - ---------£1-9-3
- Collection at Cwmaman - - - ---------£1-9-3
- Collection at Alltwen & Cwmbach- - -£2-18-6
Dyfnallt said " adjudged by the collection towards the gravestone, the church at Alltwen was either stronger than the church at Cwmllynfell, or was due to John Davies being more of a minister to Alltwen than the other chapels because he lived there". Unless it is fairer re the collection that by then the school house at Cwmbach had grown sufficiently strong to boost considerably the collection at Alltwen ? By the way, it was odd that so little notice was given in the History of Cwmllynfell to the offshoot in Cwmbach, when remembering the close connection between them and that members of Cwmllynfell chapel came to form the first church at Cwmbach.
In the year 1821, the little old thatched roof school house became too small for the congregation, and they raised a larger building, but who was responsible for building it is now a rather knotty question. In "The History of the Welsh Independent Church", Chapter 2,
Page 317, it states; "Mr [Noah] Jones died without making his will, and his estate went to his brother, but he very kindly sold the school house to the local people for ten guineas, and gave a lease on it for 999 years for the recognition of a pepper corn rent per annum if demanded. " That is one story. Another story is this, it was told in a pamphlet by Jonah Evans[ who was the treasurer of Carmel Chapel for many years] called "Old Characters of Cwmgors and the 'Waun". Under the heading; " John Harris [ Shon Dafydd Harri], ..
Nantricet", it said; " Shon Dafydd Harri was a particularly generous man. Out of kindness he gave a piece of Cwmbach farm to the Independents to raise a chapel and a graveyard and a pepper corn per annum if demanded. The deed was drawn up between the late John Harris and 51 communicants of Carmel. In this deed is demonstrated Liberalism and Independence in its glory, especially so in the " clause" which noted that the majority of the communicants of Carmel chapel were noted to be successors of these trustees. There is a smattering of truth in both stories, but Jonah Evans is much nearer to the truth than H.E.A.C., but it is quite certain that he was recollecting from memory, and he did not have the deed to hand. However, here are the facts as they are given in the deed, which is dated 26 December 1822. A covenant made between John Harris " the Elder" [ "gentleman"], Nantricet, and Richard Morgan,Ystradowen; Abraham Isaac, Beiliglas Isaf; Richard Jones,Beiliglas Uchaf; David Gibbs, Penrheol; Benjamin Evans,Llwynrhidie; Owen Jones,Cwrtybariwns; Samuel Morgan,Maerdy ["yeomen all "]; John Harris "the Younger",Nantricet ["gentleman"]; John Jones,Beiliglas Uchaf; William Evans, Llwynrhidie; Morgan Daniel, Gartheithin; William Jones, Pwllywrach; David Jones ,Penrheol; John Jones, Perthigwynion; Hezekiah Evans, Gwrhyd Isaf, William Evans, Cwmnatlligi; Evan Thomas, Betting Isaf; and John Evans, Ddery Isaf ["yeomen all"].We can thus see that it was farmers who represented the congregation of Cwmbach school room except the two "gentlemen", the father and son from Nantricet. It is worth chronicling these names, ..
the persons and homesteads, because many of them have played an important part in the social and religious life of the district, and some of the families remain prominent to this day.
John Harris agreed to convey to the persons named " in consideration of the sum of fifteen pounds of lawful English money to the said John Harris the Elder, in hand well and truly paid before the sealing and delivery of these presents, covenants and agreements ..All that school house for dissenting Protestants called Cwmbach, together with a spot of ground at the east, south east end of the said school house . From the twenty ninth day of September last, for .the full lease and term of one thousand years .for the benefit of certain Protestant Dissenters denominated Independents for the time being celebrating divine worship at the said School house, yielding and paying therefore yearly and every year during the said term unto the said John Harris the Elder, his heirs and assigns , the yearly rent of one peppercorn, if the same shall be lawfully demanded, on the twenty ninth day of September in every year during the said term hereby granted."
It is sufficiently obvious from this that we can't accept what was written in H.E.A.C. that Noah Jones's brother had sold the school house to the local people for ten guineas and given a lease for 999 years. Jonah Evans said that John Harris, Nantricet, had inherited the land through his wife who was the sister of [a]Noah Jones. Except it is hard to believe that he was the Noah Jones who built the first school house, since he was inaugurated to the
ministry in 1750. Perhaps the brother of the first Noah Jones had a son called Noah, and it was through him that Cwmbach farm came into the possession of Shon Dafydd Harri through his wife. This is possible, at least, seeing that the name Noah is a common one in that family today. Whatever, it is fairly certain that the facts are mixed up in H.E.A.C, and the Cwmbach school house had been in the possession of Noah Jones's family until Shon Dafydd Harri sold it to the chapel.
It is recorded that the new chapel was started in 1821, and was opened in April 1822. If so, who was responsible for its building ? Did Shon Dafydd Harri take the responsibility on himself as did Noah Jones three score years before him ? That is another question I cannot answer further.
Before the end of 1822, some 50 members left Cwmllynfell and they were incorporated as a church in Cwmbach by R Howells, Baran; P Griffiths ,yr Alltwen a Phanteg; and J Rowlands, Cwmllynfell. During that year Philip Griffiths came to Alltwen and Phanteg, and John Rowlands to Cwmllynfell and Cwmaman. It seems that these three kept an eye on the young chapel for a while, but soon it fell to Roger Howells and Philip Griffiths, and after that the latter took the care on himself alone, and once again we have the congregation at Cwmbach under the wing of the Church at Alltwen. The entry in H.E.A.C is most odd, that they didn't have a communion service until January 1825, despite incorporating the church before the end of 1822. Can it be that the church was over two years without a communion service ? It is difficult to accept such a ..
proposition, without some positive proof other than it just being said. It seems there was a monthly communion in 1825, because it is said that Philip Griffiths at the third communion in the month of March received eleven new members.
In 1829, as a result , perhaps, of the revival of 1828, which strongly affected the district , the church again rebuilt the church house, and added a gallery to it, and this suggests that the young church expanded quickly in the early years after it was formed. The chapel reopened after its overhaul on September 29 and 20, 1829.
Philip Griffiths continued to look after the church, and saw it grow steadily under his leadership until the year 1845, when he had to give Carmel up, because the other churches under his care were expanding as well, and demanding more of his time and attention.
In 1845, the church gave the call to the Reverend John Rees, Bryn, Llanelli, and he ministered here with evident success for over five years. He moved away in 1850 to look after the church at Canan, Abertawe. He, therefore, was the church's first settled minister- in his own way completely bound to Carmel, and we gather was a great blessing to the young church. He saw some strange and dreadful things in the time of his ministry here. In 1849, the deadly cholera broke out in the district, the same year that a powerful revival came to the country, and between the two, came some of the most meaningless and indifferent events to take place in the church. The cholera held everyone in fear and awe, because strong men were dropping down dead without warning. Whether the cholera ..
or the revival was the stronger force, I can't tell, but the two were the reason for the multitude to come into the church.
In 1851, they gave the call to the Reverend, Evan Evans, Nantyglo[the father of Beriah Gwynfe Evans]. For reasons that I cannot exactly follow now, his ministry was not as successful as his predecessors. In H.E.A.C , it says ; " Although Carmel church was under the influence of a number of good and religious men, and that Mr Evans was also a good man, and the elaboration and correctness of his scriptural and general knowledge was above average, yet, in some way, he and the church failed to pull together in harmony". And judging by what happened later in the history of the church and its minister, either one was very fond of having his own way, and too stubborn to give way to the other. They repeat some of Evan Evans's sayings in the district even today; for instance, his work on comparing the church to a wood of trees. If one tree were touched there would be a disturbance through the whole forest, having regard to the fact that all the households, almost, were related to each other. It is also reported that he said at his farewell service; that he would do what the devil would not do with them, namely, to leave. However, the relationship between the church and the minister lasted barely eighteen months, and Mr Evans departed in 1853.
The next minister was the Reverend Evan Lewis, a native of Llanwrthwl, Breconshire, he had been the minister in Nolwyddelan, Caernarfonshire. He lived in a house at the bottom of Banwen Wernbwll, known in the district as The Preacher's House. Strangely enough, ..
when he had gone and others came to live in the house, they kept the name "preacher", and called the man of the house D---E---,Preacher, and likewise the rest of the family. Evan Lewis spent ten successful and respectful years in the church . He buried four of his children in Carmel cemetery, and the headstone can be seen between the two doors of the chapel, and it is odd to think that the inscription on it is in English.
In his time there, namely in 1856, Gwrhyd chapel was built, and some fifty or more members of Carmel were lost to incorporate that church, amongst them was Hezekiah Evans, Gwrhyd Isaf, one of the most prominent deacons, who was named as one of the trustees on the deed in 1822. The membership grew quickly, with some from Panteg and Cwmllynfell, and it became a flourishing church.
Evan Lewis and his family emigrated to Australia in 1864, he was an industrious minister there for many years, and that is where he died, an old man of nearly 90 years old.
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It is hard to believe that the church would be without a minister for long , and in 1865 they gave a call to the Reverend John Jones, Maentwrog, and he became to be known as Jones,Llangiwc. He came here in the year the district suffered heavily from smallpox. Many died from the fever, and it left its clear mark on the faces of scores of the inhabitants.
In the period of the ministry of John Jones, the locality developed quickly, and the church itself grew, and became a strong congregation. The Gwrhyd and Rhydyfro were under his care as well as Carmel, until he had an ample patch, and a rough road to walk between the three churches. Perhaps he wasn't generally considered a powerful preacher , but as a preacher he was substantial, steadfast and informative. I strongly believe in a religious schooling, and he was a byword in the land as a biblical teacher and instructor of the young. He went at it in earnest to put the feet of children and young people on a path of devout public service, and under his ministry was raised a generation of men who were stalwarts of Carmel and many other churches.
Hence to the new eminence of anthracite coal, and the huge demand for it, came many outsiders to the district. In 1874, the church numbered two hundred members, and there were in it too, a large number of listeners and a multitude of children. This continued so that some of the leaders thought ..
about a larger building to worship in; but by now, some also felt that the chapel's position wasn't ideal. The place where the chapel stood, at the side of Heol Hir, which was one of the main roads of the district, had become inaccessible, and a new road had opened, running through the bottom of the valley from Rydaman to Pontardawe, and through the Waun bottom to Brynaman, and what is more, a number of houses had been built beside the new road, and a number of families moved down from the village which is today called Tairgwaith, to live on the edge of the Waun. The talk about a new chapel increased, and soon forced the church to seriously consider the matter, but there arose another rather complicated problem, that was argued at length, with a considerable amount of quarrelling. The bone of the bickering was where to build . Since some years, the church had built a school house to maintain a daily school on the edge of the Waun, and therein, by now, held the Sunday evening service, and held the Sunday school there too. When they talked about a new chapel some of the old brothers were very reluctant to bring the idea to the notice of the church, but having settled on that, they had it that 96% were in favour of going ahead with the plan. Then they had to decide on the place. There were three places being put forward. Some believed, especially the old deacons, that the best thing would be to renovate and extend the old church house, and it was natural enough that their preference involved the old church building which they had attended so often in the care of their fathers and around which lay their loved ones.. But the young folk wanted to move with the times, and some argued for raising the new chapel in Cwmgors, lower down the valley in the direction of ..
Pontardawe, and others again, for raising it next to the school room that was built on the edge of the Waun. When they put it to the vote, they had 74% for raising the chapel on the Waun, 21% for Cwmgors, and 5 % for renovating the old chapel. The influence of the minister was in favour of the Waun, and because of that, swayed some of the old leaders to his lead. There had already been some pressure on the minister to look after Carmel solely, and to give up the care of the Gwrhyd and Rhydyfro. It seems that there was some sort of understanding to do that after raising the new chapel, although it is clear that that wasn't his desire.
Under the leadership of the minister, Dafydd Morgan,Cilpentan; Hopcyn Hopcyn and Thomas Rees, the work of furthering the new chapel went ahead without delay. They had a convenient site to build it on from Mr Benjamin Jones of Beting, and a lease of 999 years at a rent of a pound a year, and as that was very reasonable , it was a rather substantial increase on the peppercorn for Old Carmel. In October 1876, the foundation stone was laid by Dr Howell Rees, Tirbach, and he contributed fifteen pounds towards the building fund. By Sunday, the 21st of October 1877, the chapel was ready. That Sabbath morning, the minister preached the first sermon in New Carmel on the theme ; "Beth wnei di yma?" [What are you doing here ?] This was supported by a special meeting to celebrate the inauguration on Monday and Tuesday the 22nd and 23rd of October, with services by the Reverends Dr Rees, Swansea; Dr Roberts, Wrexham; Dr Evans, London; B Williams,Canan,Swansea; ..
R Thomas, Glandwr; W.Emlyn Jones, Morriston; D.Jones,B.A., and F Samuel, Swansea. It is evident that the old fathers wanted to start the new regime with plenty of preaching, and had gathered together leading lights of the pulpit of the time and from every direction.
In the preparation to raise the new chapel, the young people persisted in getting a musical instrument to accompany the singing, and they bought a wind "harmonium", but it was difficult for the old fathers to accept it's presence in the chapel. An old brother arose in the meeting one Sunday night , and said bluntly, the only troublesome thing in the new chapel was the man upstairs in the blue coat [a blue sheet having been put over the instrument]. " I think ,", he said, "that it should be outside the chapel".
The work went ahead for a time with extraordinary conviction, with the young folk crowding to the meetings as well as the old saints. But through it all, the ill will of one or two of the old leaders against the minister hadn't gone away, and when they saw no sign of his fulfilling his promise of restricting himself to caring for Carmel alone, they took the law into their own hands. One Sunday morning, early in 1881, when the minister and congregation arrived for the service, they found the doors of the chapel closed against them, and they had to retire to the nearby school room, and hold the service there. The workings of the new chapel were such as to give dictatorial powers to the trustees, to the advantage of one or two of them who were hostile to the minister and they locked the doors against him. The outcome of this was that the minister gave up the care of the chapel, and ..
confined himself to the chapels of Gwrhyd and Rhydyfro. The deacons had resigned by then because of the dispute. In the election that followed they elected five of the old deacons and three new ones. After Mr Jones had gone, the three who had been rejected succeeded in having another election, but the same eight were again elected, and it is interesting to look at their names today; Benjamin Evans, Llwynrhydie; William Griffiths, Penybryniau; Morgan Davies[Hitcher]; John Morris, Tai'rgwaith; William Morris, Cwmteg; Rees Bevan, Pwllyrach; Dafydd William Dafydd and William Morgan, Bryndu.
A farewell meeting was held for the Rev. John Jones in Carmel, and he was presented with a testimonial of £60, proving he was very popular with the body of the chapel and listeners. Further proof of this was his return to the top of the list with Dr Howell Rees in the election to the Board of Llangiwc Schools at the time of the bother in Carmel, and that with a large majority over the nearest to him. The following extract from the Tyst of March 25th 1881, shows the public aspect of the turmoil; "He preached his final sermons , on Sunday March the 13th, and everyone said that he hadn't preached more effectively and forcibly before. He had crowded congregations indeed, and this proved he was a man who lived in the hearts of a large body of his people. On the Monday morning at 10 , the meeting began with the Rev.E.Owen, Clydach, and the Rev B. Williams, Canan, Swansea, and Dr Rees, Swansea, gave two very suitable sermons for the occasion." ..
Dr.Rees, Swansea presided at the presentation meeting, and William Dafydd, Waunleision, and Isaac Jones, Beiliglas, spoke on behalf of Carmel chapel. Here is part of William Dafydd's address from the Tyst;
" This occasion isn't agreeable to all of us. We have had the evidence of sixteen years of Mr Jones, and he has been a good minister to the chapel and to Jesus Christ. His piety is beyond doubt. He leaves with scores of broken hearts after him here ; there are hundreds of hearts open to receive him again in this district."
The presentation was made by Dr Rees, Swansea, at the same time presented to the treasurer of the chapel the "trust deed" which will be referred to later . After the presentation the Rev.John Rees, Cwmllynfell, read an "Address" to Mr Jones from the ministers of the Independents Association of West Glamorgan, giving witness to his spotless character and sincerity, his tireless labours and loyalty to every good cause. Here are some of John Jones's sentences in reply to the Address;
"Here am I now within three months of reaching sixteen years in my ministry in Carmel. I have been able to live here longer than any minister that was here before, but I hope my successor is assisted to stay longer than me."
After touching briefly and delicately on the disagreement that willed his departure, he went on to compliment the chapel for it's readiness to co-operate with him; ..
"When I asked you to build the school room [ We see therefore that this is important, and I am instrumental in starting the movement to raise a schoolhouse to give an education to the children of the district], that was done and paid for. When I asked you for permission to have a Sunday school in the school room, I received this ungrudgingly. When I asked to move the preaching on Sunday nights from the old chapel to the school room , that was agreed as well. When I asked you, on the fifth of March 1876 for your permission and co operation for building this chapel, you were prepared for the work ..Nearly half the debt has been repaid, and scores if not hundreds of pounds or more have been paid on behalf of Carmel chapel. There was here one of the most flourishing chapels and congregations in the whole country , two years this winter, when everyone was working together. At that time, there were over sixty young people of the congregation with their names in the Bible class register, and an average forty of them attended there each week, and I was happy to play my part in nurturing your children in education and the Lord's teaching."
A brave speech , open and sincere , and the affair cast a pretty clear light on the character of the minister, because he did not allow any resentful feelings towards the chapel lodge in his breast, and he occasionally preached in the chapel during the years that followed, and according to the old account book, it was he who almost invariably served in the funerals of the members. There was further talk in the presentation meeting by sundry ministers of the district, and latterly there were sermons by the Rev T.D Jones, Plasmarl and the Rev F.Samuel, Swansea. ..
It is appropriate to refer here to the deed that was transferred to the chapel at the parting meeting. It appears that the purpose of this was to safeguard the cause, and to ensure that sort of disagreement didn't happen again. Thirteen new trustees were appointed in addition to the original thirteen, and strict rules were laid down to govern the cause. It also referred to the duties of the minister, and the right of the church to dismiss him if he behaved immorally, or deviated in his preaching from the doctrines specified at the bottom of the deed. It is interesting to glance at these articles of faith.
1. The Divine and special inspiration of the Holy Scriptures and the Old and New Testaments, and their supreme authority in faith and practice. 2. The Unity of God,the Deity of the Father, of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost. 3. The depravity of man, the absolute necessity of the Holy Spirit's agency in man's regeneration and sanctification. 4. The incarnation of the Son of God in the person of the Lord Jesus Christ. 5. Salvation by grace, and the duty of all who hear the Gospel to believe in Christ. 6. The resurrection of the dead and final judgement, when the wicked shall go away into everlasting punishment, but the righteous into life eternal.
This deed should have settled matters, because, as Dr Rees said, not one ..
church in the land had more trustees and their names on the deed of its estate.
There is one very interesting fact concerning the deed of 1877 between Benjamin Jones and the trustees of Carmel; " that ..the lessees .shall not at any time during the continuance of the term hereby granted, use or permit or carry on, in, or upon the said land and premises, or any part thereof, the trade or business of a vintner, distiller, brewer, tavern keeper, beer seller, or spirit vendor, or any other trade or business whatsoever". And that despite at least three of the trustees being innkeepers.
As there were three chapels under the care of the minister, before he left Carmel, it was a common occurrence to be without a preacher on a Sunday. Prayer meetings were held regularly, and there was no shortage resources to support these; there was a host of talented prayers in the church. But they frequently filled the pulpit with an assistant preacher. One of these was William Jones, Cwmaman, and he preached each month in Carmel for a fairly long time. As a preacher he was a man of ordinary abilities, and only the faithful came to listen to him, slender were the gatherings on the Sundays when he officiated. Nor did the congregation take care to dress their best on the Sundays of William Jones; indeed on Communion Sunday or " High Church Sunday" only the saint came forth dressed in all his glory. They had great pride in remembering the glory of wearing their best clothes from one Sunday to the next.. Five shillings was the worth of the saint's collection at the services ..
of William Jones, and rarely could it be said that it was for the reward that he walked there from Cwmaman every month for so many years.
In about 1882, with the church now settled in the new Carmel, they started to restore the old chapel, and they put a roof of blue slate on it, in the place of the old mossy stones put there in 1822, and continued to hold burial services in it until the beginning of the present century.
Before leaving the old chapel, it is best to give some history of the holding of the Glamorgan Assembly in and near it. This was in 1874, and the June weather was at its best over the two days of the festival. They built a dais at the bottom of the field next to the old chapel, where the graveyard is today, and a large crowd came to the district to listen to the preaching. The side of the lane between the Old Carmel and Beiliglas Uchaf was full of stalls selling fruits and similar things, with people doing good business between services.
We have the details concerning the resolution passed at the conference in y Tyst, June 25, 1874, but perhaps it would be worth quoting the following ; "That this conference has much to rejoice in the success of the new seminary at Bala, and wishes to urge the churches to give a warm reception and willing support to our dear brother Professor Jones from Bala when he comes by to bring the cause to his notice. The conference feels confident that the churches of Glamorgan won't be behind the churches of other counties in their ..
assistance in bringing this worthy cause to an honourable conclusion."
He welcomed the Reverend D M Jenkins who had moved from Salem, Penmaenmawr to the English Chapel at Morriston, and the Chairman[The Rev W Williams, Hirwaun ] delivered his oration on the " Institutions of the Christian Church" and the conference as is the custom to this day, " was confident to make the announcement through the press, so that the public could read it and ponder ."
As the reporter from y Tyst put forward; " Not only was there a restful atmosphere at the service, but a strong breeze was blowing. We heard several not accustomed to meetings of this sort say it had been one of the best and most influential services they had ever been to. They were confident that many benefits would result from the meetings."
On Wednesday night, there was preaching in the churches of the district as well as in Carmel; in the Gwrhyd, Baran, Rhydyfro, Cwmaman, Brynaman and Cwmllynfell. At 7 the following morning, there was preaching by the Revs. J Griffiths,Mochriw, and E Watkins, Llangatwg. At 10, on the field, preaching by the Revs.R Evans, Aberdare, T L Jones, Machen, and J Jones, Maesteg. At 2, preaching by the Revs.D M Jenkins, Morriston, J B Jones,B.A., Penybont, and D Evans, Nasareth. At 6, preaching by the Revs. Morgans, Stockton on Tees, Morris, Canton, and Morgans, Cwmbach. That is eleven preachers in one day. And it is very likely that they weren't shorter in length than the preaching of today. As the Tyst's reporter put forward ..
"Thus ended this assembly again. It had excellent weather, and the congregation was very large on Thursday. I have never seen a congregation behaving so becomingly. There was no need for the one policeman to keep the peace in the far corners of the congregation; religion had already done that. The district demonstrated an unusual kindness and hospitality. Every door was open, and everyone doing their utmost to welcome strangers. God gave special assistance to the missionaries. Sometimes feeling divine powers with the ministry. Pared [wall/partition ?]of the Lord was that the assembly was influential in strengthening the hands of the ministers, to enhance the religious graces of the church, and to win the multitude of the listeners to believe in the Saviour.
There are one or two old bills available concerning the expenses of the assembly. Here is one of them;
Blue Cottage, Cwmgorse, June 27, 1874
To the Congregation of Carmel,
Dr to Daniel Jenkins.
- 1 sack of flower ...........................£2-15-0
- 66 lb of chees at 9 and a half . ........2-12-3
- 12 lb ,, ,, ,, .....11d ............................11-0
- 2 lb of Butter at 1/3 .............................2-6
- 3 days work at 6/- ............................18-0
- 3lb of Paint at 5d ................................1-3
- 1 gate .. .........................................1-0-0
- nails ..................................................2-0
July 7th sedled the above
The flour was expensive in those days. The cheese cost three pounds three shillings, and the butter half a crown. We have comment on the cheese in an old folio giving an account of the assembly;
Expenses of the Assembly
Wood for the stage ..£10-8-1 and a half penny "Carrige" 10-6 Bread and cheese in the chapel 7-2-0 Lunch and Tea for the Ministers 17-14-0 New gate ...1-0-0 36-14-7 and a half penny
They bought the bread and cheese to sate the needs of the throng of strangers who came to the assembly. That way the church was taking care thus that what happened to the multitude wasn't what happened to that other multitude in the wilderness, who needed a miracle to sate them, and no one went off hungry or fainted on the way. In the chapel they satisfied people's hunger, and preached to them on the field. If no one craved for more or relished this, there were the stalls nearby, a place to buy different goods. ..
The ministers had their food in Abernant Inn, and it is evident from the accounts that there could not have been many of them, or that they feasted lavishly.
There is no mention in the accounts of being prepared to sate the thirst of the missionaries or the crowd, as seen in the history of earlier assemblies, but the ministers were within reach of plenty in Abernant.
After the Rev John Jones had left, peace reigned, and in 1882, the church gave a call to a young minister of the name Williams, Machen, a brother from Gwynfe, and he was a gifted and fiery minister. This is referred to as a somewhat unusual calling, in as much that it was issued by every member of the church , apparently it was more like a petition than a call. Yet despite the fair offer to move the young minister, it moved him not, and he stayed in Machen.
The next minister was the Rev.T Selby Jones, Bethel, Aberdare. The church was not as unanimous in calling him, but had a majority for it, and he came, and started on his work in May 1884. He was an unusual character, an eloquent preacher, and he travelled considerably to preach in the South and North. It is not surprising that related to him were many of originality and humour, for he was a nephew to the notable Kilsby Jones. He dressed differently to all others. Whether off to preach wearing a hat almost as big as an umbrella; yellow leggings around his legs, and a leather strap round his neck and shoulders, carrying his bag of sermons on his back. He was a bachelor, but having settled in Carmel he married, and
showed that there was not much harmony in his married life, and without doubt this was a big hurdle to him regarding his work. He would preach sweepingly on some occasions, and sometimes on a Sunday morning he would announce that he had a special sermon in readiness for the evening, pressurising everybody to come and listen. Sometimes, then, he tended to glory in his ability to compose sermons, and how easy the work was for him. He said in the fellowship one Sunday night, that he had composed his sermon on the way from his house to the chapel and said one of the old deacons in his gruff way, speaking after him ; " There was no need for Mr Jones to say he had composed the sermon on the way from his house to the chapel. We all knew it !" He was the minister in Carmel for twelve years, and long before reaching the end of his term, matters had deteriorated badly, since the feeling of the church was that the minister's manner was not entirely fitting to his office, in the end he left in 1896. It is sad to note that he ended his career in a mental home.
Towards the time when the ministry of Selby Jones started , temperance was a burning issue in the churches, and in the old diaries from 1880-4, are seen frequent references to temperance meetings, especially to the meetings of the " Blue Ribbon Army". They held meetings in Carmel almost every week; sometimes there were talks by ministers of the district, or from a student of Watcyn Wyn, and from time to time , an eminent orator from afar. Odd to find in one of these old diaries, a note about holding an English service at 2 o'clock on a Sunday afternoon in Carmel in 1882. You would think that ..
the most by far of the congregation didn't understand much at all of the proceedings.
Also about this time, there were large crowds at prayer meetings at houses in the locality. It was considered something shameful if a family disregarded an invitation to have a prayer church at their home from time to time. There were even some who were not members who considered it their duty to invite the prayer church to their houses. There was a special crowd at Pencaedu, where the man of the house, Dafydd Rees, had been bedridden for many years with arthritis. On the night of the prayer meeting , every room in the house was full, and a crowd outside the house too. At that time Gwallter Ddu was the minister at Rhydyfro and the Gwrhyd, and as Pencaedu was on the mountain, in the middle between Carmel and Gwrhyd chapel, the old brother longed to hear the two ministers. One night the two heroes came to the prayer meeting at Pencaedu, and the two preached with rare mood and conviction, with old Dafydd Rees in his glory on his bed.
They raised a vestry behind the chapel in 1887, mainly for the use of the Sunday school. They also held a Sunday school in the New Star in Cwmgors, and paid £2.10s a year rent for the place. This school was very successful, and the pupils so numerous that they overcrowded the "long room". The children's class stayed there , but the women's class overflowed into the parlour, and the men's class into the "bar" ! They raised a vestry in Cwmgors to hold a Sunday school in 1894, and another in Tairgwaith the same year for the same purpose.
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One could say that a new era began with the arrival of the Rev. B D Davies from Merthyr Vale to take care of the church in 1897. He originated from the area of Pontargothi, Carmarthenshire, and it was in Horeb,Brechfa that he became a member and delivered his first sermon. He moved to Neath to follow his trade as a weaver, but having been there for a while was motivated by the minister of Soar chapel to commit himself to the work of the ministry. He went to school in Carmarthen and thence to Bala College in 1888. The following year his brother came to the college-the Rev. D C Davies and he died young whilst minister at Salem, near Aberystwyth. Mr B D Davies was inaugurated in Merthyr Vale in 1891. He was very successful after coming from there to Carmel. It was he who guided the church over the threshold into the new century, and in his time, the church grew to its maximum size. Mr Davies was a man who endeared himself to the church and the district, a likeable preacher , and a caring and loyal shepherd. He was active with the children and young people, and he gave a lot of attention to the Sunday school, and by now there were three schools connected to the church; one in the chapel and the vestry behind it, one in Cwmgors, and another in Tairgwaith. Mr Davies was for many years the secretary to the denomination's Sunday School Committee, and did a lot of work for the Sunday school in the denomination. ..
The children and young people of Carmel Sunday school were prominent and very successful in the denomination's examinations for a long period. Mr Davies also took interest in general education, and served on the School Board for many years.
He had the experience of seeing the first wave of the revival in 1904-5 breaking on the church's shore, and then becoming a flood-tide to swamp the whole district. Those were strange times, crowds poured into the churches week by week, until by the end of 1904, they numbered 755. In one communion in 1905, the minister received over a hundred new members, it was a stirring sight to see them filling the many seats, and reaching all sides of the chapel almost to the doors. The population of the district was growing quickly too, and establishing a church in the school room in Cwmgors had been discussed for some years . The revival was going strong, and Carmel chapel was overflowing, they decided to take the plunge, and gave release letters to 215 of the members to start the new chapel. Talking about the adventure of starting the new chapel, it was just as much an adventure for the mother chapel Carmel struggling on having lost that sort of number of members all together, and amongst this number of their officers and leaders. This contingent was followed at the end of the year by Benjamin Evans, Llwynrhydie, the treasurer, and a faithful and wise leader in the old Carmel and the new one. They called the young church "Tabernacl". It made a promising start, a strong church, it grew gradually and securely over the years, until it became one of ..
the most successful and influential churches in the denomination.
After the "exodus" [I must stress not from servitude even so, neither was the going forth against the mother church, but with every good will], Carmel and its minister were committed to fill the gaps, and , looking back, we can see a chronicle of steady growth, and tireless effort, and a confident venture over the years. Here are the minister's words in the report of 1905; "Behold we have again crossed a year's end, and one that was to us as a church exceptional and special with a good deal of meaning. We had the pleasure from its beginning in the sound of the multitude observing a feast, song and praise, as we saw hundreds enrolling under the banner of the saviour. Before it finished, we saw hundreds leaving to start a new church; saying welcome and farewell at the same time. There followed God's blessing on the new camp, which remained with the old, so we again saw a district united in success within righteousness and true holiness, and the achieved result the nearness to the grace and glory of God through Jesus Christ our Lord."
A quiet and undisturbed period followed the revival, but the church continued to grow steadily, and it was active in many directions. In 1900, it had bought a patch of land to enlarge the graveyard next to Old Carmel, and had restored the new chapel, the two having cost over £450. There is told a humorous story about the purchase of the graveyard land. Three of the church's agents were sent to the owner of the land, and they were dismissed swiftly and forcibly. The officials were in a considerable dilemma as a consequence, as there wasn't other convenient land available. In the end, they decided to make another offer, and sent three others to make the request, ..
And to their surprise, received every welcome, and a preparedness to sell the land reasonably. When they asked concerning his previous response, he said gruffly that they had sent the "wrong" men. They had a Jubilee in 1903, and the whole debt was repaid. The collection towards the debt alone that year was £463, and the year before,£242. In the commemoratory meetings, the services were given by the Rev.Stanley Jones, Caernarfon and Watcyn Wyn, together with the ministers of the district.
In 1906, they installed a boiler and piping in the chapel for heating; a necessary comfort in such a cold place as the Waun. The cost of that was £205.
The next task was to enlarge the vestry in Tai'rgwaith in 1907, and in 1909 they paid over £200 to repair various buildings.
They put a pipe organ in the chapel in 1911. That was designed by Dr. Caradog Roberts, and built by Messrs J.J Binns & Co, Leeds, and by now there was not a single old saint waiting to protest against bringing a wicked man's machine into the temple. At the same time too, they brought electricity in to light the chapel, cleaned and painted it, and installed a new pulpit, and the cost was £1100.
The church limited none of its activities during this period of taking care of its own business. It can often be seen noted in the old accounts of the work of the church in extending assistance to various religious and humanitarian institutions. The Mission had warm support through the years. Time after time, they gave help to other churches in the South and
North, that were in difficulties. They collected to help some who were out of work in Aberdare, Gilfach Goch, and other places, and dispatched substantial sums to these causes on many occasions , and also to some who had been left destitute through accidents in the coal mines. It is interesting to observe the collection made in 1911 for the circuits of F B Meyer and Gipsy Smith.
Without being inconsiderate, yet, out of the different movements in the district , morals and traditions. were at risk. In a minute book kept by the secretary, we have a number of decisions to communicate to different persons and movements in the district ,which clearly state the opinions of the church. For example, delivering a letter to a stranger who opened his shop on a Sunday, asking him to respect the traditions and customs of the district. Telling him he was the only one guilty of breaking the Sabbath in this fashion. By now, alas, others had followed his example, and to some degree was lost, the quiet Sunday of the fathers, although the greater majority of the inhabitants still continued to attend the religious medicine in the various places of worship.
In 1910, they was an outcry against the opening of a club in Brynaman, and it is clear enough that the saint looked on this happening as a calamity. By now, there are two or three drinking clubs in every part of the district, and beyond doubt, gave a fright to the old leaders of Carmel , that they were a danger and a pitfall to the young people, and were causing a dangerous decline in the moral standards of the districts.
In 1912, we saw a letter sent to the Magistrate at Pontardawe containing a resolution asking him not to .
send the military to the district on the occasion of a strike, and giving several reasons to substantiate that they would endanger the peace of the district. At the same time, sending to the coal mine companies and to the workers' committee asking them to endeavour to reach an understanding, and if there was a strike, to carry on in a manner that would not give reason for the military to come into the district.
There came 1914 and the Great War to make its mark on the church as on every other church in the land, but as most men worked in the coalmines, the district wasn't swept clean of its young men as in most places in the land. Even so, one can see the names of sixty four boys of the church in the annual report, who were in the different military services. In the address at the beginning of the report for 1915, the minister said; " As we depart the year 1915, we are leaving one of the strangest years in history. It started to the sound of kingdoms and cities, and countries and people, collapsing into the dust, and it finished having reached the last hour without a dawn of better days appearing anywhere. It was thought once, a while a go, that the days of brutal warfare had ceased, and that you wouldn't get the chance to praise the military more. Talk of turning swords into ploughs was in the land, and a cry for turning spears into scythes was in the countries. But nowadays war is being taught more than ever before. This cannot fail to have a great and terrible influence on the nations and on the churches after this; and we believe that following with God in prayer alone can turn to assistance towards the best life. "
In referring to the end of the War in the report of 1918, the minister said in words that are proof of his clear foresight, and sad to think his expectations were disappointed; "Before the sun set on the days of 1918, there came a truce to halt the march of the sword and cannon, and we waited soon to come to the enjoyment of the sort of peaceful condition that invites the spirit of peace to stay with the nations all the rest of the days on earth. "
In the period of war, in 1916, the Union of Welsh Independents visited Brynaman and the Waun, and held two of the meetings in Carmel. In one of the Union's preaching services, preached the Rev. H T Jacob, Abergwaun, and J G Jones, Cana, Anglesey, and the Rev. O L Roberts, Liverpool started the meeting. In the public meeting that was in Carmel, there was a talk on " The Church and the current crisis" by the Rev.J Vernon Lewis,M.A.,B.D., Liverpool; and on "The duty of the Churches to nourish the Spirit of Peace" by the Rev. Gwilym Higgs, Whitland; and on " The importance of restoring Saturday night to religion", by the Rev. T B Mathews, Penydarren. Today these meetings are remembered with pleasure.
Over the years, the district grew steadily, and several other denominations had pitched their tent in the area. In 1886, a cause was started in Cwmgors by the Episcopal Church. Quickly followed by the Baptists, and then the Calvinistic Methodists built a schoolroom to worship in. Because of this, it was decided in ..
1921 to limit the cemetery to bury members of Carmel and Tabernacl alone, and because of that, a new cemetery was opened nearby by the District Council. Towards the middle of 1923, the minister's health broke down [ he wasn't particularly strong of body], and after that, he became gradually weaker, and he had , in 1925, to give up the care of the church, and the church gave him a substantial testimonial on the occasion. He died in January 1926, aged 66, and the church and the district were together in mourning his loss. They built a memorial stone to him on the wall of the chapel in 1933, and on it the words;
"In fond memory of the Rev. B.D.Davies, A loyal and diligent minister of this church,1897-1925. He also shepherded the church at Bethania, Merthyr Vale 1891-7. A gentle, unaffected man, forthright and dignified in manner, The children's idol and a friend to all. He died on January 5th 1926 aged 66, and was buried in the graveyard of Old Carmel. *And the house filled with the scent of ointment*"
The church was without a minister from 1925 until October 1928. During this period, they restored a number of the buildings connected to the church. In 1926, there was £500 of debt remaining, and between everything, put nearly £3000 of cost on the various members. A very disadvantageous year was 1926 to start such a venture. The work stagnated for 8 months of the year, but even so had much loyalty and generosity with contributions towards the cost. In the month of ..
May, 1927, they restored the vestry at Tai'rgwaith, and had new pews for it. Soon afterwards, there was an understanding between the two churches, Carmel and Tabernacl, to restore Hen Carmel. It cost almost £400. Before the end of the same year, they bought a house in readiness for the minister, and for that had an interest free loan of £700 from a number of members, and that was a great relief and assistance. They had the loan of the money for 5 years, and some agreed to leave it for 9 years. In 1928, they had to restore New Carmel, and that cost £650. The church held a special collection to meet this cost, and by the end of the week had promises of £300.
They held meetings in 1927 to commemorate the half century of the chapel. Preachings on the occasion were by Revs. J Dyfnallt Owen,Carmarthen and D J Lewis,Tumble, and an outline of the church's history during the half century was given by Morgan J Thomas, the treasurer. This was a very special year, owing to having meetings as well to celebrate the opening Old Carmel after its restoration. Taking part in these meetings was the Rev. T M Roderick, the minister at the Tabernacl; H. Seiriol Williams, Pontardawe; D.Curwen Davies, Pontargothi; W.T.Gruffydd, B.A.,B.D., Llandeilo, and John Llewelyn, Brynaman. Speeches in the commemoration church on behalf of Carmel church were by Morgan A.James, Thomas Jones, and Mrs Elizabeth Bevan, and on behalf of Tabernacle by W.Thomas Rees, Samuel Jenkins and Mrs M Thomas.
The following year as well, namely 1928, was itself a special year in the history of Carmel, because in the month of .
May, they gave a call to the Rev. Llywelyn C.Huws,B.A., from Bethlehem,Cardiff, to come as their shepherd. He replied positively in the month of July. They held the induction meetings , on the Wednesday evening and the Thursday , October 24/25th.The Thursday afternoon meeting was presided over by the Rev. T.M Roderick,Tabernacl, and speeches by the Revs. D.Curwen Davies, Pontargothi, and H.Seiriol Williams,Pontardawe, the former on " The Essentials of a Flourishing Church" , and the latter on " The Successful Ministry". There was also a speech by W.H.Davies, the Church Secretary, and by several other ministers of the district. There were sermons in the separate services by the Revs. Ben Davies, Panteg; Ben Davies, Llandeilo, and Ivor O. Huws, B.A., Ferndale [ the new minister's brother].
The new minister was a native of Penmaenmawr,Caernarfonshire. He was admitted as a member in Salem by the Rev. D.P.Davies, and it was there he started to preach, in the time of the ministry of the Rev.R.J.Pritchard, B.A., having been away following a printing career for some years. He was admitted to Bala-Bangor College in 1916, and considered being allowed to sit at the feet of the late Principal Thomas Rees as one of the great privileges of his life. At the end of his career in the college, in 1922 he accepted a call from the churches Milford road, Newtown,Maldwyn and Bethany,Kerry[English], having spent 4 happy years there he moved to Bethlehem,Cardiff.
Almost 12 years went by, and during this time the church was quite prosperous, and added to its membership until the membership grew to a greater number than ever before in its ..
history apart from the large influx of 1905, when Tabernacl church was formed. In the annual report of 1939, is noted the membership number was 805, and that despite the host of youngsters who left the district to work in London and other places. 624 was the membership number at the end of 1928, and in the interim 462 were admitted as members, and the minister officiated at the funerals of 125 members.
Soon after the arrival of the minister, he re-established the Young People's Society, and it has been active and flourishing since then. . He also started the Young People's Prayer Services after the service on Sunday mornings, and this was over the years one of the most important and beneficent meetings of the church, and it raised a number of young girls and boys to take a public part in the life and work of the church. He also started a Young People's Society in Tai'rgwaith, and this too was very successful for a term, but many of the members from Tai'rgwaith moved down to the bottom of the Waun in the last years, and many of the young folk went away to work, and this society ceased. The Sunday school in Tai'rgwaith also weakened for some years , as the large families of old early times vanished from the land, but a few remained faithful and loyal , and some felt an agreeable mood in the place, as if the sound of the old prayers remained to haunt it. We should recognise the good work of David Morris with the religious services in Tai'rgwaith, and after losing him, the wife of William Selby was a very safe and devoted leader..
Nor did the church stop taking an interest in the efforts to better man's physical condition , mental and spiritual, and continued to firmly resist everything in the district and country which tended to abase morals and to deprive men of their rights and conveniences.
In 1934, came the desire to clear the debt that remained on the church, and we must give the credit for this mainly to the young folks, because of them, first of all, who suggested the practicality of going at it with a full blooded assault on the burden. There was from the Fellowship door some £60, and the gave a promise to increase this to £100 for the cause. Dr Howell Rees, who has an honoured place in the history of Carmel and Waun district, had left £50 to the church in his will, so had given a hopeful start to the movement. The young girls and boys pledged to go round and about seeking commitments for the entrance[tickets ?], and organised the special Fellowship meetings in June, albeit giving the opportunity to make a special effort, and getting encouragement in the work. They invited Dr T.Rhondda Williams to the meetings, and they had a treat not to be forgotten for a long time. When they started on the special meetings, the debt was £850, and by the end of 1936, in a year and a half, announced that the whole lot had been repaid.
A note about the debt is seen in the report of 1936;
- Amount owed, June 1935-----------£850
- Paid before December 31 1935-----£400
- Amount owed January 1st 1936-----£400
- Paid during 1936--------------------£400
They held special meetings to celebrate the Jubilee in 1936.The preaching was by the Revs. Joseff James,B.A., Llantisilio, and T.M.Roderick, Tabernacl. In the celebratory meeting a speech was made by the treasurer, Morgan J.Thomas, giving the history of the movement to repay the debt; and speeches by several others. They gave a treat to the children and the audience, and a New Testament ,revised print, to every child belonging to the church to remember the occasion. It is not inappropriate to record that this effort gave the desire in Tabernacl to get rid of their debt , and after a further year, they too had cast off the debt burden off its shoulders.
The effort concerning the debt was not a stumbling block causing the church to rest on its oars, because other demands came quickly. They decided to renovate the minister's house, and finished the work in 1939, and this cost over £700. They had a loan of most of the money interest free, and that debt too is on the way to vanishing.
Sunday morning, April 26 1936, Carmel was "on the air" for the first time. The minister preached on Romans viii;19. Another interesting event was the illumination of the chapel after installing electric wiring and putting new lamps throughout the chapel. They did this work in 1938, and the lamps were given by the members; most of them in memory of old officials and members of the church. They decided to ask the old brother Thomas Williams, one of the senior deacons, and one who had looked after the chapel for many years, and had cleaned and lit the old oil lamps, to turn the lights on for the first time. He was at the time quite ill in his bed, but the church persisted ..
in giving him the honour. They connected the lighting cable to his bedroom, and at ten minutes past seven, Sunday evening, he turned on the lights in the chapel, and the minister gave a short oration on "Let there be light". That was one of the last acts of Thomas Williams, because in less than a month, he had crossed over to the land without night.
In 1936, David Jenkins the Shop left £200 in his will to the church, half towards carrying on the work of the Sunday school, and the financial position of the church is very satisfactory, since it is a church of workers, it is nearly complete.
In addition to the most immediate work of the church, it was an outstanding place for choral singing, and they performed many of the works of the masters of the musical world. There was the eisteddfod and literary meeting, and children's competition meetings were in great vogue as well , and the enthusiasm was endless; and the young folks were very active with the drama for many years, under the able instruction of Mrs W.H.Davies. There was here a flourishing band of hope, and soon after the arrival of the present minister, the brother Thomas Jenkins gave a precious and valuable lantern to make the work with the children more interesting and informative. It must also be noted, there is in this church the start of the first branch of Urdd Gobaith Cymru in the Amman Valley, and grew to be a strong enough movement to invite the Urdd's National Eisteddfod to Gwaun-cae-gurwen in 1937, and that was one of the most successful eisteddfods in every sense in the history of the Urdd.
Another worthy movement of note was started by the ..
minister and some of the members of the Young People'' Society. He felt able to do something to join together the young people of the different churches in the district, and create more enthusiasm and zeal across the religions and cultures, and hence, he invited representatives from the Independent Associations in the district to Carmel vestry in the Spring of 1937, and they formed an union of associations, under the name "Union of associations of young people of the Independent churches in the foothills of the Black Mountain". Quite an unwieldy name, it is true, but the union went from strength to strength, and grew steadily in influence and worth, supporting everything elevating in literature, poetry and drama, but giving greatest emphasis on religion and the work of the Kingdom. Some fifteen churches belonged to the union, and crowds strained the annual eisteddfod to compete without expecting a reward that was not in the work.
Here, at length, is reached the end of the history. What will be the future's history,God alone knows, but whatsoever will be the shape of society in the future, perhaps there won't be a call for men with the character of an old Carmel saint to keep the life of the district pure and clean.
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I can't now give a full list of the officers of the church from the beginning, but methinks that most of the names are recorded. It says in "History of the Independent Churches";
"The deacons who officiated here at the first communion were Daniel Evans, Gwrhyd Isaf, son of Mr W Evans, formerly minister at Cwmllynfell; and his brother in law Thomas David, Cwmgors. Since forming the church until the present, the following persons have served as deacons here; Owen Jones, Cwrt-y-Bariwns; Daniel Evans,Gwrhyd Isaf; William Evans, Llwynrhydie; Isaac Jones,Beiliglas; Daniel Jenkins y Saer; David James and Benjamin Evans."
I can't place absolute trust in the above list, seeing that the name of Thomas David, Cwmgors, previously named as one of the first deacons, is left out of the list, even though the name of Daniel Evans is included.
We have it that Dafydd Morgan,Cilpentan;Thomas Rees,and Hopcyn Hopcyn were leaders in the church fairly early on, and it is beyond doubt that these three were amongst the deacons. We will come across the names of these three again in discussing the history of the church and the district.
The next testimony we have is the list of deacons given by Jonah Evans, in handling the period after ..
the dispute in the new chapel. These are the names; Benjamin Evans, Llwynrhydie; William Griffiths, Penybryniau; Morgan Davies [Hitcher]; John Morris, Tai'rgwaith; William Morris,Cwmteg; Rees Bevan, Pwllywrach; Dafydd William Dafydd and William Morgan, Bryndu. This was in 1881.
In the Annual Report for 1893, the earliest Report that is available we see this list of deacons; Benjamin Evans; William Griffiths; John Morris; David W Davies; Rees Bevan; William Morgan; William M Davies,Caeisaf; Thomas Jones, Blue Cottage; William T Rees, Blue Cottage.
In the year 1902, the following were elected to join the existing deacons; Thomas Davies, Caeglas; John D Morgan, Brynteg; Jonah Evans,Dyffryn Clwyd.
After three of the deacons departed with the flock that went off to form Tabernacl church in 1905, they selected Samuel Jones,Tai'rgwaith; Morgan Jones,Penyrallt; Thomas Jones,Penywaun; David T Morris, Caenewydd; Morgan Abel James; David J Davies,Caenewydd; Isaac George,Curwen Villa; John M Evans, Curwen Street.
By 1917 the number of deacons had become small again, and they elected Daniel Thomas,Gate Street; Lewis Rees, Clifton; David Morris, Morriston Place; John Davies, Brynffin; Morgan J Thomas, Gate Street and William Henry Davies,Carmel Street.
They elected six new deacons again in 1924, namely John Thomas,Gate Street; Thomas Williams, ..
Carmel Street; Benjamin J Thomas, Brynaman Rd; W J Rees, Caenewydd; William Thomas,Clifton and Willie H Davies, Brynhawddgar.
In 1929 there was the next election when they selected William Selby, Llwyncelyn; Thomas Jenkins,Curwen Street; Morgan Hicks,Curwen Street; Evan Price, Waunleision; Isaac Davies, Dryslwyn; David Evans,Gate Street; Tom Davies,Grongar.
Last of all the following were elected in 1939. Arthur H Davies,Tegfan; Dan Davies,Llys Curwen; Abel Thomas,Pontardawe Rd; David J Jones,Caenewydd; Gomer Williams,Dol Meiros; Oswald Davies,Brynaman Rd.
Several of these were exceptional men in knowledge and culture; others of less ability but proverbial in their loyalty and faith to the cause, and a number of them an influence with blameless lives wending through the works and throughout the district. The brief biographies of the old deacons would be interesting, but space doesn't permit me to expand. Morgan J Thomas wrote valuable notes in portraying these old characters, and those are available in the safe of the chapel. Welshmen do not yet recognise their debt to these simple peasants in every district. Indubitably, they did more than any one other class of people to safeguard the language and traditions of their country, for all the criticism there has always been against the deacons and leaders of their churches.
I don't know who was the secretary in the early years of the church. The first name that is on ..
the cover is Dafyddd Morgan,Cilpentan, and we heard about him as one of the leaders in the task of building the new chapel. It is clear he was a versatile man, and he was the first secretary to the committee of the day school in the village.
Another name is Daniel William Dafydd, Waunleision; he was also in the fore with various humanitarian and cultural movements in the district, and he was secretary to the workers committee for a term, and at that time he recorded the whole minutes of the committee in Welsh.
In the Report of 1893, we have John D Morgan and Morgan A James as secretaries, and by 1898 we have the names of four secretaries, namely William H Davies, John Griffiths, Evan T Jones and John D Morgan. The following year we have six names, to augment the above four ,Jonah Evans and W S Jones. The explanation for this is that the church had split into areas and made one secretary responsible for looking after the accounts of each area. But with this in view, from the notes of the Report of 1899 William H Davies had the care of the general accounts. We also have an old account book in his handwriting, which shows that it was he in truth who held the office of general secretary. He was at this work for nearly thirty years, and he filled the office to the brim, and his thoughts turned constantly about the church, its circumstance and work. He was elected a deacon in 1917 and died in 1924.
Another W H Davies was elected in the place, and he was a nephew to him. He also was in his element in the work ..
and in its execution with skill and enthusiasm. He was a young man of strong convictions and who promised to become one of the best leaders of the church, but to everyone's sorrow he met with a fatal accident in his job in the coal mine in the month of June 1924, after eight years of working as secretary. He was elected a deacon in 1924, the same year he was selected as secretary. Willie Henry Davies was a very cultivated man, and well versed in the literature of Wales and England.
The two W H Davieses gave such valuable service to the church that they decided to call on another from the family to the office, and after losing Willie Davies elected his brother , Arthur H Davies as secretary in 1932. He also has exceptional ability as an organiser, scrupulous and methodical in all things, devoted and enthusiastic in the work, and approved by all. He was elected a deacon in 1939.
William Evans, Llwynrhydie was the treasurer in Old Carmel for many years. I don't know who was in charge of the purse before him. After him his son Benjamin Evans became treasurer and he was in that office for the old and new Carmel for over fifty years. He was a gentleman and he sacrificed much for peace and harmony, and he was a generous benefactor of the church over the years. There exists a genius for treasurer still in the family, since his son Thomas Evans has been treasurer of Tabernacl from the start. After Benjamin Evans departed for Tabernacl, ..
Jonah Evans was elected as treasurer of Carmel. He was a capable man beyond the ordinary, taking an interest in literature and poetry, and a brave leader in social matters. He wrote the History of Carmel, and a book on Old Characters of Cwmgors and the Waun. He was a deacon since 1902.
Jonah Evans died at the beginning of 1926, and Morgan J Thomas was elected in his place. He took to the work in earnest , and he changed many of the accumulated traditional methods of the church, by bringing new procedures to the accounts, and succeeded wonderfully in his management. Over and above the office of treasurer he gave much of his time and thought to devising new procedures for handling the church's affairs. He was himself a considerable man of letters, and wrote much about the old characters of Carmel and the Waun. He was elected a deacon in 1917.
Morgan J Thomas resigned in 1937 due to illness, and William Thomas,Clifton was elected in his place. He was unusually successful in his management , and had the absolute trust of the church. He was elected a deacon in 1924, and was an announcer for many years, and when mentioning he was a leader of the national eisteddford, we can imagine that there was as much shine about that work as there is about his work as treasurer. It would be hard to have a better combination than the current secretary and treasurer of the church.
Leaders of the singing
The earliest leader we have heard about was Hopcyn Hopcyn. He got up to sing in the Old Carmel, ..
without the assistance of an instrument or anything like it, apart from a small pitch fork. There was no hymn book either for anybody's use , unless perhaps the preacher. Often, he gave out a totally strange hymn, and it was the precentor's job to know the metre, and to find the tune on that metre. There was a need for considerable talent to be a successful precentor in those days, and according to the history Hopcyn Hopcyn was a very talented musician. He and his family emigrated to the United States, and that was a big loss to the church.
When the official precentor was not present in a service one or two of the old saints took to the job very unceremoniously. One of those was Newyrth Morgan, from Castell. He hadn't much talent as a musician, but when striking a tune he could be relied on to take it victoriously to the end, albeit it was he himself who sang the most, and despite considerable forced composition along the way.
Hopcyn Hopcyn was followed by Richard Hicks, another musical man. And music remains an obvious characteristic in his family still.
The next was Dafydd Benjamin Evans, a man with an excellent tenor voice, and he could have been a famous singer if he had put his mind to it.
After him came Isaac Morris, in 1901, a gentle and kind man, he had a special aptitude to kindle the interest of children and to pull young people in his wake. His supervision was very successful.
After Isaac Morris, Rees D Morgan was elected in 1926, and he gave a worthwhile service, by taking special interest in the Gymanfa Ganu and the singing school.
They elected Idris S Smith in 1938, and he was very strenuous and loyal, and gave much of his time to teaching children, and to prepare them in readiness for the special service for children on Sunday mornings.
It is quite likely that the first to play the harmonium in New Carmel was Ioan Hopcyn, son of Hopcyn Hopcyn. After he left, John James took to the work for some years and gave very creditable service.
Now, since 1900 David Roberts has been the organist, and he saw the change from the harmonium in the gallery to the pipe organ behind the pulpit. It is rare to have an organist who has served such a long time and with that sort of loyalty.
Vergers for the Children's Meetings
In the report for 1902, we see the names of new officials, namely Vergers for the Children's Meetings. Assistants to the Minister were Morgan J Thomas, David J Davies and Morgan Hicks. Latterly to name Isaac D Morris, and for many years these two, David J Davies and Isaac Morris, guided the children. By now the children have grown into middle age people, but still they remember and talk with gratitude about the education and worthwhile instruction they received under the leadership of these two devoted brothers .Latterly came David Roberts to help with this work.
I must also record the labour of David Evans with the children for many years. He taught them to sing in the band of hope and for some years now he is the supervisor of the Children's Sunday School, and he was exceptionally successful in winning the affection and trust of the children.
Towards 1898, when W H Davies was elected as General Secretary, John D Morgan was chosen as Financial Secretary.
After he left for Tabernacl, he was followed as Financial secretary by Morgan A James, and he fulfilled the job for twenty years.
In 1925 , they selected William Thomas, and he jointly with Morgan J Thomas, the Treasurer, did the work of setting up the basis of a new financial procedure. He was very industrious in this work until he was elected Treasurer in 1937.
In 1937 Gomer Williams was chosen as Financial Secretary, and it is hard to have his better or equal, in as much that his loyalty was ceaseless and his interest in the work of the church inexhaustible.
I feel that there are a host of others that should be mentioned ; area secretaries, the faithful of the prayer meetings and fellowship, the prayers and public speakers, and the officers of the Sunday school. Among the supervisors of Carmel Sunday school the names W Gwilym Williams, Morgan Hicks and David Jones stand out as exceptionally loyal, and the same thing can be said about David Morris in his relationship with Tai'rgwaith school but seek in vain to name ..
every devoted person, except to know that the attempt as such is not in vain. The day will come to say to them " Well done, good and faithful servant."
Preachers raised in the church
The first name on record is Richard Jones, and he was minister in Talgarth,Breconshire and in Briton Ferry.
Daniel Evans, had the ministry in Nasareth,Carmarthenshire. He was one of the preachers in the assembly held in Old Carmel in 1874.
Lewis Williams, Carbondale, America.
David Thomas, who went as a student to one of the colleges in America and was afterwards a minister in that country.
David Evans,Tanyrallt, who was a minister with the English in the counties of Monmouthshire and Glamorgan and in England for many years, and after resigning, he came back to live in his old country. He died in July 1928, and his remains buried beside Old Carmel.
D Curwen Davies, who started to preach about 1890, and he went to Carmarthen College. He was called to Siloam, Pontargothi and Horeb,Melingwm in 1897, and his stay there was very industrious and successful.
About the same time as Curwen Davies began to preach two brothers in Carmel, namely Thomas Evans,Waunleision, and his brother William Evans. Thomas Evans began to prepare for his ministry, presumably in Gwynfryn school---but he emigrated to the United States, and after returning to Wales his health broke and he died a young man. ..
William Evans was for a term in Llansawel Academy, but he was like his brother of a modest and retiring nature, and although he was sufficiently talented he had not much self confidence. William Evans did not go to the ministry himself, but he got a job in one of the Aberfan collieries, and he prospered well in that district.
Evan Melfin Jeremiah started to preach in 1931. He succeeded in going to Brecon College in 1933, and at the end of his course he was called to shepherd the churches of Carfan and Bryn Seion, Pembrokeshire in 1937. There he still remains, industrious and very successful and his people value his work.
Evan Islwyn Davies.He started to preach at the beginning of 1937, and having been a while at the Preparatory College Carmarthen ?[Myrddin], was accepted at Brecon College in 1940. He preached in the churches very acceptably.
Noel Cadifor Smith B.A. He rose to preach in the church towards the end of 1937. He passed to Carmarthen College in 1938 and having finished his degree in Swansea went to Carmarthen to follow a further course in theology. He has universal approval among the churches of the district. ...
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In the year 1905, in the midst of the turmoil and upheaval of the revival , the church in Cwmgors was established. 215 members went from Carmel, and they incorporated the church under the Rev. B D Davies on Sunday night, July 16th.
Not without considerable hesitation they took this step, and such as could be expected, there was some discontent among some of the brethren to let as many go , despite Carmel being too restricted to hold the crowds that came together. Be that as it may, the decision had chrystalised in the minds of a number of leaders that there was a cause to form in the southern corner of the district, and they held a meeting on Monday night, July 10th, under the presidency of David Morgan, Llwynhen to organise in readiness for getting the new cause underway. Among the 215 that came away from Carmel there were three of the deacons, and at the end of the year they were followed by another deacon, Benjamin Evans, Llwynrhydie, he stayed to finish the year as he was the church's treasurer. At the meeting held on July 10th, were elected Thomas D Jones, Llwyncelyn; John D Morgan, Brynteg and William Thomas Rees, the three deacons that came from Carmel, to be deacons in the new church. Also were elected John Griffiths and Owen Williams as secretaries; Thomas Evans, Llwynrhydie, as treasurer, and T J Rees as precentor. Now everything was ready for venturing forward.
But it is necessary to turn back for a while yet to follow the course of the original church. When talk started in the Old Carmel about a new chapel , the congregation was not of one mind, as already referred to, on the appropriate place to build it. Some sided with the spot that New Carmel stands now, whilst others tended towards building in Cwmgors, and a few of the old leaders were adamant for staying in the Old Carmel and enlarging it. After moving from the congregation[?] from the slopes to the village, some clung to the old church house for years, by holding the Sunday School and prayer meetings there. Perhaps it is possible to say that that these were the fathers of the Tabernacl church, because albeit the balance at the time turned towards the Waun, it was natural that those who leant towards Cwmgors clung more tightly to the old chapel than the other.
The district continued to grow steadily, and new houses were built all the time in Cwmgors, and before long Carmel church had to take notice of those from that locality. The Episcopal Church had started a cause in the "long room" of the New Star but in about1887 had built a church in the area. Carmel took possession of the "long room", without delay, for holding the Sunday School, and before long followed the example of the Episcopal Church by building a place more suitable for the purpose. They built a vestry in Cwmgors in 1894, at a cost of £272. This remains still as part of the large building which is behind the chapel. They held Sunday Schools and prayer meetings in this vestry for a period of almost 10 years, and the desire still grew to set up a cause in the place. The revival gave an extra impetus to this desire, because the people crowded to the chapels , and New Carmel
was overcrowded. It was suggested to the officials of Carmel to allow the holding of a prayer service in Cwmgors on a Sunday night, but the old officials were quite tardy to accept such a revolutionary move. Through dogged persistence, by whatever means, and with zealous and enthusiastic vigour , the leaders continued to beat single mindedly at the door, after long debate and consultation, it was agreed at last to allow the start of a new church in the vestry.
They celebrated communion in the vestry for the first time on Sunday August 6,1905, with the service by the Rev.B D Davies, and two of the senior deacons from Carmel, Benjamin Evans and John Morris , assisted him, and individual communion crockery was given to the church on the occasion by Miss Nancy Morgan,Cwmgors Farm.
The next task was to give a name to the new cause. A great number of names had been suggested, but after putting the matter to the vote, there was a large majority favouring the name "Tabernacl", and therefore called it Tabernacl, the tent of the Lord.
The vestry quickly became too small for the congregation and they decided to enlarge it. Samuel Jenkins,Cwmgors was at the helm with this work, and his contagious enthusiasm inspired everyone to do their best, and many of the members gave of their time and energy gratis to expedite the work. All the same the enlargement of the vestry cost over £500, and they paid for the whole lot within two years.
All this was nothing but to prepare the way for the further work that was waiting, namely raising the chapel. By 1910 , the young church was ready to face the
venture. They had promises of £1100, and it was all paid in by the opening day. The foundation stone was laid down on September 22 1910 by Mrs Ann Morgan, Pantglas[previously Llwynhen]; Benjamin Rees, [treasurer, and one of the deacons of Kings Cross, London]; Benjamin Evans, Llwynrhydie and Samuel Jenkins, Y.H,Cwmgors. Unfortunately the builder went bankrupt before the work of building the chapel was half completed, but the head-contractor Sir Beddoe Rees, obtained Messrs Turner & Sons from Cardiff to finish it.
The new chapel opened on February 28 and 29, 1912, with a service for the occasion by the Rev.B D Davies; John Rees, Cwmllynfell and H Elfed Lewis MA, London. The number of members on the day of opening was 312.
The chapel and organ cost £4,321, a rather heavy burden for the young church, but the singers pledged to shift the debt for the organ[£550], and through the efforts of the choir under the lead of T J Rees, W J Jones, W Llan Davies, and D J Evans, each one in his turn, by holding concerts, and performing books, shifted this debt entirely.
The young girls and the wives too were busy collecting money and gave towards the furnishings of the new chapel, and through the combined efforts of the members, their enthusiasm and zeal, they had a lovely temple, and none more beautiful throughout the land.
Having settled in the new chapel, and repaying more than half the debt, the thoughts of the church turned towards calling a minister. This was not the first time it had felt the want of a shepherd to guide them, because they tried in 1908 ..
to coax one of the young ministers from Breconshire, but he was lead to another field. Having failed in this respect and overcoming their disappointment, at the end of the year they gave a call to another young minister from east Glamorgan, but this attempt was again a failure, and they put the goal of calling a minister aside until the chapel was built.
At length, the way was clear to go ahead to call a shepherd to guide the fervent congregation. Amongst those who filled the pulpit in Tabernacl in this period, there was the young student from Cardiff of the name T M Roderick. He made a distinct impression on the church on his first visit, and when he came again and again he became deeper and deeper into the affection of the members, and in February 1913 they sent him an urgent and unanimous call to come and be the church's shepherd. He answered the call positively. They held the ordaining meetings [ the first to be held in the district as far as I know], on July 2 and 3 , 1913, and the services were by the Revs. B D Davies; W D Thomas, Brynaman; Rhys J Huws, Glanaman; J H Parry, Llansamlet; T Williams, Clydach Vale; Ben Davies, Pan-teg; the Principal T Lewis MA., BD.,Brecon; Professor Joseph Jones MA.,BD., and the Venerable John Rees,Cwmllynfell. They had meetings under the dew[?] and evident approval on every part of the work.
The new minister was born in Salem, Coedgruffydd, near Talybont on Eleri, Cardiganshire, but when he was very young the family moved to Clydach Vale, in the Rhondda, and having been in the daily school there as the rest of the children of the village, followed the bulk of the young youths of the district into the coal mine. He followed ..
the meetings at Soar regularly, and took an interest in poetry and literature, and composed the odd stanza and essay, and the church quickly saw in him the material for a minister of the Gospel, and after being encouraged by the minister, he began to preach. He went to prepare himself in readiness for the examination for admission to college to the Ramadeg School of the celebrated Dunmore Edwards in Pontypridd. He succeeded in going to Brecon College in 1907, and had a very successful career in Cardiff and Brecon, and apart from following his lessons diligently, took a visible and prominent part in the social life of the colleges, until he was called at the end of his course to take care of the flock in Tabernacl.
Now, he spent 28 years in the ministry, and in the same place, successful and happy, and deep in the affection of his people. After being a minister for some three years he married Miss Elizabeth Margretta Thomas, the daughter of the Reverend and Mrs Tawelfryn Thomas from Groeswen. When the church realised that a wedding was on the horizon, it promptly set to preparing a home, and raised a very snug and comfortable house. Benjamin Evans, Llwynrhydie, who gave the land to build the chapel on, and his son Thomas Evans, together with Mrs John Rees,Abernant, gave the piece of land that belonged with the house; and they gave the whole free of charge.
Whilst mentioning giving, we can add that Samuel Jenkins gave the sum of £100 to the church in memory of his wife. He also gave a set of communion crockery for the service for the sick and old people in their homes, and also the large bible that is on the shelf of the pulpit, and
and just before he died, bestowed a further donation of £100 to the church. They also received a donation of £100 from Samuel Morgan, Pantglas in memory of his father, David Morgan, Llwynhen. John Evans,Tanyrallt, and his wife donated the large Songbook that is on the organ and also in the pulpit, and they also gave the palm that is in the pulpit, on the occasion of their golden wedding anniversary in 1934. Many things of great value were donated from time to time, but I can't name them all. All the same. I can mention that the new electric lights in the chapel were given by different members in memory of loved ones lost on the journey.
There are two very important events in the recent history of Tabernacl. In 1930, the church celebrated its quarter century, and I quote the history of the meetings that occurred from the report of 1930. "They held them on Tuesday and Wednesday, July 15 and 16. They started the service on Tuesday night with Mr Noel James, Rhydyfro, and sermons of powerful conviction by the Rev.Ll.C Huws,BA.,Carmel and Edwin Jones, Cwmllynfell. The service on Wednesday night started with the Rev. A Llewelyn, Seion[B], and sermons by the Rev. Arthur Jones BA., Pant-teg, and J Vernon Lewis,MA.,BD.,Brynaman. Another big service. "On Wednesday afternoon, they had the commemorative service under the presidency of the minister. A leading part was taken by the Rev. Stephen Jones, Seilo[M.C]. Mr John Griffiths read a paper giving the history of the church from the beginning, and that was exceptionally interesting . Then they had additional addresses by three of the other deacons; Mr Thomas
Howells, Mr William Thomas Rees and Mr Samuel Jenkins,JP. Representing Carmel church was Mr Morgan J Thomas and the West Glamorgan connection by the chairman, the Rev. J H Hughes, Soar, Swansea; and the secretary the Rev.James Davies MA., Mynyddbach. The Cwmaman churches sent Mr John Jenkin Morgan, Bryn Seion, to give their best wishes to them, and they had a happy word from the Rev.W D Roderick,Rhiwfawr. Representing the great number of surrounding churches were ministers and others, and a number of letters expressing regret were received from people who were unable to be present.
"It is advantageous at this service to express the appreciation of the church for the invaluable work of the treasurer Mr Thomas Evans, Llwynrhydie; and the two secretaries, Mr John Griffiths and Mr Owen Williams. A beautiful picture of himself was presented to each one of them, very expertly made by Mrs Williams,Rock Shop; Mrs W Trotman and Mrs Davies, Coffee Tavern.
"Mr John Griffiths presented to the church a bound volume, of all the annual reports of the church from its beginning, a gift gratefully received, and to be carefully preserved.
"The girls and women had prepared a vast and delicious [feast ] in readiness for the numerous visitors, thus nobody was in need. None of them forgot these interesting meetings and this great blessing, and they are facing the second quarter century more hopefully than ever before. Although restricted by the circumstances of the times, the balance sheet shows that we paid off £100 of debt this year." .
Thereafter, in 1938, they celebrated the end of the quarter century of the ministry of the Rev.T M Roderick, at the same time celebrating the Jubilee of clearing the whole debt. Herewith a collection of histories of meetings taken from the Report of 1938.
"They held a special meeting to celebrate on Wednesday night and Thursday on June 29 and 30, 1938, under the presidency of the minister.
"It started through reading and praying by the Rev G Boyer,BA., Clydach Vale, parts were taken by Mr John Griffiths[secretary], Mr Thomas Evans[treasurer], and Mr D J Evans,C.R.A.M.[organist]. These three have held their jobs since the start of the cause in 1905, and the substance of their orations is printed in this report. Parts were also taken by the Revs. James Davies BA.,[Secretary to Undeb]; L Berian James BA.,Penygroes; D J Moses BA.,Llanwrtyd; H Seiriol Williams, Pontardawe; Mr J Jenkin Morgan[Glan Berach], Glanaman; Mr E J Roderick, Clydach Vale; Mr W Thomas[on behalf of Carmel chapel]; and Mr Owen Watcyn [ on behalf of the deacons of Tabernacl]. On Thursday, they held prayer meetings , the service was given by the Revs Ll C Huws, BA.,Carmel, and Seimon Jones BA., Peniel,Carmarthen."
The Presentation Meeting
"Thursday,July 21 , 1938, they gave a quite sumptuous tea to all the members and the children of the church, and to a number of friend from outside. To the table where ..
the minister and his wife sat came a bouquet of various flowers , having been collected, one flower from each property of the members, and a lavishly decorated cake holding 25 candles, presented by Mrs[Dr] G S Phillips. After the tea, they went to the chapel to start the presentation meeting. This was presided over by Mr John Griffiths [secretary]. To Mr William Rees the trustee they presented a watch , and a gold chain to Mr Roderick, and to Mrs Margaret Davies [ the senior wife in the church], and presented an eight day clock to Mrs Roderick. On behalf of the drama party , Mr John Evans presented a valuable "fountain pen" to Mr Roderick, and a similar "fountain pen" to Mr David Howells. Taking advantage of the opportunity to present Mr D J Evans, C.R.A.M, by Mr John Griffiths with a lovely "bureau" in recognition of his work as organist for 33 years. Carmel church showed their respect and appreciation for Mr Roderick's willing service over the years, by handing him a large cheque, and the Rev.Ll.C Huws,B.A., performed that happy duty. "
Here is also placed an account by the treasurer of the church's financial history from the beginning. " In the year 1905, as they left Carmel, the mother church, it was felt that the vestry in Cwmgors was too small, and they went ahead to enlarge the building at a cost of nearly £500, without reckoning the many free services by the members and friends of the church. About 5 years after that, they felt the need to build an extension as well, and they raised this chapel, and it cost £3,749.15s. On top of that they installed the organ, and that cost £550. And we had
from the beginning an organ that was an adornment to the church and the locality. It has given its best to the church over the years. In 1915, they built the minister's house, at a cost of £752. In 1927, the two churches, Tabnernacl and Carmel, came together to repair Old Carmel, and did it. That cost £364.19s.2d., namely £182.9s.7d each.
They installed an electric motor for the organ a few years back, and that cost £56.
The whole outlay of the various building works as follows;
- Cost of enlarging the vestry .£500-0-0
- Building the chapel .............3749-15-0
- The organ ............................550-0-0
- The minister's house ............752-0-0
- Motor for the organ ...............56-0-0
- Heating in the vestry ...............59-0-0
- Repairing Old Carmel ..........182-9-7
The total amount of the Church Collections since 1905-----£17,600".
There is one notable fact concerning in the history of the officers of Tabernacl, namely there is one minister, one secretary, one treasurer and one organist who have served since the beginning. The minister served for 28 years, and the other three for 36 years. .
The Secretary is John Griffiths, son of William Griffiths, one of the old deacons of Carmel and some of his history has been recounted in another part of this volume. Mrs Griffiths gave inestimable service over the years, without sparing himself at all; to be exact, positive and without fuss, and he was beyond question the most gifted historian of the district.
And the Treasurer, Thomas Evans, is himself a son of one of Carmel's old deacons, namely Benjamin Evans, Llwynrhydie. He was also treasurer in Carmel , for over 50 years, and his father William Evans before him for many years. Tabernacl was as fortunate in its treasurer as in its secretary, and we can't pay a greater compliment.
David John Evans came to look after the "harmonium" in the vestry when he was a very young lad, and he continued to develop over the years, and it is always a pleasure to hear him play the organ.
The three first deacons came from Carmel with the 215 in 1905; Thomas Daniel Jones, Llwyncelyn; John D Morgan, Brynteg, and William Thomas Rees. At the end of the year, these were followed by Benjamin Evans,Llwynrhydie, and he was a deacon in Tabernacl until the end of his life.
In the year 1907, they elected eight new deacons,; John Davies, Coffee Tavern; David Morgan, Pontardawe Road; David Watkins, Brynhaul; Thomas Howells, Post Office; Thomas Williams, Rock Shop; Thomas Evans, Llwynrhydie; John
Griffiths,Bryn Siriol and Owen Williams,Beiliglas. I should mention here that , the last, namely Owen Williams , was elected financial secretary of the church from the outset, and he remained loyal and skilful in this work until he died in 1930.
They elected 5 new deacons in 1923; Samuel Jenkins JP; John Evans, Tanyrallt; Owen Watcyn; John Morgan and Rees Morgan.
They called for deacons again in 1931, and selected Robert Morgan; Dr G S Phillips, JP; T Rees Jones; and David Howells, and finally elected W M Davies, Richard Morgan, Edward James, W R Thomas and Trefor Jenkins in 1935. In the period of his stay in the place the Rev Tawelfryn Thomas was an honorary deacon, and he gave willing and ready service, which endeared him to all.
These are the names of the deacons that serve the church today; William Thomas Rees, Thomas Evans, John Griffiths, Owen Watcyn, John Morgan, Robert Morgan, Dr G S Phillips, David Howells, Richard Morgan, Edward James, W R Thomas and Trefor Jenkins.
Leaders of the Singing
The first leader was T J Rees, and he was elected as the church was formed. He has made a name for himself recently as leader of the district's silver band and he became renowned throughout Wales.
He was followed by W J Jones, a man who sang in a rich voice and was very successful in his supervision. On his resignation, they elected W Llan ..
Davies to look after the work, and this he did with enthusiasm and skill. His health broke down at the peak of his days and Trefor Jenkins ,who had worked with the children for many years, came to fill the gap, and continued in the job very successfully until today.
If I had the space I could add much to the above names, for the church isn't short of brothers and sisters who have given unsparingly of their talents and time in the service of the cause, many of them out of sight without seeking reward but which they had in the work, And when the role of honour of the Kingdom is prepared some day to come, there will be on it the names of many of the quiet workers teaching in the Sunday School, and the frequenters of the prayer meetings and the fellowship, and some who were satisfied to be hewers of wood and drawers of water for the greater cause. .
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As mentioned, one can't separate the early history of education in the district from the history of Carmel Church because it was the church that was responsible more than anyone or anything else for that education given to the children until the Foster Act and the setting up of the School Board in 1870.
It is a very interesting little story, the early attempts to establish a permanent school in the village. I know nothing at all about the occurrences here before Griffith Jones of Llanddowror started his travelling schools, and it isn't likely that the first movements, such as the movements of Thomas Gouge and the S.P.C.K came any nearer than Neath, Llandeilo or Carmarthen. They set up three charity schools of the SPCK in Carmarthen between 1705 and 1708, one in Neath in 1706, and one in Llandeilo in 1721 [ Shankland; "Charity School Movement in Wales". --- Transactions of the Cymmrodorion, 1904-5]. We have to wait until 1738 before having a report of a school in Llangiwc parish. In the first list of charity schools in "Welch Piety", 1738-9, we have the note; "Llanguke, 56---The number referring to the number of pupils attending the school. I can't get further information about the place supporting a school; the most likely thing is that it was in the old Parish Church. In 1739-40, we have the name of Llanguke again with 84 pupils, and also, .
"Waun-Cygurwen in Llanguke,45" . There we are, now, getting nearer home, and for sure within the borders of the district, but again still not able to identify the place where they held the school. In the next issue , we have a letter from the clergyman at Llangiwc concerning a schoolmaster charged with breaking the law [ it seems his big failing was to be too much of a dissenter to be to the liking of the plaintiff];
"Rev.Sir,--Since you require an account how H-------T--------attended his school in the parish of Llanguick, I assure you I was very careful of it, and I really believe the Welsh Schools did a great deal of Good. I was informed that you were told H----T---- - published Meetings in publick Places as the Methodists do, which I believe is false, but I am sure he has been frequently invited to many private Houses, where he gave good Advice in compliance with the Request of the Family . I have been informed by credible persons who are Monthly Communicants at Llanguick, that he never received any Payment from the Parents of the Children who were under his Tuition. I Catechised his Scholars several times in the parish church of Llanguick, and likewise administered the Sacrament to him in the said Church once a month, during his Continuance among us. A Welsh School is very much wanted here; for there are a great many of the Parishioners ignorant and poor, which I hope you will take into Consideration. I should be very glad of having the Happiness of being acquainted with you. Which is all from, Yours etc., Thomas Jenkins, Minister of Llanguick." There are complaints in other places against this schoolmaster. [R T Jenkins suggested
the possibility that it was Henry Thomas from Gellidochleithe[Henry Thomas, Godre'r Rhos] , but I must investigate further before I can confirm this]. It is apparent that he was welcome in the homes of the common people, and it appears he could not keep from preaching as well as teaching in the school.
In the same issue [1740-1], we have " Llanguick,96". Note that the spelling has changed, and the pupils continue to increase. We also have, " Gellygron in Llanguick, 135". In 1741-2, we have Gilfach yr Haidd in Llanguick 47; Alltygrig in Llanguick,52; Cygerwen in Llanguick, 41". There was no sign of a school at all in the parish in 1742-4, but in the next year is recorded" Llanguick,57; Llanguick Parish Church, 42 ; Cygerwen in Llanguick, 52". In the following year, namely in the year 1745-6, we have a a very important record relating to this district; " Llanguick Parish Church,24; Llwyn y celyn in Llanguick,34; Another school in Llwyn celyn, 28". There , we are further forward in knowing where in the district was the school of Griffith Jones. Llwyncelyn farm, which still stands today, stands in a central place in the district, and it was very convenient for the children of the place at that time to gather there. And that isn't the only connection of Llwyncelyn with life on the Waun, because Isaac Morris and W Henry Davies held a singing school there for some years before the vestry in Tai'rgwaith was built. I also recall sundry [people] holding Sunday school in the old farmhouse and crowds of children and people of Tai'rgwaith very regularly before the vestry was built. The old house should be ever sacred in the eyes of the inhabitants of the place. In 1746-7, .
We also have "Llanguick, 24" without anything more. There was no school in the parish in 1747-8, but in the following year, we also have "Llanguick Parish Church,15"[ the pupils fewer each time] and "Abertwrch in Llanguick, 59". In the next year came another interesting note, namely "Neuadd in Llanguick,43". Neuadd farmhouse is in the northerly corner of the district, on the edge of Cwmaman and Carmarthenshire, and it is likely that the children of Cwmaman as well as those from the Waun went there. In 1750-1, we have "Cigerwen in the parish of Llanguick,49" [I wonder whether that was a continuation of Neuadd school ?]. Whatever, that is the last record in "Welch Piety" about a school in the place. And was the district without a school at all for years afterwards ? There is no exclamation and no one replies. But as already mentioned, Noah Jones, after building on it the first Cwmbach school house in 1762, left two pounds a year towards teaching the children of the inhabitants of the district, and perhaps it is fairly certain that a school was held in the school house from 1762 onwards for some years at least. Early in the last century, there was a school in the stable loft of Old Carmel, although there are no further details on it. The next certain information is that a man called Philip Rees[ who lost his leg in the Crimea War, and came to keep the Caegurwen Inn] held a school in the loft of the inn. It seems there was scant approval for the old soldier's efforts to cram a bit of English and arithmetic into the heads of the children of the Waun, and the life of the school was brief. A little more recently, John Davies the weaver held a school in the old house at Penyrinclein, but its history went up in smoke as well. .
A better order of matters came when the colliery workers agreed to tax themselves, and they paid a levy of three pence a week towards keeping the school. The colliery manager , a man by the name of Noah Phillips, was much in favour of the movement, and he did his best to facilitate it. There was another man in the colliery, by the name of Evan Gethin, who looked after some of the machinery, and he was considered a fine scholar at that time, and he was allowed to leave the machinery and look after the school, with the other workers taking care of his wages. He had a rather original way of ensuring discipline and imparting learning, but his supervision excelled many at that time, and before then, in the district . All the same, he wasn't at the work for very long. He emigrated to America around 1865. It was in Penyrinclein that the school was held in his time. There were some who were leaders in the movement to give education to the children of the place, almost invariably, in the membership of Carmel church, and these came to feel by now that there was a need for a roomier and more convenient building to hold the school in than the old house, and they built a one room school house at the bottom of the Waun, and in 1867 , the school started there. That was the beginning of the British School. From then on, we have quite detailed records of the work of the school until these days. It is obvious enough that the idea of the new building began a new period in the history of education in the village, and interesting today, when building such fine places for schools, to consider the size of this room. Measuring 40 feet by 25 feet, and into this one cramped room were crammed the children by the score for many years.
It is very interesting to follow the old "Log Books" from 1867 onwards. A
Page or two from the beginning of the book went astray, and the first note we have is; "August 23, 1867---Small attendance, Llandeilo Fair." It is observed that far off events affected the school in those days. The first master was Evan Davies," not certified", and his stay was short. Here is a copy of the Inspector's Report of his first visit to the school on August 8,1867; " Considering the disadvantages under which this school is at present conducted, the order and instruction are both fairly creditable." In November of the same year, a new master came to take care of the school, of the name David Evans. It is said the school was closed for some time before his arrival, and it is clear that he believed in hard work, because only one solitary day was given for holidays to the children over the Christmas time. But his supervision didn't last long, because before the start of the year came another master again to take control. This was a man very fond of self praise. After a day or two came the note ; "Order and discipline greatly improving", and came many other notes of the same sort.
The tradition of the schools of Griffith Jones had been missing long before this; English was the language of the school, and the teaching was completely secular from the beginning, an that despite it was the old democratic leaders and Welshy Carmel that were behind it. They even taught the pupils to sing in English, and according to the old book, the first hymn the children of the Waun sang in the school was " Jerusalem, my happy home !"
In the examination in May 1868, the teacher said; "On the whole, I noticed that those who were always present were most successful in the examination; the others either copied or failed, Most of the children were exceedingly nervous". Yes, poor things, no wonder, with the language of their homes banned from the school.
We have the names of the old leaders of Carmel often in the records, and the visits of some of them to the school from time to time. In July 1868, we see that Hopcyn Hopcyn, the leader of singing in Carmel, and one of the governors of the school called, and said the teacher; "He informed me that the children had greatly improved in singing". There is the judgement of authority on the singing of "Jerusalem, my happy home". Another name to be seen regularly in the records is Dafydd Morgan, Cilpentan, the committee secretary of the school, and he was also the secretary of Carmel church. Here are other names; Joseph Rees, Abernant; Benjamin Evans, Llwynrhydie, the treasurer of Carmel; John Jones, Beiliglas; Thomas Thomas, Cwm, who were prominent in the school and the church.
Further on, in the book, there is another example of the knack of the schoolmaster to praise himself, in referring to the visit of his majesty the Inspector; " A great number of the school committee and others met in school today. They were highly pleased with the mode and results of the examination". When the report came, he saw that the Inspector wasn't as pleased with matters as the school committee. Here is the note, all the same, which suggests that the schoolmaster himself had the occasional day of rowing against the flow; " August .
12,Wednesday; Small effects produced from hard work".
There were many things which influenced the attendance of the pupils. For example, a fair in the vicinity, and that didn't have to be that close by; meetings in Carmel; the harvest of hay or corn. Time after time, he complained that the proportion present was low because of the harvest, or that the children were being kept home to help cultivate the gardens. There was no hope of having a full school in the fine days of April. We have early records of incidents where the numbers were small because of the holding of some meeting or other in Carmel; it soon became the rule to give the children holidays whenever anything was held in the chapel, and several times in the year it said ;" No school today; meetings at the chapel". You can follow the records to get a fairly exact knowledge of the timing of different meetings ; quarterly services, prayer services, thanksgiving services, meetings to install a minister, jubilee meetings, Sunday school excursions or tea parties ; I think they are all on record.
Evening classes started in December, 1868, and said the schoolmaster; " I am to receive the school pence and grant should the scholars be examined ." Somewhat precarious, I would think, of being paid. Uncomfortable in the extreme, also, was the building around this time, we have the teacher noting in February;" Much warmer in school today in consequence of five panes of glass put in the windows." Pity the children in the month of January.
The language of the children was a daily bogey for the teacher and inspector. The former wrote; "I notice in the
Reading lessons that the children in the higher classes do not understand what they are reading nearly so well as they ought". And again, in his visit report by the inspector ; "The children in this school are very backward in the English language". Oh what an unpardonable sin !
We have to wait until 1907 before getting a word in favour of Welsh. In his report said Mr J Evans, the inspector; "In this Welsh district, the upper division of the infants may have conversational lessons in English, in association with objects and pictures , but the rest of the work , including reading, ought to be in Welsh ." In 1910 Mr William Edwards the inspector said; "This is an intensely Welsh district , but there has been insufficient recognition of the fact. Much more systematic arrangements should be made for utilising and teaching the home language from the bottom of the school to the top." And again in 1915; "Recognition is now made of the fact that the district is typically Welsh, though some of the teachers are prone to teach Welsh through the medium of English as if Welsh were the foreign tongue".
Although there was so much emphasis on English in the early years, they held the occasional eisteddfod in the school house, and the occasional concert. It is recorded that a concert to Watcyn Wyn was held in the school house on a Saturday night [ despite there being a Gwynfryn school, it seems], and another concert that Llew Llwyfo was responsible for. Also, referring to the school house, was closed in February 1896 , to hold a drama. Therefore, we see that Welsh drama had pitched its tent down quite early in the district. There were also several very impassioned political meetings ..
from time to time in the old building, and more than one school master complained about the damage done by these to the school furnishings.
There were several masters who looked after the school for brief intervals in the period of the early years, but in 1871, came a very interesting character as head master; a man by the name of George Edmunds, and he had a special genius for writing interestingly in the "Log Book". It is hard to resist the temptation to quote extensively from his notes, because he has something interesting to say about all the affairs of the district; the colliery, chapel, weather, and every happening of note in the place. Here are some of his comments on the weather; "September 6,1873; The rain ,it raineth every day. Fires continually kept during the summer, so that it is lucky we are in a coal country". It seems things changed got better after that ,because on December 19 he said; " Change of weather back to rain; the road opposite the school is in a miserable condition, ankle deep in mud----Scavenger not to be seen !" March 17, 1876; "A cold miserable, snowy, sleety, frosty, stormy week, a regular mixture of all the ills the weather is subject to." March 24--- "A repetition of last week's weather". August 13 1877--- "reopened school after holidays, which consisted of an uninterrupted succession of wet days". No one spoke at such length ever before about the magnificent weather that the fathers had . In the following period, is seen his reaction to fine weather; June 7,1889--- Lovely weather---outside ! "
Here are other interesting notes; July 10,1871--- "Lost from school this week,17 Darnell's copies belonging to the 2nd class, and 12 to the first class.
Bought locks for the cupboards in consequence". There must have been considerable thirst for knowledge in the district in these years. October 3,1873--- "A big girl, or young woman rather, came to school one day this week, and learned enough !"
In 1875, we see notes about establishing a Board School in the parish, and Benjamin Evans,Llwynrhydie was elected to the Board. They held a meeting in Carmel on June 11 in that year, to transfer the school house to the Board, and there was considerable disagreement on the matter. It seems the authority wished to pay nothing for the building, only to take over any debt that might be on it, and as there was no debt at all, expected to get it for nothing. But the people of the area weren't having that. They had learned over a long time to stand up for their rights, and the committee of governors decided to close the school at the end of the year unless the School Board came to its senses. The end result was that the authority paid £375 for the school house, and that was the start of the fund to build the new Carmel.
In 1876, is noted the laying of the foundation stone for the new chapel on October 27 by Dr Howell Rees,Tirbach; and in 1877, October 22 and 23, its opening, and holidays at the school as a result. No wonder the old school master was so exact in his references to the chapel, because he was himself a member of the church. His custom, invariably, that has come in recently , of walking leisurely to his seat, but before arriving there, waiting , and taking his watch out, and turning to look at the clock, as though talking to himself;" Well, here you are starting too soon today, again."
Here is another most interesting note;1877, namely the year new Carmel opened;-- " According to the census made lately for the parish, Caegurwen has
Children of school age------------------------------------424
The schoolmaster and inspector complained bitterly because of the lack of room, but here is the philosophy of the master on the matter;
" What cannot be cured must be endured".
But it is odd that the teacher succeeded so well, when over two hundred children of every age were crammed into one room 40*25 feet.
Here is a big day in the history of the school;
June 21, 1884---
"Dr Rees presented the children with buns and oranges".
We have a note nearly once a month about visits by the Rev. John Jones, and after him the Rev.T Selby Jones.
1891, Dec 12---
"School closed last week by consent of the manager, Rev Selby Jones".
It is clear that he exercised considerable authority over the school, something quite commonplace for him was to take the children up onto the common and throw sweets to them.
1888, July 6.---
"Rev.Mr Selby Jones visited the school and informed the children that his present of sweets would be distributed on the first fine day".
"Cleared up, so that the children were taken to Carregfilfaen [ a bit of rock on the common] .
by the Rev.Mr Jones to receive the sweets as promised".
It is good to see the minister keep to his promise, but is said that his influence on the children often interfered with the order of the school. It seems that the old school master had been quite careless for a while, and that the proximity of the Caegurwen Arms, across the road from the school, had become an stumbling block for him, but when he was rebuked by the School Board, having received from that board an unfavourable report by the inspector, excused himself by saying that Selby Jones had come to the school on the examination morning and taken several of the children off to the common. Matters went from bad to worse, and in 1887, we have this note ;
July 17--- "Received notice to quit from the Board ".
But not for petty games was he removed; the old headmaster kept his grasp tight for several years after that.
There was considerable independent spirit in the children as well. For example, here is a telling note;
" Very close and sultry in school. Many playing truant in the river."
It doesn't surprise me that the teacher was not sympathetic and rather annoyed with the children in the circumstances. Here is another note;
"Wombell's Menagerie passed by to exhibit at Brynaman. Allowed the children to go out and see the Elephants and Camels and the procession generally".
The children took full advantage of their opportunity, because here is the end of the note;
" No school !"
The school master was not above doing similarly himself ;
"No school Tuesday. Bicycle race at Llanelly. Self went. The PT's putting glass in the windows".
The last note by George Edmunds came on July 28, 1892, and out of pressure he gave it up at that time. He was banished out of his temptation to keep a school on Gwrhyd mountain.
In the year 1892 came John Hugh to take care of the school, and the children went on strike immediately. Whether from nostalgia for the old schoolmaster I cannot say, but certainly from displeasure with the new master. Some eighteen came to the school in the first weeks after John Hugh arrived, and the number went down to thirteen , but at the end of a month or two, matters gradually came into place, and the new teacher proved that he was a competent man in his job. It is said that he and Selby Jones persisted in considerable disagreement, over the view that the new master should be a member of the chapel and be active in it. But on the testimony of those who remember, John Hugh was no chapel goer. During his supervision, came frequent change in the work of the school; they started using Welsh books; we have the story of the lecturer who frequented the school to address the children on "The Effects of Alcohol" , and one new factor came into the reckoning of absences of children from school, namely "seaside visiting". There was a close relationship between Carmel and the school still. In 1894, they had to close the school because of the Sunday school tea,; in 1895-6, they held the classes in the vestry of Carmel as the school house was being repaired.
John Hugh's time came to an end in 1925, and there was a good word for him throughout the district as a conscientious and accomplished schoolmaster. John Morgan was the next schoolmaster, and he was very successful, and it is seen from his notes in the "Log Book" that he was alive to the necessity of helping the children to reach wide culture, and delighted
in teaching the children about their own region, their history and customs, and taking them outside for that purpose, and to look at the trees and flowers and birds of the place. In this period , a school had been held in the vestry of Tai'rgwaith for some years, and a reference is seen in an old account book belonging to Carmel, that the old saint felt that the education authority had an advantage over it, and went and raised the rent in 1911 from £6 p.a. to £12 p.a..
After the setting up a school in the district for the older children in 1935, John Morgan departed for Whitchurch,Cardiff and Miss Mary Evans came as principal in his place. She had a big influence on the children and took care to keep whole the link between the school and chapel. The district is very fortunate today in its head teachers and teachers.
They pulled down the old Waun school [ containing the original room built in 1867] in 1938, and by now the new school is on a lovely and convenient site, indeed, one of the most beautiful schools in the country. An old leader of 1867 would be astonished to see the building today. New schools also opened in Tai'rgwaith, 1907, and in Cwmgors,1912. In 1935 , they opened a lovely new school for the older children on Waun common, and this building too, is one of the most beautiful in the county. I should mention that the old Alderman D D Davies, one of Carmel's children and representing the district on the county council , had done a big service to these areas concerning education, and indubitably, it was his persistence and endurance that secured these fine schools for the district. .
It can be said that there is wholehearted joint understanding and collaboration between the churches and schools of the district still, and great care to try and instruct the children so that they might reach a fuller life in every sense.
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The district , in an industrial region, expanded early in the nineteenth century, and the growth of the church in the century was to a degree linked through the growth of the coal business. There are traces of coal workings here from early in the seventeenth century. We have the history of the old court of the Manor of Gwaun-Cae-Gurwen being held in 1610, adjudicating that the coal and seams below the ground in the possession of a tenant, were owned by the tenant and not by the landlord, and that the tenant could dig , excavate and sell the coal without the permission of the owner of the land.
They worked the coal in those times in a very elementary way; only moving the earth that was on the seams that outcropped to the surface, and after digging the coal, throwing the earth back into the holes. By today, not bothering to throw anything back, but leaving ugly tips of rubble to spoil the look of the place; that's deterioration in one sense at least. We have scores of these holes scarring the hills around the district. Of late, they have excavated shallow pits, some fifteen or twenty yards deep, from some they carried the coal in wicker baskets after tying them to men's backs, and them climbing ladders fixed on the sides of the pits. The coal worker was assisted by some of his children, and sometimes by his wife as well, dragging a sort of small cart through the works. There were children of seven ..
and eight years old working in these pits, and it was expected that a girl carried a ton of coal in a day for a wage of eight pence. We have pictures today of girls with ropes round their shoulders , pulling carts in some of the mines in this district in the early period referred to.
They carried the coal from these pits along rough tracks with horses and donkeys, with packs on their backs, until the main road was built in 1815-17, to connect the place with Pontardawe. The first pit, apart from the holes already referred to, was sunk about 1837, by a man called Charles Morgan, and in 1874 he sold the works to men from the county of Caerefrog, and they formed the Gwaun-Cae-Gurwen Coal Company.
The record book of the school gives us a glance of the occasional fact relating to the works. For example, here is a note about the price of coal; "One load of coal brought to the school weighing 18cwt., the price of which was 5/3, and the carriage 10d." This was in 1868. The schoolmaster complained that the children were leaving the school very young to work in the mine; very few were the boys who arrived in the higher class. The accidents were recorded as well; there were several notes like this; "Man killed at works". And the following week; "Man killed by the trucks". There was an accident in the pit in the month of September, 1843 [ the worst accident in the history of the works] when the rope broke and six lives were lost. That was a black day for the young Carmel church, because some if not all were members [of it].
In 1874, when the Gwaun-Cae-Gurwen Coal Company was formed, the total amount of coal raised was almost 70 ..
tons a day. This was more than they could carry off in carts on the road, and they started to make a railway from the Old Pit down to Cwmtawe in order to discharge the coal onto boats on the canal, and then to be carried to Swansea to reach the ships. It is easy to see the remains of this old way today coming past Pontbaraceirch, Cwmbach and Beiliglas to Cwmgors. As another company was building a railway from Llanelli to Garnant, they dropped the plan of taking the railway to Cwmtawe, and instead of that made a line to join the new railway in Cwmaman, and sent the coal over that one to Llanelli. It seems that that railway was one of the earliest in Wales.
In August, 1876, a strike broke out in the Waun works and it lasted longer than usual, and the old schoolmaster, George Edmunds gave a word of its story in the school book ; " Commencement of third week of strike with the Waun colliers. Proprietors asking 12.5% reduction and the colliers refusing. The latter offered, Thursday last, 7.5%, but received no answer. On date, heard the ultimatum,---12.5%, nothing less. Tuesday and Wednesday, colliers left for the hills [ the local term for the Rhondda and district], almost in a body, having withdrawn their offer of 7.5%. The whole loaf or nothing on both sides. The women of the place very depressed, but I do not believe it can last long as the coal trade is looking up, and a good demand." The price of coal around this time was 8/- a ton according to the school book.
Towards the middle of the century, they sunk a number of pits in the area; Pwll y Fan, belonging to the Waun works, .
Pwll y Gwter, Gwaith y Cannon and Pwll y Garnant , where occurred the worst accident in the district ever, when the rope broke at the end of the morning ,January 16, 1884, and ten lives were lost.
About the same time opened the works at Llwynrhydie,Cwmgors, known as Joseph's Works, as it was owned by Joseph Thomas, shopkeeper from Garnant. At that time , the "Truck Act System" was in vogue, through this the workers had to buy goods in the works company shop. After receiving the pay ticket, the rule was to go with it compare with the shop's book, and often, the worker found that he had not much left after settling up. The owner overcharged for his goods, and thus the worker was permanently under water.
Also around this time also opened the "Mountain Colliery" near Beiliglas Uchaf, named by the workers as "Gwaith y Focsen", because there was there a large wooden box growing nearby. Dafydd Morgan, Cilpentan, the secretary of Carmel church, was the head clerk in Joseph's Works, and in his job he handled many of the affairs of the village, being sociable, industrial, political and religious. Some of the main holders of this office with this in view was Thomas Rees, known as the doctor because of his inexhaustible scriptural knowledge, and he was a teacher in the principal class in Sunday school, and [also] Hopcyn Hopcyn , he was the leader of singing in Carmel. Flourishing traditions here were the start of the movement to build New Carmel, and these three were the ones most in the fore of this movement. .
A new works opened in 1887 on the ruins of Joseph's works, and was known as Cwmgors works, but before that, in 1884, a new pit was sunk on the Waun, called "Maerdy Pit", and they started bringing up coal from it in 1886, this was the start of a new era in the industrial history of the district. The opening of Maerdy Pit was followed by the sinking of "East Pit" in 1910, and in 1924 opened the "Steer Pit", making Gwaun-Cae-Gurwen an important centre in the anthracite coal industry.
Turning back for a minute to the record book of the school, we see that matters had improved a bit concerning the relationship of the children with the works. The "Mines Regulations Act 1872" compelled children who worked in the coalmines to go to school for 10 hours a week, and in the following year many of these children came to school, and when there was a strike, these lads came to school, and according to the schoolmaster's notes, behaved quite properly. About 1888, the workers started to keep every first Monday in the month as a holiday, and the schoolmaster complained that this damaged the average attendance at the school, because the older boys , on that day, kept some boys at home with them.
It is hard to speculate what was the influence of Carmel on the course of industry in the district, but I don't doubt at all that it was not a strong and effective influence in the last century, because the members of Carmel who worked in the working areas was almost complete until the opening of Maerdy Pit, and after that, the influence of the leaders of the church counted more than anything else.
The Carmel vestry also was the headquarters of the workers committee for years.
The striking of the old "Federation Hall" by a thunderbolt was a major disaster, and it burned to ash in 1937, losing all the old record books , the earliest of which had the notes written in a robust Welsh, and according to those who read them contained an interesting and moving story about the early efforts of the workers to win a measure of freedom and improve the working conditions. Among the pioneers were several deacons from Carmel, and one of the earliest of these was the remarkable William Griffiths, Penybryniau, and old original and sturdy character, and he had a strong personality with the unusual ability to manipulate men. Before there was a work union of any sort, men like William Griffiths preached the gospel of the workers' union for protecting their rights. He was completely illiterate in the usual meaning of the word ; he couldn't read or write his name, nevertheless the workers turned to him as a natural leader. It was he who represented the workers on the various committees and conferences, he who spoke for them on sundry occasions, such as the departure of the manager, and often he spoke English words here with a pitch in his speech without knowing that it was English, but there was a point and a purpose in every thing he said, and his name is on all the early agreements fashioned between the master and the workers. And again, the church was foremost in his thinking and his heart. He often came on his way from work, his face black to a prayer meeting , and he wasn't alone, save several old saints from the early days, and although he couldn't read a word from a book, he prayed in public, .
and used strong and select language, and his prayers pulled the heavens down.
In those times, the leaders of the churches were the workers' leaders, but this ceased, alas, since many years, and matters haven't improve as a consequence. Two others of the leaders of Carmel who were prominent in the workers' committee were Daniel Wiliam Dafydd and Morgan Abel James. One or the other of them was the secretary of the committee, and they kept all the records in Welsh. The two were also secretaries in Carmel, the first was general secretary and the latter financial secretary. Daniel Wiliam Dafydd insisted on putting everything down in the words of the proposer without changing anything, and it seems the result was very humorous sometimes. Here is one note that stayed in the memory of several. The workers' agents had been to see Mr Hargreaves, the manager, and after getting him into a wild temper, and returning to the committee without getting any sort of satisfaction, and seeing a brother rather short of patience proffered;" There is to be no more children's playing, but we must go and fetch the tools on Monday morning".
Some recalled another story from the old records about the strike bother in the Tumble. People from Staffordshire had been brought in to break the strike, and decided to parade through the Waun, Brynaman, Cwmaman and other places on the way to Tumble. That's what happened, and having got hold of the Englishmen and reasoned with them, got them to agree to return home if they could get the money to pay the fare. They agreed on .
that, that the marchers return, and raised a charge amongst themselves to send the English back to their own country. But some hadn't joined the marchers, and no wonder when recalling that there is over 15 miles from the Waun to the Tumble. But they called the backsliders to account in the next committee, and here is the note made by Daniel Wiliam Dafydd on that occasion; " I deplore that some of them had a poor excuses".
Nowadays, there is not much connection between the churches and the transactions of the workers' committees , and although that isn't perhaps essential today, still, it is certain that through Christianity some lead is given concerning the conditions and rights of the workers, and the manner peace and understanding is brought into the business and industrial sphere.
Return to top
Going back over the years of the start of the cause in Gwaun-Cae-Gurwen, we find ourselves in the middle of customs which are quite different to those of this age. The clothes of that time are strange to look at, especially so the clothes of the women. A petticoat and Welsh dress, a flannel apron, and a crooked hat was the dress of most women, but that fashion died out and gave way to the bonnet and shawl, and the clothes fashions change quicker and quicker. Not so many changes in the history of males, but talk of tweeds and velvet waistcoat has been gone for some time.
A lot of change came over the style of getting married. Everyone walked to the wedding formerly, the young couple leading, with the rest following. Some still remember some walking in that way to Old Carmel, before the new chapel was registered. The occasional farmer's daughter and her party went to the chapel on horseback, but the usual thing was to walk. And there was the freedom, especially for young people intending to marry before long, to join in the procession. You often saw a good 15 or 20 pairs of young folk following the groom and bride.
At one time, a secretary was appointed to the wedding. The circumstances of the young couple getting married were usually not too prosperous, and a fairly hard job for some of them was to prepare a home. Though to help the young people ..
start off in life, those who were in the wedding, and others who wished to, paid a "pwyth", and the secretary's job was to keep a record of these payments. Some paid five shillings, others ten, according to their ability and desire, and when they themselves married, looked for the "pwyth" to be paid back.
Following the "pwyth" came the "braint". This meant that the girl who was to marry invited the residents to a tea party and "chwrw bach". It was permitted to sell intoxicant in the houses in those days, and a "braint" lasted a fortnight or more, and there were good benefits coming from some of them, by the payment by the guests, somehow or other, for the feast. When selling beer from dwelling houses was stopped, the custom became to hire one the local taverns for a week and hold the party there. The usual price for a tavern for a week was one pound.
Apart from spending the occasional evening in the chapel, by the fireside is where families relaxed, and especially in the winter, passed many a long night telling tales of ghosts and strange happenings, and singing old tunes and hymns. The number of books was very few, lighting was scarce, and thus to chat by the light of the fire was the usual routine.
The vigil was very popular in the district for a time. They held a prayer meeting in a house where a corpse lay, the night before the day of the funeral, and there would be crowds in the house for hours. They narrate today some of the words of the old saint in the vigils, and the occasional verse that was born in it, and those often one such as to cause fear and alarm. The vigil went into the midst of relics of earlier times.
I've talked already about the prayer meeting held from house to house; this excellent custom also was lost, and with it the habit of keeping the family's duty. This was observed at nearly every fireside belonging to a religious member in the middle of the last century.
Matins was also popular , its distinction relatively recent, and continuing thus in Cwmaman, the place where crowds are still drawn to the Old Bethel. They held a meeting as early as three o'clock on Xmas morning. The hour gradually became later at Old Carmel, until reaching six o'clock, and then matins completely vanished. It is certain that curiosity had a lot to do with the popularity of this meeting, especially seeing some there who never came to another religious meeting. The church still continues to hold a prayer meeting at half past ten every Xmas morning.
As the district has been rather remote and secluded for generations, news of the big outside world was scarce. Comparatively recently, only three daily papers came to the district, one to Dafydd Morgan, to the office of Joseph's works, one to Benjamin Evans, Llwynrhydie, and the third to Edmunds the schoolmaster. The medium for folk to hear the news before this was the occasional old ballad-monger who came through the area singing stirring tales of murders, shipwrecks and fighting. We still hear of the blind old ballad-monger who used to wander through the place for years, with a small dog to guide him. He was overtaken one night by a big snow storm, and they found his body and that of his dog the next morning on .
on the edge of the common by Waunleision. And thus became the poor old ballad- monger himself a talking point and curiosity .
The school meeting was very popular through the place at one time. Usually the Sunday school paid a call on another school in the area on Sunday afternoon, and held a meeting with recitation, singing and questions. It was the school that frequently started the procession from the chapel, and the chapel loft was reserved for visitors, and there was fun and conviction in the business.
Before the Parish Council was established in 1894, the whole social life of the district turned around the chapel. When the council came there was from time to time , several of the members were very active on it, and their influence is seen in the occasional decision by the council. I saw one of the sort, " calling to the notice of the Chief Constable the shameful occurrence on Waun common when a "coursing match" was held by gypsies on Sunday night[ in June 1899] and asking him to ensure that the same thing didn't happen again".
After setting up councils to take care of the welfare of the district, there was much unofficial organisation and planning, and enthusiastic argument about public matters. One talented society customarily met in the book shop of Dafydd Lewis for years, taking great interest in politics , to the extent of thus earning the august name of "The Parliament" in the parlance of the locality.
There still remains in the district today the remains of the close relationship that existed between many of the early families, this was referred to by one of the old ministers of Carmel in a most derogatory fashion. It was the common custom for the head of the house to build a house for his or daughter that were getting married, .
at the gable end of his own house, then little by little, to build a row of houses here and there, and one family lived in all the houses. There was a time, it seems , when it was difficult for a stranger to get his nose into anything, and it was recollected rather often that they were "newcomers". But this bias waned a good while since, and the place was typified much generosity of spirit , kindness and good neighbourliness. This was especially seen in the fervent willingness of the inhabitants to help those subject to ill health or accident, and this is never been as evident as it is today. The early chapel was often utilised, often for this purpose. In the beginning, a lecture was almost invariably the procedure, and in the old account book is seen the history of a number of famous men who lectured in the chapel, and also these who were paid for their work; John Rees, Cwmllynfell, £1; Stephens, Tanymarian, £2.2s ; Penry Evans,Pontardulais, £1.10s.; Michael Jones, Bala, £1 ; Kilsby Jones, £3.10s. ; Davies, Abercwmboi, £4.10s.. It is clear enough that the church hadn't opened its eyes to the greatness of Michael Jones according to what he was paid. As to the last amount, there is a story about that. That was a lecture on the technicalities of the "telephone" and involved the lecturer bringing a large number of instruments in his wake. They say the large pew was full of batteries, wires and other appliances, and that accounted for the exceptional payment. The lecturer was also preaching over the Sunday , and stayed in Beiliglas, and if he assessed the cost of the lecture the church decided the payment for the sermon. They paid him a pound for his service on the Sunday, and he opined that it wasn't enough, and he refused it, ..
and left it behind him in Beiliglas. The matter was raised in the fellowship the following Sunday. The treasurer, a man who would give anything for peace, was for giving more, but one of the old brothers who was feeling angry because they paid so much for the lecture , proposed that he should have the pound if he sent for it That was the decision, and not the lecturer's, he was a long time doing that.
Gradually the lecture was replaced by concerts, and after 1911, by "organ recitals", until the drama came with its vigour, and with its coming, they moved from the chapel to the hall.
I should mention here that the drama isn't a new arrival. They established a company on the Waun about 1886, and were very successful in adapting and acting a number of dramas. Among other performances "Y Ferch o Gefn Ydfa", "Owen Llwyd", "Y Ferch o'r Scer", "Rhys Lewis", "Enoc Huws". They played in the old school house, and usually around Xmas: and often you had five performances over the week. The old brothers in Carmel were a long time before agreeing with the drama, and for a time refused to accept the proceeds that resulted from it, and that at least showed a loyalty to a conviction , that they shouldn't take benefit from something they did not believe in.
In looking back over the history of the district in general, I can say without hesitation, that the strongest influence that has formed its character, was the steadfastness of the saints of Old Carmel, and despite the great change that came over the lives and traditions of the people, the area has not succeeded until now, whatever, came free from the hold of the .
spirited and religious power which freed the life of the place through the loyalty and steadfastness of the conviction of the fathers. And this which is true of this district, is also true of other districts and villages in Wales. We don't yet recognise Wales's debt, her traditions and language, to this simple peasantry, who drew their mental strength and spirit from the simple fellowship and meeting to worship God in Welsh in the old chapels in the last century.
The End #######
This translation from the original Welsh is the the property of Gareth Hicks <tirbach[at]clara.co[dot]uk>. Please feel free to take copies of it for personal research purposes but publication in any form must have my prior written permission.
|1. Old Carmel,16
||2. John Jones, 1865-1881, 17
|3. New Carmel,32
||4. T.Selby Jones,1884-1896,33
|5. B.D.Davies, 1897-1925,64
|7. T.M.Roderick. 1913-,80
||8. L.C.Huws, 1928-,81
The photographs have been copied on to the Cwmgors/Waun site
||Bevan ,Llywelyn ,Gellionen/Cwmllynfell chapels,13
|Bevan ,Rees, Pwllyrach,27,55
||Binns & Co, Messrs J.J, Leeds,42
|Dafydd ,Dafydd William, ,Waunleision,27,55,57,101,102
||Dafydd ,William, Waunleision,28
|Daniel ,Morgan, Gartheithin,17
||Davies ,Arthur H,Tegfan,56,58
|Davies,B D [Rev], Merthyr Vale/Carmel,39,46,65,67,68,69
||Davies ,Ben[Rev[, Llandeilo,48
|Davies ,Ben[Rev], Panteg,48,69
|Davies, D D [Alderman],---,Preface,93
||Davies,D P [Rev],Salem Penmaenmawr,48
|Davies ,D.Curwen, Pontargothi/Melingwm,47,48,63
||Davies ,Dan,Llys Curwen,56
|Davies ,David J,Caenewydd,55,61
|Davies ,Isaac, Dryslwyn,56
|Davies ,John, Brynffin,55
||Davies,John,Coffee Tavern Cwmgors,76
|Davies,Margaret Mrs,Coffee Tavern Cwmgors,72,74
||Davies ,Morgan [Hitcher],---,27,55
|Davies ,Oswald,Brynaman Rd,56
||Davies ,Thomas, Caeglas,55
||Davies, W H[secretary],Carmel St,48,52,55,57,62
||Davies,William Henry[nephew of above],---,58,81
|Davies ,William M,Caeisaf,55
||Davies ,Willie H, Brynhawddgar,56
|Davies W M,---,77
||Edwards,William[inspector of schools],---,87
|Evans, Benjamin,Llwynrhidie,17,27,40,54,55,58,65, 67,68,70,76,85,89,105
||Evans ,Beriah Gwynfe ,---,21
|Evans, Daniel [Rev],Nasareth,33,63
||Evans ,David,Gate Street,56,62
|Evans ,David John[CRAM/organist],---,68,74,76
||Evans ,Evan[Rev], Nantyglo/Carmel,21
|Evans, Hezekiah, Gwrhyd Isaf,17,22
||Evans,J[inspector of schools],---,87
|Evans ,John, Ddery Isaf,17
||Evans ,John M, Curwen Street,55
|Evans ,Jonah,Dyffryn Clwyd,55
||Evans ,Jonah [treasurer],Carmel,16,17,54,57,59
||Evans ,William, Cwmnatlligi,17
|Evans ,William, Llwynrhidie,17,54,58,76
||Evans ,William[Rev],Cwmllynfell chapel,13
|George ,Isaac,Curwen Villa,55
|Gibbs ,David, Penrheol,17
||Griffiths,P [Rev], Alltwen/Phanteg chapels,19,20
|Griffiths ,William, Penybryniau,27,55,76,100
||Gruffydd,W T[Rev/ B.A.,B.D], Llandeilo,47
|Gwaun-cae-gurwen Coal Company,96
||Hargreaves, ---Mr[colliery manager],---,101
|Harris ,John [ Shon Dafydd Harri],Nantricet,16,17,18,19
||Harris ,John[the Younger],Nantricet,17
|Hicks ,Morgan,Curwen Street,56,61,62
|Higgs ,Gwilym[Rev], Whitland,45
|Howells, R[Rev], Baran chapel,19
|Howells,Thomas,Post Office Cwmgors,76
|Hughes,J H[Rev],Soar Swansea,72
||Huws ,Ivor O[Rev/ B.A.], Ferndale,48
|Huws ,Llywelyn C.[Rev/B.A], Bethlehem Cardiff/Carmel,48,71,74
|Isaac ,Abraham, Beiliglas Isaf,17
||Jacob ,H T[Rev], Abergwaun,45
||James ,Joseff[Rev/B.A], Llantisilio,51
||Jenkins ,Daniel y Saer,---,54
||Jenkins,John[wife of], Gegyrwen,13
||Jenkins ,Thomas,Curwen Street,56
|Jeremiah.Evan Melfin[Rev],Carfan/Bryn Seion Pem,64
||Jones ,---[Professor] ,Bala,32
||Jones, Benjamin, Beting,25,31
||Jones ,David J,Caenewydd,56
|Jones ,Griffith[schools], Llanddowror,14,79,81,84
||Jones ,Isaac, Beiliglas,28,54
||Jones, J B[Rev/B.A], Penybont,33
|Jones ,J G [Rev], Cana, Anglesey,45
||Jones ,John,Beiliglas Uchaf,17,85
|Jones ,John, Perthigwynion,17
||Jones ,Richard,Beiliglas Uchaf,17
|Jones,Richard[Rev],Talgarth Bre/Briton Ferry,63
||Jones ,Stanley[Rev], Caernarfon,42
||Jones,T D[Rev], Plasmarl,29
|Jones,T L [Rev], Machen,33
||Jones ,Thomas, Blue Cottage,55
||Jones ,Thomas Daniel, Llwyncelyn,65,76
||Jones ,William, Pwllywrach,17
|Jones ,William, Cwmaman,31,32
|Lewis ,J Vernon [Rev/M.A.,B.D], Liverpool/Brynaman,45,71
|Llewelyn,A [Rev],Seion B,71
||Llewelyn ,John[Rev], Brynaman,47
|Mathews,T B [Rev], Penydarren,45
|Morgan,Ann Mrs,Pantglas[prev. Llwynhen],68
|Morgan,David,Pontardawe Rd Cwmgors,76
||Morgan ,John ,---,77
|Morgan ,John D, Brynteg,55,57,62,65,76
||Morgan,John Jenkin,Glan Berchan/Bryn Seion Cwmaman,72,73
||Morgan ,Thomas[Rev],Henllan chapel,13,14
|Morgan ,William, Bryndu,27,55
||Morgan Nancy Mrs,Cwmgors Farm,67
|Morgans, ---[Rev],Stockton on Tees,33
|Morris ,David, Morriston Place,55
|Morris ,David T, Caenewydd,55
||Morris ,John, Tai'rgwaith,27,55
||Morris ,William, Cwmteg,27,55
|Owen,E [Rev], Clydach,27
|Phillips,G S & Mrs[DR/JP],---,74,77
|Price ,Evan, Waunleision,56
|Rees,Benjamin,Kings Cross London,68
|Rees ,Howell[DR], Tirbach,25,27,50,89,90
|Rees ,John[Rev], Bryn, Llanelli/Carmel,20
||Rees ,John[Rev], Cwmllynfell,28,68,69,107
||Rees ,Josiah[Rev], Gellionen chapel,15
|Rees ,Lewis, Clifton,55
|Rees, T J,---,65,68,77
||Rees ,Thomas ,---,25,54,98
|Rees ,Thomas [Principal],Bangor College,48
||Rees ,W J, Caenewydd,56
||Rees ,William T, Blue Cottage,55
|Roberts ,O L[Rev], Liverpool,45
||Roderick,E J,Clydach Vale,73
|Roderick,T M [Rev],Tabernacl,47,48,51,69,73,74
|Rowlands,J [Rev], Cwmllynfell chapel,1
||Selby,William[& wife of], Llwyncelyn Tai'rgwaith,49,56
|Selby Jones,T [Rev],Bethel Aberdare/Carmel,36,37,90,91,92
||Thomas ,Abel,Pontardawe Rd,56
|Thomas ,Benjamin J, Brynaman Rd,56
||Thomas ,Daniel,Gate Street,55
||Thomas,Elizabeth Margretta Miss,Groeswen,70
|Thomas, Evan, Betting Isaf,17
||Thomas ,Griffith ,Cwmgors,1767,14
||Thomas,Morgan J[treasurer],Gate St,47,51,55,56,59,61,62,72
|Turner & Sons,Cardiff,68
||Williams,B [Rev],Canan Swansea,25,27
||Williams ,Gomer,Dol Meiros,56,62
|Williams, H Seiriol [Rev],Pontardawe,47,48,73
||Williams ,Ifor [DR],---,Preface
||Williams,---Mrs,Rock Shop Cwmgors,72
|Williams,T [Rev],Clydach Vale,69
||Williams , T.Rhondda[DR],---,50
||Williams,Thomas,Rock Shop Cwmgors,76
||Efail y Gof,11
|Federation Hall, 100
||Focsen coal mine,11
|Gilfach yr Haidd,81
|Gwaith y Cannon,98
||Gwaith y Focsen,98
||Heol y Gat ,11
||Llwyn y celyn,81
|Mountain Colliery,Beiliglas Uchaf,98
|Mynydd y Betws,11
||New Star Cwmgors,38,66
|Old Pit mine,9,97
|Pwll y Fan mine,9
||Pwll y Garnant,98
|Pwll y Gwter,98
||Rhondda & district,97
||Siop y Gat,11
|Tir Doncyn[Mynydd Bach] chapel,13
[Last Updated : 26 March 2011- Gareth Hicks]