Ystalyfera

History and Heritage

All Saints' Church
Pontardawe

All Saints' Church was located in Primose Hill, Pontardawe.



From "Pontardawe and District" by John Henry Davies:-

All Saints Church, built of dressed Pennant sandstone in early English style of architecture, nestles on the hillside in a beautiful, quiet spot above Primrose Row.
Arthur Gilbertson JP erected it as a memorial to his father, William Gilbertson JP and presented it with most of the appointments, but kept it during his lifetime as a private chapel. Consequently consecration took place when the trustees transferred it to the Representative Body of the Church in Wales. All Saints Church, when officially opened on 2nd September 1886, was in the Parish of St John's Clydach, but on 24th June 1903, the Parish of Llangiwg annexed it.
This church boasted of its reredos of carved marble and alabaster, its stained glass windows, its choir stalls of carved oak, its three manual organ with 38 stops, its eagle lectern and its little baptistery, with its angel font.
Behind the font in [All Saints Church] a door opened for the Devil to go out when baptism took place.

From Val Trevallion of YEARGroup, written in 2006 before the closure in turn of Saint Mary's, Ynysmeudwy:-

St Marys Church Ynysmeudwy was dedicated in 1913.

When I had permission to photograph the Church, I was informed that after All Saints Church in Pontardawe closed in 1997, the pulpit was removed and now stands here in St Mary's Church Ynysmeudwy Road Ynysmeudwy Pontardawe.
I also photographed two Tablets in Memory of the Gilbertson Family.
The Reredos also came from All Saints Pontardawe.



From the Llais newspaper, Friday 28th March 1958 came this interesting article on the origins of All Saints Church, Pontardawe:-

TWO WORDS - AND A CHURCH WAS BUILT
By Alan Young

Reasons behind the building of many churches are peculiar, but few are stranger than that which led to the construction of All Saints, Pontardawe.
All Saints was built as a result of two words - "Stop talking" - addressed by the Vicar of the Parish Church of St. Peter to a choirboy during a service there.
The two words began a train of events which culminated in the construction of All Saints across the valley from St. Peter's.
Both St. Peter's and All Saints were, in one way, "by products" of the steelworks in Pontardawe, for both were built by past owners of those works.
St. Peter's was built around 1860 by William Parsons, the man who brought the steelworks to the district and All Saints by his successor, William Gilbertson.
Parsons sold two of his works in other parts of the country to pay for St. Peter's.
When he died, Gilbertson took over the steelworks - and being of an autocratic nature, he also attempted to rule the church.
He became choirmaster and organist shortly after arriving in the district and, it was said, objected to the Vicar, the Rev. David Jones, asserting any authority over the choirboys.
When the Vicar, during a Sunday service, reprimanded a choirboy for talking, Gilbertson took him to task - butthe Vicar insisted that it was he and not Gilbertson who was in overall control of the church.
Gilbertson would not stand for that, left St. Peter's and built All Saints in what was then a part of the parish of Clydach, although it was later included in Llanguicke Parish.
With him he took a number of members from St. Peter's - most of them were employed by him at the steelworks, and who dared not go against his wishes.
All Saints was, for some years, almost a family chapel, the Vicar being appointed and paid by Gilbertson, bubt later these responsibilities were relinquished by the family.
Instead they paid an annual sum towards the upkeep of the church, a practice which was continued when Richard, Thomas, and Baldwin took over the steelworks.
The church, however, lost that money when steel was nationalised.
Today, All Saints is an expensive luxury for the parish of Llanguicke. Apart from St. Peter's and All Saints, there are two other churches and a schoolroom which is used for English services.


From the latter part of this article, we can assume that the Parish of Llanguicke comprised:-

Saint Peter's Church, Pontardawe, together with its schoolrooms.
All Saint Church, Pontardawe
Saint Mary's Church, Ynysmeudwy
Llangiwg Church



The Gilbertsons

These two tablets to the memory of Arthur Gilbertson and his wife Ellen used to be located in All Saints' Church, Pontardawe. Gilbertson, as per the article quoted above, founded the church and endowed it.

 

To the Glory of God and in loving memory of
Arthur Gilbertson Esq.
of Glanrhyd
Born April 12th 1841. Died March 2nd 1912
This tablet was erected by the Choir and Congregation
of this Church which he built and beautifed and in
which he loved to worship

"The memory of the just is blessed"

 

To the Glory of God
and
In loving memory of
Ellen Gilbertson
This Chancel was enlarged and
beautified by her husband
Arthur Gilbertson
August 1896


The Gilbertson grave at All Saints' Church:-



From the Llais

The Llais newspaper had always included a round-up of happenings at local churches and chapels, even when these were not part of any particular story. Sometimes they advertised forthcoming events, and at other times who was preaching, or had preached there recently.

From the Llais newspaper, March 3rd 1923:-

AT ALL SAINTS
The Rev Griffith Thomas (vicar of Llangyfelach) has been preaching a series of sermons at All Saints, Pontardawe, and will give the concluding one next Tuesday.


From the Llais newspaper, March 31st 1923:-

CHURCH JOTTINGS

Maunder's cantata "Pardon, Penitence, Peace" was rendered at All Saints' Church, Pontardawe, on Sunday afternoon last, when a crowded congregation thoroughly enjoyed really delightful singing by the choir, which was conducted by Mr T. George. Mr Harry Jenkins displayed his usual efficiency at the organ. Solos were rendered by Mr D.C. Jones, Mr David Daniel, and Mr W.J. Morgan. The book will also be performed again at 6:30p.m. on Good Friday.
The Rev J.H. Stewart (vicar of Sketty), conducted the last of nhis Lenten services on Tuesday, his helpful address being much appreciated by a large attendance.
Next Sunday All Saints' Church Choir will render the anthem "Ye choirs of New Jerusalem" (Vine Hall) and Dike's "Te Deum".


From the Labour Voice newspaper for 27th October 1923 comes news of the Dedication Services at All Saints' Church, and of a new guild for young people:-

DEDICATION SERVICES
The Dedication Festival Services in connection with All Saints' Church will be held on Thursday (All Saints' Day) November 1st. There will be a celebration of the Holy Communion at 8 a.m. and choral evensong at 7:30p.m. when the special preacher will be Rev Canon David Williams, M.A., Vicar of Saint Michael's, Aberystwyth. Canon Williams was formerly Vicar of Clydach, and afterwards of Morriston. Sacred music will be sung by the choir, and the services will be continued on the following Sunday.

ALL SAINTS' YOUNG PEOPLE'S GUILD A new and interesting departure has been made in connection with the All Saints' Church im the formation of a literary and social guild among the younger communicants and members of the Bible classes.


The Labour Voice newspaper for Saturday November 17th 1923 records two different events in the life of All Saints' Church, Pontardawe, that had occurred in the preceding week:-

Last Sunday afternoon at All Saints' Church a men's meeting was held in connection with the C.E.M.S. when the Rev J.H. Stewart, Vicar of Sketty, addressing the meeting, dealt mainly with the "Sinking of a man's individuality". He deplored the modern tendency of accepting opinions from newspapers and other media instead of cultivating a distinct individuality and opinion of one's own. The interesting address given was attentively listened to, and the speaker was deserving of a much larger congregation.

All Saints Literary and Social Guild held their weekly meeting at Ynysderw House on Tuesday evening last, Mr T.W. Glyn Edwards presiding.
Chancellor Watkin-Jones, vicar of Christ Church, Swansea, delivered an illustrated lecture on "Brittany". An excellent audience was held interested for over an hour and a half by the reverend gentleman's vivid description of the various towns he visited, and that part of his address in which he dealt with the legends and folklore of the past and the customs of the present day Bretons held his audience deeply thrilled. Mr W.E. Exell manipulated the lantern.
The next meeting of the society will be on Monday evening next when a whist drive will be the chief item of the night's programme.


 

 
 
 








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