History and Heritage

Godrergraig Chapel, Ystalyfera


When my eldest son attended Godre'rgraig School circa late 1980's, he used to go the Chapel across the road, where the school held their Harvest Festival. Then in 2005, when I was tracking down the War Memorial Plaque for the fallen of that district, I found the Chapel closed but luckily the plaque had been taken to the school where I found it had a new home (on the wall, outside the headmaster's office). The Chapel was put up for sale but the intervening years had seen it fall into a ruinous state.

After it had been sold, I asked permission of the new owners in 2008, to take some photographs, and of course looked up some of the Chapel's history.

by John Henry DAVIES - page167

Godre'rgraig Chapel, a branch from Pantteg, began by erecting a school room about 1864, when weekly prayer meetings and Sunday school were held. This continued until 1905, when prayer meetings were held on Sunday evenings and in April 1905, the first sermon was delivered there by the Rev Ben Davies Pantteg. By the first Sunday of 1906, 58 members formed the cause which was officially incorporated under the guidance of the minister of Pantteg. The school room was renovated and opened in October 1909.

In 1913, Mr Ellis Parry, a student of Carmarthen College, accepted a call and his ordination took place in December. His ministry was happy and prosperous but in 1918 he left to give his service to the Y.M.C.A.

The church was without a minister for six and a half years but in August 1924, a call was given to the Rev David T Rees, who was ordained September 1924. Unfortunately, owing to ill health, he died in December 1925: (Buried Godre'rgraig Cemetery). Another six years passed without a pastor and this was a difficult period during the industrial depression. The Rev James Davies came in 1931 and his ministry, until 1943, was very flourishing. He left for Bethesda Merthyr.

He was succeeded by the Rev B Llewelyn Evans, who took a keen interest in ever branch of the church, and did not spare himself.

Footpath between Chapel and houses 130 & 128, looking at Graig Road. The chapel is to the left of the footpath.

From the South Wales Voice newspaper which was printed in Ystalyfera:-


There was an interesting function at Godre'rgraig Chapel on Sunday evening, when a barometer, suitably inscribed, was handed over to Mr Bryn Thomas, organist to mark his recent marriage. Mr Thomas, who is a son of Councillor and Mrs Joseph Thomas, has been organist for 14 years, and also secretary of the Sunday school. The gift was handed over by the pastor, the Rev James Davies, who said that Mr Thomas had rendered excellent service to the cause. The inscription on the barometer reads: 'Presented to Mr J B Thomas, organist, by the members of the Godre'rgraig Chapel, on his marriage, December 7th 1933'.

Mr Thomas thanked the members for the gift and said that he took up the position of organist in order to learn music, to be useful to the cause and also out of respect to the late Rev David Rees, who taught him to play the organ. Mr Thomas also referred to the help he had been given by the late Mr William Williams.

The above Mr J Brinley Thomas, son of the councillor and Mrs Joseph Thomas Godre'rgraig, was employed in the accountant's office (electricity department) of the Pontardawe Council. He had passed intermediate examination of the Corporation of Registered Accountants and secured a creditable pass in every subject. The examination had been held in December 1933 in London.

Graig Road showing houses 130 & 128 next to the footpath by the side of the Chapel. The iron gates at the bottom right of the photograph lead to the chapel.

In the South Wales Voice newspaper of the 11th August 1934, the first double wedding to take place at Godre'graig Independent Chapel occurred. It would appear that sisters Margaret and Sarah Lloyd were the brides and their bridegrooms were Thomas P. Thomas of Clydach, and Harry Jones of Alltwen.

Sunday School

From the Labour Voice 21st July 1917

The annual Sunday school treat in connection with Godre’rgraig Chapel, was held on Saturday last, when a good number of children attended on a field kindly lent by Mr David Evans, Pentwyn Shop. The children were provided with bottled drinks and Welsh cakes baked by the ladies, who worked energetically in connection with the event.
The arrangements were in the capable hands of Mr Johnny Davies, superintendent and Mr Jenkin Rees, secretary and everything passed off without a hitch. In the evening games were indulged in.

An Old Picture

From the history of the local chapels in Welsh "Undeb yr Annibynwyr Cymraeg cyfarfodydd Ystradgynlais a'r cylch", comes this photograph of the chapel when it must have been in its heyday:-

A New Organ for the Chapel

The South Wales Voice newspaper of Saturday June 10th 1939 carried a story in Welsh about the acquisition of a new organ for Godre'rgraig Independent Chapel. We are translating it section by section, so apologies if it is incomplete. It names Rev James Davies as minister of Godre'rgraig Chapel.

A Magnificent Opening Concert

There was joy in the hearts of Godre'rgraig Independent little church last Thursday when a new organ was opened, after an extraordinary effort by the young people.
The church decided to buy a new "University" organ, worth over one hundred and fifty pounds, and each member has promised to contribute a small amount weekly to the expense.
An excellent evening was had. Many of the church's "old children" came to the meeting and was everyone was happy to see them.
The new instrument was played very effectively by the talented organist, Mr D Tawe Thomas, A.T.C.L., of Tabernacl, Pontardawe. We had eight classical pieces, including "Largo" (Handel), "Poet and Peasant" (Suppé), with a piece arranged by Mr Thomas on the work of the late Dr Parry.
Mr Howell Davies, tenor, also from Pontardawe, who was as usual very excellent, sang three songs. His rendition of the "Lost Chord" accompanied by the organ was extremely effective.
We also heard the enchanting voice of Mrs Nancy Williams (soprano). Many who were present were surprised at her ability.
One of the children of the Church, one who is now well known throughout Wales, namely Nan Tawe Lewis. She related five pieces, including "The Black Chair of Birkenhead" and an English piece "The Road to Heaven". The English piece was very effective, as Mr Thomas played quietly on the organ throughout.
It was a very good concert, and everyone was very impressed.
It was chaired by the Rev. James Davies, minister of the church. He appealed to all who had a desire in their hearts to donate a small portion in order to ease the burden.
We thank our younger brother, Mr Cyril B Williams, for carrying out the work of such an outstanding secretary.
I take the opportunity, through the "Llais" to thank all those who kindly helped us that evening.
A vote of thanks was offered by Mr John Jones to everyone for their service and donations.

The Llais of April 8th 1950 reports on the death of Mrs Davies, wife of Rev James Davies, who was by now minister at Bethesda. Merthyr.


The news of the death of Mrs Davies, wife of Rev James Davies, now of Bethesda, Merthyr, and late of Godre'rgraig Independent Chapel, came as a shock to her many friends in this district. Mrs Davies, who had been in bad health for some time, passed away on Thurssday of last week at her home, and was buried at Llangynwyd, Maesteg, last Monday week.
A very impressive service was held at Merthyr befoee leaving for Maesteg, when representatives from all the churches in the district gathered to pay tribute andd many friends from Godre'rgraig were present.
The services were conducted by Rev J D Rogers, Merthyr, who said that she was loved and respected by all at Merthyr, and they had lost in Mrs Davies a loyal member of the church. Her three daughters, and five sons, three of whom are ministers, were present at the funeral.
Many friends in this district extend sincere sympathy to the family in their great loss.

Rev B Llewelyn Evans

The South Wales Voice newspaper of 14th July 1945 reported on the arrival of a new minister for Godre'rgraig Chapel:-

On Sunday next the Rev B. Llewelyn Evans, for nine years minister of Peniel and Penllys Chapels, Pontrobert, Montgomeryshire, will commence his pastorate at Godre'rgraig Chapel. The induction services will take place next Thursday.

Before going to Pontrobert, Mr Evans livd with his parents at 28 Cromwell Street, Swansea, and was a student at the Presbyterian Theological College, Carmarthen. His wife comes from Llanfair Caereinon and they have two children, a son and a daughter.

The series of induction services opens on Wednesday evening when the preachers wil be the Revs J Roberts Thomas, Cwmllynfell, and Iorwerth Jones, Godre'rgraig. At Thursday's service, Miss Edith Morgan, secretary, will give the history of the call, and Councillor Joseph Thomas, J.P., will extend the official welcome for the Church at Godre'regraig. The Rev James Davies, Bethesda, Merthyr, a former pastor of Godre'rgraig, will preach on "The Ministry".

There will be a social of welcome on Thursday afternoon, and in the evening the preachers will be the Rev Roland Evans, Henrietta street Chapel, Swansea, under whose guidance Mr Evans entered the ministry, and the Rev W J Rees, Alltwen.

The South Wales Voice newspaper of 14th July 1945 included the mention that the members of Godre'rgraig Chapel bought a house, akin to a manse, for their new minister:-

New Minister - We understand that the members of Godre'rgraig Chapel have bought a house for their new minister, at Cilmaengwyn road, and that both the Rev and Mrs Evans and their two little children will move in during the week. We take this opportunity of extending to them a hearty welcome to the district.

Rev Bromley Rees - Student Pastor

From THE VOICE newspaper, Friday 23rd February 1967:-


Rev Bromley Rees, who has been student pastor at Godre’rgraig Independent Chapel for three years, has announced that he has accepted a call to three chapels in North Wales – Salem Coedpoeth; Nebo Bwlchgwyn and Pisgah Llandegla.
A native of Swansea, Mr Rees has been a student at Memorial College Swansea. His wife is a member of a well known Brynamman family, and Mr and Mrs Rees have lived there for three years.
Mrs Rees is a nurse at Neath General Hospital and they have 2 sons and 2 daughters.
It is of interest to note that Mr Rees is going to 2 of the churches from where the Rev Ben Davies came to Pantteg Chapel Ystalyfera – Nebo and Pisgah.
He commences his ministry at the three churches in July.

People of Godre'rgraig Chapel

The South Wales Voice 21st April 1928 records the elections of new deacons for Godre'rgraig Chapel:-

At Godre'rgraig Chapel on Sunday evening an election of deacons took place, to fill the vacancies caused by the deaths of Messrs. Edward Jones, and D Griffiths. Messrs E. William James, David Evans, and Miss Edith Morgan (schoolmistress), Godre'rgraig, were elected.

The Last Days of Godre'rgraig Chapel

Godre'rgraig Chapel closed in the late 1980s as it ran out of congregation, and thus money. The deacons when the chapel closed were: Tal Philips, Ted Baylis, Cliff Baker, and D J T "Joe" Morgan, who was also the last organist of the chapel.
The pews and fittings form the chapel, including the pulpit and organ, were sold to a chapel somewhere in the southern states of America. The war memorial plaque is on display now in the primary school, having been moved there after someone bought the chapel.

Thank You to Dylan Morgan for this information.


Two photographs of some of the chinaware of Godre'rgraig Chapel, now in a private collection.


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