History and Heritage

The 1943 Jubilee of Gurnos Chapel

After the retirement of the long-serving pastor, Rev. John Thomas, Rev. D.J. Moses of Tyncroes became pastor in 1923. He left on 26th December 1926 and was succeeded by the Rev. Aman Jones whose induction took place on October 12th and 13th 1927.

In 1931, the debt fund was instituted with Mr D.J. Jones of Abertwch as secretary and Mr D.G. Williams of Pantglas as treasurer. Especial efforts were made in 1936 to clear the debt and the sum of £800 was collected. The debt was finally cleard when the pastor and the treasurer received gifts for the church.

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On 29th May 1943, the South Wales Voice newspaper printed a long article about the Jubilee Services at Gurnos Chapel, including the overview of the history of Gurnos Chapel that has formed the large part of the framework for these pages on the history of Gurnos Chapel. The article is reproduced in full below:-


Interesting facts concerning the history of Gurnos Chapel Ystalyfera, were given at the Jubilee services held on Wednesday and Thursday, to celebrate the clearing of the church's debt. The Rev. E. Aman Jones, pastor, presided over Wednesday's meeting and was supported by the Revs. E. T. Evans, Wern; Iorwerth Jones, Pantteg; Owen Williams, Sardis; Caradog Hughes, Peniel and Bryn Seion; Ivor Jones, Zoar and J. J. Roberts, Clydach, together with the church officials.

Preachers at special services on Wednesday evening and Thursday were the Revs. J. Dyfnallt Owen, Carmarthen and J. J. Roberts, Hebron (who deputised for the Rev. D. J. Moses, Llanwrtyd, who is ill).

Presiding at Wednesday's meeting the chairman referred to the large number of places of worship that have been destroyed by enemy action and because of this, those more fortunate people should be very grateful for their escape and appreciate their good fortune. Dealing with the future, Mr. Jones said he would lay down four conditions:
1/ the need for prayer
2/ the desire for knowledge of God and His Kingdom
3/ care for the children
4/ working for Christ

He said that part of the post war programme of Gurnos Chapel was improvements to the building and Organ.

In his history of the Chapel, Mr. Timothy Lewis said, the cause at Gurnos was started at the beginning of the last century. At that time prayer meetings were held in dwelling houses. When Pantteg Chapel was founded, the local residents became members and a branch was formed at Gurnos. In 1839 a Chapel was erected on the site occupied by Gurnos Chapel by the Wesleyans, and in 1858 it was sold to the Congregationalists. A year later the branch was incorporated into a church. The Rev. Philip Griffiths took charge of the young church until things became settled and advised the members to appoint a pastor. A call was extended to the Rev. Benjamin Thomas of Walker near New Castle on Tyne. Mr. Thomas was inducted on Whit Sunday and Whit Monday, 1858. Within a year the Chapel became too small and it was enlarged by fitting a gallery. The church developed so rapidly that it became necessary to enlarge and rebuild it. This was in 1864 and the cost of the two contracts was £569. The price paid for the Chapel to the Weslyans was £192. The building then had seating accommodation for 600 persons. During this period two ministers were produced by the church, the Revs. Dr. Gurnos Jones and T. Penry Evans, New Quay.

The Rev. Benjamin Thomas was minister until 1884. The next pastor was the Rev. John Thomas, Llansilyn, who held the pastorate until 1921. By 1906 the membership was 200 and the Deacons were Messrs. William Evans, Daniel Rees, Joseph Williams, William Thomas, William Davies. Hywel Griffiths, Alfred Williams, David Nicholas Jones, David Williams and David Griffith Williams, Mr. Griffiths was secretary, Mr. Rees the treasurer and Mr. D. N. Jones the precentor.

In 1910 efforts were made to pay for the organ which had been installed, and the sum of £246 was collected. At the same time a testimonial was made to the pastor to mark his 25 years service. Two years later 19 trustees were elected to the two, who were still alive, making the total number 21. Mr. Hywel Griffith resigned the office of secretary and was presented with a roll top desk. He had served for 10 years and was succeeded by Mr. William John Griffiths. Mr. D. G. Williams was elected treasurer a year later, 1913. At this time, work was in hand to rebuild the Chapel, at a cost of £1,672. The membership at the time was 160: the sum of £277 was received in contribution towards reducing the debt. The membership had increased to 238 in 1922 and the debt was reduced to £1,100. A testimonial was made to the Rev. John Thomas, who resigned the pastorate, but continued to serve the church in the deacons pew.

The Rev. D. J. Moses, Tycroes became the pastor in 1923 and his ministry was very successful. The membership increased to 304. A manse was purchased for £620. Mr. Moses left on December 26th 1926, and was succeeded by the Rev. Aman Jones, whose induction took place on October 12 & 13th 1927.

In 1931, Mr. W. J. Griffiths relinquished the secretaryship after 20 years service during which he gave of his best for the cause. The debt fund was instituted at that time with Mr. D. J. Jones, Abertwrch, as secretary and Mr. D. G. Williams, Pantglas, as treasurer. Especial efforts were made to clear the debt in 1936 and the sum of £800 was collected. This included £200 given by Mr. D. W. Davies, who promised £50 for every £100 collected, up to £200. The debt was finally cleared when the pastor and the treasurer received gifts for the church. Mr. Lewis paid tribute to the work of the treasurer, and Mr. D. N. Jones, who has been precentor for many years. He was appointed in 1876 and as juvenile conductor in 1903. In addition to the ministers mentioned, the Revs. Morlais Evans, Myddfai, and E. J. Basil Jones, curate, had been produced by Gurnos Chapel. Mr. Evans was ordained in 1935 and while Mr. Jones had joined the Church in Wales, he started preaching at Gurnos on October 8th 1931.

Others speakers were Messrs. Abraham Morgan, W. J. Griffiths (deacons) and the Rev. E. T. Evans.

Mr. D. Nicholas Jones led the singing and Mr. D. R. Jones was at the organ.

The History and Heritage of Ystalyfera is put online by Swansea Valley researcher Val Trevallion and Wolfian Design. All copyright remains with the original copyright holder, and all original research is copyright Val Trevallion, YEARGroup.

You can contact Ystalyfera History by emailing: contact@ystradgynlais-history.co.uk or Val Trevallion by emailing yeargroup@hotmail.co.uk.


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