History and Heritage

Jerusalem Chapel, Ystalyfera

Jerusalem Chapel, Ystalyfera is well-known because it is the chapel which has the tree erected every Christmas on its forecourt although I have not managed to take a decent photograph of the tree lit up at night - maybe this year.

'The Calvinistic Methodists built Jerusalem during the hey-day of the Ystalyfera Iron and Tinplate Works but unfortunately no accounts were kept until 1884.'

More about Ystalyfera Iron & Tin Plate Works

However there is a marble memorial tablet to the Rev David Richard Beynon who, after serving the Chapel for 25 years, died suddenly in 1953 and is now buried in Alltygrug Cemetery. Two of the former members also died one in WWI and one in WWII and both have memorial plaques on the walls of the chapel. Private Arthur Meredith Jenkins fell in action in 1918 and Albert Thomas of the RAF lost his life in WWII.

Go to the Reverend D.R. Beynon
Go to The War Memorials of Jerusalem Chapel
Go to The Fallen of Ystalyfera

Grave of the Reverend David Beynon, of Jerusalem Chapel in Ystalyfera, in Alltygrug Cemetery, Ystalyfera.

It records that he had died on May 6th 1953, after being minister of Jerusalem, Ystalyfera and Libanus, Glanrhyd from 1928 to 1953. This period included the closure for renovations and reopening in 1951.

Go to Alltygrug Cemetery

From the Llais newspaper, 17th January 1914 :-

The Jerusalem Chapel Vestry was crowded on Thursday evening when the annual distribution of presents from a Christmas tree to the children attending the Sunday-school took place. Mr David Lloyd presided, and made an excellent chairman. Dressed as Santa Claus, Mr John Evans, Gors Villa, was escorted from the door to the Christmas tree by a bodyguard of boys carrying rifles; and every child present was made happy by receiving a present.

Drills and choral singing by, girls and boys, the latter under the conductorship of Daniel Rees Vaughan Thomas, were very much appreciated, and certainly the children did excellently. The singing of "Niwl y Glyn" in memory of the little ones who had gone to rest during the year was an impressive item. Under the supervision of' Mr Enoch Thomas, gun drill was given by ten boys, and Miss Annie Lewis was responsible for the excellent style in which girls gave a dumb-bell drill. Songs were given by Megan Hughes, Rhys Williams, Willie Davies, Mary G Davies, N Morgan, D R Vaughan Thomas, Sarah Annie Davies, Annie May and M B Rees, and recitations by Annie T Adams, Will Morgan, T Ivor Jones, Elsie Davies, Nancy Williams, Morgan Lloyd, D Lewis, Idwal Phillips, Jack Lewis, John David Williams, Ceinwen Lloyd, Maggie Williams Nancy Morgan, Evan Hughes, A Williams, A May Rees, Ceinwen ac Eunice, Danny Davies, Cledwyn Powell Trevor Jones, Gwynneth Davies, Dewi Rees, Bessie Morris, Islwyn Williams, Willie Samuel, Lewis Griffiths, Glyndwr Phillips, and Sidney Rees.

In addition to receiving gifts from the tree, fruit, etc., were distributed amongst the children and they were entertained to tea. Those responsible for the preparations and carrying out of the arrangements were Mrs Henry Morgan, Miss Annie Lewis, Miss L Thomas, Mrs David Morris, Mrs Clatworthy, and Mrs David Lloyd.

The annual Christmas Tree outside Jerusalem Methodist Chapel, Ystalyfera.

Jerusalem Chapel was closed for repairs and renovations from October 1950, reopening with ceremony in July 1951.


After being closed for nine months for necessary repairs and renovations, the re-opening of Jerusalem Chapel Ystalyfera on Monday was an outstanding day in the history of the cause. A large assembly gathered for the ceremony, which was performed by Mr H J Powell J.P., treasurer of the church, who opened the main gates and Messrs. Taliesin and Luther Lloyd, who opened the two main doors. In short, appropriate speeches, they acknowledged the honour conferred upon them by their fellow members and expressed their hopes, with God's help, for a bright future for the church.
Rev E T Evans Wern, opened the service by reading a portion of the scriptures and Rev J D Jones Soar, Pontardawe led the congregation in prayer.
At this stage, the minister the Rev D R Beynon, extended a warm welcome to worshippers, both local and from outlaying districts and then proceeded to give an outline of the history of the church since it was first built in 1857, the cause was in being before that date, but nothing definite is known of that period.


Group at the re-opening on Monday 02/07/1951

Reading from left to right:

Mrs T LLOYD, Mr H J POWELL J.P., Rev D R BEYNON (pastor), Mrs L LLOYD, Mr J I JOHN

From The South Wales Voice 7th July 1951:-


In 1881 the chapel was rebuilt and a debt of £906 incurred; then followed years of industrial depression, which reached its lowest ebb during the closing down of the Iron and Tin Plate Works in 1884. An indication of the characteristics of the pioneers of the cause, was their decision to distribute a gift of £100, which had been made by the Presbyterian Church of Wales towards the debt mentioned, among the poor of the locality to relieve destitution.
Undaunted and with self sacrifice they persevered in their task; they organised celebrity concerts, which received the patronage of the late Adelina Patti, the world prima donna from Graig y Nos Castle and other functions, which brought their reward, when, in the year 1902 the church celebrated its jubilee and was able to hold further celebrations in 1920.


For many years however, they could not afford the services of a pastor; the first to Officiate in that capacity was the Rev Ivor Jenkins, who retired in 1913; he was followed by Rev D W Stephens, who served for a period of ten years; the present ministry of the Rev D R Beynon, has just entered upon its 24th year.
Mr Beynon said that members of the Lloyd family had been generous benefactors and in 1933, the late Mr William Lloyd bought the freehold deeds of the grounds upon which the building stood and presented them to the church; he was proud to say that such devotion as he had mentioned was not limited to a certain era or particular individuals, but that the characteristics and faith of the fathers of the church was very apparent in the present day members, who had undertaken the responsibility of renovating the chapel at great expense and he looked forward to the centenary celebrations in a few years time.
Mr Beynon paid great tribute to Mr Idwal Phillips of the Air ministry, who is a lifelong member of the church, for his services as clerk of works and also to the contractor, Mr Aneurin George, for a magnificent piece of work, both responded suitably and complimented the church upon its officers and representatives with whom it had been a pleasure to work and co-operate.
The services, afternoon and evening, were notable for forceful and inspiring sermons by the guest preacher, Doctor T J Jones M.A., D.Ph., Cardiff and the hymn singing, was in the best traditional Welsh 'Hwyl'.
The enthusiasm and the glorious weather also contributed to the success of the occasion, which will not be easily forgotten by those present.

The The South Wales Voice 13th December 1957 had a large feature on an important landmark in the history of Jerusalem Chapel, Ystalyfera when its centenary was celebrated. Full details can be read: YSTALYFERA METHODISTS REMEMBER PIONEERS OF 100 YEARS AGO

Ystalyfera - South Wales

Jerusalem Chapel

Memorial to Arthur Meredith Jenkins

Memorial to Albert Thomas

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Stepping Out Into Showbusiness

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Simone dreamed of becoming a showbusiness star during her nights in the air raid shelter in the garden of her home in Southall, during World War Two. After joining the A.T.S. in the war, she became part of the concert party entertaining the troops, eventually joining the Windmill Theatre.

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