History and Heritage

Tabernacle Independent Chapel

'Sir John Jones Jenkins (afterwards Lord Glantawe) laid the foundation stone on 18th August 1880 and from a platform in front of the building, sermons were preached to the audience standing on the road.................................. On Sunday 21st August, 1881, the chapel was officially opened, when the Rev J T Davies of Gosen and Bethesda, and the Rev Rees Rees Alltwen preached.'

The photograph shows that the memorial stone is transcribed as August 17th 1880.

AUGUST 17TH 1880

It was a few years since I took that photograph and I am sorry to say I still have not seen inside the building where I have been told there is a plaque for a fallen soldier, a former member of the congregation.

Views of Tabernacle Chapel

These photographs of Tabernacle Chapel, Pontardawe, were taken in July 2019.


Ministers of Tabernacle, Pontardawe

Tabernacle Independent Chapel, Pontardawe was constructed between 1880-1881, and the official opening on August 21st 1881 was jointly overseen by the Reverend John Thomas Davies, the minister of Gosen, Trebanos and Bethesda, Ynysmeudwy. He would then hold the ministry of all three independent chapels jointly until 1898.

In the religious history of the Pontardawe district, perhaps the most famous minister of Tabernacle, was the Reverend H. Seiriol Williams who died in 1940, after being minister of Tabernacle for 40 years.

Tabernacle Chapel in 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 Labour Voice newspaper, February 10th 1923 :-

There were crowded attendances at Tabernacle Church, Pontardawe, on Thursday for the visit of the Rev Elvet Lewis, M.A., the famous poet-preacher of King's Cross, London. The distinguished visitor preached eloquently in the afternoon (the Rev H. Seiriol Williams presiding), and in the evening his well-known and popular lecture on "Meusydd Gwynion Madagascar". Mr William Davies (Victoria Buildings) presided.

From the Labour Voice newspaper, February 17th 1923:-

The remains of the late Mr "Jere" Davies were interred at Pontardawe on Tuesday. He was a faithful member of Tabernacle Church which was largely represented as also was the general public for "Jere" was a popular figure. The service was conducted by the Rev H. Seiriol Williams (Tabernacle) and the Rev L.G. Lewis (Adulam).

From the Labour Voice newspaper, March 17th 1923:-

Last Sunday morning the pulpit of Tabernacle Church, Pontardawe, was occupied by the Rev Mr Bowen, who has just been ordained as a pastor at Glais. His visit was a very welcome one, for her is a native of Brynamman.

From the Labour Voice newspaper, March 24th 1923:-

Last Sunday the Pulpit at Tabernacle, Pontardawe, was occupied by Mr Harries (Rhiwfawr). He is a student at Brecon College, and his sermons were of a very high order.

From the Labour Voice newspaper, March 31st 1923:-

A cymanda gannu in connection with the West Wales circuit of the Unitarians will be held at Tabernacle Church, Pontardawe, on Tuesday next. Mr Morgan of the Graig, Trebanos, will conduct.

From the South Wales Voice 20th September 1947 included information on the funeral of the widow of the Rev Seiriol Williams, formerly pastor of Tabernacle chuerch, Pontardawe:-


The funeral of Mrs Seiriol Williams, widow of the Rev Seiriol Williams, who was for 40 years the respected pastor of Tabernacle church, Pontardawe, took place at Saron graveyard, Rhydyfro, on Saturday of last week.
The funeral was strictly private, only representatives of the family, the church at Tabernacles, and a few personal friends of the deceased lady being present.
Officiating were the Revs W T Owen, Tabernacle, and R Lloyd Davies, Rhydyfro.
Mourners were Mr and Mrs Merfyn Williams, Salop, son and daughter-in-law; Mr Huw Seiriol Williams, grandson; Mr and Mrs McLennan, daughter and son-in-law; Rev D A Sweet, Milford Haven, son-in-law. Mrs Sweet was unable to attend her mother's funeral through illness.
The bearers were the deacons of Tabernacle.
The funeral of Mrs Williams marked the close of a long and devoted associated with Pontardawe and with Tabernacle in particular. Living to the ripe age of 79 the departed lady had spent practically the whole of her life there, where her husband ministered for so long.
Mr Williams died in 1940. After his death, Mrs Williams went to reside with her son and daughter-in-law, Mr and Mrs Merfyn Williams in Salop, where Mr WIlliams is in business as a chemist.