Some Captured History of Glanamman and Garnant

Bethania Chapel

Bethania Chapel, Glanamman, October 2007

Bethania Chapel is sited on Brynlloi Road at Glanamman and was built because Tabernacle, the original methodist chapel at Glanamman, was regarded as having insufficient capacity to cope with the growing number of methodists moving into the locality. It was designed to accomodate 750 people and included a large vestry. The building work commenced on the 10th of September 1905 and the following people were involved in the laying of the foundations stones in the following November:

Mrs William Llewelyn, Nantyglyn
Mrs Lodwick, Pentwyncoch
Mrs Jones and her daughters, Cross Keys Villa
In memory of David Jones, Cross keys Villa, by his sons
In memory of Mr and Mrs Evan Evans, Gellygweirdy, by their children
Rev. D. G. Jones, Pontardawe
Colonel Morris, Brinffin, Colonel Rd, Betws
Mr Arthur Williams, Y Gelly

The Rev. W.E. Prytherch of Swansea and Rev. D.G. Jones of Pontardawe were the preaching ministers at the event.

Bethania Calvanistic Methodist Chapel was designed by architect David Williams of Swansea and is now a grade II listed building. The construction was carried out by the contractors Brown, Thomas and John of Llanelli and the total cost, including the organ was £3,410 9s 6d, which in more recent tterms (i.e.estimated value of the £ in 2013), would amount to approximately £340,000.


Breakdown of cost of building Bethania Chapel, in pounds, shillings and pence

As was customary at that time, a pamphlet was published listing the Donors and Contributors towards the Building Fund.

The organ was built by Conacher of Huddersfield and was very modern at the time of it's instillation, being lit and heated by acetylene gas.

The new chapel was incorporated at the monthly meeting on 3rd December 1907 by the Rev. Rhystyd Davies of Brynamman and Mr John John of Ammanford.
The opening meetings and services started on December 7th, 1907 and continued through to Thursday the 12th. The participating ministers at the week's events were: Revs S.T. Jones (Rhyl), W.Williams (LLwynypia, Tonypandy), R. Salmon (Llansadwrn), William Moses Davies B.A. (Hendre), Rhystyd Davies (Brynamman), Evan Davies (Betws), W. Nantlais Williams (Ammanford) and John Oliver (Glanamman).

Images of the hymn booklet can be seen on a seperate webpage

Bethania Chapel started with 160 members. In the early days of the chapel, the officials were:

Minister: Rev. John Oliver
Elders: Mr Thomas Lewis and Edward Jenkins who died in April 1908 and April 1909 respectively.

Rev John Oliver

Tthe following were elected as Chapel Elders in 1908:

Mr Evan Lodwick, Mr William Lodwick, Mr Lewis Lewis, Mr John G. Jones, Mr Gomer Jones and Mr William Llewelyn.

Financial Secretary: Mr Morgan Lewis
Treasurer: Mr William Llewelyn
Publishing and Correspondence Secretary: Mr John G. Jones
Conductor of Music: Mr William Lodwick
Conductor of the School Music: Mr Morgan Lewis
Superintendent of the children: Miss E. Llewelyn
Organist: Miss S. A. Lewis L.L.C.M.

Mr D. Maybery Jones replaced Mr William Lodwick as Conductor of Music in 1918.

In order to meet the financial requirements of the chapel, various concerts, cantatas, lectures, dramas and literary meetings were held in the vestry.

Between 1917 and 1918, the Band of Hope was started under the care of Mr D. M. Jones with the assistance of Mr Ben Davies. The meeting was held every Sunday afternoon at 5pm and there was honour in being a member of such a group, which taught the importance of temperance and the benefits of abstinance from alcohol.

Although its sides are rendered, Bethania Chapel is striking for its ornate facade, incorporating Baroque, Beaux-Arts and Palladian themes. Acanthus leaf and festoon decoration above its North facing windows and the great arch above the cornice draw the eye upwards, where the words "BETHEL METHODISTIAID CALFINAIDD" boldly announce the denomination of the proud building. At the highest point of Bethania's facade is a "torch finial".

The interior of the Chapel is also ornate; with mouldings, a deeply coved ceiling, seven cast iron columns supporting the three sided gallery and various other decorative features. The organ is situated behind the raised pulpit and bears the makers name: "Peter Conacher & Co. Huddersfield".

Bethania Chapel is a grade II listed building because of its "unusually elaborate design which illustrates the final flowering of chapel architecture in Wales". Its importance in a historical context is due to its illustration of "the richness of chapel architecture associated with prosperity in local coal mining and tinplate industries before 1914." It became listed on 9th January, 1998.

Bethania, with Brynseion in Background, October 2007.

The vestry walls proudly displayed four photographs, three of which were of previous methodist ministers. These were, the Rev. Jenkyn Lewis, who served as Bethania's minister for 36 years from September 1926 to December 1964; Rev. E. Alun Thomas, who served from August 1965 to September 1982 and Rev. Meirion Morris who was Bethania's minister from 1985 to 1991.

Reverend Jenkyn Lewis

The above photograph was given pride of place next to the stage where the Reverend Lewis almost seemed to be maintaining a caring eye over his flock. The respect for which he was held by his congregation is evident by the memorial plaque which was displayed on the interior wall of the chapel.

Memorial Plaque for Rev. Jenkyn Lewis.

Also shown in the above photograph is a medal awarded to Mrs Jenny Joshua of Glanamman, for faithfulness to the chapel.

Sadly, with a declining congregation, the maintenance and running of the chapel became unsustainable and the last service was conducted on the 29th of December 2013 before its subsequent closure. The building was sold at a Cardiff auction in September 2014 to a private owner.

Click on the thumbnails below for more images of the Beautiful Bethania Chapel, which were taken in September of 2013:

Thanks to CADW for the information on Bethania Chapel, which they referenced from the following sources:
A Jones , Welsh Chapels , (National Museum of Wales), 1984 87.
Carmarthen Journal, 23/11/1906 and 13/12/1907.

Also thanks to Miss Rees who allowed me to take photographs of the beautiful chapel as well as providing me with essential information on Bethesda Chapel's history.
"Bethania, Glanaman I gofio'r gorffennol crynodeb o hanes dechreuad a thwf yr eglwys am haner canrif 1907-1957" by Rev. Jenkyn Lewis was an invaluable source for the majority of the historical information on this page.

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