Some Captured History of Glanamman and Garnant

New Bethel Chapel, Glanamman.

New Bethel Independent Chapel, Glanamman c.1911

This chapel sits on the border of Glanamman and Garnant and was built in 1875. As the population of Cwmamman grew, the need for a new chapel became more evident and the original idea was that two chapels should be built; one at one on Glanamman Square and the other at the Eastern end of Garnant in the area of the village known as Gors-y-Garnant. It was a small majority who were in favour of the location in which the chapel was eventually built.

Above the entrance is a stone which bears the following inscription:


The 11th September, 1874, edition of "TheCambrian" newspaper, reported that the foundation stone for New Bethel was laid by Mrs Daniel, of Christina Street, Swansea, on the plot granted by Mr Evan Daniel.

The Builders employed were T. Thomas of Llanelly, and the architect was John Humphreys of Morriston. The cost of building the new chapel was reported as being £2,040 11s and 6d, which in 2008 terms equates to approximately £86,070.

New Bethel opened in 1876 and sometime in the 1880's a satellite building was built for the purpose of weekly religeous meetings and sunday school. This was known as Stepney Hall, which was to become the location of the Garnant Reading Room for 47 years after being rented by the founders in March 1890.

The popularity of New Bethel Chapel also resulted in three small "Ysgoldy" chapels being built in various parts of Glanamman to serve the nonconformist population there. The first of these was known as "Ysgoldy Ty'n-y-wern" and was erected at the Western end of the village in 1892. The second was built on Grenig Road in 1895 and was known as "Ysgoldy Cwmgrenig". The third was built in 1900, near the Angel Inn on Mountain Road and was known as "Ysgoldy'r Mynydd Du". These were later to come under the supervision of Brynseion Chapel.

Rev. Timothy Eynon Davies was minister of both New Bethel Chapel at Garnant and Gellimanwydd Chapel (Christian Temple) at Ammanford from 1880 to 1883 when he left to join the Countess of Huntingdon church at Swansea. At this time, New Bethel was considered to be among the strongest of Welsh Chapels, having a congregation of approximately 1,300.

The renown Rev. Josiah Towyn Jones became minister at New Bethel in 1884 and remained until 1904 when he left to become a missionary with the Welsh Congregational Century Fund. Towyn, as he was known, later became M.P. for Carmarthenshire East and Llanelly and was well aquainted with Lloyd George.

The January 8th, 1914 edition of the Amman Valley Chronicle, stated that at a meeting of the Cwmamman Urban Council, held on New Years Eve, the New Bethel Church applied for an increased supply of water. The council decided that as the majority of members of the various places of worship were ratepayers, all places of worship would have their water supply free of charge.

The January 15th, 1914, edition of the Amman Valley Chronicle, reported that a new organ was being built at New Bethel and that it was assuming it's shape. The brief article continued by stating that time may improve the tone and restore harmony!

The follow up article printed in the A. V. Chronicle on Feb 19th, 1914, reported on the events which followed the completion of the work. Two concerts took place on Saturday 14th February, 1914. The opening was performed by a famous organist from London, Mr. Dd. Clegg, and a soloist named Miss Louie Brooks, also from London. The afternoon recital was presided over by Mr. Tom Morris, County Councillor and J.P. A veteran musician named Mr. D. W. Lewis, F.T.S.C., from Brynamman presided over the evening concert. Mr. John Morgan from Garnant presided at the piano.

On sunday, the organist was Miss Williams of Gwalia Villa. The article reported that her performance was considered to have been well done, considering that it was her first time.

The cost of the organ was reported to have been £1,000 (over £52,000 in 2008's terms), a large portion of which had already been collected through the efforts of the committee and its "energetic" secretary, Mr. William Michael, by the time of the opening ceremony.

William Michael of Araulfa House (now 241 Cwmamman Rd), Garnant.

Saint David's Day was on a Sunday in 1914, and a varied programme was enjoyed by the older folk at New Bethel on the previous evening. A well known bard from Liverpool, going by the name of "Pedrog" gave a lecture and there was penillion singing with harp accompaniment by John Bevan and local bard, Ceidrym (Edwin Rees).

In 1931, the chapel commissioned the building of a manse for the pastor of New Bethel. The contract was given to Ben Morgan and Son of Glanamman in August. At that time, although the site at Ceidrim Road had been selected, no plans had been drawn up. By early October, the A.V. Chronicle reported that "The Manse" was rapidly reaching completion.

Extensive repair work was started in October of 2007 which resulted in a new floor being laid in the chapel and a small private car park being established to the rear of the building. The builder employed to carry out the work was Hywel James of Glanamman. Services were for a time, being conducted at Bethesda on Sunday evenings due to there being no heating at New Bethel. Services at New Bethel Chapel were resumed on Sunday the 4th of May, 2008.

Officials of New Bethel Chapel, 1957. Please move the cursor over the faces to see the names.

Thanks to Catherine Rogerson for the image of the Chapel Officials, 1957.

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Glyn John W. H. Rees D. J. Bevan Lloyd Evans Howell Hill H. T. Llewellyn P. S. Owen D. O. Morgan T. J. Davies Tom Prydderch Trefor Roberts (Treasurer) D. J. Rees Rev. Oswald R. Davies (The Minister) Llewelyn Hill Idris Hughes (Secretary)