Some Captured History of Glanamman and Garnant

The Opening of Saint Margaret's Church, Glanamman

Saint Margaret's Church, Glanamman c.2007.

The Sunday School which was held at a rented room at Glanamman was insufficient for the religeous needs of the village's inhabitants and so a church was built on Tirycoed Road. The corrugated iron building, which was named Saint Margaret's Church, was dedicated by the Right Reverend John Owen, Lord Bishop of St. Davids on the 16th of July, 1907. The Vicar of Cwmamman at the time was the Rev. Evan Davies.

Later, a stone building was erected not far from the original church. The building fund was set up in 1925 and the first sod was cut by William Aubrey Hay in March 1933, on land given by Lord Dynefwr.

The Vicar of Cwmamman, Rev. W. A. Jones informed the gathering that the new church would cost £2,800. He remarked that despite the depression, the parishoners had so far raised £1,800 towards the building of the new church, enabling the commencement of work. Promises of help was given by various parties, with Mr Rees Morgan of Cwmffrwd promising the pulpit. The Vicar ended his address by paying tribute to Mr Hay for his hard work throughout the years, in order to bring about the establishment of a stone church in Glanamman.

In Mr Hay's speech, he thanked the vicar for bestowing the honour on him and stated that his ambition would not be realised until the church had been cleared from debt.

The architect was Mr Webb of Blackwood and the building contractor was Dickens of Tredegar. It was intimated at the above proceedings that the contractor had stated that as far as possible, the labour would be given to the unemployed churchmen of Cwmamman.

William Aubrey Hay J. Thomas, Warden Reverend W. A. Jones B.A., Vicar of Cwmamman Mr Webb, Architect T. Dickinson, Contractor

Photograph at St Margaret's Church, with W. A. Hay cutting the first sod.

The foundation stone of Saint Margaret's Church was laid in a ceremony on Saturday 22nd April, 1933. There was a large congregation at the old corrugated church sited on Tirycoed Road, Glanamman for the ceremony.

The Old Church in Glanamman. Photo taken 24th August 2008.

The Right Reverend D. L. Prosser, Lord Bishop of Saint Davids addressed the congregation and used the verse from 1 Corinthians iv 11, as his theme:

"For other foundations can no man lay than that is laid."

On completion of the service, the crowd, lead by the Church Choir and followed by the Bishop and robed clergy, walked to the site of the new church. The stone was laid by Miss A. M. Jones of Garnant Vicarage (probably the Vicar's daughter) and the stone was then blessed by the Bishop.

Amongst the clergymen in attendance for the ceremony were:

  • The Ven. Robert Williams, M.A., Archdeacon of Carmarthen
  • Rev. John Jenkins, Rural Dean; Llandilofawr
  • Rev. W. A. Jones, B.A., vicar of Cwmamman
  • Rev. Griffith Jones, B.A., vicar of Llandebie
  • Rev. R. H. Jones, M.A., vicar of Ammanford
  • Rev. J. W. Hughes, B.A., vicar of Brynamman
  • Rev. Ben Davies, B.A., vicar of Llanwenog
  • Rev. D. I. Richards, B.A., St. Margarets
  • Rev. J. O. Jenkins, Cwmgorse
  • Rev. J. M. Davies, Tairgwaith
  • Rev. John Thomas, Llandybie

On Friday, the 2nd of June, 1933, a bricklaying ceremony was held to raise funds towards the building of the new church. The foreman of the building work was there throughout the afternoon and evening, while over 300 people laid a brick in the new church building.

The 3rd August, 1933, edition of the Amman Valley Chronicle reported on the new church, in the course of erection. The article stated that when St Margaret's Church would open in September, it would be one of the prettiest in South Wales and a credit to the district. The new church, however, did not open until later in the year.

The evening of Sunday, the 27th August, 1933, saw an organ recital at Llanwenog Church, near Llanybyther, to help to raise funds for the St Margaret's Church building fund. This was in response to a performance of the Welsh operetta; "Dewis Brenhines", which was performed when the St Margaret's choir endeavoured to raise funds for the Llanwenog Church restoration fund in March of the same year.

The 29th of September, 1933, edition of the West Wales Observer reported that Reverend W. A. Jones, the vicar of Cwmamman was to relocate to Hubberston in Pembrokeshire,. He had, however, decided to postpone his new appointment until after the opening of the new St Margaret's Church. The ceremony took place on the 1st of November; New Saints Day 1933, when the church was dedicated by the Lord Bishop of St. Davids. At a meeting of Cwmamman parishoners at Garnant National School on 21st September 1933, it was decided to make a gift to Reverend Jones in order to show their appreciation of his work in the parish during his ten years of ministry. Rev. Jones was instituted in his new parish on the 15th November. His successor was Rev T. Owen Hughes B.A., who came to Cwmamman from Llanfihangel-y-Creuddyn, Aberystwyth. The new Vicar was instituted at Cwmamman from the 15th November 1933. The A. V. Chronicle reported that Rev Hughes had a keen interest in sport and had once been chairman of Hendy Rugby Football Club.

On the evenings of Sunday the 24th and Monday the 25th of September 1933, a crowd of people were present at the old St Margaret's Church for the Harvest Festival services. The 29th of September edition of the West Wales Observer, reported that Reverend D. S. Lewis B.A., Cocket and Reverend W. E. Jones B.A. of Court Henry were special preachers for the occasion. The church was artistically and beautifully decorated for the event.

The church bell, donated by Mrs Leah Norah Folland in memory of her late husband, Henry Folland, was hoisted into position on the last week of September, 1933. Near to the bell rope in the back room of the church is a brass commemorative plaque. The bell weighted three cwts (approximately 135 kg's).

Plaque at St Margaret's, 2008.

Mr D. Stewart Evans, manager of the Diamond Colliery, Ystradgynlais and his brother, Mr D. James Evans, manager of the Great Mountain Colliery at Tumble, donated the gift of a communion plate to St Margaret's Church in October of 1933. They were members of a family who claimed the longest connection with the church at Glanamman.

When the new St Margaret's Church was opened, the old church building was used as a church hall. The old church was originally intended to be used for 21 years but was used for nearly 27 years due to the industrial depression of the time. Reverend Robert Williams M.A., the Venerable Archdeacon of Carmarthen, wished to preach the last sermon at the old church, as he had preached the first sermon there 27 years previously. He delivered his address from the pulpit of the old church on Sunday the 29th of October 1933.

St Margaret's pre 1965.

St Margaret's Church interior: View from entrance, 2008.

St Margaret's Church interior: Looking towards entrance, 2008.

Tuesday the 7th of November was the date of a presentation meeting held at Garnant Schools, where Rev W. A. Jones, who was leaving the parish, was presented with a cheque and a set of robes in a dressing case. Tribute was paid to him for the renovation of the church school at Garnant and for the building of the new church at Glanamman. The gift was presented to Rev. Jones by Mrs William Evans of Garnant, who was a member of the Parochial Church Council. The vicar's three sisters were presented with silver entree dishes and a silver biscuit barrel.

The Saint Margaret's Church Young People's Guild was opened on the evening of Monday the 20th November, 1933, when a concert took place at the church hall. The chairman and conductor for the evening was the organist, James Roach. The church choirmaster, James Jones also spoke at the event. Musical performances were given by several local people, some singing solo's while others performed duets. Pianoforte solo's and recitations were also performed. The evening ended in a patriotic style with the singing of "Hên Wlad fy Nhadau."

In June, 1936, a bus full of St Margaret's Church members travelled to Saint David's Cathedral to see the Bishop of St David's perform the ordination of Reverend T. H. Childs, B.A., who had been curate of St Margaret's for several months.

Fuller's Window on eastern wall.

The eastern wall, above the altar, contains a beautiful stained glass window, dedicated to the memory of James John Fuller, who died in 1954 and his wife Eleanor Ann Fuller, who died in 1965. The window was donated by their children. James John Fuller was a churchwarden of St Margaret's for many years.

The church font is situated at the back of the church, near the main entrance. The wooden top is furnished with a brass plaque showing the following words:

"TO THE GLORY OF GOD
AND IN SWEET MEMORY OF
KATHLEEN ETHELWYN
AND
ROSALINE LOWE
GIVEN BY
DAD, MAM, RONALD AND CLARICE"

St Margaret's Church Font 2008.

Attached to the pulpit is a small plaque stating that the maker was Harry M. Fuller of Glanamman.

The wall adjacent to the pulpit bears a brass tablet which serves as a memorial to 21 year old Private David Thomas John Bendle of the Welch Regiment, who was killed in action at France on the 23rd of July, 1818. The tablet was unveiled at a memorial service for the young soldier who had been an ardent church worker. The local Territorials and ex-servicemen gathered at the local H.Q. of the Welch Regiment and then marched to St Margaret's church for the service which was performed by the Vicar of Brynamman; himself an ex Honorary Chaplain to the forces. The Cwmamman Silver Band headed the procession and William Phillips, the band's cornet soloist, sounded the last post while the tablet was unveiled by Major Gilbert H. Davies. The band later played the Dead March in "Saul" before finally escorting the Territorials back to their headquarters.

Memorial Plaque at St Margaret's Church, 2008.

Members of St Margaret's Church participated in and organised various activities within the community. One example is the select dance which was held at the Drill Hall, Garnant on Thursday 12th January 1928. The event was organised by the St Margaret's Church Young Workers' Guild and invitations were distributed by the secretary, Cecil Williams, whose endeavours resulted in a high turnout.

The Glanamman Church also had it's own mothers union, who would come together for meetings. They also enjoyed annual outings in the summer. They celebrated their silver jubilee in 1987 and a photograph of the members takes pride of place above the church font.

Other active members of the church were two of William Aubrey Hay's children; Miss Gwenda Hay, once the Sister at Amman Valley Hospital and Mrs Sadie Lamb, who was organist at St. Margaret's Church for many years.

The pipe organ at St Margaret's.

The pipe organ at the church was transferred from the old church building.. This is no longer in use and a modern organ, which requires no pumping, is now used in the sevices.

The following photograph adorns the wall of a back room at St Margaret's Church and may have been taken at the site of the old St Margaret's Church, possibly around 1910. If you have any information about the location, people or the occasion that the photograph was taken, please contact me.

St Margaret's Church members c.1910.

The lady at the front of the photograph is Mrs Marguerite Lewis (nee Price), who was the first organist at the Glanamman church. She was also known as "Aunt Daisy" and worked as a teacher at Glanamman Council School and Gwaun Cae Gurwen school. She used to cycle to the school at G.C.G. from her home at Glanamman. She and her husband spent a year at Canada, before returning to Wales, where they settled at Nantgaredig. Daisy reached the age of 103 circa 1993 and lived with her niece at Garnant. Her mother was Mrs Ruth Price; headmistress of Garnant National School for 29 years. Daisy's sister married Gwyn Williams, owner of one of the Dan y Bryn shops at Glanamman.
The February, 1913 edition of the Cwmamman Parish Magazine contained the following article:

"Departure.- St. Margaret's Church has lost her faithful, devoted and accomplished Organist, Miss Daisy Price. She has acted in that capacity since the Church was built. She was a clever player, and always led the singing of the Services with taste and effect. The Church will miss her sadly. She has left to fill an important post as an Assistant Mistress in a Girls' School in the neighbourhood of Bromsgrove. We wish her every success. We trust she will have prosperity wherever she may be. Her successor has not been definitely appointed, Mr Jones, from the Twyn, has undertaken the duties until Easter, when the appointment will be finally settled."

The September, 1913 editon of the Cwmamman Parish Magazine listed Miss E. M. Morgan as Organist at St. Margarets. Miss Morgan was formerly listed as Deputy Organist.

A list of the weekly collections for St. Margaret's Church in 1913 is available on a separate webpage.

The Carmarthenshire County Council website states that on the 9th of October 2008, planning permission was granted to build a single storey dwelling on the site of St Margaret's Church Hall on Tirycoed Road, Glanamman.

A lack of funds necessary to carry out essential work to the St Margaret's Church building means that the regular Sunday services have now ceased. The church bell was tolled for the final time just before the start of the Christmas Service and Communion, which took place at 9:30am on the 25th of December, 2008. Three Carols were sung during the service; "It came upon a midnight clear", "Hark the Herald Angels sing" and finally "O Come all ye faithful". The service ended with the organist accompanying the congregation who sang "Happy Birthday", to a church warden who was born on Christmas Day.

It is hoped that the church may still be used for special services.

Much of the information for this page was taken from articles in the Amman Valley Chronicle. Other Sources include the West Wales Observer and "A Brief Survey of the Ecclesiastical Parish of Cwmamman", by Rev. Tudor O. Hughes, Vicar of Cwmamman; for the Centenary of Garnant Church in 1942. Thanks to Mrs Ruth Davies for the information regarding her aunt, Daisy Lewis.

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