History and Heritage

125th Anniversary of Pantteg Chapel


On the spot that, 125 years ago, the church was founded, Mr David George Williams, Ystalyfera spoke at Pantteg vestry on Monday evening to commemorate the occasion.
For nearly 2 hours, a large congregation listened interestedly to Mr Williams dealing with the history of the course, on which he wrote a book in 1921, called 'Camre Canrif'. The Rev Iorwerth Jones B.A., B.D., pastor of Pantteg, presided and the Rev Llewelyn Evans Godre'rgraig, read and prayed at the commencement.

Mr Williams took his listeners back to the year 1800 and asked them to imagine the district as it was in those days. A history of the place, he said, was a help in understanding the history of the church. Describing a journey from the Cilmaengwyn Forest, where there were no houses nearer than Ynismeudwy, he moved on to Heol yr Eglwys, Pantyffynnon Farm, Fountain Hall and Pont Harry, which was named after the man who lived in the farm nearby. Around that spot there were a few houses and over the Cae Cyfyng, past Gwaith Glo'r Cyfyng, the Ystalyfera Isaf and Uchaf farms, up to Gurnos, there are a few more houses. Back to the Wern, where there was a big forest, past Graig y Merched and on to Fountain Hall again, - only some farmhouses and a few houses were to be seen in the district. There was not a place of worship from Ynismeudw to Gurnos, the nearest church as being those of Llanguick and Ystradgynlais. The majority of the inhabitants were Congregationalist and used to make the journey of 3 to 4 miles to the chapels at Cwmllynfell, Alltwen or Godre'Rhos. The reason why there was no church in those days in Graig Arw was that the only roads led over the mountains from Cwmllynfell to Llangyfelach and over to Neath.

Views of Cwmllynfell, Alltwen and Godre'rhos Chapels


At the little day school on Twyn Ty'r Ysgol the first Sunday school and prayer meetings were held. In 1819, a place of worship was built on the site of the present vestry but it was not until 14th May 1821 that the church was founded on that spot. A call was given in 1822 to Mr Philip Griffiths, Glynneath, who later became the Rev Philip Griffiths, Alltwen. In 1838, a beginning was made with the Ystalyfera Ironworks and the locality changed from a small, silent country village to a hive of industry.

By 1865, the last year of the Rev Philip Griffiths' ministry, a third chapel had been built on the site of the second which had been erected at the side of the first building. The first building was converted into a vestry on the building of the second Chapel. It was also in the year 1857 and 1864 that the chapels at Gurnos and Wern were founded.

There was a new minister at Pantteg in 1866, the Rev John Jenkins Treffynnon but his stay was only for 2 1/2 years. The Rev Richard Trevor Jones, Pont Robert Montgomeryshire, came in 1870 and resigned in 1888. In 1891 one of the greatest pages in Pantteg's history was opened - the Rev Ben Davies commenced his ministry and was 1899 that the fourth and present chapel was built. The chapel at Godre'rgraig was also founded in the Rev Ben Davies' time, joined in 1904-5 revival. After the Rev Ben Davies' resignation in 1926, a call was given to the Rev Arthur Jones, Ynisybwl, who stayed until 1934. The present minister, Rev Iorwerth Jones, B.A., B.D., commenced in 1938, as a student from Bala Bangor College and during his ministry the chapel was presented with the present organ by the late Mr D W Davies Tycoch.

Speaking at the end of Mr Williams' address, the Rev Owen Williams, Sardis Ystradgynlais, persuasively pointed out the strength and vitality of the Congregational cause in the district's history. The Rev D R Beynon, in a few challenging words drew lessons from Mr Williams' valuable address. There was inspired singing by the congregation throughout the evening.

Article by YEARGroup - Val Trevallion

The History and Heritage of Ystalyfera is put online by Swansea Valley researcher Val Trevallion and Wolfian Design. All copyright remains with the original copyright holder, and all original research is copyright Val Trevallion, YEARGroup.

You can contact Ystalyfera History by emailing: contact@ystradgynlais-history.co.uk or Val Trevallion by emailing yeargroup@hotmail.co.uk.

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