History and Heritage

Godrergraig Chapel, Ystalyfera


When my eldest son attended Godre'rgraig School circa late 1980's, he used to go the Chapel across the road, where the school held their Harvest Festival. Then in 2005, when I was tracking down the War Memorial Plaque for the fallen of that district, I found the Chapel closed but luckily the plaque had been taken to the school where I found it had a new home (on the wall, outside the headmaster's office). The Chapel was put up for sale but the intervening years had seen it fall into a ruinous state.

After it had been sold, I asked permission of the new owners in 2008, to take some photographs, and of course looked up some of the Chapel's history.

by John Henry DAVIES - page167

Godre'rgraig Chapel, a branch from Pantteg, began by erecting a school room about 1864, when weekly prayer meetings and Sunday school were held. This continued until 1905, when prayer meetings were held on Sunday evenings and in April 1905, the first sermon was delivered there by the Rev Ben Davies Pantteg. By the first Sunday of 1906, 58 members formed the cause which was officially incorporated under the guidance of the minister of Pantteg. The school room was renovated and opened in October 1909.

In 1913, Mr Ellis Parry, a student of Carmarthen College, accepted a call and his ordination took place in December. His ministry was happy and prosperous but in 1918 he left to give his service to the Y.M.C.A.

The church was without a minister for six and a half years but in August 1924, a call was given to the Rev David T Rees, who was ordained September 1924. Unfortunately, owing to ill health, he died in December 1925: (Buried Godre'rgraig Cemetery). Another six years passed without a pastor and this was a difficult period during the industrial depression. The Rev James Davies came in 1931 and his ministry, until 1943, was very flourishing. He left for Bethesda Merthyr.

He was succeeded by the Rev B Llewelyn Evans, who took a keen interest in ever branch of the church, and did not spare himself.

Footpath between Chapel and houses 130 & 128, looking at Graig Road. The chapel is to the left of the footpath.

From the South Wales Voice newspaper which was printed in Ystalyfera:-


There was an interesting function at Godre'rgraig Chapel on Sunday evening, when a barometer, suitably inscribed, was handed over to Mr Bryn Thomas, organist to mark his recent marriage. Mr Thomas, who is a son of Councillor and Mrs Joseph Thomas, has been organist for 14 years, and also secretary of the Sunday school. The gift was handed over by the pastor, the Rev James Davies, who said that Mr Thomas had rendered excellent service to the cause. The inscription on the barometer reads: 'Presented to Mr J B Thomas, organist, by the members of the Godre'rgraig Chapel, on his marriage, December 7th 1933'.

Mr Thomas thanked the members for the gift and said that he took up the position of organist in order to learn music, to be useful to the cause and also out of respect to the late Rev David Rees, who taught him to play the organ. Mr Thomas also referred to the help he had been given by the late Mr William Williams.

The above Mr J Brinley Thomas, son of the councillor and Mrs Joseph Thomas Godre'rgraig, was employed in the accountant's office (electricity department) of the Pontardawe Council. He had passed intermediate examination of the Corporation of Registered Accountants and secured a creditable pass in every subject. The examination had been held in December 1933 in London.

Graig Road showing houses 130 & 128 next to the footpath by the side of the Chapel. The iron gates at the bottom right of the photograph lead to the chapel.

In the South Wales Voice newspaper of the 11th August 1934, the first double wedding to take place at Godre'graig Independent Chapel occurred. It would appear that sisters Margaret and Sarah Lloyd were the bridegrooms and their bridegrooms were Thomas P. Thomas of Clydach, and Harry Jones of Alltwen.

Sunday School

From the Labour Voice 21st July 1917

The annual Sunday school treat in connection with Godreírgraig Chapel, was held on Saturday last, when a good number of children attended on a field kindly lent by Mr David Evans, Pentwyn Shop. The children were provided with bottled drinks and Welsh cakes baked by the ladies, who worked energetically in connection with the event.
The arrangements were in the capable hands of Mr Johnny Davies, superintendent and Mr Jenkin Rees, secretary and everything passed off without a hitch. In the evening games were indulged in.

An Old Picture

From the history of the local chapels in Welsh "Undeb yr Annibynwyr Cymraeg cyfarfodydd Ystradgynlais a'r cylch", comes this photograph of the chapel when it must have been in its heyday:-

Complete Cleaning company, Ystradgynlais