History and Heritage

Jerusalem Chapel, Ystalyfera

Jerusalem Chapel, Ystalyfera is well-known because it is the chapel which has the tree erected every Christmas on its forecourt although I have not managed to take a decent photograph of the tree lit up at night - may be this year.

'The Calvinistic Methodists built Jerusalem during the hey-day of the Ystalyfera Iron and Tinplate Works but unfortunately no accounts were kept until 1884.'

More about Ystalyfera Iron & Tin Plate Works

However there is a marble memorial tablet to the Rev David Richard Beynon who, after serving the Chapel for 25 years, died suddenly in 1953 and is now buried in Alltygrug Cemetery. Two of the former members also died one in WWI and one in WWII and both have memorial plaques on the walls of the chapel. Private Arthur Meredith Jenkins fell in action in 1918 and Albert Thomas of the RAF lost his life in WWII.

Go to the Reverend D.R. Beynon
Go to The War Memorials of Jerusalem Chapel
Go to The Fallen of Ystalyfera

Grave of the Reverend David Beynon, of Jerusalem Chapel in Ystalyfera, in Alltygrug Cemetery, Ystalyfera.

It records that he had died on May 6th 1953, after being minister of Jerusalem, Ystalyfera and Libanus, Glanrhyd from 1928 to 1953. This period included the closure for renovations and reopening in 1951.

Go to Alltygrug Cemetery

From the Llais newspaper, 17th January 1914 :-

The Jerusalem Chapel Vestry was crowded on Thursday evening when the annual distribution of presents from a Christmas tree to the children attending the Sunday-school took place. Mr David Lloyd presided, and made an excellent chairman. Dressed as Santa Claus, Mr John Evans, Gors Villa, was escorted from the door to the Christmas tree by a bodyguard of boys carrying rifles; and every child present was made happy by receiving a present.

Drills and choral singing by, girls and boys, the latter under the conductorship of Daniel Rees Vaughan Thomas, were very much appreciated, and certainly the children did excellently. The singing of "Niwl y Glyn" in memory of the little ones who had gone to rest during the year was an impressive item. Under the supervision of' Mr Enoch Thomas, gun drill was given by ten boys, and Miss Annie Lewis was responsible for the excellent style in which girls gave a dumb-bell drill. Songs were given by Megan Hughes, Rhys Williams, Willie Davies, Mary G Davies, N Morgan, D R Vaughan Thomas, Sarah Annie Davies, Annie May and M B Rees, and recitations by Annie T Adams, Will Morgan, T Ivor Jones, Elsie Davies, Nancy Williams, Morgan Lloyd, D Lewis, Idwal Phillips, Jack Lewis, John David Williams, Ceinwen Lloyd, Maggie Williams Nancy Morgan, Evan Hughes, A Williams, A May Rees, Ceinwen ac Eunice, Danny Davies, Cledwyn Powell Trevor Jones, Gwynneth Davies, Dewi Rees, Bessie Morris, Islwyn Williams, Willie Samuel, Lewis Griffiths, Glyndwr Phillips, and Sidney Rees.

In addition to receiving gifts from the tree, fruit, etc., were distributed amongst the children and they were entertained to tea. Those responsible for the preparations and carrying out of the arrangements were Mrs Henry Morgan, Miss Annie Lewis, Miss L Thomas, Mrs David Morris, Mrs Clatworthy, and Mrs David Lloyd.

The annual Christmas Tree outside Jerusalem Methodist Chapel, Ystalyfera.

As mentioned above, the Reverend David Richard Beynon had served as minister of Jerusalem for 25 years when he died suddenly on May 6th 1953. The article from The South Wales Voice 30th June 1928 explains in detail about his inauguration ceremony.

Mr. D.R. Beynon Becomes Pastor of Jerusalem Chapel

There were large congregations at the induction of the Rev. D.R. Beynon as pastor of Jerusalem Chapel, Ystalyfera, on Thursday. A number of the members of Ebenezer Chapel, Mardy and Carmel Chapel, Blaenllechau - the late charges of the Rev. D.R. Beynon - were amongst the visitors.

The Rev. D.G. Jones, Soar, Pontardawe, presided, and the service was opened by the reading of Scripture and the offering of prayer by the Rev. Stephen Jones, Gwauncaegurwen. The history of the call was given by the secretary, Mr R.W. Hopkins, who said that Mr Beynon was accepted not as a servant of the church, but a servant of God, and a leader of the church.

   A Feeling of 'Hiraeth'

Speaking on behalf of the East Glamorgan Monthly Meeting, the Rev. Dr. D.M. Phillips, Tylorstown, said there was a feeling of 'hiraeth' at Mardy at the departure of Mr Beynon. He had won a place for himself in the hearts of the people as he possessed grit to carry on. Mr Beynon had not been at Mardy long when he was appointed secretary of the monthly meeting, and if ever the history of the Methodists was written, an account of Mr Beynon's work during his term of office deserved inclusion. He had also been secretary of the Sunday-schools. Mr Beynon was a good leader; one who was with his people in time of need. He was, in short, the ideal pastor. His sermons were timely and educative. He had been greatly assisted in his work by Mrs Beynon.

Mr John Williams, Mardy (Ap Ioan) a deacon at Ebenezer Chapel, said that Mr Beynon believed in the highest ideals, and this fact explained the success of his work. He had not spared himself in the great work.

The Rev. W. Henry, Port Talbot, representing the West Glamorgan District, said the meeting that day was, in his opinion, a forecast of the success thhat would attend the union of Mr Beynon and Jerusalem Chapel. He (Mr Henry) did not like the word 'induction', the Welsh of which was 'sefydlu'. It gave one the impression that the pastor had been thrown out of office. It should be a meeting to 'urge' the pastor to work for the church and the church to co-operate with the pastor.

Others who spoke were Revs. D. Picton Evans, M.A., Morriston; E. T. Evans, B.A., Ystalyfera; E.D. Lewis, Ystalyfera; J. Fisher Griffiths, Pontardawe; John Beynon, Llansamlet; W.P. Jones, Cwmtwrch; Chas. Williams, Pontardawe; T. Roderick, Rhiwfawr; Messrs W. Richards, J.R. Jones, Ferndale; John Maddocks, Ystalyfera; W.E. Jones, Penrhos, and Mrs (Dr.) Jones, Llansamlet.

Before calling upon Mr Beynon to respond, the chairman asked the audience to stand as a mark of welcome eto [sic] him. This was done.

Mr Beynon thanked the speakers for their kind references to himself. He referred to the happy times he had spent at Mardy and Blaenllechau. There was a practice in some places to dictate to the pastor what subject to preach on; but a pastor should be free to choose his own subjects. He would try to do his best and asked for the help and co-operation of the church.

Following the meeting the visitors were entertained to tea. In the evening the Revs. Dr. Phillips, Tylorstown, and W. Henry officiated at preaching services.

   Rev. D.R. Beynon

The Rev. D.R. Beynon, whose induction as pastor of Jerusalem Chapel, Ystalyfera, took place on Thursday, is a native of Trimsaran. He was educated at Carmarthen and Trefecca Colleges and Aberystwyth University College. His first charge was at Pontlottyn, where he remained for nine and a half years. During that time he served in the war, being connected with the Y.M.C.A On cessation of hostilities he went to Mardy, where he has laboured until now. He took over the charge of Carmel, Blaenllechau, on his departure from Mardy. Mr Beynon was presented with a roll-top desk, Mrs Beynon with a purse, and the children, Alun and Margaret with books, by the members of Ebenezer and Carmel Chapels. During his stay at Mardy Mr Beynon was a busy worker in quarters outside his church, and was secretary to the East Glamorgan District of Methodists and the Mardy Cymrodorion.

Jerusalem Chapel was closed for repairs and renovations from October 1950, reopening with ceremony in July 1951.


After being closed for nine months for necessary repairs and renovations, the re-opening of Jerusalem Chapel Ystalyfera on Monday was an outstanding day in the history of the cause. A large assembly gathered for the ceremony, which was performed by Mr H J Powell J.P., treasurer of the church, who opened the main gates and Messrs. Taliesin and Luther Lloyd, who opened the two main doors. In short, appropriate speeches, they acknowledged the honour conferred upon them by their fellow members and expressed their hopes, with God's help, for a bright future for the church.
Rev E T Evans Wern, opened the service by reading a portion of the scriptures and Rev J D Jones Soar, Pontardawe led the congregation in prayer.
At this stage, the minister the Rev D R Beynon, extended a warm welcome to worshippers, both local and from outlaying districts and then proceeded to give an outline of the history of the church since it was first built in 1857, the cause was in being before that date, but nothing definite is known of that period.


Group at the re-opening on Monday 02/07/1951

Reading from left to right:

Mrs T LLOYD, Mr H J POWELL J.P., Rev D R BEYNON (pastor), Mrs L LLOYD, Mr J I JOHN

From The South Wales Voice 7th July 1951:-


In 1881 the chapel was rebuilt and a debt of £906 incurred; then followed years of industrial depression, which reached its lowest ebb during the closing down of the Iron and Tin Plate Works in 1884. An indication of the characteristics of the pioneers of the cause, was their decision to distribute a gift of £100, which had been made by the Presbyterian Church of Wales towards the debt mentioned, among the poor of the locality to relieve destitution.
Undaunted and with self sacrifice they persevered in their task; they organised celebrity concerts, which received the patronage of the late Adelina Patti, the world prima donna from Graig y Nos Castle and other functions, which brought their reward, when, in the year 1902 the church celebrated its jubilee and was able to hold further celebrations in 1920.


For many years however, they could not afford the services of a pastor; the first to Officiate in that capacity was the Rev Ivor Jenkins, who retired in 1913; he was followed by Rev D W Stephens, who served for a period of ten years; the present ministry of the Rev D R Beynon, has just entered upon its 24th year.
Mr Beynon said that members of the Lloyd family had been generous benefactors and in 1933, the late Mr William Lloyd bought the freehold deeds of the grounds upon which the building stood and presented them to the church; he was proud to say that such devotion as he had mentioned was not limited to a certain era or particular individuals, but that the characteristics and faith of the fathers of the church was very apparent in the present day members, who had undertaken the responsibility of renovating the chapel at great expense and he looked forward to the centenary celebrations in a few years time.
Mr Beynon paid great tribute to Mr Idwal Phillips of the Air ministry, who is a lifelong member of the church, for his services as clerk of works and also to the contractor, Mr Aneurin George, for a magnificent piece of work, both responded suitably and complimented the church upon its officers and representatives with whom it had been a pleasure to work and co-operate.
The services, afternoon and evening, were notable for forceful and inspiring sermons by the guest preacher, Doctor T J Jones M.A., D.Ph., Cardiff and the hymn singing, was in the best traditional Welsh 'Hwyl'.
The enthusiasm and the glorious weather also contributed to the success of the occasion, which will not be easily forgotten by those present.

The The South Wales Voice 13th December 1957 had a large feature on an important landmark in the history of Jerusalem Chapel, Ystalyfera when its centenary was celebrated. Full details can be read: YSTALYFERA METHODISTS REMEMBER PIONEERS OF 100 YEARS AGO


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