History and Heritage

Chapels of Pontardawe & district
by Val Trevallion

MIN. DIP., M.E., F.G.S.

THIS REALLY WAS THE BOOK that was responsible for where I am today, knee deep in papers, articles, maps, photographs everything which has converted a room into an office and oh yes having a really interesting retirement!

I remember, thirty years ago my husband in a general conversation with a vicar in Redditch said that one day and not too far in the future we would see a sharp decline in church and chapel congregations, which did not go down too well but when he continued that, in our life time many 'houses of God' would be converted for a different purpose or indeed demolished (my vicar) was at a loss for words with this person who had accompanied me to the service.

Having left England for good the following month I often wonder what the Reverend Gentleman would say if he saw how many churches/chapels have been converted or pulled down over the past three decades.

Bearing that in mind and no longer a wildlife photographer I changed direction and began taking photographs not only of the war and remembrance graves (graves where the family has added the name of the person who fell on active service) but of the buildings and cemeteries.

John Henry Davies supplied the references in those early days and as I familiarised myself with our new home and locality, Chapter II section I of his book proved invaluable. However the book had been borrowed from the Pontardawe library (continually for quite a few months as I remember) until my son found an old copy in a car boot sale albeit with the pages loose (what do you expect for 50p) and I could refer to it at my leisure.

That was as I said, many moons ago but when Yeargroup was formed and I was 'seriously researching' I came across an article in THE VOICE Newspaper which I printed out and stuck in the front page of my own treasured copy:


Tenders for publishing a book written by Mr John Henry Davies, former principal of Pontardawe Technical College, on the 'History of Pontardawe and District' are to be invited by Pontardawe Council.

Members of the Finance Committee were informed that Professor Glanmor Williams of the University College, Swansea, who examined the book, had advised that the Council would be justified in spending public money to publish it. It is estimated that the cost of producing the book would be about £1,200.

I came across the name Glanmor Williams again later when I bought a book entitled Hanes Eglwys Y Pantteg Ystalyfera by D G Williams from an Antiquarian Bookseller based in Worcester. The gentleman informed me that it had belonged to Sir Professor Glanmor Williams and indeed the first page showed that it had in fact been sent, signed and given by the author to Mr Glanmor Williams M A.

Although it was written in Welsh I purchased the item mainly to bring it 'back home' and some readers may remember I was extremely grateful to the late Mr Brynmor Jonathan, Deacon of Pantteg Chapel for taking the time out to translate the book's entire contents into English, so that I could then understand the early beginnings of Pantteg Chapel.

Eventually after almost 18 months of working on this project I had typed up his sheets to be able to have a copy bound and dedicated to the memory of Mr David Aneurin Griffiths B.A. who for 53 years was himself a Deacon and the Secretary of Pantteg Chapel. We have since put the English version on to the website under History of Pantteg.

So, realising that memories fade and history becomes ever longer, the following photographs are some of the many I have taken on my wanderings around the district and where I have included a reference or two within ' ' quote marks, that information has been taken from the book 'History of Pontardawe and District'.

  Val Trevallion - email yeargroup@hotmail.co.uk

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