History and Heritage

Rev Lewis Goronwy Lewis
Adulam Baptist Chapel, Pontardawe

Rev Lewis Goronwy Lewis came to Adulam in November 1916, after having been sent the call by the congregation the previous month. He was famous for putting on shows, concerts and performances, and ministered there until 1930, when he moved to Bethlehem, Newport.

Born in Cardiganshire, and having grown up in Ammanford, he was educated at Bangor Baptist College. Before coming to Adulam, he ministered at Bethlehem Chapel, Ogmore Vale, Bridgend, now a Grade II listed building. He came to Adulam after the death of Rev, Evan Robert Evans in November 1915, during which period of eleven months or so (before he was invited to come) Adulam had no regular minister.

Family Background & Early Life

Thank you to David of Pillars of Faith for sending us this information from the 1967 Baptist Handbook, which featured the obituary of Rev Lewis Goronwy Lewis. The information below is taken from that obituary:-

Lewis Goronwy Lewis was born in 12th November 1885 at Gorsgoch, Cardiganshire, but it was at Zion in the neighbouring village of Cwrtnewydd to which his parents had moved in 1898 that he was baptised. His father, William Lewis, was a loyal Baptist and his mother came of a long line of Unitarians. On leaving school, L.G. Lewis found employment on the railway at Ammanford, and in 1904 his parents with the other members of the family followed him to that town which was then expanding rapidly. They joined the church at Ebenezer, Ammanford, and it was here that L.G. first exercised his gifts and heard the call to the ministry.

It is worthy of note that the Lewis family gave the denomination not only a respected minister but a gifted layman also in the person of J.D. Lewis, a schoolmaster in the Rhondda Valley, who was as well known throughout Wales as his brother L.G., and who became President of the Union in 1951-52.

L.G. Lewis was trained at Bangor College and in 1912 was ordained at Bethlehem, Ogmore Vale. The following year he married Maud, the daughter of David and Sarah Evans of Farmer's House, Llanedi. Mrs Lewis was an ideal helpmeet and their home became renowned for its hospitality.

Arrival & Early Ministry

From the Labour Voice newspaper, 7th October 1916:-

The congregation at Adulam Baptist Church have given a unanimous call to the Rev Lewis Goronwy Lewis of Bethlehem Ogmore Vale. The Reverend gentleman, who is about 30 years of age, is a native of Cardiganshire.
Adulam Church has been without a pastor for the last 12 months, since the death of the Rev E R Evans, who had been the minister for 27 years.

From the Labour Voice newspaper, 18th October 1916:-

The Rev G Lewis, pastor elect to Adulam Chapel, who now resides at Ogmore Vale, will preach at the church on Sunday next.
He will commence his pastoral duties in January.

From the Labour Voice newspaper, 10th May 1919:-


In view of the agitation in South Wales for a better paid ministry, it is interesting to note that all the Pontardawe churches have given a lead to the rest of the Valley in this respect. On Sunday last, the members of Adulam, who by the way have always shown a practical appreciation of the conscientious labour of the pastor the Rev L G Lewis, decided that in addition to the house they have recently given him as their pastor, his salary in future should be a minimum of £18 per month, with 8 free Sundays in the year.

From the Labour Voice newspaper, 24th May 1919:-

The Rev L G Lewis, pastor of Adulam, has been approached by the deaconate of an important Baptist Church in the Swansea district, to consider an invitation to become their pastor. Mr Lewis has, however, decided to remain at Pontardawe and this intimation has caused gratification in the district.

From the Labour Voice newspaper, 20th September 1919 came the news of the death of Rev L G Lewis's mother-in-law, the mother of his wife:-

It is with regret that we note the death of Mrs Sarah Evans, widow of the late Mr David Evans of Western Road and mother of Mrs L G Lewis, Adulam. Deceased had lived with the Rev and Mrs L G Lewis at Avallon but a little while prior to her death had gone to Llwynon Tycroes, where she passed away.
The funeral takes place today, Friday, at 3.00 for Sardis Llanedy.

Concerts and Performances

From the Labour Voice newspaper, 30th November 1918:-

The new Welsh drama from the pen of the Rev L G Lewis, pastor of Adulam, was performed at the Public Hall on Saturday last, and proved the success that had been anticipated. The building was crowded with an appreciable audience, and the company's efforts called forth repeated applause. The play and the acting reflected great credit on the author and the party and leader. By special request the company has been asked to give a repeat performance on 11th January.

From the Labour Voice newspaper, 1st March 1919:-


Keen anticipation is felt among local lovers of the drama in view of the visit of the Adulam Dramatic Society to the cinema on Wednesday next 5th March and on the following Tuesday 11th March, with their popular drama, "Arwr Gwaith y Llwyni" (Rev L G Lewis).
This drama has had several crowded houses at Pontardawe and Clydach. On their posters the company exhort every trade unionist to make an effort to see this drama; we would also add that every churchgoer should also endeavour to see it. The play is under the direction of Mr Lemuel John.

From the Labour Voice newspaper, 8th March 1919:-


Up to the present a Welsh drama, in Welsh, giving a faithful representation of Welsh industrial life and aspirations is a rarity. "Arwr Gwaith y Llwyni." which was staged by the Adulam Baptist Chapel Dramatic Society, Pontardawe, at the Cinema, Ystradgynlais, on Wednesday evening is all of this. The Rev Lewis Goronwy Lewis, pastor of Adulam and author of the drama, is obviously one who has had close association and intimate knowledge and sympathy with Welsh life as it really is. On Wednesday, during an interval, he said that the dramas of the past that attempted to portray Welsh life, gave too much prominence to public house scenes of the most depraved kind, thereby creating the impression in the minds of the uninitiated that Wales is a land of semi-intoxicated ruffians. "Arwr Gwaith y Llwyni," however, reflects credit upon the author for its high moral tone and sympathetic reflection of Welsh manners. The plot was based upon the oppression suffered by the workers at the colliery known as Gwaith y Llwyni. It reflected that "Prussianism" which not only belongs to Germany, but is more or less a part of every nation. The final emancipations came without resort to strikes and extreme measures, but by a better understanding between employers and employed, in which it was conceded that the latter had a right to live.
The drama, which brings great truths to many who will never be appealed to from the pulpit, should be seen by all thinking men and women of all religious and political thought, and is one that is of special interest to trade unionists.
The first act presented a period before the war the second and third acts the period of the War, and the fourth after the war. The acting was well above the average, and showed that the director, Mr Lemuel John, had paid minute attention to the stage deportment, setting, enunciation, and the cultivation of a natural representation of character that was free from forced acting. The actors and actresses too, did not converse as if there was no audience-a common fault with dramatic societies - but spoke in a manner that could be closely followed by the listeners. The absence of tedious waiting between the scenes showed that Messrs W H Phillips and W Thomas (stage managers) had paid keen attention to their work.
Robin Huws, the hard-working grand old type of Welsh collier, was treated with telling effect by Mr D L Jones, whilst Malen, his wife, a devout Christian and, loving wife and mother, was excellently done by Miss M A Phillips. Willie, the son, was well represented by Master D James, and later as the hero Mr G Thomas. The difficult role of Mr Jones y Siop, who became the owner of Gwaith y Llwyni, was impersonated by Mr Lemuel John, who interpreted his part with dignity, and Mrs Jones, his wife, was treated with ample justice by Miss M H Mainwaring. Mr L W Davies faithfully acted the part of Oswald Jones, the villainous son; Miss Gwladys Jones, the heroine, was gracefully treated by Misses E Thomas and G Thomas. Betsan, the old Welsh dame, left nothing to be desired from the manner in which the role was interpreted by Mrs E J Davies. Dai Cati, the village fool, who was wiser than many, was acted in an excellent manner by Mr T A Griffiths, this being one of the most difficult characters in the piece.
Others who were not so prominent but worked well in concert were Mr W H Phillips as Tom Compen; Mr Wm Walker and Mr Erasmus Morgan as Llew Llwyni; Mr P Thomas as Mr Rees, the checkweigher and later as Dai Cardi; Mr W J Williams (Horace y Colier), Mr D H Griffiths (Dai Cynffonwr), Mr P Humphreys (Alec y Gypsy), Mr R E Davies (Lewis Jenkins, manager); Mr Richard Williams an old worker, was taken by Mr T G Thomas, who also performed the part of the doctor. Mr W Thomas and Miss M H Mainwaring again appeared in the caste.
During the brief intervals Mrs Humphreys played selections from Welsh and classical music. Mr Levi Wm. Davies is secretary to the company, and Mr D J Bowen treasurer.
The high standard of the work, the grace of the actors, and the masterly manner in which the plot is prepared and treated, makes it worthy of the support of every Christian Welshman and trade unionist; and an opportunity for again seeing one of the best Welsh dramas yet written is afforded on Tuesday evening next, when a repeat performance will take place at the Cinema.

From the Labour Voice newspaper, 15th March 1919:-


The Rev L Goronwy Lewis, Pastor of Adulam Baptist Chapel, who has scored such a phenomenal success in his drama, "Arwr Gwaith y Llwyni" has now written a new drama, "A Gollwyd a Gafwyd", This drama deals with the old customs of Wales and is likely to prove very popular.
Preparations are being made for its performance.

From the Labour Voice newspaper, 20th December 1919:-


On Thursday and Saturday nights last week the Public Hall was packed to its utmost capacity on the occasion of the production by the Adulam Dramatic Society, of the Rev L G Lewis' comedy, "A Gollwyd a Gafwyd." Mr Lewis, it will be remembered, was the writer of the drama "Arwr Gwaith y Llwyni," which had so successful a run throughout the Swansea Valley last winter, and this comedy was written by him to clear the debt remaining on Adulam Chapel, of which he is the pastor. Produced under the very able direction of Mr Lemuel John, "A Gollwyd a Gafwyd," which is in four acts, is original in its entirety.
The story deals with the period of Waterloo, and is based on facts which the author spent much time and trouble in obtaining. At the time referred to the "press gang" was the method adopted for obtaining soldiers, and as the story goes, owing to the evil machinations of the villain of the piece, the hero is conscripted shortly after his marriage to a girl which the former gentleman loves. Prior to leaving for service, Tomos, to give the hero's name, plays on his violin and sings "Y fi sy'n fachgen ieuanc ffol."
The intentions of the villain are obvious, and on the eve of his marriage to the lonely girl, who is told by another soldier that her husband is dead, there is much merry-making and indulgence in customs now long forgotten. Disguised, Tomos makes his appearance amongst the happy party, carrying a violin. He is hailed as a contributor to the merriment and plays. His own violin is brought out, and he is asked to sing and play, and the awe-stricken company, including two who had tried to baulk his arrival, hear the same tune as he played when leaving. Of course, the wife is present, and there is the usual dramatic and happy re-union.
The piece was produced in a manner that speaks well for the future efforts of the company which was made up of the following: - Mr Lemuel John, Miss K Humphreys, Mr L W Davies, Mr D L Jones, Mrs E J Davies, Mr D W John, Miss M A Phillips, Miss Mary Phillips, Mr T G Thomas, Miss B James, Mr David Lewis Jones, Mr David James, Mr Llewelyn J Davies, Mr G Thomas, Mr T Gomer Thomas, Mr P Thomas, Mr W J Williams, Mr Phil Humphreys, Mr Gersom Thomas, Miss Ethel Thomas, Miss Bessie James and Mr W J Williams.
A very notable feature of the performances, and one that drew much applause from the audience was the work of the scenic artist, Mr T H John. It is sufficient to state in this connection that Mr John has been advised to enter the academy. There is not a shadow of doubt that much of the success of the comedy is due to Mr Lewis John who worked so assiduously in preparing the company for the occasion, whilst as stage manager Mr D H Phillips showed exceptional ability. Messrs J D Thomas and Levi W Davies successfully surmounted the great amount of secretarial matter involved, and have earned the praise of all. Mr D J Bowen introduced the author and Mr John to the audience, and both had a splendid reception. On both evenings Mrs Phillip Humphreys officiated as accompanist.

Adulam Young People's Guild (Y.P.G.)

The Reverend Lewis Goronwy Lewis' wife, born Maud Evans, but only referred to in newspapers in the style typical of the time as "Mrs L.G. Lewis" was president of Adulam's Young People's Guild, and of the Adulam Girls' Guild. Given the immense contribution to her husband's ministry that she made, we have created a page for her at Mrs L.G. Lewis of Adulam, Pontardawe.

From the Labour Voice newspaper, January 12th 1924:-


The re-opening of the Young People's Guild at Adulam, after the Christmas holidays, was excellently attended on Tuesday evening. During the evening, Mrs L.G. Lewis, president of the Guild, made a short but very appropriate address, choosing for her subject "Resolutions" - especially New Year's resolutions. Afterwards some of the younger children entertained the company with a very enjoyable programme of songs and recitations.

Later Life & Death

The Obituary for Rev Lewis Goronwy Lewis in the 1967 Baptist Handbook contains the following information on his life after leaving Pontardawe:-

In 1917 he moved to Pontardawe; in 1930 to Newport, Pembrokeshire; and in 1936 to Bethel, Holyhead, where he laboured with conspicuous success, combining with his pastoral duties service as Officiating Chaplain to the Royal Air Force. On retirement in 1951 he returned to Newport.

The remaining years were not spent in inactivity. The Pembrokeshire Association appointed him Superintendent of the Sustenation Fund and honoured him with its presidency, a distinction also conferred on him by the Anglesey Association.

Following the death of Mrs Lewis in 1961 his health deteriorated and he returned to the old home at Ammanford where a niece gave him affectionate care. He passed over to the other side on 15th January, 1966.

The Voice newspaper, Thursday 27th January 1966 contained an article on the death of the Rev Lewis Goronwy Lewis:-


News of the death of the Rev Lewis Goronwy Lewis at Ammanford was received with regret at Pontardawe for he had ministered at Adulam Baptist Chapel from 1917-1928. During his ministry there he formed the Adulam Dramatic Society and wrote a play which the society performed in the Swansea and Amman Valleys. Mr Lewis was 80 years of age. Nine days before his death he officiated at the funeral of Adulam's oldest member, Mrs Hannah Jones of Rhos.
Mr Lewis was a native of Cwrtnewydd Cardiganshire and began his ministry at Ogmore Vale, from where he came to Adulam. His next move was to Newport Pembrokeshire and from there in 1936 to Bethel Holyhead, from where he retired in 1951 after which he returned to reside at Newport. He was Mayor of Newport from 1954-1956.
The funeral took place at Bethlehem Trefdraeth.

Lewis Goronwy Lewis ministered at the following chapels in his career:-

Bethlehem, Tynewydd, Ogmore Vale 1912 - 1917
Adulam, Pontardawe 1917 - 1930
Bethlehem, Newport, Pembs 1930 - 1936
Bethel, Holyhead 1936 - 1951

The 1957 Baptist Handbook shows him retired at Bro Goronwy, Long-Street, Newport, Pembs.

His obituary in the 1967 Baptist Handbook remarks that after the death of his wife, he returned to live in Ammanford in 1961, being cared for by his niece.



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