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Historical Notes






The building of St Margaret’s Church in Aberaman, St. Luke’s in Cwmdare, St. John The Evangelist, St. Joseph’s, St. James’, and St. Peter’s.


Friday June 8th: the new Bishop of Llandaff, Richard Lewis, inducted the new Vicar of Aberdare, The Rev. Richard Bowen Jenkins. On this same evening, the new Bishop and the new Vicar dedicated the new stone Chancel at Cwmaman Church.
June 17th. The Rev. R.B. Jenkins opened the new Anglican Mission Room at Bwllfa Road Cwmdare. Jenkins remained at Aberdare until 1893 during which time new churches were added to the Anglican strength in the Parish. During his first year, he attended to the re-roofing of St. Elvan’s, the cost of which together with repairs to the Steeple amounted to £1,100.
The most noteworthy event of 1883 was undoubtedly the opening of the new church at Aberaman. The origin of this project dated back almost 40 years to when Crawshay Bailey was Iron Master at Aberaman and Edward Copleston was Bishop of Llandaff.

COPLESTON Bishop of Llandaff, 1828-49, was one of the greatest Anglican Scholars of his time. Further, he donated his entire income from the Diocese some £900 a year to charity. He was also Dean of St. Paul’s at the same time. His visits to the Diocese were very infrequent, indeed the church and Palace at Llandaff were then in ruins. The floor and chancel were covered in grass and remained so until they were restored by his successor Bishop Oliphant (Olivant?). In the course of one of those visits, he had occasion to condemn the moral and ethical standards of some of the Ironmasters. This incensed Crawshay Bailey to such an extent that he withdrew a previously made promise to build a new church at Aberaman at his own expense. Thus, the project had to wait nearly 40 years for a new Patron in the person of Sir George Elliot. Anglican Services had for some time been held in Aberaman in a street known as Concrete Houses - Tai Siment - now Northview Terrace and subsequently at the British Schools. Elliot now had the church built to his specifications to a design by E. Lingren Barker with stained glass windows by Messrs Meyer of Manion. The contractors were Charles Sheppard of Cardiff; and the cost amounted to nearly £2,000. Elliot provided everything but the organ and the parishioners raised £148..10s..6d towards the cost of this. There was accommodation for 422 worshippers. The church was a gift in memory of Elliot’s late wife Margaret and it was dedicated to St. Margaret on 30th September of this year 1883.


A new church was built in Windsor Street, Trecynon, where Anglican Services were to be held in English. It was consecrated on November 5th and dedicated to St. Winifred. English services were held there and Welsh Services at St. Fagan’s until 1909 when bi-lingual services were established at the latter and St. Winifred’s ceased to function as a church and became a Church School.

In the meantime, the Rev. Charles Jones, Vicar of Trecynon, had organized the building of a new church at Cwmdare.


3rd November the foundation stone was laid by Lady Aberdare and in


on the 28th of June, the church was dedicated to St. Luke by the Bishop of Llandaff.


Aberaman became an independent Parish. The first incumbent was the Rev. R. Williams who after a short time was followed by the Rev. Martin Luther Jones who immediately set about providing Cwmaman with a more worthy church than the existing iron structure.


The new stone Church at Cwmaman was dedicated to St. Joseph. This church received an endowment of £90 from Keble College Oxford.
Some relevant facts about the new church are as follows: —

Dimensions 48 feet by 25 feet with 48 foot bell tower
Accommodation for 350. The nave alone cost £1,000
Contractors were John Haines of Canton and the architect E.M. Bruce Vaughan of Cardiff.


The districts of Cwmdare and Llwydcoed were officially annexed to the Parish of St. Fagan.


The Rev. Bowen Jenkins built St. Matthew's Church at Abernant.


Bowen Jenkins built the church of St. John the Evangelist in Robertstown, (cost £610).

In accounting for the spate of church building between 1890 and 1893, credit must be given to the energy and foresight of the church leaders. But there was a further reason. Until now the main source of industrial immigrant labour had been from the strongholds of Welsh Nonconformity, but an analysis of the census returns for 1881, 1891 and 1901 reveals that the preponderance of Welsh non-conformist immigrants had ceased. During the last quarter of the 19th century only about 40% of the immigrants had come from West Wales. The vast majority had come from Somerset, Devon, Cornwall and Gloucestershire and were therefore English speaking and mainly Anglican.


The Rev Evan Bevan was inducted Vicar of St. Fagan’s in succession to Charles Jones. The new Vicar had previously been domestic chaplain to Lady Llanover and to him belongs the credit of building the St. Fagan’s Institute in 1894 and, in 1895, the new Church at Llwydcoed. Land for the new church was given by James Lewis of Plasdraw and on December 2nd of 1895, the church was dedicated to St. James. Meanwhile the Church School at St Fagan’s was flourishing. On the books were 134 boys, 109 girls and 124 infants.


The Rev Bowen Jenkins was compelled to resign his living because of bad health. He was followed by the Rev Charles Alfred Howell Green who had previously been Curate in the Parish (1888-1893).

C.A.H. Green was the eldest son of the Rev A.J. Green the Rector of Halkyn. He was educated at Charterhouse and Keble where he obtained a 2nd in Classical Moderations and a 2nd in Literae Humaniores in 1887. While at Oxford, he was successively Librarian and then President of the Union. He became the first Bishop of the newly created Diocese of Monmouth in 1921 and was translated to Bangor in 1928, and became Archbishop of Wales in 1934. He resigned in 1944 and died later in the same year. In 1899, he married one of the six daughters of Sir W.T. Lewis. There is no adequate biography of this distinguished clergyman and neither does his name occur in the Dictionary of National Biography. In 1956, the de Winton family offered a prize of £40 on the occasion of the National Eisteddfod at Aberdare for an essay on the Life of C.A.H. Green. The adjudicators decided that no essay came up to the required standard but awarded a consolation prize of £20. So one competitor - regretfully this essay is not available.

Before Bowen Jenkins resigned, he had started a project to build a Church Hall in Aberdare.


The Bowen Jenkins Memorial Hall and Church Clubs were built at a cost of £750 and in July, the 1895 Hall was opened by the Rev David Evans of Llanmaes, Cowbridge.


There was further restoration of St. Mair’s Church.


The Rev Evan Bevan died after a brief illness and he was succeeded by the Rev. Richard Jones. Then, further extensive building projects were set afoot in Aberdare and Trecynon. Trecynon Parish Church was restored at a cost of £1,200 and a tower was built in place of the old Belfry. In Aberdare, Green enlarged the Vicarage and St Elvan’s itself at a cost of £7,000. There were developments too at the lower end of the valley at Aberaman.


Bishop Lewis gave permission for Anglican Services to be held at the Cap Coch Inn at Abercwmboi. The first service was held on May 22nd 1906 when there were 17 communicants at Holy Communion. Soon afterwards, a galvanized iron church was built near the main road. Bricks for the foundation were obtained from the demolished school at Cwmdare.


The Church at Cwmaman was declared a Conventional Parish Church under the Curate in Charge the Rev Thomas.

The First World War terminated the building of outstanding building projects. In Trecynon, the old church of St. Winifred’s was used for nursery classes and continued so to be used during the period 1916–1935.


Vicar Green left during this year and he was succeeded by the Rev John Abraham Lewis, during whose incumbency The Mardy property was purchased and the National School was restored at a cost of £1,000 in 1929.


The Mardy House Central School was built at a cost of £6,500. In the meantime, there were several changes in other parishes in Aberdare.


The Rev Edward William Hughes was appointed Vicar of St. Fagan’s and he remained there for 25 years (the longest incumbency for an Anglican priest in Aberdare since the 18th century). He was very High Church and the introduction by him of vestments etc led to certain modifications in the Church Services.


There were extensive alterations to the Trecynon Church Schools. St. Winifred’s was now being used as a nursery and as an infants school. The cost came to £2,500. Hughes continued his active ministry throughout the Second World War until his death in 1947.


He was followed by the Rev John Elwern Thomas who was inducted on Advent Sunday in 1947.
Further renovations at St. Fagan’s cost £4,500 of which £3,000 had been found by 1951.


Departure of the Rev J.E. Thomas who was succeeded as Vicar by the Rev J.R. Lloyd Richards.

Reverting now to the lower end of the valley, the year 1923 saw an important change in the ecclesiastical organization here. The Church of St. Mary Magdalene, Cwmbach, had been a district church of the Parish of Aberdare since 1882 but in


it became a separate Parish and the Rev A.D. Collier was inducted the first Vicar. It retained its parochial status until 1945 under various incumbents viz, A.D. Collier, Thomas Lloyd, W.Dodd.


In this year, it was restored to the Parish of Aberdare with a Curate-in-Charge.


Regained its Parochial Status. The new incumbent was Rev Peter G. Lewis.


In Abercwmboi, the old galvanized church had served the Anglican community through the early years of the present century and the First World War. During the latter period, services had been conducted to 1918 by J.J. Symons curate of Aberdare but in 1918, during the curacy of the Rev John Jones, the Powell Duffryn Company presented the Parish with a site in Cromer Street and also gave £500 towards the building of a new church.


The new church was opened and dedicated to St. Peter.


The church was extended.


Church was elevated in status to be a Parish Church.


Church was further extended.


It was served by the Rev D.O. Davies (1921–23 as Curate in Charge).


Vicars of Abercwmboi: Rev R.G. Rowe 1931–35, Rev J.C. Reed 1935–43.


Church reverted to being a District Church within the parish of Aberaman. It was served by the Rev D.R. Jones (1944–50), Rev J. Evans (1950–51) and the Rev H. Beech (1951–60) as priests in charge.


Church regained status of an independent Parish with the Rev H. Beech as Vicar.


Rev H. Beech succeeded by Rev. A. E. Alder.


Rev J.A. Lewis left Aberdare for St John Baptist in Cardiff and the living was presented to the Rev Richard Ward.


St. Mair’s Church underwent further renovations and these were the last major repairs.






With the departure of the Rev J.A. Lewis this year, the living was presented to the Rev Richard Ward who was immediately faced with the Renovation of St Mair and in


the work was completed. Also in this year, Archbishop Green revisited his old parish to dedicate renovations at St. Elvan’s including the re-hanging of the bells and repairs to the clock.


In June, the Church in Robertstown was re-opened after renovations and in this year too occurred the death of J.H. Trevor the organist of St. Elvan’s. He was replaced by Ben Roderick lately deceased.

The Parish Church of St. John saw a new altar rail dedicated to the memory of Dr W.T. Scale the last local descendant of the Scale family who had founded the Llwydcoed Iron Works.

The New Church Hall, at Abernant was opened on December 7th.

By this time, the boundaries of the Parish had been considerably reduced. Comparison of the numbers of communicants and confirmations at this time with the 1780s is not possible. The population of the Parish of Aberdare (Ecclesiastical) including Aberdare but not Aberaman or Trecynon was 22,565. Without Cwmbach as well, it was 16,638.

Confirmations at Aberdare in 1937 were 87, 1938 — 97, 1939 — 59, 1940 — 74.

The churches presented a variety of Ceremonial and Liturgy. Vicar Ward was a very broad Churchman, Vicar Hughes at Trecynon had High Church tendencies and at Abercwmboi, the incumbent was a strong Anglo-Catholic and liked to be known as Father.


Vicar Ward moved to Aberystwyth and the living was presented to the Rev John Wilfred Evans who was inducted on October 31st 1939. For the second time, Aberdare had a new Vicar and a New Bishop in the same year, as Bishop John Morgan was translated from Swansea and Brecon to Llandaff. Another strange coincidence was that the new Bishop had been raised to the bench at the same time as Ifor Leslie Evans was made Principal at Aberystwyth, April 4th 1934.