NOW AND THEN: New Bethel Chapel, Mynyddislwyn

THEN: The New Bethel Chapel and Monument, Mynyddislwyn

NOW: The New Bethel Chapel and Monument, Mynyddislwyn

First published in The archive

LAST week we visited New Bethel Chapel and Monument, Mynyddislwyn, and received the following replies.

Keith Richard, Pontnewynydd:

“This week’s ‘Now & Then’ photographs are of New Bethel Congregational Chapel, which is situated on the steep mountain road between Pentwynmawr and Mynyddislwyn Church.

“My first view of this delightful chapel was in the early 1940s, when my grandparents took me on a nostalgic walk to their old farmstead called Ty Llwyd, which overlooked Gelligroes Mill in the valley below.

My grandfather had to give up the tenancy of the farm in 1937 when he contracted pneumonia, which, in those days before penicillin, was usually fatal.

However he recovered to live another 40 years, before passing away in 1977. He told me that Archie Moore, he of Titanic fame, ran a long thin copper cable from the mill, over the nearby River Sirhowy and slung between trees up the mountainside to an old barn and mill.

This was his aerial which picked up the SOS message from RMS Titanic in April 1912, as reception would have been nigh impossible in the steep-sided valley around the hamlet of Gelligoes where he lived.

“I believe that the existing chapel was built in the mid-Victorian period and replaced an earlier chapel built some 100 years previously, and since then everyone knows it as ‘New Bethel’.”

Janice James, Abercarn:

“My dad was the sexton there in the 60s and I got married there in 1971.

We spent many hours there as children, running around playing, even though we shouldn’t have!”

Thomas Fox, Pentwynmawr:

“The Now and Then photographs on this date refer to the United Reformed Church, New Bethel.

“My parents moved to a cottage some three fields below New Bethel in November 1938. I started Sunday school there in 1939 along with my brother (my sister was only a few months old at the time).

“The Sunday school room (now a private residence) was formerly used as a day school board prior to pupils transferring to council schools in the area. The school room was used for various events, including Band of Hope and Christmas Day plays with practice taking place from September onwards.

From the first day that I attended New Bethel I was fascinated by a large white marble statue in the church grounds.

It transpired that it was erected in memory of a James Thomas (1817-1901).

“This man apparently married a local lady from the New Bethel area and spent his early life in mines, working from the age of six as a door boy and then became a self-made man, owned a colliery in Energlyn Caerphilly, the other collieries being in the Rhondda.

I had three further brothers die during the 1940s. All six benefited greatly from teachings at New Bethel.

My parents are buried there; my wife is buried there; I trust I will be buried there.”

● Last week’s picture courtesy of Blackwood Yesterday in Photographs, by Ewart Smith

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