The above information was extracted from an article on
the Genuki website. The website also says about this chapel "Even though the cause in this place started comparatively recently, yet worship has been taking place in Glynneath since the earliest times of non-conformity in Wales. On the ridge of a rock above the river Cwrach, in a shady glade, within less than half a mile of Glynneath station, there is the old chapel of Blaengwrach, and here was a non-conformist cause since early times. It was considered for a while to be a branch of Chwarelaubach, Neath and was under the same ministry. But about the year 1718, Mr Henry Davies was ordained as minister in Blaengwrach, and he laboured in the place for close to thirty years. The famous Lewis Rees was in school under the care of Mr Davies in Blaengwrach, and there he was accepted as a member and started preaching, and there also he was ordained on April 13th, 1738, as we mentioned in the Llanbrynmair history. The names and numbers of members in the year 1734 are to be seen now in Mr Davies'document. They were 63 in number; 34 men and 29 women which were spread out across the Tawe valley, Ystradfellte, the Dulais valley, and Glyncorrwg, as well as the Neath valley. Mr Davies, Blaengwrach was the one who established the church in Cymer, Rhondda valley, as we shall see when we come to that church; and after the formation of that church he moved to care for them, and he was followed in Blaengwrach by Mr Thomas Lewis, a member of Penmain, who was there from1748 until 1773, when he left for Llanharan. He was followed by Mr Thomas Morgan, who was an Arminian, if not something further; and in his time the church deteriorated in it's views, until gradually it went completely Sosinian, and it is in their hands until this day. Cwmnedd was for some time caught in the gap between the deterioration of the ministry in Blaengwrach, and the raising of the cause that is now in Glynneath, without any evangelical preaching within her; and the inhabitants dedicated themselves as one to excess and pomposity and ungodly practices. There were a few religious people early on in this century, and we heard of a few of the old people of Glynneath who mentioned with respect one old woman, who was at one time a member in Blaengwrach, but when the ministry there started putting on a strange sound she joined the church at Ty'nycoed, and walked all the way there so she could hear the gospel in it's purity. About the year 1812, Mr Morgan Lewis, Ystradfellte, started preaching in his own house in Abernantyfedwen and Banwen Byrddyn, and a church was formed there, and several members from Glynneath were accepted there. In Glynneath, at that time, and before that time, several members from the churches of Godrerhos, Melincwrt, Ty'nycoed and Hermon, held prayer meetings and religious societies every week in Penystair, Tainewydd and other places, and certain preachers came to them occasionally. Mr Philip Griffiths, Alltwen, was amongst this faithful few. He was a young man, full of life and the religious heat. Mr Morgan Lewis came to preach to them every month on a Tuesday night, and in seeing the cause becoming so successful, and becoming favourable in the sight of the people of the valley, it was decided to move from Abernant-y-fedwen to Glynneath, and one Jenkin Morgan, Maesmarchog, opened his house to accept the coffin. A license was obtained on the house in case anyone caused trouble for them, Mr Morgan Lewis moved to Glynneath to live, and his regular presence in every meeting was a great help to the cause at the beginning. A great revival soon broke out and tens of people were added to the cause, many of whom were faithful to their conviction till they died. Jenkin Morgan's house was soon too small after this and many talked about having a chapel, but obtaining land was impossible at the time. About the year 1816, through the permission of the Neath Canal Company, a vast storehouse was borrowed; and even though the storehouse was a common one, yet it was a great acquisition under their circumstances.
Having been here for years, with the cause becoming more successful, the company then needed the storehouse, as their trade was growing; but the church was allowed to put a loft into the storeroom and continue with their services as the company only needed the ground floor. The offer was accepted with thanks, and they started on the work immediately. It was made into an expansive and very suitable room, with a pulpit and benches, and stair outside to reach it. The church met here for many years, and the people who enjoyed it will never forget the many sweet, joyful services that were held here. The church was blessed with a great revival, and scores of people were brought to the Lord. Many times the floor of the room was seen to bend as the children of the revival jumped and glorified the Lord. The church was one of the most noted for its religious warmth, and they paid no heed to what was offered from the pulpit unless it was healthy and warm. Having waited for years, they managed to obtain land, at last, at a lease of 999 years to build a chapel from W. Williams, Esq, Aberpergwm on one of the most beautiful and most charming glades in the area, and a beautiful chapel was built there measuring 46 feet by 32 feet, with a large churchyard which is surrounded by trees, so that the chapel and everything connected with it is pleasant to look at. It cost a thousand pounds. It was called 'Addoldy Glynnedd'(Glynneath House of Worship). It was opened in the year 1839. As he went to the new chapel the former minister, Mr Morgan Lewis, felt his strength weaken, as he was now nearing eighty years old; and about the year 1843, Mr David Williams, Tredwstan came to the area to be an assistant to him. Mr Williams laboured with a degree of approval for more than three years; but as the whole church was not on his side he gave up his post. Before the end of the summer of 1846, a call was given to Mr John Morgan Thomas, a member from Cwmllynfell, but he was for a while under instruction in Hanover, and he was ordained on October 13th and 14th, that year. On the occasion Messrs J. Bowen, Penywaun; E. Jacob, Swansea; R. Pryse, Cwmllynfell; J. Williams, Ty'nycoed; E. Watkins, Canaan; W. Williams, Hirwaun; Ll. R. Powell, Hanover; P. Griffiths, Alltwen; W. Edwards, Aberdare ; E. G. Williams, Sketty; D. Evans, Neath; E. Rowlands, Pontypool; J. Thomas, Cefncribwr; J. Davies, Mynyddbach; W. Morris, Glandwr; D. Rees, Llanelli, and J. Davies, Hanover,
The old minister, Mr M. Lewis, didn't live long after the ordination of Mr Thomas, and he died on December 21st, 1846, at the age of 85 years; but he was greatly heartened that a minister who was popular with everyone had been chosen as his successor. There was a new revival to the singing, and also to the Sunday School for the short time Mr Thomas was a minister here, and a fair few young people from the congregation were accepted as members of the church. Mr Thomas stayed here for less than three years, as he accepted a call from New York, America, and he emigrated there in July, 1849.
Before the end of that year Mr John Thomas, Bwlchnewydd, accepted a call from the church, and started his ministry here in February, 1850; his induction services were on April 17th and 18th. Mr Thomas'term at this church was a very poor one, and many families were forced to leave the church, which affected the church and the congregation; but the cause held up despite this, and during this time the outstanding debt on the chapel was paid. At the end of 1853, Mr Thomas accepted a call from Tabernacle, Liverpool, and moved there at the beginning of the following March. Having spent a year depending on occasion ministry, a call was sent out to Mr John Thomas (Ieuan Morganwg), who was ordained here on July 25th and 26th, 1855. Messrs E. Griffiths, Swansea; D. Price, Aberdare; J. Thomas, Bryn; D. Jones, Bethlehem; E. Jones, Myddfai; J. Thomas, Aberdare; D. Roberts, and J. Hughes, Dowlais; P. Griffiths, Alltwen; W. Williams, Hirwaun; D. Evans, and J. Mathews, Neath; T. Davies, Llanelli; J. Davies, Aberaman, and W. Edwards, Aberdare.* ministered at the occasion. Mr Thomas stayed here much respected and acceptable for close to three years, but since his health was not strong he gave up his ministerial care and he retired to live in Mumbles, near Swansea. After being without a minister for more than a year, a call was sent out to Mr David Williams, a student from Bala college, and he was ordained on March 1st and 2nd, 1859. On that occasion Messrs B. Thomas, Gurnos; D. Thomas, Pentre-estyll; E. Evans, Skewen; J. Cunnick, Aberdare; P. Griffiths, Alltwen; J. Mathews, Neath; J. Rees, Moriah-Aman; D. Price, Aberdare; R. Lewis, Ty'n-ycoed; W. Humphreys, Cadle; W. Williams, Hirwaun; W. Watkins, Maesteg, and S. Davies, Aberdare, ministered.+ Mr Williams was successful here. Trade in the area was good at the time, and many people came here, and were added to the people of the Lord including the children of the congregation who were also there. Mr Williams was here until 1862, when he accepted a call from the churches of Rhydybont, Capelnoni and Brynteg and he moved there. At the beginning of 1863, a call was sent to Mr Rees Morgan, Llechryd, who started his ministry here immediately, and he was here very successfully until the end of 1870, when he moved to Bethlehem, St Clears, and from that time until now (November 1871) the church has been without a minister. It is clear that this chuch has been through many changes in the last thirty years, especially considering the frequent movements of ministers, but the cause, despite everything is surviving and is growing in strength, and is in as good a condition now as it has ever been.
This church has, since its establishment, several branches where Sunday Schools, prayer meetings and social meetings are held. They meet in dwelling houses at Banwen, `Penwaenmarchog, Pontwalby, and Cwmgwrach. The branch in the last place mentioned was very strong when the iron and coal works were successful; but the expectations of the most confident in the valley and the works were dashed. The idea of building a chapel there was mentioned many times but the difficulty of finding land prevented it, but in the year 1862, Mr Williams of Hirwaun went to see N.E. Vaughan, Esq., Rheola, to ask for a piece of land, and it was given readily, at a low rate of a shilling a year. A small, convenient, chapel was built which was opened on January 18th and 19th, 1863, when Messrs D. Williams, Rhydybont; R. Morgan, Llechryd; J. Mathews, Neath; R. Lewis, Ty'nycoed; D. Thomas, Ystradfellte, and W. Williams, Hirwaun preached.*
Capel Cwmgwrach continues as a branch of Glynneath, where every means of grace is held regularly, but no church has been embodied in it yet.
The church at Glynneath has been notable among the churches of the denomination for its religious fervour. It was started in a lively time and its first old minister, who left his image deeply on it, is proverbial for its great heat and its passion. The first old generation held on tight to the old gospel teachings; and, although they could not be considered as having a wide knowledge, yet, but their palate was such that they could recognise a bad taste, and no one who saw them could forget, the look of satisfaction they had on their faces as they feasted on the fat of the gospel. Thomas, Mr Williams, Hirwaun's brother went home joyfully in the warmth of his first love. Sion Hopkin, Blaengwrach was one of the most fiery of spirit. Sion Siencyn who was a faithful deacon for a long time; and there was nobody in the church with such a mind, who really cared for the cause, and even though he wasn't one of the most fiery, yet, when his heart was touched, his thrilling 'amen'and his 'oh thanks'shook the whole place. There were many hard battles between William Morgan, Penmarc and the devil, before he conquered him. Richard Dafydd was one of the most innocent and kind of men, and even though he was completely illiterate, yet, rarely do we hear anyone more tenacious or sweet in prayer. There were, also, many excellent women, and even though we cannot mention them all, yet, the name of Margaret Williams (or Auntie Peggy, from Banwen, as she was called), deserves a respected mention. A sort of electricity came from her during services and spread to the whole congregation. She had twelve children and emigrated to America after the death of her ailing husband. Only a few of the Storehouse family are now still there, and even though their successors have lost their fire and warmth, yet, many of their children possess excellent qualities that their fathers did not possess, and they carry their practical religion forward more effectively; but if the religious heat of the old generation could be joined with the practical organizing of the present generation it would be a happy union.
The following persons were raised to preach in this church:-
•Richard Jones. He was ordained in Cymer-glyn corwg, and was then in Cwmogwr, where he comes to our notice.
•Evan Pritchard. He was ordained in Sgethrog, Breconshire: he now lives in Skewen, and even though he does not have the care of a church he usually preaches every Sunday.
•William Williams. He was ordained in Tredwstan, and he has now been in Hirwaun for thirty two years.
•William Griffiths. He was ordained in Cerig-cadarn, and has now given up the ministry.
•David Price. He was ordained in Siloa, Aberdare twenty eight years ago, and he is still there.
•Thomas E. Evans. He was educated in Brecon college. He was ordained in Rhosllanerchrugog, and moved from there to Booth-Street, Manchester, and died early.
•John E. Evans. He was educated in Bala college, and ordained in Merthyr-cynog.
•John M. Evans. He went to the Baptists, and after that to America where he still lives.
•John Rogers. He was educated in Bala college. He was ordained in Pant-teg, near Carmarthen, and he is now in Jerusalem,
MORGAN LEWIS. He was born on September 29th, 1761, in Creunant, in Cadoxton parish near Neath. .................
JOHN THOMAS. He was born in Cwmdubach, near Carmarthen, on April 13th, 1811...........................
above passage from the book " A history of the Welsh Independant
Churches" by Thomas Rees & John Thomas published in 1871 was
translated in 2008 by Eleri Rowlands.