Bethel Chapel Water Street


Bethel Heol Tre-dwr.

Bethel Water Street Margam. 1852-1952.

An outline history of the church. By Gomer M. Roberts.
With translation into English by Eirian E.Edwards.
Pyle Library ref. L392. 287. ROB.

Edited for this site by Allen Blethyn of Aberavon-Historical-Friends.
February 2008.
All added text encased in the brackets such "[ ]" was added by the above said Allen
Blethyn in order to bring the people and buildings mentioned into play.

Bethel Heol Tre-dwr.

Water Street is a small village near Margam on the one side and to Maudlam and Pyle
on the other side.It consists of a small number of cottages and farmsteads,whose
occupants in the last century were members of Capel y Pil,one of the old centres of
Methodism in Glamorgan.Towards the middle of the last century those members were
eager to locate a school house in the village where a Sunday School and occasional
service could be held.

[ The exact position of the village being described in this article was positioned in the
area of land between Pont Felin Newydd crossing the river Kenfig, and Pont Bwrlac
near Ty`n-y-cellar farm. This was a distance of only one third of a mile, and contained
Pont Felin Newydd which had ceased being used as a mill and which was then
occupied by the carpenter William Raleigh and his family.From there on the Kenfig
Burrows side of the road were four small cottages, then on the Pyle side we had the
short lane with a small chapel house at the start, before we came to the said Bethel
Chapel fifty yards up this lane.
We then had the two dwellings belonging to the small Fferm-fach farm opposite
Pwll-yr-hwyaid farm, which was there but was not named as such.
We had now reached Pont Bwrlac the site of a small cottage named Bwrlac, behond
which lay the largest farm of there abouts named Ty`n-y-cellar.
That was the total size of the said village ]

The Sunday School was opened in William Hugh`s cottage about the year 1851,and
shortly permission was received from the church at Pyle to erect a small building.

[ William Hugh`s cottage named after the William who had died aged 92 in 1816 was
occupied by his son Edward a 56 year old quarry labourer.]

It was called by the name of Bethel,because it was a house for God in the eyes of the
simple folk,and a gateway to heaven.The stones were brought together by the local
farmers under the direction of Hananiah Howell,a labourer of Cwrtbychan.

[ Hannah Howell at this time was 75 years of age and was a visitor at Cwrt Bychan
with Edward Jones who was the farmer there, and who as mentioned later was the
chapel treasurer, both were from Carmarthenshire,and I would think them to be
related. Hannah was fairly well off as she was said to have been a proprietorof houses.
For the building of the chapel enough stones woul have been available close bye in the
formof various farming ruins.
On the road outside Cwrt Bychan stood the sculptured stone named "Gareg-Fechan",
but they gave that stone a wide berth.].

Very fortunately the account books of the church go back to the beginning of the
cause,and it is very interesting to look back over them.The accounts relating to the
collection towards the building are in two volumes,one in English and the other in
Welsh.In the English volume the following title is given:
A memorandum of voluntrary contributions raised for the purpose of erecting [in
connection or as a branch of the Calvanistic Methodist Society of Pyle ] a Sunday
School Room with occasional Preaching and Prayer Meeting [ for the benefit of the
Aged and Infirm ] in Higher Kenfig in the Parish of Margam in the County of
Glamorgan. In the year 1851.

There is no space here to give the names in full,together with the sums for each one,
but the total of £38-6-4.was collected from 120 persons from the adjoining areas.the
contributions ranged from a groat [ from a` friend` from Groes ] up to two pounds.

Following is `` The Heol draw dwr Sunday School Treasurer`s Account `.
Here are the receipts for the year 1851.
£ s d
Jan 4. Collections made in the School 1 2 11.
Collections 33 13 4.
A collection made when the Chapel
was opened 6 13 8.

Sept 31. Collection received from Groes Margam 1 1 6.

Oct 1. Borrowed from John Rhoderch [Newland] 2 0 0.

[ The above John Rhoderch is a member of my family on my mothers side.
It is ineresting to note that the local people there in 1851 were still using the old
spelling of our surname of today Roderick.
John Roderick above was aged 63 years and was farming the 99 acres of Newland
Farm, on the same side of the road as Bethel chapel up towards Cwrt Buchan ].

16. Borrowed from Evan Jones Morva bach 5 0 0.
Borrowed from William Griffith 5 0 0.
Borrowed from Ed. Jones Cwrtbuchan 1 0 0.

[ To get to Morfa Bach we turn down the lane at the side of Ty`n-y-cellar farm
towards the sea. Three fields down and we would have come to the newly built
railway tunnel and entered the farm yard. This personal railway tunnel can still be
used today, even though the farm itself is ruinous.
Evan Jones farming the 56 acres there was aged 47 years. ]

In June 1851 the building was started,and here are the costs.

£ s d

June 16. For Wood. 8 5 0.

July 7. To Richard Llewellyn for 15 days. 1 10 0.
erecting stone.

[ Richard Llewellyn was a farm labourer, he shared one of the nearbye cottages with
Rees Rees an Estate gardener, I would think that the stone erecting that he did, would
have been to do with the foundation of the building, thus saving the cost of employing
a mason until later.]

Sept 4. To the mason 7 12 8.

[ What a pity that the mason`s name is not mentioned for me, as my main line of the
Roderick family were the main local Margam mason`s.]

16. For 750 Roofing stones 6 3 9.
For 17 Crests 0 8 6.

Nov 15 To John Lewis for Lime 0 11 6.
Lock,Hinges,etc. 0 7 7.

[ John Lewis was a limeburner from Pen-y-bryn not far away, across the main
Margam to Pyle road, I am suprised at him also supplying a lock and hinges.]

Dec 12 Wood Latel and Bricks 6 12 6.

Jan 13 For Slates 0 5 0.
Pulley for windows 0 1 6.

16 To Thomas Williams for Plastering 3 10 0.
Toll-booths 0 1 4.

May 9 To Evan William for whitewashing etc. 0 7 6.
For a Grate 0 8 6.

18 To Griffith David 0 3 8 1/2.
Iron for Windows 0 9 2.

19 For 4 Brass Candlesticks 0 8 0.

June 1 To David David for Lime 0 19 0.

8 To Michael Coner for Nails 1 10 11 1/2.
For bringing the Pulpit from Tynyfarm 0 5 0.

[ It would be interesting to know more about this pulpit
from Tynyfarm, probably the Tynyframe in the Duffryn
valley nearTaibach ]

10 Two days Ed Wilde 0 3 4.

12 For 91 foot of Glass 1 10 4.
For Colours [ paint ] etc. 0 9 1.
For William Raleigh for roofing
and carpentry etc. 12 0 0.

July 8 Miscellaneous 0 6 10.

Sept 27 Brass Snuffers 0 0 6.

£1-5-8. remained in the hands of the treasurer, and thereafter they paid a pound for a
Bible in October 1853,and those were the total costs.

In the same book of accounts there are details about the receipts and payments from
the year 1852 until 1878. There is no space to refer to all these,but here are some
selections from the receipts:
Feb 1st 1853. 14/3 1/2d given to Edward Jones the treasurer [ E J. Cwrtbychan ].
March 20th. Collected for the Bible Society, 7 shillings.
Feb 19th. 1854. Collected towards China Testaments, £1/3/0.
May 21st. Collected towards the Home Ministry 11/6.
Oct 22 nd. Collected towards a clock £3/10/0.
Oct 5th. 1856. Collected to help the Brothers of Laleston to hold a monthly Meeting 8
April 2nd. 1857. Collection for Mountain Ash Chapel 8/3 1/2/d.
May 23. 1858. Collection to pay the dept of Moria [ Kenfig Hill ] £6-4-1.
Dec 25. Collected towards the New Year Meeting at Pyle £2-1-0.
March 20. 1859. Collected towards Saint Bride`s Chapel, 14 shillings.
Jan 10. 1860. Gift from singing school towards the Chapel Railings, £3-6-0.
Sept.30th.1861. Collected on Thanksgiving Day, £1.
Jan.1st.1863. Collected towards the Communion [ this is the first reference to the
communion ].
Aug.30th. Sunday School collection towards aLlamb. 10/6. [ Lamp?]
Collected towards opening Capel y Pile, £8.
Sept.24th.1865. Collected towards new office of the Bible Scociety, 4/1.
Dec.25th. Collected towards reduction of the dept of Capel y Pile, £1/18/0.
June.30th.1867. revenue from the pews, £1/1/0. [ the first reference to that. ].
Oct.3rd. Collection towards Chapel repairs and to make pews, £23/3/0.
Nov.24th. Towards the reduction of the dept of Capel y Pile, £1/14/6.
April.9th. 1871. Collected towards Hirwaun Gymanfa,6 shillings.
June.24th. 1877. Received from Pile, £31-4-0.
July.11th. received from Pile £3-4-0.
Oct.1st. Remainder of collections towards painting and repairing the Chapel,£6-14-10.
Oct.17th. Collected towards famin in India, 11/5.
Feb.2nd. 1878 From Pile £1-7-6..

There is also a full account of the payments for the same period. The first preacher
who has a payment [ 2/6 ] against his name is Mr.Thos.Rowland,for
Nov.25th.1852,he came there from Pile in the afternoon,no doubt.In 1853 ministry is
started seriously,Jan.4th. Revd.Rees Havard [ 3shillings ]. Jan.4th Revd.Benjamin
Evans a gift from Pile Church.Edward Mathews visited the small Chapel for the first
time on Feb.7th.and he was paid 3/6.The payments for a service varied from 2shillings
to 4shillings,but I dont know on what principle such distinction was made.Some six
pence was also paid to the host for each meal of food.Here are some selections from
the payments column:
Dec7th.1852.Diary,6d. [from now on payment is regularly made for the announcer at
either the beginning or end of each year ]:
Aug.26th.1853. Paid to John Lewis for 3 `cranog` of lime,6/9.
Oct.17th. To Thomas William for rough casting 170yards at 4d. £2-16-0.
Nov.6th.1854. Paid for a clock, £3-10-0.
Dec.25th. to Evan William for whitewashing 3shillings.
Sept.29th.1855. Paid to William Raleigh for food for the speakers, £1-3-0.
To Edward Jones for the same thing,5/6. Joan Wilde [ the wife of Edward Wilde ] for cleaning the
Dec.20th. to Edward Wilde for whitewashing,2shillings.
to Joan Wilde and Catherine John for cleaning the Chapel [ after the
whitewashing ],2shillings.
May.28th. Paid for English books.1shilling.
Oct.5th.1856. Paid to Will Raleigh for Blancio r Chapel [ whitewashing ]£1-19-4.
March.22nd.1857. Paid to William Raleigh for repairing the Pulpit,11/4. - had the
heavy preachers of that time damaged it?
Nov.2nd.1859. Aload of coal 13 hundredweight 6/1.
Jan.10th.1860. Paid to Evan Evans for Railings for the Chapel.£6-4-1 1/

[ Evan Evans aged 40 years a blacksmith living at Brynteg a smallholding just up the
road past Newland farm.]

July.11th. Two Cups and Plate [ for the Communion ], 10/6.
Dec.23rd. Paid to Bangor College,12shillings, to Trefeca College,8shillings.
July.12th.1862. Account Book, 1/6.
Nov.17th. Paid to John Howells for the Lancashire Collection,£1-3-6.
Dec.18th 29 1/2 pound of Zinc at 41/2. William Raleigh Wood and work 12
shillings,Michael Coner nails 1/81/ Evan Williams for whitewashing for 3days
Dec.31st. Towards Penarth Chapel 9shillings.
Jan.10th.1863. a chain to hang a lamp. 1shilling. [ before this, accounts for candles are
given ].
Feb.2nd. For binding hymnbooks,3shillings.
Feb.28th. Oil and glass for lamp,11d.
Sept.30th. For a lamp, 12/3.
April.6th. 1864. Towards Penarth Chapel, 10shillings.
Dec.30th. For painting the Chapel 13shillings.
Nov.27th.1865. For slates and trough, 5/9.1/2d
Feb.11th. 1866. Towards the reduction of the dept for Rhondda Valley
Sept 29th. Cleaning the clock,5shillings.
Oct.4th.1867. Paid William Raleigh for the Pews and Chapel repairs £24-4-0.
Edward Mathews visited the small Chapel towards the end of the year 1867.There
was a collection for the Trefeca Fund,and he reported his visit to Heol Tre-dwr in Y

Heol troed-y-dwfr,a small schoolroom belonging to Pile,where I greatly hesitated
whether we would raise the issue or not,because they are only few in number,and also
part of Pyle Church,they are not an independent congregation.However,in copelling
our feelings,we had the nerve at least to place the matter before them,although there
were not many present,we received about twenty pounds there, and every cheerfulness
by the way.

We will return to the payments for the following years.
Sept.28th.1868. Cleaning the clock, 1/6d.
June.30th.1869. Cleaning the `awrais`, 5.shillings.
Nov.8th. Water shoots,2/3d.
Dec.6th. Towards the Newyear monthly meeting in Glandwr.4.shillings.
Sept.26th.1870. Matting for the Chapel,£1.
Feb.28th.1871. Books for the children,4 1/2d.
April. Towards the Hirwaun Gymanfa,6.shillings.
March.30th.1872. Cleaning the clock,3/6d.
July.31st. Wm. Raleigh for making Lobby for the Chapel,£3-2-3.
Curtains for the windows,£1-0-11.
Towards Porthcawl`s dept, 10.shillings.
Further accounts are given at the end of the page for 1873-.
Paid for ornaments for the Pulpit,18/9d, paid for by Mrs.Raleigh,Mrs.Jones Pwllyr-
hwyaid,Mrs.Thomas Tydu,and Mrs.Jones Morfa Bach.
Herewith some of the payments in the rest of the old book:
Nov.30th.1874. Testaments for the school,4.shillings.
April.7th.1875. TowardsH.Harris Chapel in Trefeca,5.shillings.
Jan.8th.1876. 6 Bibles,5.shillings. 6 Testaments, 6.shillings. 1Testament and
On the last page of the old book this note appears- Church members and Listeners in
1877, 80. We shall refer to this matter again with the reference to the old monthly
accounts book.

Up until the end of the year 1877 there is an annual reference to the rates for the
Chapel,namely 2/6d.But up to this time the church did not have a lease on the
building.The following note from Y Drysorfa,January 1879 [page 29 ]explains this.

Mr.Talbot from Margam,at last has given permission to put leases on the varios
chapels in that County which have been built on his land.The only surety concerning
ownership of these chapels prior to this was the word of a gentleman.And everyone
believed that was sufficient during his lifetime; but naturally there was uncertainly
about the future.And it should be added that these leases very
cheaply,namely for one tenth of the general value of land in the relevant places.

This is when the Church of Bethel,Heol Tre-dwr obtained a lease on the property.
namely Feb.8th.1879.
The land and property was given to the following trustees-.
Edward Jones of Pwllrhwyad Farm,farmer. Jenkin Thomas,Heoldraw`r dwr,labourer.
Evan Jones of Heol-Las,farmer. Hopkin Howells,Penmynydd,farmer. Rev.Evan
Williams of Marlas.
Rev.John Thomas Jones,Bridgend. Rev.Llewelyn Llewelyn,Briton Ferry.
Rev.Samuel Davies,Ysgywen near Neath. Rev.Thomas Howell,Langland,Margam.
and the Rev.Thomas Howell Jones of Llansamlet.