Friday, March 16, 2007

John Pugh XVI: Great Blessing in Cardiff

In Cardiff the Forward Movement continued to be blessed. The work in Canton moved into a permanent home, the Davies Memorial Hall, seating 1,250 people, with attached schoolrooms, sited on Cowbridge Road East (this building was demolished in 1994, and I have not been able to locate a photograph).

The evangelists moved their tent to the Saltmead area of Cardiff, clearing the site themselves. A hard area, notorious for prostitution, was gradually transformed by the work of the movement, until an article in 1948 referred to the area as 'one of the most respectable working class areas in Cardiff.'

The coming of the Taff Vale railway to Cardiff saw the expansion of the Cathays area of Cardiff. The rapid growth of the area left the churches unprepared. Pugh had had his eye on the area, and organised meetings there, while he negotiated for a site. The work began in 1898, with a rented room over a stable in Dalcross street, seating several hundred.A second room, located in Fitzroy street, was a former drinking club.

The cost of a permanent site, on Monthremer Road, just off Crwys Road, was great, but the site, located at the heart of Cathays, was worth it. As work began on a massive hall, observers noted a well-dressed gentleman watching everything with keen interest. The question of his identity was only settled when a letter from Mr. Charles Pierce, JP, of Bangor, asking if he could do anything to help.

The hall (pictured) was opened in May 1900, with one of the stones dedicated to the memory of the deceased Edward Davies. Ceaseless growth in the Sunday School necessitated the building of a school hall (on the left of the picture), named after Charles Pierce, who covered almost a third of the cost. The space between the halls was intended for a training institute for the Movement's female workers. However, this vision died with Pugh.
Divided from Cathays by Cardiff cemetery is the Heath district, and it was here that Pugh concentrated his efforts following his return from America in 1900. A hall was erected following an open-air campaign. A church was formally constitued in January 1901, and the months that followed saw the church grow steadily.

Of all the former Forward Movement Halls, Heath has seen not only sustained growth over the years, but seasons of mighty blessing, most recently under the ministry of William Vernon Higham. Currently pastored by the Rev. Wyn Hughes, the Church is undergoing a period during which the heavens seem to be as brass, although there are still occasional touches of the Spirit.

The last of the halls in the Cathays area, situated on the junction of Harriet Street and Rhymney Street. Located close to the railway, it was run as a branch of Crwys Hall, with a lady evangelist in chage. Known as the King's Way Hall, this hall continued to minister to the poor and downtrodden, until its closure in 1998. It has since been acquired by the Welsh Evangelical Church.
And the blessing was also spreading to the West, along the coast of Wales.



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