Ichabod in Blaengarw
The South Wales valleys were deeply affected by the revival of 1904, as we have already seen in the chapel photographs from Maesteg. The next valley to the Lynfi valley in which Maesteg sits is the Garw valley. Blaengarw is at the top of the valley. It has a number of impressive chapels - but oh, what a state of desolation they present to the modern visitor!
The first place of worship in Blaengarw was Tabernacle Calvinistic Methodist Church. Not the chapel in the background, but the building now occupied by 'Shear Artistry' hairdressers. Built in 1885, it was later turned into a Sunday school when a larger chapel was needed.
This stone tells us that old Tabernacle was indeed the earliest place of worship in Blaengarw.
The old Tabernacle soon grew too small for the needs of the Church, and it was replaced in 1891 with this elegant chapel. It too has closed.
The language of worship at Tabernacle was Welsh, this was one of the strengths of the old Calvinistic Methodists, they spoke the language of the people. But with an influx of English-speakers, it was necessary in 1904 to build an English chapel in Blaengarw. This was Mount Zion, built in the latest style, Gothic with Art Nouveau undertones.
Mount Zion too is now shockingly derelict, its elegant staircase has collapsed, and the building is now unsafe.
The Baptists too shared in the blessings of the revival, so that in 1912 they built, also in the Gothic style with Art Nouveau undertones, Bethania Welsh Baptist Chapel was undoubtedly the grandest building in Blaengarw when it was opened. In some respects it still is!This amazing piece of Edwardian architecture, that would not look out of place in a city, is now derelict! It has been left to fall into ruin, while it is surely an important part of the Welsh architectural heritage!Even the modest Anglican Church of St James has not been left untouched. With increased mobility and decreasing congregations, it was closed in 2004, having served the village since 1890.
And finally, this is all that remains of Nebo Welsh Independent Church, Blaengarw. And of Trinity English Calvinistic Methodist there remains neither stock nor stone. Truly Ichabod can be written here, the glory has departed.
Some more (out of date) information on Garw Valley churches is here. The URC in Pontycymmerhas closed since this page was last updated, and is sadly derelict. The closed chapels have become even more derelict.