Ferndale Methodist Church

1880 to 2008

 

Part of the Mid Glamorgan Mission

 

History

History


The Wesleyan movement in Ferndale was founded in 1880. Support came mainly from the influx of population from the South West of England to work in various trades relating to the coal-mining industry and the railways.

They first met together and formed a congregation in a hall later known as the Tudor Hall. This was not ideal, as it was too large and uncomfortable and the smaller rooms attached were too small for the Sunday school. The congregation soon decided that they must try to get better premises and so the idea of building a new church was formed.

Among the numerous families who made up the congregation was the family of Lewis Davis coalmine owner. Mr. Lewis Davis died in 1888 and his family was very generous in giving the sum of £2000 in his memory towards the building of the new church.

Messrs Julian & Sons of Pontypridd, a Methodist family, were commissioned to build at a cost of £2500. The Tudor Hall was sold for £200 and the balance of £300 was paid by the members. In June 1893 the lovely gothic type church was ready for service completely free of debt. At the time the Reverend J. Langley was the minister in charge and his stipend was £32.00 per quarter.

The opening of the church was celebrated by a whole week of preaching services with eminent preachers from all over Great Britain taking part. One of these was the famous Reverend Dinsdale T. Young. The seating capacity of the church was 350 and in its early days it was full to capacity. Soon after the opening the members decided that they must have a pipe organ and in 1897 a two-manual organ was installed.

On Easter Sunday 22nd April 1897 the official dedication of the organ took place. It was a proud day for members, as this was the first two-manual organ in the Rhondda Fach. It was operated by a hand-pump until 1915 when it was electrified. It was renovated in 1934 and again completely overhauled in 1960. The cost was met by special donations from our members.

Oven the years the church has seen a very active life, both spiritually and socially. Many musical cantatas and plays were performed by our members and the children of the Sunday school. There were meetings most nights of the week - Wesley Guild, Band of Hope, Bible Class and Ladies Sewing Classes. The vestry was equipped as a gymnasium and it was used for many years by the pupils of the Ferndale Secondary School before the school at the Darren Park was built. A large gymnasium class of our own young men and their friends flourished for many years between the wars.

Special features of interest in our church are a Memorial Tablet to sixteen of our young men who gave their lives in the Great War of 1914-18, and a brass memorial plaque to Mr. Lewis Davis. We also had a bell and belfry - the only Methodist Church in South Wales to have this."

In common with most of the valley chapels, our congregation decreased over the years and the chapel buildings began to pose problems, with major repairs needed and fewer members to bear the cost.

The members of the Welsh Chapel, Capel Wesley decided that as their chapel was such a large building needing extensive repairs, it was sensible to join us in our church and in 1970 we were delighted to welcome them and the joining together was to our mutual benefit.

In 1979 the United Reformed Church in North Road made the same decision and again we welcomed their members very warmly. We quickly became one church family and have remained as one ever since.

In September 1985 the same fate befell our church. An insurance survey found that our church building had become unsafe and we were advised that it must be demolished. This news caused us great sadness, but we were kindly allowed to use the community hall at Ferndale Court to hold our services and so we were able to stay together. This enabled us to recover our spirits and resolve to build a new church on the same site.

We worked very hard and with the help of many friends in Ferndale and further afield, we saved enough money to build a modern church on the same location. In March 1990 our dear church was ready for worship. We had a grand opening on two weekends, 10th March and 17th March, to welcome all the good friends who wanted to be a part of our celebrations.

Our new church is smaller, but it suits our needs and we have become very fond of it. We are a happy band, who worship together and we carry on the Methodist traditions which were started in Ferndale over 100 years ago.

 

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