Merthyr’s Chapels: Ebenezer Chapel, Cefn Coed

The next chapel we look at in our continuing feature is Ebenezer Welsh Independent Chapel in Cefn Coed.

Ebenezer Chapel in 1983

The cause at Ebenezer started in 1836 when four members of Bethesda Chapel called Jededia Jones, Thomas Williams, Morgan Morgans and Henry Thomas started meeting in two small rooms in Cefn Isaf, Cefn Coed belonging to the ‘Hen Dafarn Bach’.

In 1837, as the congregation grew, they decided to build their own church, and a piece of land was bought from Lady Gwyn Holford, and a chapel was built at a cost of £400. The first minister was Mr Evan Williams, a teacher and part time preacher at Bethesda Chapel.

In 1838 the Chartist Rising began, and as many in the church supported the points of the Charter and Evan Williams the minister opposed them, it was agreed that it would be better for him to leave. Following this Mr William Moses took over as minister, but the arguments over the congregation’s support of the Chartist’s methods of violence to enforce social reform continued.

More disagreements occurred over Mr Richard Evans and Mr Walter Williams, members of the chapel, going to preach at Adulam Chapel in Tredegar which strongly supported the chartists. The East Glamorgan Association of Independent Churches strongly disapproved of this, but the chapel continued to allow them to preach in Tredegar with the result that Ebenezer was excluded from the Independent Union for many years, effectively cutting them off from the other Independent chapels in the area.

The disagreements culminated with the minister Mr Moses leaving the chapel with a number of the congregation and starting their own chapel at Tabor in Cefn Coed in 1842.

That same year, Richard Evans and Walter Williams were ordained as joint ministers at Ebenezer which further angered the Association, and both men were excluded from preaching at any other chapel in the area.

After the chapel had been outside the Independent Union for five years, reconciliation was made, Ebenezer joined the Independent Union and Richard Evans and Walter Williams were accepted as ordained ministers. The congregation subsequently grew and a larger chapel was built in 1861 at a cost of £700.

In 1913 a burst water main undermined the foundations of the chapel and the front and one of the side walls gave way. The front wall and most of the side wall had to be rebuilt at a cost of £500.

During the 1960’s the number of members severely declined, and they were unable to maintain the fabric of the building. The chapel closed in 1970 and services were held for a number of years in the Chapel’s schoolroom in Holford Street, until that too closed.

Ebenezer Chapel is still standing, but is in a very sorry state.

Ebenezer Chapel in 2012

Treason and Bloodshed in Merthyr

The article transcribed below appeared in The Glamorgan and Brecon Gazette and Merthyr Guardian 178 years ago today. Would you say that this is an objective and unbiased piece of journalism?

MERTHYR TYDVIL (sic) AND BRECON, Nov. 9, 1839. Treason and bloodshed have again been the order of the day. Birmingham could not satisfy the dupes of the Melbourne Government; and Newport has been added to the riotous list. It wanted only that the spark should have been applied to the train at Cyfarthfa; it wanted only one word at a meeting on Penrheolgerrig, and Merthyr also had been the scene of similar disgraceful occurrences.

The few Chartists we have, are chiefly to be found in the neighbourhood we have alluded to. They have latterly been more cautious as to their places of meeting. The wicked and traitorous individuals, who from the mere love of spouting, and the petty gratification of the cheers of an ill-educated, we might almost say a non-educated populace, inflamed their passions, and rendered them dissatisfied with their condition, are skulking lest they should be arrested by the arm of the civil power, and suffer the punishment their crimes so richly deserve. The conduct of the magistrates of the neighbourhood, during the week, has been beyond all praise. Every precaution which it was proper to take has been resorted to; and they have given their almost undivided attention to the preservation of the peace of this locality.

We beg to direct their special attention to the beer-houses in the upper part of Merthyr, and in the neighbourhood of George Town and the Cyfarthfa works. There is where they will now find all the mischief concocted. It is matter of notoriety that these houses are kept open till one, two, and three o’clock in the morning. Surely this fact alone proves the necessity of having an effective police force; and, with all due deference to certain lovers of darkness, well- lighted streets also. But even more important than these would be the establishment of regimental barracks within four or five miles of Merthyr.

The idea is horrible, that the respectable tradesmen of a large town should be exposed, as they now are, to the brute force of a mob, led on by one or two traitors, who ought long since to have been made examples of at the bar of their county and that it might be several hours before a sufficient military force could be obtained. If the inhabitants are true to themselves, they will not rest till they have remedied this state of things.

A military depot between this place and Newbridge, would by its presence do more than thousands of special constables, towards keeping the misguided rabble within bounds. To this should be added a prison within the precincts of the town. At present if a prisoner has to be remanded, he is sent off to a public-house, with very fair chances of escape or rescue, because the place called the lock-up house is too beastly to turn a pig into.

We shall not lose sight of this subject; and in the mean time we would remind the inhabitants of Merthyr that a meeting of the parishioners is called for Tuesday next, to consider some propositions respecting a police or constabulary force and we trust that every tradesman will be present, determined to support any reasonable proposition remembering that a moderate expenditure now may be true economy in the end.

If anyone has anything they would like to contribute to the blog about the Chartists in Merthyr, please get in touch.