Merthyr’s Chapels: Shiloh Chapel

The next chapel we are going to look at is Shiloh Welsh Wesleyan Chapel – one of Merthyr’s grandest chapels, but now probably better known as the Miners’ Hall.

In 1807 Rev Edward Jones came to the English Wesleyan Chapel in Pontmorlais to work alongside Rev J T Evans and to serve the needs of the Welsh speaking congregation there. That same year a group of worshippers left the English chapel to start a Welsh cause, and by 1811 they had built a small chapel in John Street.

By the 1850’s the Great Western Railway Company asked to purchase the land on which the chapel was built for their new railway station, and an agreement was made to provide a new chapel for the Welsh Wesleyans in Church Street. This new building was reputed to have been designed by Isambard Kingdom Brunel, though no documentation has been found to substantiate this, and it was opened in 1853.

Shiloh Chapel

In 1859 a religious revival took place in Wales, and in Merthyr the revival began at Shiloh Chapel under the guidance of Rev Watkinson, the minister there at the time, “where with great demonstrations and emotional excitement the converts were overcome by strong preaching and hymn singing”.

One of the most prominent ministers to officiate at Shiloh was Rev Thomas Aubrey (1808-1867). Born in Cefn Coed, Thomas Aubrey became a Wesleyan Methodist minister in 1826, and between then and 1865 travelled Wales as a minister at various chapels including Shiloh between 1846-1849. Rev Aubrey went on to be one of the most important preachers in Welsh Wesleyan history.

Rev Thomas Aubrey

Unfortunately, the new chapel proved too large and too expensive to run, so it was reluctantly decided to close it in 1912 and the Welsh and English Wesleyans amalgamated at Wesley Chapel. Shortly after this, plans were formulated to build a grand Central Wesleyan Mission Hall on the site of the old Drill Hall, but the plan never came to fruition due to the advent of the First World War.

The building was sold to the Miners’ Welfare Committee, and it was opened as the Miners’ Hall in 1921. It later became a nightclub and was destroyed by fire in 1992. The shell of the building now lies derelict.

The remains of Shiloh Chapel