Ystradgynlais & District

History and Heritage

Ainon Chapel, Ystradgynlais

Ainon Chapel was first constructed in 1848, and was rebuilt in 1888. It is located on Heol Giedd, the other side of the river from what is now the main town of Ystradgynlais, but what in the past used to be more the heart of the old town. To get to the chapel from town, go down Commercial Street from the Cross, pass over the bridge across the Tawe towards the Ynyscedwyn Arms, but bear immediate right by the pet shop. You will pass Sardis Chapel and the Penybont Inn on your left, and after a short run of houses, Ainon Chapel is also located on your left, next to an unnamed road that serves only the rears of houses, and opposite the way up to Teddy-Bear Bridge.

Ainon is a Welsh Baptist Chapel and had its origins in a group of baptists who began meeting in a house in nearby Pelican Street.

Ainon Chapel members used to baptise their children in the pool below 'Pont y Doctor' near Gorsedd Park, up until 1925.

Ainon Chapel used to have a schoolhouse, called Salem, in Cwmtawe Road, Penrhos, that was erected in 1905.

Views of Ainon Chapel, Ystradgynlais

The dedication stone reads:-

Capel Y Bedyddwyr
Adeiladwyd 1848
Ail Adeiladwyd 1888

The Labour Voice newspaper from the 31st July 1915 records the presentation ceremony to a stalwart family of the chapel on the occasion of their moving to Port Talbot:-


An interesting presentation took place at Ainon Baptist Chapel on Sunday evening, when Mrs David Rankin, Mr Albert O Rankin, and the Misses Novella, Rosa, and Tugela Rankin, received tokens of respect from the church on the occasion of their leaving for Port Talbot, where Mr David Rankin already resides. A beautifully bound bible was given to each of the family, and Mr Albert Rankin also received a silver- mounted walking-stick, in appreciation of his services as organist, a position he has held for many years.

The Rev D J Davies, who made the presentation on behalf of the church, spoke of the faithfulness of the family in the church. They had always been ready to do all that lay in their power to assist in the work at Ainon. He wished them every success and happiness in their new home. Their loss would be keenly felt in Ystradgynlais.

A presentation will also be made shortly to Mr Lewis Wathan, Sunday-school superintendent, who is also going to Port Talbot.

The Labour Voice newspaper of January 5th 1924 reports on the 14th annual watch-night of the chapel's Young People's [Persons?] Society:-


The 14th annual watch-night social of the Y.P.S. was held at Ainon Chapel on Monday evening and proved a success. A very enjoyable time was spent by the large crowd present.
The Misses Bessie Williams, Lydia Morgans, Lizzie M Evans, Irene Davies, M J Davies, Mary L Evans, May Morris and Gwladys Jones acted as waitresses, while the bread and cake cutters were the Misses Anne Edwards and Mary James.
A miscellaneous programme was gone through after the tables have been cleared, to which the following contributed:-
Solos: Messrs D Rhys Roberts, E Morgan, and Joseph Edwards. Recitation by Mr D R Roberts; selection Mr B J Probert; best story, Mr Joseph Edwards. The prize for the "tallest" story was divided between Messrs D Rhys Roberts and J D James.
The Society choir also rendered "Poor Old Joe" and this was followed by a number of games. The proceedings were terminated by the singing of "Huddersfield".
The accompanist was Mr Ernest Davies, and the duties of M.C.'s were carried out by Messrs D M Roderick and Gomer Jones (the latter being the secretary).

The South Wales Voice newspaper of 17th November 1934 records the opening of the new organ at Ainon Chapel, Ystradgynlais:-


Sunday was an auspicious day in the history of Ainon Baptist Church Ystradgynlais, when the new organ, built at a cost of £275, was opened. The event was marked by a recital by Mr Edgar H Hughson, A.R.C.O., L.R.A.M., organist of Tabernacle Chapel Morriston.

The organ is a handsome one, with six steps and two manuals. It is worked by electricity and admirably suited for the church. The members have been working assiduously for some time to secure the organ and they will shortly be in a position to pay for it.

There was a very large gathering at the recital, every available seat being occupied. The Rev D Hubert Davies, pastor, presided. The artists in addition to Mr Hughson were: Mr John Fullard, Brecon, tenor and Mr Gwilym Roberts, Burry Port elocutionist, triple National winner.

The programme was as follows: Mr Hughson, Fantasia on an old Welsh hymn tune "Twrgwyn" (Morgan); minuet in G (Beethoven); minuet in G (Handel); Mr Fullard "Comfort ye my people" and "Every Valley shall be exalted" (Handel); Mr Hughson "Fanfare" (Lemens); Mr Roberts's elections from Omar Khayyam (translated): organ solo, "Andante in G" (Batiste); tenor solos "Ye people rend your hearts" and "If with all your hearts"; recitation "The Miser's Fate", organ solo "Largo" (Handel) and "Gavotte" from "Mighon" (Thomas); tenor solos "The Birds" (Vera Duck) and "Shepherds Cradle Song "(Arthur Somerville); recitation Goronwy Owen's cywydd, "Y Farn Fawr"; and organ solo "Hallelujah Chorus" (Handel).

The proceedings ended with the singing of "The Doxology",

While the stone set high quite clearly indicates that Ainon Chapel was rebuilt in 1888, the four foundation stones low down show that it must also have been rebuilt in 1899:-

Salem Schoolroom

Salem was built as a schoolroom for Ainon Chapel and constructed in 1905 at the top of Cwmtawe Road, Penrhos, at the top of the hill leading down to the Ynys. Later, the building was used as an annex to Penrhos Primary School, before becoming a workshop and garage for a local haulage business. It was demolished and replaced with a new house.

The Labour Voice newspaper, January 21st 1921 reported on the reopening of Salem, calling it a chapel:-

SALEM CHAPEL TO BE RE-OPENED Salem Chapel, Penrhos, a branch of Ainon Baptist Chapel was re-opened on Thursday. The Rev E.D. Lewis, Ystalyfera, officiated. The building was closed down some time ago for renovation purposes. The usual services will be held on Sunday next.

The South Wales Voice for 25th February 1933 reported on the damp condition of Salem:-


Mr G J Rees, sanitary inspector, reported to the Ystradgynlais Council on Thursday last that he had received complaints of the damp condition of Salem Schoolroom, Cwmtawe Road, Penrhos, and added that he would report at the next meeting.


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