Ystradgynlais & District

History and Heritage

Bethany Notes - from the Llais

The Llais newspaper had always included a round-up of happenings at local churches and chapels, even when these were not part of any particular story. Sometimes they advertised forthcoming events, and at other times who was preaching, or had preached there recently.

Those for Bethany Chapel went under the title of 'Bethany Notes' and we have collected a selection here:-


From the Labour Voice newspaper, 8th July 1922:-

The Rev T Rees, Seven Sisters, preached at Bethany Engish Baptist Chapel on Sunday last.


From the Labour Voice newspaper, Saturday November 17th 1923:-

The Rev T.J. Rees, pastor of Bethany, was engaged at Abercrave on Sunday last.


From the South Wales Voice newspaper, April 8th 1933:-

Supervising Pastor for Bethany

The members of Bethany English Baptist Chapel, Ystradgynlais, have been without a pastor for some years.
Recently the Rev J.H. Lamb, a retired pastor of Landore, accepted the position of supervisory pastor to the church. Mr Lamb will conduct the celebration of Holy Communion and occupy the pulpit on every other Sunday in the month. He will also visit the members every week.


From the South Wales Voice newspaper, 2nd December 1939:-

At the weekly meeting of Bethany Sisterhood on Thursday morning last, Mrs E. Thomas read a paper on "The Second coming of Jesus Christ" which was well appreciated by the members, and a good discussion followed in which Mrs Webberm, Mrs L. Jones, Mrs Warnes, Mrs Llewelyn and Mrs Jenkins took part.
The meeting opened with scripture reading by Mrs J.J. Webber and prayer by Mrs W. Warnes. A solo was given by Mrs Warnes and a duet by Mrs L. Jones and Mrs Jenkins. Mrs T. Jenkins, the president, accorded thanks to the speaker.


From the South Wales Voice newspaper, Saturday January 27th 1940:-


A successful children's service was held at Bethany English Baptist Church on Sunday under the direction of Mr W. Holman Hunt.
The following took part: opening Psalm 120, Peggy Lewis; recitations, Audrey Kingston, Clarice Mallows, Alma Dash, Iris Rees, Nancy Morgan, Valmai Owen; Scripture verses, boys and girls; Christmas card service, Mission boys and girls; Psalm 1, Edna Jones and Betty Ware; card verses, Sunday school girls, and the Mission boys and girls; Psalm 23, Jean Hunt; songs, the Mission choir, Dennis Hunt, Margaret's party, Iris Rees, Mission choir, Sunday school and Mission choirs; duet, Clarice Mallows and Audrey Williams.
The collection was taken by John Lewis and Clarice Mallows.

From the South Wales Voice newspaper, May 4th 1940:-


The children's service at Bethany Church on Sunday morning was conducted by Nancy Morgan, assisted by Jean Hunt, Brenda Farmer and Iris Rees, who sang solos, and Laura Lewis reciting a Psalm. Peggy Lewis was at the organ. Mr Sparkes of Tonmawr preached at the evening service, Next Sunday the pulpit will be occupied by Mr Edward Williams, of Swansea.


From the South Wales Voice 2nd January 1943:-

Bethany - Owing to the indisposition of the Rev W.S. Rowe, Mr Holman Hunt preached at the evening service at Bethany Chapel, and good wishes were extended to Mr Rowe for a speedy recovery.
On Thursday, the Sunday school children were entertained to their New Year tea. A watchnight service was held on Thursday evening.


On Sunday 24th December 1944 a carol service was held in Bethany Church, as reported in the South Wales Voice the day before:-

Bethany Notes - A children's carol service will be held at Bethany Church on Sunday evening at 6 p.m. All are invited to come and hear the children. On Christmas morninig at 8 a thanksgiving prayer will be held. All interested are invited to attend. Requests for prayers for those who are absent at Christmas will gladly be received by the pastor, Mr W.H. Hunt, Glendale, Ystradgynlais.


From the South Wales Voice 29th September 1945:-

Bethany - The Sisterhood will starts its session for the winter months next Monday at 7pm. A hearty invitation is extended to all sisters in the district, irrespective of denomination. The preacher on Sunday next will be Mr George Coombes, Skewen.



From the South Wales Voice 5th January 1946:-

Bethany Notes - A united prayer meeting will be held every Saturday evening at Bethany English Baptist Church near the Cross. To commence at 7 pm. A hearty invitation is extended to all.

A special meeting will be held at Bethany on Monday, January 7, when the speaker will be Miss Winnie Davies, Wrexham, who is shortly leaving for Belgian Congo as a missionary. This meeting commences at 7 pm and is held under the auspices of the Sisterhood. Come and bring a friend.

From the South Wales Voice 12th January 1946:-

Bethany Notes - At the annual meeting of the Sunday school the following were chosen for the year 1946: the pastor as superintendent and trasurer; Mr Walter Melville as secretary; Miss Jean Hunt, Sunday school organist; teachers, Mr James Mallows, Miss Iris Rees, Miss Nancy Bunn, Mrs Margaret Owen.

The Sisterhood held a missionary service on Monday last, when the speaker was Miss Winnie Davies, of Wrexham, who is shortly leaving for the Belgian Congo. Miss Davies is visiting Bethany at a youth rally on Thursday next. Her return visit is welcomed by all who have heard her previous address. A welcome is given to all the young people's meetings in the district to join us on that date. Come in crowds.

From the South Wales Voice 9th February 1946:-

Bethany Notes - There will be special services at Bethany Church on Sunday and Monday next when the speakers will be the Rev and Mrs F J Legge, Penarth, both being members of the European Christian Mission. The services will be held on Sunday at 11am, 3 and 6pm. Mrs Legge will address members at the morning service and the reverend gentleman will speak at the evening service. At the afternoon servie both speakers will take place. On Monday, at the Sisterhood meeting in the afternoon, an address will be given by Mrs Legge. At the evening service, the reverend gentleman will speak on the work of the European Christian Mission. All are welcome to these services and tea will be provided for visitors during the interval on Monday.

From the South Wales Voice 16th February 1946:-

Bethany Notes - About 200 children attended the "Flanograph" (Bible pictures in colour) at Bethany Church on Tuesday evening, when Mr Petherbridge paid a return visit. Well known choruses were sung by the children, conducted by the pastor.

On Sunday next the speaker will be Mr Leslie Davies, Glanrhyd. On Thursday, February 21, there will be a youth rally at Bethany, when the special speaker will be the Rev E F Jelfs, Birmingham. An hearty invitation is extended to all young people in the district to attend this meeting, which commences at 7 pm.

From the South Wales Voice 30th March 1946:-

Bethany Notes - The speaker at Bethany on Sunday will be the Rev E Dainton, Seven Sisters. The service will commence at 7 pm and a hearty invitation is given to all.






1947 sees a flowering in the mentions of "Bethany Youth Club" in the Llais, not substituting for Bethany Notes, but filling in where the latter had no updates, and sometimes being listed alongside it. While old Bethany Church obviously refers to the structure of 1921 built of wood and corrugated iron, it is probable that Bethany Hall refers to this too, but uncertain, though entirely possible, that Bethany Schoolroom always does.

From the South Wales Voice 25th January 1947:-

Bethany Youth Club - The programme last Thursday was of popular appeal and proved grand entertainment. After a humorous forfeits quiz, members were delighed by Mr John Lewis' presentations of "Will Hay's School" and novely recitation. John is developing a keen wit, and his performance was much applauded.
The club is organised by the Rev. W H Hunt, under the auspices of Bethany Baptist Church, and membership is rapidly increasing. Its object is to provide a healthy environment for companionship and recreation, and already there is a varied selection of games for the use of members.
All young people up to the age of thirty may join, and meetings are at 6pm in Bethany Schoolroom, the Cross, Ystradgynlais, on Thursdays.

From the South Wales Voice 1st February 1947:-

Bethany Notes - At the Sunday school meeting held last week the following officers were elected for 1947: Superintendent, Mrs iris Lewis; secretary, Miss Gwyneth Harvey; treasurer, Miss Clarice Mallows. The teachers were chosen as follows: Bible class, Pastore Rev W Holman Hunt, Mr James Mallws, Miss Nancy Bunn, Mrs Iris Lewis and Mr Iowerth Jones. Organists, Mr James Mallows and Miss Jean Hunt. The preacher last Sunday was Pastor Ivan Grabham, when recently returned from New Zealand.

From the South Wales Voice 1st February 1947:-

Bethany Youth Club - A shadow show opened last week's programme, under the title of "The Operation". The unmerciful use of a local anaesthetic in the form of a mallet, and skilful surgery with a saw and a chisel, ensured the success of "The Operation". A game followed, and later in the evening the organiser, Rev W H Hunt, presented a selection of coloured lantern slides. Beautiful and interesting, these included some particularly fine slides of the Mumbles and Gower Coast. Shots of the last Ystradgynlais carnival and pageant aroused much excitement, especially when members of the club and other locals were recognised. Mr Hunt also gave some hints on composition, and contrasted the colour slides with black and white ones.
Nearly all the club members participated in the actvities which followed the lantern lecture and the evening closed all too soon.

From the South Wales Voice 22nd February 1947:-

Bethany Youth Club - Members of Bethany Youth Club has a very enjoyable time on Thursday when they all indulged in a miscellaneous programme of table games, singing, and active games. The pianists were Miss Hazel Haines and Miss Jean Hunt. At the close a short discussion on future activities took place.

Bethany Sisterhood - Special meetings will be held on Sunday next inn connection with Bethany Sisterhood. The special speaker will be Mrs B Joseph, Morriston, who will take part in the afternoon and evening services. The afternoon service will continue at 3pm and in the evening at 6pm. On Monday there will be a Sisterhood Rally which will commence at 7pm. All are welcome.

From the South Wales Voice 8th March 1947:-

Bethany Youth Club - On Thursday of last week, Mr Leslie Davies, Wind road, the well known local lay preacher gabe a very interesting talk on "Evolution". Mr Davies spoke convincingly, and answered many questions with a sincerity that was much appreciated by all.

During the latter half of the evening, Mr William Aubrey, Wind road gabe items on the accordion, and played several request tuns for community singing and games.

The club celebrated Saint David's Day with a party. A very large number of members attended, and as they were able to bring prospective members; too several new friends have joined the club. After an excellent tea, the party spirit was quickly roused by games and sketches, and in a fast firing "Yea No" competition, prizes were won by Miss Edith Owen and Mr Wynn Hopkins.

During the short concert which followed a selection of Welsh airs was played by the organiser, the Rev W H Hunt, Mr Francis Evans, now on leave from the RAF, and miss Jean Hunt. Other items were by Mrs Riby, who gave a series of humorous stories; David Jones, and Miss Margaret Davies, piano solos. The party ended with "Hen Wlad fy Nhadau" and "Auld Lang Syne". Before the close, Mrs Riby proposed a vote of thanks to Mr Hunt for the splendid tea, and also to the committee, for arranging the programme. Mr Hunt thanked the supporters for their valuable help.

The club has now started a keepfit class, on Mondays, amd a dramatics section on Tuesdays, as well as the usual Thursday evening meetings. Membership has now passed the hundred mark and the club has successfully initiated itself.

From the South Wales Voice 22nd March 1947:-

Bethany Youth Club - A great deal of merriment was the result of last Thursday's showing by the Rev W H Hunt, slub organiser, of a number of short films he had entitled "Comedy, Past and Present." Charlie Chaplin and Lloyd Hamilton vied with Popeyr for the vote of the junior members in their choice of the best comic. With a little bias, Popeye won with a narrow margin, but Mr Hunt recalled the excitement that the comic melodrama and jerky burlesque caused in the early days of films, for though crude they were certainly humorous.

Thursday also culminated a very interesting week resulting in three meeting nights, Monday, Tuesday and Thursday.

From the South Wales Voice 5th April 1947:-

Bethany Youth Club - Last Thursday, Mr Emir Borsden entertained the club with a selection of gramophone records of famous singers and music. The recordings were of Lawrence Tibbet, Lily Pons, Paul Robeson and other world famed singers, and arias from "La Boheme", "Samson and Delilah", and the "Barber of Seville". Each record was introdiced by Mr Borsden and the recital was much a[pplauded. There were several requests for a similar one in the near future.

From the South Wales Voice 19th April 1947:-

Bethany Youth Club - Last Saturday the club held its first outing, which took the form of a mystery trip, and some eighty members with several supporters journeyed through the Vales of Neath and Ogmore, passed the Abbey and Deer Park of Margam and ancient Bridgend to Southerndown, with its enchanting Dunraven Castle and Dancing Stones. From there, through Wick and Llantwit Major, St Albans and Tredogan to Barry, where the island, its funfair, Whitmore Bay and Cold Knap Point offered interest for all tastes, and explorations were soon in hand. From Barry via Sycamore Crpss with a short stay at Cpwbridge came the journey home and the endof a day full of fun and glorious sunshine.

On Monday last the club was pleased to see Mr Sydney Powell. Mr Powell, who has assisted the club a great deal, gave a demonstration of P.T., with exercise on the "mats", parallel bars, the rings, and Indian clubs, coaching girls and boys in the more elementary practices.

From the South Wales Voice 10th May 1947:-

The Bethany Youth Club - Recent activities of the club have been mainly outdoor, with evenings at Coronation Park, and on Thursday last a ramble up the valley. The ramblers, starting from the clubroom, made their way to the canal path at the mouth of the river Giedd and then along the canal wwalk to the old dock and navigation head above Caerlan. From there on to Abercrave, Mr Hunt, using colour film, recorded the evening with several photographs.

From the South Wales Voice 10th May 1947:-

Baptismal Service - A baptismal service will be held at Bethany English Baptist Church on Sunday next, May 11, at 10am. This is the first baptismal service to be conducted in the new baptistry, which was presented by the pastor, Rev W Holman Hunt, and dedicated on the occasion of the opening of the new church on September 3, 1946.

From the South Wales Voice 17th May 1947:-

Baptism - There was a good attendance at Bethany English Baptist Church last Sunday morning when they held their first baptismal service in the new church. At this very impressive service, conducted by the pastor, the following candidates were baptised: Mrs Lilian Morgan, Mrs Annie Williams, Mrs Gwyneth Riby, Mrs Annie Harvey, Mrs Margaret Owen, Mrs Rita Hunt, Miss Elizabeth Gwrn lewis, Miss June Havard, Miss Laura Lewis, Miss Clarice Mallows, Miss Gwenda Morris, Miss Jean Hunt, Miss Gwenda Riby, Miss Gwyneth Harvey and Miss Dilys Morgan.

From the South Wales Voice 21st June 1947:-

Bethany Youth Club - In recent weeks the club has held cycle runs, hikes, and walks. These have been fairly welll attended and during a picnic trip on the banks of the Tawe, the warm waether and cool river invited the first swim of the season. Last Thursday the club wealked through Coronation Park to the river Gwys. After a short stay, it was decided to return via Palleg Road and Cwmgiedd, and one of the younger members who lived in Cwmgiedd was appointed as guide, but her local knowledge and instinct served only to lead the way to a short cut that wasn't there. From the Palleg road could be seen the lonely winding valley of the river Giedd and also some of the spots which the club visited on the previous ramble up thaat river.

From the South Wales Voice 19th July 1947:-


Proposed Nursery School for Ystradgynlais

To the Editor

Sir - The letter in your last week's issue might convey a wrong impression to your readers. The sites submitted by the Ystradgynlais Nursery School Committee were considered unsuitable. They were a disused slaughter house; old Bethany Church; and empty shops in Station road and Commercial street.

I am very interested in the provision of nursery schools, but know that only the best is good enough for the future generation. These schools must be ideal in situation and structure. The Breconshire Education Committee has such a school in its long term plan. If a suitable site is obtained, there could be no objection raised, as the need for this type of school in the Ystradgynlais area is great - Yours etc

Mary Jones
4 School Road, Gurnos Cross, Swansea

From the South Wales Voice 15th November 1947 comes the opening address to the Bethany Fellowship, or Young People's Fellowship, which would appear to have been formed as a successor to Bethany Youth Club:-

Bethany Fellowship - On Thursday last at the Young People's Fellowship recently formed at Bethany Baptist Church, Mr James Mallows, president, gave his opening address. On Thursday next a visit is expected from Miss Ann Thompson, who is shortly leaving for Congo. The young people of the district are invited to join this fellowship.
On Tuesday of each week a games night is held at Old Bethany Hall, under the leadership of the pastor, the Rev W H Hunt.
The pastor wishes to make it known that central heating has now been installed at the church.


From the South Wales Voice 16th June 1951:-


Mrs Thatcher, Resolven, will be the guest speaker at the anniversary services of Bethany English Baptist Church Sisterhood, to be held on Sunday. Services will commence at 3 and 5 p.m.
On Monday, Miss Gibbons, Swansea, will address the Sisterhood Rally. All are cordially invited.


This article from The Voice 14th October 1965 is full of typos, including the header! Logically it should be headed "BETHANY" and the chapel called "Bethany English Baptist Chapel" or at least "the English Baptist Chapel". The word "services" probably ought to appear after "Harvest thanksgiving".

BETHEL (typo)
Harvest thanksgiving are being held at the English Bethany Chapel (typo), Brecon Road, on Sunday. Visiting preacher is the Rev H.P. Evans of Waunariwydd.



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