Ystradgynlais & District

History and Heritage

Libanus Chapel, Ystradgynlais

Libanus Chapel is a Calvanistic Methodist chapel and was built in 1912. It is located in Glanrhyd, just past Ystradgynlais Community Hospital, on the opposite side of the road. Although the chapel bears the date '1912', newspaper evidence shows that it was June 1913 when it opened. Libanus is still going strong as the second decade of the 21st century approaches its close.

From the Labour Voice newspaper, June 19th 1913 came news of the formal opening of Libanus Chapel:-


Libanus Chapel, Glanrhyd, was formally opened on Tuesday, when the Revs William Jones, Aberdulais, E.P. Jones, B.A., Cardiff, and Ivor Jenkins, Ystalyfera officiated. The services were conducted in both English and Welsh, and were continued on Wednesday. The new building is large enough to accommodate about 250 and sliding partitions will allow the forming of classrooms. The building was constructed by Messrs. Jones Bros. of Ystalyfera.

Origins & Anniversaries

The Labour Voice newspaper of 18th July 1914 carried the following article:-

Libanus Chapel, Glanrhyd, having been erected exactly twelve months ago the first anniversary services were held on Sunday, and the first annual tea on Monday. A preaching service was held in the morning. The afternoon service was devoted to the children, who delighted all with their charming songs and recitations.
A service of song and recital were also held in the evening, among the contributors being Messrs Walters and Beynon, and Miss Mary Evans, and Miss Lewis, the well-known Cynlais quartette, who delighted everyone with their rendering of "Vox Christi".
An excellent solo was given by Miss James of Glanrhyd, who also recited "The Prodigal Son", the latter written by Mr H A Hindle of Wind Road. Mr J A James also recited
The little ones who took part were: Doris Salt, B Williams, Alice and I Meecham, Harriet Brace, Lavina Davies, Ivy Simonds, Lizzie Perkins, Doreen Lewis, Harry Salt. An Address was also given by Mrs Illtyd James.
The children had their annual treat on Monday, the secretarial arrangements being efficiently carried out by Mr H A Hindle.

Somewhat confusingly, the anniversary services in immediately subsequent years seem to have been held in the month prior to this, or in the month after this:-

From the Llais 12th June 1915


Successful services were held at Libanus English (CM) Chapel Glanrhyd, on Sunday last, when Mr Thorton and a friend, both of Swansea, preached, Mr Thorton is a member of a Swansea firm and has trade connections in the valley. He is also a very active worker in religious fields.
The anniversary services will take place on Wednesday and Thursday next, when the Rev W Watkin Williams, of the Central Hall Swansea, will officiate. There should be a good attendance at the services.

From the Llais 2nd August 1919

The church at Libanus, Glanrhyd are holding their anniversary services on Wednesday and Thursday evenings next. The services will be conducted by Rev Richard Jones, MA Llandinam. Mr Jones is considered one of the most powerful preachers in the Principality. His ministry at the City Road Church, Chester, was a very remarkable one. Crowded congregations gathered in the church, and the Cathedral City deeply regretted his departure to Llandinam to succeed the late Rev David Jones. Mr Jones has served in France as chaplain to the Forces, and many of the wounded were cheered by his ministry. He is a "young man's" preacher, and has the gift of swaying his congregation by his deep spirituality and intensity.
This is the first visit of this eminent preacher to the valley, and the church at Glanrhyd is to be congratulated upon their choice of preacher for their special services.

From The Voice newspaper Friday 11th July 1958:-


The Sunday School Anniversary Service held at Libanus Church, Glanrhyd, Ystradgynlais on the last Sunday in June was something of a triumph for those who had trained the children.
The older pupils, trained by Rev Huw Llewelyn Jones, minister of the church, took the first part of the service.
Mr and Mrs F. Dobson arranged a tape recording of the entire service to keep the sick children and members of the church who were unable to be present in touch with church actities.
One of the pupiles, Marilyn Evans, who has been at Graig-y-Nos for some months will hear it in hospital.
Mr Jones in his presidential address spoke warmly of the co-operation he had received both from pupils and the teachers.
During the service certificates were presented to all the children who had passed the recent scripture examination of the Presbytarian Church of Wales. Two of the candidates had done particularly well. June Dobson took first prize in the section for under-13s and Neil Tyler took second prize in the under-16s section.

The first article that we have, so far, on Libanus Chapel is about the celebration of the first Christmas of the chapel, from the Labour Voice on 3rd January 1914:-


A very pretty affair was celebrated at Libanus Chapel, Glanrhyd Road, Ystradgynlais, on Boxing Day, when a "Christmas Tree" gathering took place. Disguised as Santa Claus, Mr Ingle was the favourite of 150 children who had assembled, and there was much joy when each child received a present. The children were also entertained to tea.

During The Wars

Like all the chapels we have covered, Libanus Chapel held services for those of its congregation who had joined the armed forces, either in remembrance of the dead, or to welcome them back home on leave.

From the Labour Voice 6th January 1917


An enjoyable evening was spent at Libanus Glanrhyd, when Lance Corporal Dan Kendrick, who was on a week's leave from the front, was presented with the usual gift given by the Ystradgynlais and District Reception Committee.

From the Labour Voice 8th June 1918


Mr Jack Martin, son of Mr J T Martin, engine driver, and of Mrs Martin, Hereford house, Glanrhyd, has been passed as an observer for the Royal Air Force. Before joining up, he was Assistant Scout Master to the Swansea Valley troop of scouts at Penrhos, and was formerly attached to the 1st Swansea Valley troop. He was also a member of the Ystalyfera platoon of the 3rd Glamorgan Volunteer Regiment. Cadet Martin was presented with a Bible at Libanus, Glanrhyd Sunday School, prior to his departure.
His brother Lance-Corporal T R Martin, who was also a member of the 1st Swansea Valley Troop of Boy Scouts, has been in France since January, 1917, and joined up at the outbreak of the war.

The South Wales Voice for Saturday 23rd December 1944 included an article on a carol service at Libanus:-

On Sunday next at Libanus Church, Glanrhyd, a carol service will be held at 6pm. Selected carols and solos will be rendered by the choir, under the conductorship of Madame F. Kingham. Friends are cordially invited.

Ministers of Libanus Church

Early 1919 saw the farewell services for the pastor, Rev J B Thompson. He is described as not having been pastor for very long, and as the chapel appears to have opened in July 1913, it is probable that someone else preceded him in the ministry there.

From the Labour Voice 22nd February 1919

At Libanus Chapel, Glanrhyd, on Sunday last, the Rev Thompson preached his farewell sermon. Mr Thompson has not been pastor at Libanus very long, but his kindly nature and ready sympathy have won for him the esteem of all, and he will be greatly missed. Mr Thompson sails for Canada next month, with best wishes of all his friends.

From the Labour Voice 8th March 1919


A successful social evening was held at Libanus Chapel, Glanrhyd, on Friday of last week for the purpose of bidding farewell to the pastor, Rev J B Thompson. Councillor Ben Williams presided over the meeting. A short miscellaneous programme was arranged to which the following contributed Solo, Miss Ethel Lyddon; recitation, Mr P Lewis; penillion singing, Mr J Morgan; solo, Miss Nancy Jones (Llinos Cynlais), A.R.C.M.; recitation' Miss V D Green.
In the course of the evening Mr Thompson was presented with a fountain pen by Mr J H Edwards and a cheque by Mr P Lewis on behalf of the members of the chapel. Both gentlemen made a few appropriate remarks.
Rev D W Stephens, Jerusalem; Rev D J Davies, Ainon; Mr J Saunders Davies, Mr E Pillifant, Mr Williams, Clydach and Mr J Morgan also spoke. Mr Thompson suitably responded.
Thanks are due to the ladies for the refreshments that were served and provided by them.

Concerts, Competitions & Fundraising

There have been mentions of Competitive Concerts held at Libanus Chapel and I have been trying to find out what they were. As far as I can now ascertain, in order to raise funds, the Chapel held "meetings" whereby members competed for prizes as a way of an entertaining evening but which also boosted Chapel coffers. I think I may have the write up of the first one and because of its success the Chapel then decided to run the meetings once a month.

Val Trevallion

From the Labour Voice newspaper 30th October 1915


A competitive concert took place at Libanus Chapel on Saturday evening, when the proceedings were of a very successful nature. Mr William Jones (Brecon Road), presided over a large attendance, and gave an excellent address, following the opening hymn. Messrs J Morgan and D J Jones were the adjudicators.

1st Psalm (under 12) 1st Doris Salt; 2nd T Dawes:
Solo (under 12), "I'll be a sunbeam" (a large number of competitors), Doris Salt:
Recital (under 16), "The ninety and nine," Sophia Dawes:
Solo (under 16), "Sweet hour of Prayer," Maud Salt:
Reading competition, 1 Sophia Dawes; 2 Doris Salt:
Hymn by children's choir, "Murmuring stream," Choir conducted by Mr Ivor Rees Morgan:
Best answers to six questions, given at time, 1st C Sanders; 2, P Thomas:
Impromptu speech, Master Richard Williams
The arrangements were made under the auspices of the Band of Hope committee, and Mr Ivor Rees Morgan was the conductor. Mr Phillip Lewis and Mr W Netherton were the conductors. Mr W Netherton also ably discharged the duties of secretary.
We understand that it is proposed holding competitive meetings each month in future the proceeds to be devoted to chapel funds.

From the Labour Voice newspaper 11th March 1916

An entertainment of a very interesting character was held at Libanus Chapel, Glanrhyd, on Thursday of last week, before a crowded audience. The chair was occupied by Councillor Ben Williams, of Cwmtwrch, and the proceedings commenced with a pianoforte solo by Mr Elvet Morgan. Miss Mary Evans then rendered a solo, which was followed by a duett by Messrs J Walters and T Beynon.
A choir of children tastefully dressed in white then presented the cantata "Buy your own cherries". The singing was of a high order and reflected great credit upon Mr Phillip Lewis, who so ably conducted the choir.
A series of lantern slides illustrated the story, the lantern being manipulated by Mr Llew Morgan. Miss Ruth Jones gave the readings in a clear and able manner. A trio by Miss Evans and Messrs Walters and Beynon terminated the proceedings, which were highly successful throughout.
Mr Llew Williams was the violinist and Mr Elvet Morgan accompanied on the piano.

From the Labour Voice newspaper 24th February 1917

At Libanus Glanrhyd on Thursday and Friday evening, a dramatic entertainment was given by local children. The chapel was well filled, when Mr Thomas, Cynlais School, and Mr John Griffiths, London City and Midland Bank jointly presided, and quite a treat was provided for those present, and all the children did their parts in an excellent manner. Praise is due to Miss Vera Green, the conductress, and also to Mrs Green, Mrs Lewis, Mrs Symonds and Mrs Durant, for the manner in which they worked.
A very laughable sketch was also performed, entitled, "The Prosecuted Policeman," under the supervision of Mr Dick Williams, who acted as Sergeant. The accompanist was Mrs B Davies.
The stage was well arranged and illuminated by Mr Edward Lyddon, electrical engineer, Glanrhyd.

From the Labour Voice newspaper 2nd March 1918

A concert has been arranged to take place at Libanus, Glanrhyd on Thursday, 14th March, when the cantata entitled "Under the Palms," will be performed by the chapel choir, assisted imminent artistes. The choir is well trained, and a successful event is anticipated.

From the Labour Voice newspaper 23rd March 1918

A well-attended and excellently arranged concert took place at Libanus, Glanrhyd on Thursday evening, when Councillor Benjamin Williams, Gilwen presided. The Band of Hope Choir, under the conductorship of Mr Phillip Lewis, Lonlas gave the cantata "Under the Palms," in an appreciable manner, and reflected the care that had been devoted to their training as children. The choir was assisted by a male voice party from Tabernacle, Ystradgynlais, and also by an orchestra under the direction of the Rev D T Rees, Godre'rgraig.
The artistes, Mme Mary Edwards (soprano), Miss Nancy Jones, "Llinos Cynlais" (contralto), Mr John Walters (tenor), and Mr Ivor Beynon (baritone), all assisted in giving an elevating tone to the work. Mme T Guthbert Samuel proved and efficient accompanist and she played a pianoforte duet with Mr Elvet Morgan in a capable manner.
Miss Nancy Jones also contributed a solo, whilst Mr John Walters sang "Hen Wlad fy Nhadau" at the conclusion. Miss Vera Green ably took the onerous elocution parts in the cantata.
At the conclusion the Rev J Thompson (pastor) spoke words of encouragement, and proposed a vote of thanks to the artistes and chairman. Mrs Philip Lewis and Miss Nesta Dawes also rendered valuable assistance.

From the Labour Voice newspaper 11th January 1919

On Wednesday and Thursday evening at Libanus Chapel, Glanrhyd, two performances of the operetta "A Bundle of Sticks" were given by the children of the Band of Hope, under the conductorship of Mr Phillip Lewis. The chief characters were Aunt Rachel (Miss Nesta Davies), Mabel (Miss Ethel Lyddon), Molly (Miss Ivy Symonds), Dick (Master Tom Davies), and Dot (Miss Edith Taylor).
Mr J H Edwards, whose speech at the conclusion caused much laughter, made an admirable "Santa Claus." The acting of all the children was very good, and reflected great credit upon their trainer, Mrs Saunders Davies.
The following contributed to a miscellaneous programme on Wednesday: Solos, Miss Mary Edwards, Mr Howell Powell, Master Glyn Jones, Miss Annie Powell, and Miss Nancy Jones ALCM.
The stage and "Christmas Tree" were beautifully dressed by the ladies of the chapel, who must have worked hard to produce such a pleasing effect. Miss Nancy Jones, ALCM was the accompanist.

From the Labour Voice newspaper 29th November 1919

The friends at Libanus Glanrhyd are working hard in connection with the sale of work to be held in a fortnight's time. A few weeks ago, we mentioned that it was intended to hold a jumble sale, but the ladies assure us that there is a difference between a jumble sale and a sale of work, and it is the latter, at which most bargains are to be obtained.

From the Labour Voice newspaper 13th December 1919


The sale of work and jumble sale at Libanus Chapel, Glanrhyd, was attended with much success. There was a large number of people present, and the Rev Llewellyn Evans, pastor, in apologising for the absence of Alderman Rhys J Davies, High Sheriff for Breconshire, and declaring the event open, said that Alderman Davies had sent a telegram stating that Mrs Davies was ill, and he had to be at Swansea, but he was contributing ten guineas. After a well rendered song by Miss Nancy Jones, Ystradgynlais, the sale of the large stock of material commenced.
The stallholders were: Jerusalem Church, Ystalyfera: Mrs Lloyd and Mrs Jones
Assorted: Mrs Symonds, Mrs Salt, Jim, and Mrs Harding
Drapery: Mrs. Phillip Lewis, Mrs Taylor and Mrs Townshend, assisted by several young ladies
Refreshments: Mrs J H Edwards
The arrangements for the event were in the hands of Messrs Saunders Davies, Barclay's Bank; J H Edwards and Phillip Lewis.

From the Labour Voice newspaper January 5th 1924


A very successful concert was held at Libanus Chapel, Glanrhyd, on Christmas night by the local male voice party. The music and singing were of a very high standard.
The concert was opened by a short address by the chairman, Mr B Powell. This was followed by a pianoforte sole by Miss E Bradford. The party then sang "The Storm", followed by a violin solo by Mr W Jones, who was heartily encored. Mr Jack Wathan sang a tenor solo which was received with loud applause. Mr W jones and party followed with orchestra music, which was also warmly received. A recitation by Miss Megan Davies brought tears to the eyes of many of the audience. Mr W T Davies sang "The Trumpeter" and as an encore "The Village Blacksmith".
The second part was opened by the party singing "The Song of the Jolly Boxer" which was loudly encored. A clarient solo by Mr Jim James was well received. This was followed by a duet by Messrs J Wathan and E Francis. Mr W Jones gave a further violin solo, which was followed by Miss Megan Davies with a solo, "Fy Mam". Mr W Jones and party then gave another orchestral treat and were followed by Mr W T Davies with a solo "Salamander" [?]. The party then sang "In Absence" and the concert terminated with the singing of "Hen Wlad fy N'hadau" the solo being sung by Miss Megan Davies.
The concert was a huge success and the funds of Libanus have substantially benefitted.


Two oblique views of Libanus Chapel, showing the left and right sides of the building.

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