The Church hall was the
villageís first Church (built in 1882). With the increase in the
population at the turn of the century, it was found that the building
was too small and a new Church was built. The hall was then used for
cultural and social activities.
In the early part of
the 18th century, the Parish of St Tydfil covered an enormous
area from Aberdare and almost as far as Caerphilly, but the control of
such a large area proved impossible and with the increased population,
it was decided to reduce the geographical area of the ancient Parish and
constitute new ones, each with their own Parish Priests. A start was
made in Pentrebach with the building of a small Church. Unfortunately,
there remains no record of this Church at all so that the date of its
building and consecration is unknown. All that is conjectured is that
it was situated in Upper Pentrebach (above the Triangle) some time at
the beginning of the last century. Hence the three houses still remain
occupied (Church View). Later the Church of St James the Great was
dedicated in what had formerly been used as a schoolroom. The first
Church in the village of Abercanaid was licensed for Divine Service on
28th May 1884, and was dedicated to St Peter and St Paul.
There exists no deed of consecration but it is possible that this was
destroyed in the bombing of Llandaff Cathedral in 1941 along with many
other documents. It was soon found that this Church was much too small
for the rapidly growing population, and a larger Church was planned and
built on land adjacent to the old one. The deeds and conveyances of
this transition are all preserved in the archives of the Representative
Body of the Church in Wales at Cathedral Road, Cardiff. On 24th
May 1912, the new Church was consecrated by the then Bishop of Llandaff,
Dr Joshua Pritchard Hughes and the dedication of the old Church was
transferred to the new one, which has since become the Parish Church.
In June 1925, the new
Parish of Abercanaid was created. The Church of Ss Peter and Paul
became the Parish Church and was licensed for marriage and the Rev.
William John Jones was collated the first vicar. He remained as Vicar
until his death in 1933 when the Rev. Eddie Jenkins was appointed. Vicar
Jenkins was remembered for his fine voice and knowledge of Welsh music
and drama. He resigned in 1936 because of ill health and in 1936 the
Parish was taken over by the Rev. John James Evans, who remained for
four years until his appointment to the Benefice of Glyn Neath in 1940.
Rev. Buckley looked
after the Parish for a short time and later became Vicar of Gabalfa,
Cardiff, then a Canon of Llandaff Cathedral. The next Vicar was the Rev.
Leonard Payne who later became Rector of the ancient Parish of
Llancarfan. Vicar Payne was inducted in March 1940. At the end of Vicar
Payneís incumbency in 1948, the Parish was suspended by decree of the
Archbishop of Wales, Dr John Morgan. The reasons for the suspension are
not clear, except perhaps that it was then the policy to suspend small
livings in the interests of saving manpower. Later this was seen to
have been a mistake. In the meantime, a Priest-in-Charge was appointed
by the Archbishop in the person of the Rev. H G Hurlow. By this time
the buildings in the Parish were badly in need of repair. A long period
of industrial depression followed by a devastating war (during which
there could be no hope of any extensive restoration or even repair work
carried out) had left the Church buildings in a sorry plight.
However, under the
leadership of the Rev. Hurlow, the Parish Church was completely
restored. The Decree of Suspension was rescinded in 1946. Vicar Hurlow
became Rector of Llanharry in 1956. The Rev. David Howell Gwyn Lewis was
appointed Vicar on 7th February 1957. His wife Dorothy
became the enrolling member of the Mothers Union and Church membership
increased. Vicar Lewis remained in the Parish for over ten years. He
then became Vicar of Mathern with Mounton in the Diocese of Monmouth.
The Rev. Derek Ford was then appointed Vicar. Father Ford remained in
the Parish for three years and eventually moved to Alton, Hampshire into
the Benedictine Order. He has made a number of moves since and is now
Brother Derek SSF in California. The Rev. Elwyn Phillips followed
Brother Derek and remained in the Parish for 13 years until his
retirement in August 1987. During his incumbency the bell tower was
dismantled because it was thought to be in a dangerous position.
Thieves and vandals struck on several occasions and many items were
stolen including the brass eagle lectern valued at £10,000 and the brass
altar cross. Before the end of his ministry a social committee was
formed which was most successful in raising funds to build up the
Church. The Vicarage was sold. After the retirement of the Rev. Elwyn
Phillips, the Parish became the responsibility of the Rural Dean of
Merthyr Tydfil, Canon David S Lee until the Bishop of Llandaff, the
Right Rev. Roy Davies appointed the Rev. Gareth Foster as
Priest-in-Charge in Abercanaid and Social Responsibility Officer on
Tuesday 1st December 1987. The service took the form of the
Holy Eucharist with the Ynysowen choir taking part. In 1995 the Rev.
Foster was appointed Executive Officer of the Board for Social
Responsibility. Previous to this appointment the Rev. Foster had been
Assistant Curate in the old Parish of Merthyr Tydfil since 1971. During
the whole of this time he had been in charge of the St Tydfilís Well
Church, (the Quar) and he had been a valued assistant at St Davidís
Church. The 1976 he became a Vicar in the Rectorial Benefice and in
1980 he became the Mayor of Merthyr Tydfil, a very significant
achievement. There was a very large attendance at Llandaff Cathedral on
Saturday 12th February 2000 when the Rev Foster was made a
Canon of Llandaff Cathedral. A well attended reception was given in the
Church Hall in the evening. In December 2007, all services through the
Winter months had to take place temporary in the Church Hall due to the
poor state of the Church Building. Numerous meetings were held
regarding Church development for the building of a new Worship Centre
together with the development of housing on the present Church site.
The Church was declared redundant in March 2009 and all acts of worship
are held in the Church hall. Through the Rev Fosterís leadership and
motivation much was achieved in Church life and he retired on Easter Day
4th April 2010. As from 1st September 2010 the new Parish of
Merthyr Tydfil St David and Abercanaid was formed. The Rev Martyn
Davies is the Rector and Fr David Morris is the Assistant Curate.
Complied by Miss. Barbara Downing
Do you have
any photographs or information relating to the Church of St. Peter and St.
Paul, Abercanaid, Merthyr Tydfil?
please email us, by clicking the 'Contact Us' button.