In writing this brief summary I have used many documents, newspaper reports, and small booklets published for the various church or chapel anniversaries. Sometimes whilst reading something quite unrelated to any church or chapel, have come across maybe one or two paragraphs mentioning names of well known people I knew had connections with the particular religious group I was writing about. I have not included a list of sources as there are far too many, and in many instances I have relied on my recollections and that of a lot of conversations with relatives and friends.
In the late 1800's with the influx of English speaking workers into the area, English was gradually supplanting the Welsh language in the business world and in everyday life. The bastion of the Welsh language was in places of worship. Later with the advent of Sankey and Moody's and Alexander's Hymnals even Welsh Churches and Chapels started to feel the need for services to be conducted in English. This led to schisms in religious communities with members of the congregation breaking away and conducting their services in the language of their choice. Nowhere is this more evident than in the Presbyterian and Baptist Faiths.
By the beginning of the 20th century every district in Barry had both Churches and Chapels conducting their services in either Welsh or English. I cannot but wonder at the sacrifices made by members of the various denominations and their constant striving to erect buildings in which to worship in the language of their choice.
Sometimes a group of less than a dozen would band together, meeting in one another's houses until a decision was reached to establish a church or a mission, often mortgaging their meagre wages going into £100's of debt, and praying that their faith would provide the necessary means to cover that debt.
From a mere twelve or more members their faith in many cases paid off and they managed with increased membership to move from their "Tin Tabernacles" into many of the imposing Churches and Chapels which can be seen around the Town.
Speaking to a member of the older generation many years ago I remarked on the small number of original founder members who actually put up the money or guaranteed its payment for the building of some of the Churches in the Town. She reminded me that the Christian Faith had only needed one man as leader and twelve others to follow to start things moving.
There are only one or two of these "Tin Tabernacles" left in the Town and it would be a shame if these, like so many other religious establishments were bulldozed into the ground.
The Church in Wales
Religious life in Barry began in three small churches in the area -
From the mother Church of St. Cadoc's and St. Illtyd's Church (better known as "The Old Village Church"), Cadoxton, sprang four offshoots in the early 1900's. These were St. Mary's in Holton Road, St. Peters in Barry Dock, St. Aidan's in Main Street and St. John's Anglican Welsh Church in Court Road.
St Aidan's began its life in a temporary structure at the bottom of Main Street, which was erected in 1865 and had been used as an engineers hut for the Barry Railway Company. When the railway never materialised it was used for a variety of purposes, finally as a mission church for St. Cadoc's. As the congregation grew it moved to the old Theatre Royal and Palace of Varieties in Main Street, which was consecrated for worship in 1910. St. Aidan's closed in the 1960's but is still remembered by the naming of the small terrace of houses built nearby "St. Aidan's Rise."
The Welsh speaking Anglican cause was served by another iron Church removed from Penarth and rebuilt in Barry. The congregation had led a nomadic existence, first meeting in the Mission Room in Cadoxton, then at the Royal Hotel, later the Barry Dock Hotel (now Amy Evans). Finally on 14th February, 1896 on land leased from the Barry Dock Land Syndicate an Iron Church was erected by Mr. Hanbrow, a builder from London. The Church was lined throughout with thick felt to insulate and to stop any noise from the building disturbing neighbouring properties. It was erected on the corner of Court Road and Wyndham Street; the Church was named Eglwys Sant Ioan (St. John's), and came under the Parish of Cadoxton-juxta-Barry. Services were at first conducted by Mr. J.R. Llewellyn, the editor of a local newspaper, followed by Mr. Parry Jones. When Mr. Parry Jones left the district Mr. Llewellyn resumed taking services there until the first parish priest, Rev. J.K. Evans from Llanishen Parish was appointed. The Church closed in the early 1950's
St. Mary's started life in Thompson Street and in 1892 moved to St. Mary's Hall. Lady Jenner gave the site of the Church plus £1000 to start the building fund and in 1903 laid the foundation stone. At the ceremony she also gave another £100 to the building fund. The present Church complete with organ costing in the region of £1000 opened in 1905. On its opening an organ recital was given by Mr. Beale, organist of Llandaff Cathedral. The church ran out of money and was never completed, needing the north aisle, choir vestry and the tower. The architects drawing showed the tower to be 113 feet high. The Church on completion would hold over 600 and the entire congregation would be able to see the altar. The font, which is a replica 15th century Gothic font was based on the historic font at Kenfig Church and was paid for by the children of the parish. Miss Phillips of Cadoxton gave the carved teak lectern (in the shape of a large eagle) to the Church in memory of her brother.
The second mother Church is The Church of St. Dyfan & St. Teilo (better known as "Merthyr Dyfan Church"). From Merthyr Dyfan Church, St. Paul's sprang. The first services were held in an iron building erected on land donated by Lady Jenner in the late 1880's. In November 1892 she laid the foundation stone of the new church and in 1893 the consecration of St. Paul's took place. Its plain style was determined by the lack of funds available to build a more ornate structure. The Rector until his death in 1902 was Rev. Richard Evans. The Curate for St. Paul's was the Rev. John Price and his assistant was the Rev. David Weatherall, who in 1903 was appointed Curate. The iron building built as a temporary church served for over 90 years and was used as the parish hall until its demolition in 1981.
The third mother church was St. Nicholas, which occupies a position overlooking the Old Harbour. The old church was demolished in the 1870's and a much larger building replaced it. A few years later the churchyard cross was erected on the older Calvary Steps by the children of the Romilly family.
By the early 1890's the parish hall had become too small to hold its congregation and other related organisations wishing to use it. A plot of land was obtained near Romilly Road for the purpose of building a mission hall for use as a Church and Sunday school and for the Church Lads Brigade, and as an overflow for organisations that used St. Nicholas.
By 1902 St. Nicholas Church was unable to cater for the number of worshippers attending services. Rev. H.H. Stewart and the Church Building Committee began to look for suitable sites in the vicinity. Land near Castle Farm was considered, but the Admiralty, wishing to dispose of the old coastguard cottages, offered to sell the remainder of the term of lease to the Church for £450. In September 1906, Mr. H.S. Rendell, was awarded the contract to build the first stage of All Saints and 1907 saw the foundation stone laid by Mr. Samuel Romilly. Consecration of the Church took place on 29th April 1908 by the Bishop of Llandaff. By 1914 the second stage in the building of the Church, which included the tower, began and on 3rd June the same year Lady Beatrice Stewart laid the corner stone. The first World War nearly brought the building work to a halt as it was proposed that work be halted until hostilities were over. The proposal was defeated and work carried on and the building work completed. On 24th April 1915 the finished Church was dedicated by the Bishop of Llandaff. The end of the 2nd World War saw the clock fitted and the bells hung in the tower as a memorial tribute to the fallen of the war and as a thanks offering for peace. Stone for the building of the Church was quarried locally at the Nant Talwg Quarry and at a Quarry near Castle Farm.
In the 1950's the 6th Barry Sea Scout Group was established in the old St Nicholas Church.
St. Baruc's Church in Archer Road opened in 1897 as a Mission Church. It was at first under the oversight of the Rector of Sully (Barry Island came under the jurisdiction of the Parish of Sully). When this building proved to be too small an appeal was made for the provision of a larger building. In 1909 in response to this request, a larger iron building that had seen service as St. Paul's Church in Penarth, was moved by the Earl of Plymouth's workmen to a site in Plymouth Road for the congregation and renamed St. Baruc's. The congregation left the original building and moved to the new one worshipping there until the1960's. It was then felt that the building had outlived its useful life and the congregation moved back to their original building in Archer Road.
In September 1925 a site for the purpose of erecting a new Church in Friars Road was given by the Earl of Plymouth to the parishioners of Barry Island. The plot of land in Friars Road was adjacent to the ruins of the original Church of St. Baruc. The Church was never built.
The first Baptist Chapel was built in 1813 in Cadoxton next to the King William IV Hotel and was named Philadelphia (Brotherly Love). It is the only Non-Conformist Chapel in Barry to have its own Graveyard in its precincts. Its congregation came from far and wide to meet in this small building. It was said that Christmas Evans, one of the great Welsh preachers, gave sermons there and many converts were baptised by him in the stream that flows through the village. One of its first preachers was the Rev. Llechidon Williams who went on to become Pastor of the Welsh Baptist Church at Barry Dock. The second Baptist Church was opened in 1822 and was named Tabor; it met in a cottage near Castle Farm and used water from a well, which was collected in a large tank nearby for Baptisms. Very little else can be discovered about these original followers of the Baptist faith.
By 1884 the small villages of Barry exploded with a sudden increase in their population. The newcomers were mainly from outside Wales and could not understand the services, which were held in Welsh. They decided that the only satisfactory way of holding services that they could join in with was by forming their own Church. In 1886 they began meeting in a room at Cadoxton School, and by 1889 they opened Mount Pleasant Church. Its first minister was the Rev. Ton Evans who named the Church after the public house where he was born.
To cater for the spiritual needs of the growing population of Barry Dock, a group of Baptists who found it difficult to walk to Cadoxton along unmade and muddy tracks, decided that they would rent premises in the area. The members of this small group met at first in a room above stables in Thompson Street. Some members, (as it was above stables), called it their "Little Bethlehem". As their membership continued to grow they were unable to remain and took a room above shop premises in Holton Road/ Richard Street. In 1892 they erected a temporary building in Holton Road for use as a Mission. In 1894 the decision was taken to build a permanent structure and the Mission Hall was moved to the corner of Tynewydd Road and Wyndham Street. As a way of funding its building, members bought bricks used for its construction. The new building, named Holton Road Baptist Chapel when completed, was opened in 1898. The first pastor was the Rev. Pandy John.
The West end of Barry was developing at the same rate as the East and members of the congregation of Philadelphia who lived in Barry Town decided to follow the example set by Holton Road Baptists and worship in premises nearer home. They first met in member's houses, but as the numbers attending grew they rented a room in Broad Street. As more and more worshippers decided to join them, the decision was taken to build a permanent structure. By 1891 their numbers had grown so rapidly they formed "The English Baptist Church in Barry". Land on the corner of St. Nicholas Road and Harbour Road was purchased and in 1893 an iron building was erected on the site. By 1902 the numbers attending had outgrown the iron building and the foundations for a new permanent church were laid. The congregation moved to the Market Hall (Romilly Buildings) whilst building work took place. The iron Church was removed to the top of Everard Street/ Weston Hill and the present building, Bethel Baptist Church, opened in 1903.
The cause at Barry Island was given a boost when they were offered the iron Chapel from Holton Road on completion of the new building in 1898. This building, which they named Bethany, is one of the few still standing and in use as a Chapel today. In 1925 the Dept. of Health used the building as a clinic when an outbreak of diphtheria hit the Island. In 1946 the Rev. R.G. Tucker was inducted as minister of the Church. Unfortunately like so many iron churches, its days are numbered as planning permission has been sought for its demolition.
Hope Baptist Chapel was built to serve the needs of worshippers at Cadoxton Moors. It opened in Palmerston Road in 1898. This too was an iron building, and on its closure was demolished by the Barry Council to enable garages to be built on site.
Weston Hill Baptist Chapel was originally the iron Chapel removed from Harbour Road in 1902 and rebuilt on its present site at the junction of Everard Street and Holton Road in 1903. The Baptist Forward Movement prior to the erection of the iron Chapel had used a room in a house at the top of Weston Hill as a Mission. It ceased to be used for worship in 1956 when the congregation joined with Calfaria in Court Road. The iron Church is now used as a Scout Headquarters by the 5th Barry Sea Scout Group.
When the Welsh speakers who attended Philadelphia Chapel in Cadoxton decided that the premises had become too small for the number of Welsh speaking Baptists wishing to attend, they decided to build a larger Chapel. The outcome in 1898 was the building of Calfaria in Court Road, which opened to cater for their spiritual needs. In the same year the old Philadelphia Chapel closed. By 1956 the number of worshippers speaking Welsh had declined and it was decided to anglicise the services, and join with the English Cause by closing the Weston Hill Chapel and merging the two Chapels into one.
Salem Baptist Chapel in Beryl Road started on the same route that many other Chapels had set out on. They moved from Philadelpia to be nearer their homes in Barry Dock. Over twenty of the former congregation met in a building in Thompson Street. By 1890 numbers of Welsh speaking worshippers had grown so large that an iron building was erected, in which they worshipped. In a comparatively short time they managed to raise enough money to build a permanent structure in Beryl Road, which was used as a schoolroom /Chapel until the present Chapel, together with a Manse was built. 1897 saw the opening of the Church. Its first pastor was the former pastor of Philadelphia, the Rev. Llechidon Willams. The Church was well known for its orchestra, which accompanied the singing of the choir and congregation and was often asked to play at numerous events and singing festivals around the district and the Vale. In 1980 joint services of worship were held with members of Holton Road Baptist and by 1982 Holton Road, whose lease on the ground had nearly expired merged with Salem to form one Church.
The Roman Catholic Church
The re-birth of the Catholic cause in Barry began in the house of Dr. O'Donnell in Barry Road, when he managed to obtain a visit to Barry by Vignoles, a priest from Cardiff, to say Mass on the first Sunday after Easter. This was the first Mass to be celebrated in Barry since the Reformation. He also managed to obtain a number of visits by priests to Barry but not on a regular basis. This situation continued until the numbers of people of the Catholic persuasion that arrived to work and live in Barry justified the presence of a resident priest. In 1887 a petition of some 450 Catholics was sent to Bishop Hedley resulting in the appointment of Fr. Hyland to the diocese.
In 1888 Fr. Hyland was installed as the resident priest. A gift of the Monstrance for use in these services was made to the Church by a number of Protestant businessmen from the Llanelli area. Services were held in the Picnic Room of the Wenvoe Arms (now the Admiral), which was renamed St. Mary's Roman Catholic Mission whilst it was used for these services. One of the problems encountered was that the altar furniture had to be carried to and from Fr. Hyland's house in Guthrie Street each Sunday for the services.
The congregation for these services came not only from Barry but also most of the surrounding area. It became obvious to the congregation and Fr. Hyland that a more permanent place to hold services in would have either to be found or built.
By 1892 enough money (£1700) had been raised to enable the Church to purchase a plot of land at the junction of Maes-y-Cwm Street and Court Road, and to build a schoolroom that could also be used as a place of worship on Sundays. Messrs. E.R. Evans, Builders commenced building and in May the same year the schoolroom /Church was opened. Fr. Hyland left Barry in 1894 and was replaced by Fr. Emile D'Hulst, a Belgian priest, until 1897.
Fr. James Byrne arrived in Barry in 1898 and immediately set in motion the building of the Infants School and the Presbytery. In 1906, Messrs. H.S. Rendell commenced the building of the present church, and by 1907 St. Helen's was finished and was consecrated. The High Altar was made in Belgium and was installed in the Church in commemoration of Fr. Byrne's stay in that country. In the same year the font weighing over half a ton and standing four foot high was donated to the Church by local monumental mason and sculptor F.T. Mossford.
1913 saw the appointment of Fr. Vaughan but he left the year following. He returned as the Rector in 1915 and was appointed as Canon for the Archdiocese. In 1929 he attained the Bishopric of Menivia.
1922 saw the War Memorial (the first to be erected in Barry), dedicated to the members of the Church who had died in the 1st World War, and erected on the Court Road and Wyndham Street corner. The following year the Parish Hall was opened in Maes-y-Cwm Street. In 1934 the Infant's School was completed and opened.
In 1926 Fr. Quigley arrived in Barry and in the same year was appointed a Canon of the Diocese. His death in 1946 saw Fr. Conway appointed as his successor.
In 1963 remodelling of the Church took place with the removal of the two side chapels. A new sanctuary now runs the whole width of the Church, the sanctuary floor and altar steps were rebuilt in stone. An altar stone uncovered during the excavation of the mediaeval Church at Highlight, was given to the Church for use as a High Altar, by Howard Thomas.
With the building of houses in what was open country at the Colcot, the need arose for members of the Church who lived in that area to have a Church built closer to where they lived in which to worship. By 1962 St. Michael's and All Angels had been built and was opened by Archbishop Murphy.
Further building took place in the parish with the construction of St. Cadoc's Roman Catholic School (now re-named St. Richard Gwynn) which opened in 1964. Its first head teacher was Mr. Ernest Brook. The official opening of the school took place the following year, when Archbishop Murphy performed the blessing and dedication.
The Methodist Church
The actual date of the opening of the first Wesleyan Methodist Church in the area has been disputed for many years. Some sources give the date of setting up Bethel as 1811, others as 1815, although the latter date can be confirmed by the 75th Anniversary Souvenir booklet published by Cadoxton Methodist Church in 1938.
It was in the early 19th century that Bethel Chapel was built on the edge of the common, to meet the needs of the large influx of workmen engaged in building embankments to hold back the sea and to reclaim land on the moors. Many of these workmen were Methodists. Bethel was opened in 1815 and services were conducted in Welsh. It could accommodate approximately 100 worshippers. Bethel was a small chapel, and to accommodate this number, seats were built in tiers, rising from the pulpit steps to the rear, where the seats were very close to the roof. On warm days the atmosphere became stifling and a number of worshippers would faint from the heat.
By 1855 it became obvious that a new chapel would have to be built, partially to cater for the English-speaking members and to alleviate the overcrowding in the old chapel. In that year out of 24 services held, only 8 were in English. Many English speakers, to join in the act of worship, were content to sit in the other 16 services, although they were unable to understand the sermons.
In the 1860's the decision was taken to build the present church. Mr. and Mrs. Thomas Jenkins of New House gave the land and Miss Mary Ann Morgan of East Barry House, guaranteed the cost of building the new Chapel. In 1862 the Church opened for worship. Hard times were to follow, as many worshippers who had come to reclaim the land at the Moors, left the district to work elsewhere. The Church managed to survive until 1884 when a tremendous influx of workmen arrived to start the work of building the docks.
The years immediately following saw a great increase in the number of worshippers attending services, so much so that the decision was taken in 1896 to extend the building with the addition of two transepts. These were opened in October of the same year. Unlike many Churches in the area, Cadoxton built their Schoolroom after their Church, and it was opened in 1931.
In the early 1890's a group of Methodist worshippers met at the rear of Pool's Butchers shop in Richard Street, and when this room became too small for the number of worshippers attending, a larger room in Llantwit Street was used. In 1892 the Wesley Hall, a schoolroom /Chapel was opened on the corner of Llantwit Street and Holton Road, and in 1911 a purpose built Chapel, Holton Road Methodist Church, was built on adjoining land. In the early 1960's falling numbers necessitated the combining of membership with the Court Road Methodist Church, the Holton Road Church was closed, and the ground was sold to property developers. Lloyds Bank and Peacocks were built on the site.
Crossway Methodist Church was formed by the amalgamation of Holton Road and Court Road Methodist Churches. The original Church on the Court Road site was one which was built by an offshoot of the Wesleyan Movement, "The Bible Christians". Before building their Church in 1905, they met for worship, as did many others in Barry, in member's houses, and later in a large room in the Barry Dock Hotel (now Amy Evans). To accommodate some of their bigger prayer meetings a large tent was purchased and erected in fields in Court Road. By 1891 sufficient funds had been raised by contributions from working men, and generous contributions from Mr. John Cory (when building work faltered through lack of finance) to enable a permanent building to be erected there. "The Andrew Carnegie Fund" helped purchase the organ with a donation of half its cost. Mr. Lever, Corn Merchant of Court Road gave the silver Communion service.
The congregation of a small Church in Buttrills Road named "The Methodist Free Church" began to meet for worship in a building in Spencer Street in 1897. The following year they moved to Buttrills Road to a larger building. In 1905 they sold their small Church, and together with the Primitive Methodists, (whose Church which opened in 1897 and was situated in Pyke Street), joined with Court Road Wesleyan Methodists. Under an Act of Union of 1905 all Methodist Churches and Wesleyan Chapels then became "The United Methodist Church" taking as its name "The Methodist Church." By 1963 the Churches at Court Road and Holton Road combined and met for services in the former St. John's Anglican Welsh Church in Court Road, whilst their new Church "Crossways", was being built.
Porthkerry Road Methodist Church beginnings were unlike many of its contemporaries who held meetings in small rooms. The Church started its life in a purpose built building. Early in 1889 plans were passed for the building of the Church and Thomas Walker, who built the Docks, was entrusted with the work. By September of that year the schoolroom /Chapel opened, and in the ensuing years lighting, which was by oil lamps, was replaced by gas. The building that now houses Hyper-Value (formerly Bethesda) was used for a short time as a Sunday school by the church. In 1896 the Church was so successful that plans were put forward for the building of a larger Church on the site. By the following year the foundation stones of the new building were laid and in January 1898 the Church was opened. The driving force behind the building of the Church and of the Methodist cause was Mr. John Lowdon who had arrived in Barry less than 6 months previously.
St. David's Methodist Church, Colcot started life in the 1920's in two huts on the Buttrills. These huts were on the former Prince of Wales Convalescent Home for War Veterans Camp. The Methodist Church was allowed to use them as a Mission Church, but in the late 30's they were demolished. A member of Porthkerry Road Church offered the use of a room in her house at 45 Colcot Road, and the minister of Porthkerry Road used this room on one occasion for a Christening. Offers to use rooms were made by other members of the Church, but by the early 40's larger congregations made this impossible. An area of ground was purchased from the Wenvoe Estate and a large Marquee was purchased and erected when services were to be held. This marquee was used until 1942 when the members acquired a large wooden building. This served as a Church until 1966 when the present Church was erected.
Members of Barry Island Wesleyan Methodist Church, like so many others in the late 1890's met in rooms in member's homes, until the numbers wishing to join in the services became so many that an alternative venue was needed. This was found in the upstairs room of a shop in the Triangle. When this too became overcrowded a decision was taken to build a Chapel on the Island. In 1901 building work started and by the following year it opened for worship. In 1914 it was taken over and converted for use as a hospital, which was staffed by members of the St. John Ambulance Brigade for the duration of the First World War, finally closing as a Hospital in December 1919, when the building was handed back to its members.
During its time as a Hospital it treated nearly 4000 bed patients and 30,000 outpatients. As a tribute to the work carried out by the St. John Ambulance Brigade the Church was renamed St. John's Methodist Church. In the Second World War the Schoolroom of the Church was used as a Forces Canteen, but services were still allowed to be held in the main Church. In 1923 after renovation and the addition of new stops, the pipe organ at the church was re-opened. Mr. Fred Jones of Cardiff, who played the organ on its installation in 1920, gave a recital. The organ, which is one of the oldest in South Wales, was built by Jas. Horton of London in the 18th century. It gave good service in one of the churches in Newport, before being sold to St. Peter's RC Church in Cardiff, who later sold it to St. Paul's Church in Barry, where it was used for many years until it was acquired by the Barry Island Church.
The Salvation Army
Amongst the many smaller Christian Groups that met in Barry in the late 1800's /early 1900's The Salvation Army is the one that readily springs to mind. In 1889 a contingent of the Army led by Capt. Hirst met in a mission hall at the Gladstone Road end of Quarella Street. Meetings were held daily in the hall, and in the summer outside. In 1893 many complaints were made by local residents about the loudness and exuberance of their music and singing as they marched through the town on Sunday mornings, saying that "they were disturbing our Sunday Morning Services". They were asked to sing a little more quietly. Later the Army moved to a mission hall in Main Street and then to a purpose built hall in what is now Hillary Rise.
In 1895 a site was bought in Thompson Street for the erection of a permanent headquarters, and this opened the following year.
In December 1896 an event was organised by the Army to bring a little cheer to the many poor and ill-nourished children who lived in Barry Dock. 1038 children sat down for a Christmas Tea in the new headquarters. Entertainment and a magic lantern show given by Mr. Skinner of Barry Island followed the tea. Before the end of the party each child was given a packet of sweets and an apple and orange to take home with them. The organisers, Capt. Chalmers and his wife, were thanked for their efforts. The following year the Army left these premises and moved to a different location, but still in Thompson Street.
In 1912 the old skating rink at the junction of Holton Road and Kendrick Road became vacant and was offered for sale. The Army bought it and it became their new headquarters. This they named "The Citadel" but by 1927 the Army decided to build a new H.Q. and demolished the old skating rink. Whilst their new building was under construction they were invited by Mr. George Motton, the owner of the Queens Hall, to use the Hall as a temporary headquarters. Laying of the foundation stones of the new hall took place in early 1928 and the New Citadel built by Messrs Keirl, was re-opened in June 1928 by Mr. Smith of Barry. The main hall could hold 500 and the junior hall 200. Salvation officers present at the official opening were Col. Rowe, Major Effer, Maj. J. Haggard plus a number of Divisional Staff officers.
The Cadoxton contingent later combined with Barry Dock, and the premises in Cadoxton were closed and sold. The Army during its time in Barry had one of the most successful and most popular bands in the locality, being asked to play at fetes, functions and prayer meetings held in Salvation Army halls and in the open air in Cardiff and the Valleys. The saddest event they were asked to attend was to lead the funeral procession of miners killed in the explosion at the Senghenydd Colliery Disaster in October 1913.
During the years the Army was at Barry, they set up soup kitchens on numerous occasions for the families of workers who were laid off when collieries were closed owing to industrial action by the miners. Children's teas were often held for the many poorly fed children living in the area.
The Army left Barry in the early 1980's and the Citadel was closed. They now meet in Cardiff, and the Citadel has since been demolished and the land is now a car park.
The Congregational Church (United Reformed Church)
The beginning of the Congregational Movement can be traced back to 1886 when a group of Welsh Congregationalists moved from Penarth to work in Barry, and needing a place in which to worship, approached the Wesleyan Church in Cadoxton, and asked for permission to share their Church. The following year they were refused permission to worship there, but the Anglican Church granted them the use of a schoolroom, which they used for 18 months, during which time they raised enough money to buy a plot of land in Court Road on which to build a small church. This Church, which they named Bryn Seion, cost £200 and opened in 1887. To enable the Church to survive, neighbouring Churches gave freely of their help and ministers their services free for two years. The Church is now used as a centre for the Handicapped.
In 1889 Welsh Congregationalists who lived in and around the "Walker's Town" part of Barry, met to discuss the possibility of forming a Church in the area. Most worshipped at the Cadoxton Church, but the problem of travelling there on unlit, unmade, and often muddy roads, made the building of a Church in the area, seem a viable proposition. By November 1889 they had rented a wooden building at 1/- (5p) per week, and held their first service there. As numbers at the Church increased the idea of building more commodious premises was proposed. In 1890 a new Schoolroom was built at the cost of £400 but even that later proved too small for the rapidly growing congregation. The old Mission Hall in High Street, which had been constructed by T. A. Walker for workmen engaged on the building of the Docks, then converted to a Public Hall, was offered for sale by the Barry Estate Company. It was bought by the Church for £900, and named Bethesda. In 1907 it was rebuilt, and an organ was purchased. On its closure it was altered again, and is now the Hyper-Value Store.
The third Welsh Congregational Church to be built was Tabernacl in Barry Dock. It was built for the same reasons as other Churches in the growing town - premises in which to worship were needed nearer to where worshippers lived. In the early 1890's an iron Church was erected on the site of the present building, and membership was then 40. Over the next few years membership increased rapidly, taxing the accommodation in the small building. It was decided that a larger Church was needed. The iron Church was moved to the corner of Wyndham Street and Tynewydd Road and by 1894 the present building opened for worship. In 1899 the Rev. Ben Evans was called and during his time at the Church extensive alterations and improvements took place, including the enlargement of the schoolroom and the erection of a handsomely carved pulpit made by and given to the Church by one of its members. It is still a very popular Church and is well attended.
In 1889 a small group met in the home of J.C. Meggitt who had moved from Cardiff to Barry to open a business here. Mr. Meggitt was a member of the Congregational Church in Charles Street, Cardiff. This group of men decided that there was a great need for a Church to cater for English speaking worshippers in the area. Land was purchased at Windsor Road and building work began in December 1889. By May the following year a School /Chapel was erected and opened for worship. In 1899 the congregation had grown so large (the Sunday school alone contained over 300 children and 30 teachers) that additional accommodation was required. The decision was taken in March 1900 that the Church /School Room be demolished and that it be re-built further back on the site. By January the first stage of the reconstruction had been completed. To save money, materials that had been used in the old Church were reused in the new. On January 7th the opening ceremony and the first services were held there. During the construction of the Church, services were held in the Romilly Hall.
Although the Church was now open and enlarged, it was discovered that the new building was still not big enough for the numbers wishing to attend worship. An extension paid for and given to the Church by Mr. Meggitt was opened in the following year. In 1902 designs for the present Church were requested and in 1903 the contract for its construction was awarded to D.G. Price of Penarth. The Church was opened on the 19th of May, 1904, but opening services continued for four weeks.
In December 1904 P.S.A.'s (Pleasant Sunday Afternoons) were re-introduced in Windsor Road. This was a popular feature of many Churches in the area, but had lapsed whilst building work was being carried out. During the First World War the Red Cross requested and was given use of the schoolrooms from 1917 until 1919 for use as a hospital for wounded soldiers. A plaque records that 660 soldiers had been nursed there by the V.A.D nursing staff.
Tynewydd Road Congregational Church started its life in the Iron Church first used by the members of the Tabernacl Church. Mr. J.C. Meggitt and Capt. Murrell bought it for the Barry Dock Movement. After renovation, redecoration and providing seating, the Church was ready for its opening in 1894. In 1895 the Rev. Mydyr Evans was invited to become the Pastor of the Church, with some of the members of Windsor Road Church guaranteeing him his salary for the first three years of his ministry. In 1889 the decision was taken by the members to build a new Church. Whilst the building work was being carried out the congregation met in the Regent Hall. The Iron Church was sold for £100 in 1900 and transferred to Weston Hill for use as a Church. The new Chapel /Schoolroom was built and opened in 1901. The Church became well known throughout the area when its members formed a football team and named it Tynewydd Road Congregational F.C. The Rev. Mydyr Evans was a keen supporter and accompanied the team to many of its matches. In 1960 the building that over the years had given good service, proved inadequate for the needs of its congregation and in 1962 the Welsh C.M. Church in Tynewydd Road was bought to replace it. After its move, Tynewydd Road Congregational Church was renamed "The New Jerusalem" Congregational Church.
Weston Hill Congregational Church opened in December 1900 on a plot of land on Weston Hill between Milward Road and Charlotte Place, in the Iron Church that had been previously used by Tabernacl and Tynewydd Road Churches. Within weeks of its opening hundreds of worker left the area to seek new construction work, following the completion of the docks. By 1908 the tide had started to turn with 200 young people on the Sunday school registers. During the depression years, when so many men in Barry were unemployed, Rev. Reginald Lomas (known by all as Reggie) used the hall and ran training courses for them in woodworking and carpentry, shoe repairing and light metalwork.
By 1939 the building, like so many others, had become too small and it transferred to Court Road Congregational Church (Bryn Seion). In 1955 numbers attending the Church had declined so badly that the decision was taken that an invitation from Tynewydd Road Church to unite with them would be accepted, and in May of that year the Church was reluctantly closed. The Weston Hill building was sold, and for many years gave sterling service as the H.Q. of the local Boxing Club. A block of flats has since been built on its site.
The Missions to Seamen
In 1858 The Missions to Seamen was formed from an idea of John Ashley, a young Anglican clergyman, who noticed a number of ships tied up in the Penarth Roads waiting entry into the docks. When he discovered that no clergy ever visited the seamen on these ships he formed "The Bristol Channel Mission" and began to visit and hold services on board. These visits were the start of a ministry to seamen, and to the lighthouse keepers and residents of Flat and Steep Holm Islands, and was the beginning of "The Missions to Seamen." This year after over 140 years being called the "Missions to Seamen" owing to the need for political correctness its name will change to "The Missions to Seafarers".
In 1860 the Mission approached the Admiralty and was freely given the use of HMS Thisbe that had been tied up for many years in Plymouth. It was towed from Plymouth to Cardiff East Dock where it was moored. A building for use as a Church was erected on the quarterdeck and services were held on Tuesdays, Fridays and Sundays.
In 1877 over 3,500 seamen and their wives attended services there, a small library and a reading room was provided where newspapers could be read, and also pens, paper and ink were available with help from locals for anyone who was unable to read and write. The idea of a Mission to Seamen, which began in Wales, spread all over the World, and most ports had buildings nearby dedicated to the cause. They were all named "Thisbe House" in remembrance of the first Missions to Seamen, but known by seamen all over the world as "The Flying Angel".
On Wednesday 16th August 1905, Lord Windsor laid the foundation stone of the new Barry Mission. A branch had been formed at Barry Island in 1901. The new mission, which was built of best Ruabon brick with terra cotta mouldings, opened its doors in Dock View Road in November 1905 and cost £4000, plus £500 for the adjacent dwelling house and Church. In the main building were a large recreation room (also used for boxing tournaments between ship's crews), a reading room, an officers' room, cadets' or apprentices' room, a quiet room, a coffee bar and a billiard room. The Church, complete with a carillon at the rear, and dedicated to St. Peter, was capable of seating 100 worshippers. The Basement was well lit and was used for storage and recreation. The flat roof had a garden laid out with chairs and tables, which were provided for taking refreshments, and had magnificent views of the Channel and shipping arriving at the docks. It was complete with an imposing square lookout tower together with a flagstaff. The building was designed by Mr. C.A. Kempthorpe and built by H.S. Rendell. When it opened in 1905 it was very nearly debt free with over £2000 guaranteed and £1500 promised.
During its life over 40,000 seamen and their wives passed through its doors annually.
The Church and Institute became part of a chain of similar stations situated around the Coast, and were built to extend to seamen the advantages of Church privileges, and to help counteract the many temptations of "Jack" while he was at shore. When it closed, the bell and lectern from the Church were stored in St. Mary's Church.
After the Institute closed Robert Tyley, a railway rolling stock dismantler whose business was situated on the Docks, bought it and renamed it R.S.T. House (called Rust House by the locals) and it was let out as offices. Later it was disposed of to Vandex Builders, and was used as a warehouse and office accommodation by the company for many years. It has recently been sold and is being converted into flats.
The British & Foreign Sailors Institute was formed in Barry in 1892 with its H.Q, Bethel, in Subway Road. Its first resident Missioner was Capt. E. Sharples. The building catered for distressed, sick, or seamen whose ships had been lost at sea. It had a large reading room and chapel. It was formed to promote the gospel and to provide reading material both religious and secular to seamen arriving in Barry. In 1920 a hall in Lombard Street was built and named Trafalgar Hall to enable young boys to be trained for sea. Later it became better known for its gymnastic team.
The Order of St. Paul the Apostle (The Priory) was an Anglican Monastic Order set up in India to help distressed seamen in the 1880's. Members of the order led by Rev. C. Walker (who took the name Father Austin) arrived in Barry and opened a mission in Station Street known as "The Home Priory". One room of the building was opened as a Church while the others were used as sleeping and living accommodation by merchant seamen. By 1894 the Order had moved to larger premises in Broad Street, and was known as "The Priory". A blacksmith's shop owned by Mr. Stephens was next door, and this was bought and converted into a tin Church which opened in 1898. It ran for many years with very little help and often in great financial difficulties. Father Austin in December of that same year wrote "This month we have accommodated 54 seamen who have come to us for assistance. We live on soup made from bones and thickened with crushed ships biscuits or oatmeal, and are grateful for the generous donations of food for our Christmas and New Year celebrations." Whilst in Barry it looked after sick and destitute seamen, often arranging medical attention for them and looked after the graves of seamen who died and were buried in Barry. In 1912 the Order left Barry and the Priory was closed. It is now a restaurant.
The Scandinavian Church - situated on Barry Docks near the Dock Offices, was built to enable ships crews from the Baltic countries engaged in carrying timber from the Baltic to Barry, to attend services held in their own language. It first minister was Rev. Achilles. On its closure as a Church it was used for a great many years as a meeting place for dock workers.
The Presbyterian Church
The beginnings of the Presbyterian Church in Barry can be traced to a small unpretentious building in Bridge Street, which when the small Church was opened was known as Hatch Hill. Seion Calvinistic Methodist Church was opened for worship in 1815 on land leased from Thomas French of Wenvoe for 999 years. Its congregation, compared with the population of the Village at that time was quite large (over 30 members). In 1844 enlargement of the Church took place enabling more worshippers to attend services. 1859 saw a religious revival take place in Wales bringing more converts to the Chapel, attendance rose to 90 and by 1865 the Church held its first Sunday school rally, bringing visitors from all around the district to the services.
In 1882 workmen arrived in the district from the West Country, whose main language was English. This created some difficulties as it had with other religious groups in the area. This difficulty was solved by the English speakers leaving the Church and moving to the Picnic Hall in the Wenvoe Arms (now the Admiral), from there to a Hall in Melrose Street and in between times, in a large tent in a field near Court Road. In 1890 they had raised enough money to consider building a Church. The first new Church built in Barry, it opened in 1891 with a large debt, but also with a band of dedicated worshippers. Among this band of worshippers the name Howe stands out. Mr. Christopher Howe bought the lease on the land on which Bethel stood and later gave it to the Church. His son Dudley and grandson Gareth all served the Church for many years. "Teddy Llewellin", the printer from Main Street gave stirling service for many years as a Lay Preacher and as Secretary. There are many others who gave of their time, their faith and work, in the service of the Church.
Bethel amalgamated with Trinity Presbyterian Church in 1962, the building was sold to become a carpet warehouse shortly afterwards, and it has since been converted into residential accommodation.
The Welsh cause carried on at Seion for a number of years until the year 1890. When the numbers in the congregation outstripped the room available at Seion they decided to build a new Church. This they did, and the following year they moved to Bryn Seion in Pontypridd Street. In the early 1960's it was partially demolished and on its foundations two houses were built.
The second Welsh language Church, "Penuel", was built in High Street. The small band of worshippers met above shop premises in High Street until they, like their many counterparts, raised sufficient finance to consider erecting a small Church in the area. In 1893 the Church was built and opened on the site of a former wooden building. By the early 90's the church through declining membership closed, and is now used as a Buddhist Meditation Centre.
The Welsh cause in Barry Dock was catered for by the building of Jerusalem Calvinistic Methodist Church in Tynewydd Road in 1899. The Church, on its closure in the 1970's, was bought by the Tynewydd Road Congregational Church, and renamed New Jerusalem Congregational Church. It did not join the United Reformed Church and is therefore still known as a Congregational Church.
Barry Island Presbyterian Church, (a Forward Movement Church), first began in a wooden building erected in the back garden of the Barry Island postmaster in 1899. It was replaced by an iron Church erected in 1900, which was used formerly as the first Dock Offices in Dock View Road. Upon the building of the present Dock Offices, it was purchased by Mr. Henry Radcliffe and given to Rev. Coultas for use as a Gospel Hall at Barry Island. The present Church was built on the site in Other Road (now Earl Crescent) in 1904. The iron building was used as the H.Q. of the Barry Island Y.P.A. for many years.
Dinam Hall opened in Merthyr Street in April 1903. It was built on the site of a former Gospel Mission Hall, which was opened in 1896 by the Rev. Gerald Coultas. It was used only in inclement weather during the summer months, most services being held in a large Gospel tent in the Gasworks Field. The Mission Hall was taken over by the Movement in 1900 and it soon proved too small for the numbers attending services there. One of David Davies's last charges to the General Superintendent of the Forward Movement was "That be sure you do something for Barry Dock". In 1902, a large hall with seating for 400 on the ground floor and 300 in the gallery plus seating for upwards of 450 in the schoolroom beneath was erected. On 2nd April 1903, Mr. David Davies, later to become Lord Davies of Llandinam, and grandson of David Davies, opened and named "The Dinam Hall" (after its main benefactors the Davies family of Llandinam). During the 1st World War the Rev. Dr. Griffith Griffiths was appointed as Evangelist Minister. During his time at Barry his two qualifications as a Doctor of Medicine and a Minister were an "open sesame" to many homes that before were unassailable.
Over the years it had a chequered career, being used as H.Q. for the Barry Sea Cadet Corps under the name "T.S. Cossack", and as a forces canteen by American troops stationed in Barry during the last war, and named by them "The Donut Dugout". Later it was used as H.Q. for the W.R.V.S. and finally as a meeting place for foster parents and their children. In the 80's the building was declared unsafe and was demolished in the 90's.
Holy Trinity Presbyterian Church began in 1888 in two houses in Queen Street, and the Church was formally accepted into the Presbytery in 1889. By the second half of that year accommodation for workmen employed on the construction of the Docks was so scarce that the Church was forced to leave these two rooms and seek accommodation elsewhere in the vicinity. This they did, and were offered rooms in nearby High Street School, until the decision was taken by the School Board that no religious meetings could be held on School premises. Towards the end of the year work on their new Schoolroom /Chapel in what was then Holton Street had finished, and by September it opened for their first service with an attendance of over 350. The official opening service was held on the 22nd of the month. As with many other churches, increasing numbers meant that very soon further accommodation was needed, and by the beginning of 1894 the building of the present Church was well underway. On Sunday, 9th June 1895 the first service was held to a crowded Church.
In 1962 on the closure of Bethel and Court Road, the Churches joined together and were renamed "Holy Trinity Presbyterian Church." Trinity is one of four Churches to have the names of streets in their near vicinity renamed after them. The other three are St. Mary's Avenue (formerly Graving Dock Street), St. Paul's Avenue (formerly Nesta Street) and Mount Pleasant (formerly Norwich Road).
Other Religious Denominations in Barry
The Barry Navvy Mission (also known as The Christian Excavators Union) which was formed by Mr. J. Pearce met in Barry in 1892 in a building at the junction of Court Road and Brook Street. It opened firstly as a Reading Rooms, and extensions to it were made to accommodate a classroom for use as a Sunday School and as a Christian Mission. As attendances grew, more extensions to it were needed. Sir John Jackson, one of the contractors on the docks, visited the mission on more than one occasion and was so pleased at what he saw taking place he pledged £50 per year to the cause. A further £10 was given by Mr. John Cory to help pay for further extensions. Communion at the mission was licensed by the Bishop and its celebration was held once a month by the Parish Priest. The Hon. Rev. Grimstone, M.A. Superintendent of the Navvy Mission Society and brother of the Earl of Verulan, visited Barry, and seeing the crowded conditions in which worshippers and the Sunday School was being held, took steps to remedy it. He purchased a plot of land near the end of Weston Hill (which was the former H.Q. of the Salvation Army that had moved to Main Street) to open a new mission and reading rooms, these opened in 1896. In that same year a second mission hall was opened in Holton Road opposite the former gasworks. By 1898 Sunday School classes occasionally exceeded 400, and with some months, attendances of over 1800 children were recorded. The Band of Hope with over 1200 members required the services of over 20 navvies to instruct these and the Sunday School pupils.
In 1900 the lease on the site of the mission expired and an alternative site was chosen in Harvey Street (now Millar's Garage), and whilst the wooden building was being dismantled a tent mission was erected there to allow meetings to continue. The wooden mission hall was re-opened in 1901. The Navvy mission continued to meet until 1929 when a purpose built hall was opened in Lower Dock View Road (now Hillary Rise). It was built as a memorial to Mrs. De Courcy Hamilton.
Mrs. De Courcy Hamilton and her husband had been missionaries, working in a town named Luchana in Spain; the Church was named "Luchana" as a token of the work undertaken by them there.
In 1935 Mr. B.S. Fidler was given charge of the Mission, and he very quickly formed a "Sand Mission" to preach the gospel on the beach at Barry Island, using students of the gospel from Porth to assist him.
In 1936 the old Queens' Hotel, one of the many hotels unable to obtain a licence and which was situated very close to Luchana, came up for sale. It was bought by Mr. De Courcy Hamilton and given to Mr. Fidler and the Mission for use as a training college for Ministers. On the 5th May 1936 the College was opened with eight residential students plus one day student, Grace Wagstaff, who lived in Barry. The same year saw the first Barry Keswick Convention held.
Meetings were held on weekends on King Square and during summer months twice a week on the sands at Barry Island. Mr. Maurice Rowe, a member of the Plymouth Brethren, allowed the students from Porth who worked with the mission on Barry Island free accommodation in rooms above the café during their time there.
During the war years the use of a hut was given to the College at RAF St. Athan to be used as a mission to the airmen on the camp. It was named the "ASR Hut". The Government in 1940 asked for a National Day of Prayer. The college responded and held a meeting on the Square. During that meeting a young 16 year old member of the college was asked to preach, as the person who was meant to do so was suffering from an infection of the throat. The boy's name was Ian Richard Kyle Paisley who after spending some time at the college and receiving his Doctorate there, returned to Ireland and later became a leading figure in political life in Northern Ireland.
In 1950 the name of the college changed to "The South Wales Bible College". The 80's saw the work of the college taken over by the opening and extension of another college, and it finally closed its doors after over 50 years as a training centre for ministers. The building was sold and converted into flats.
Spiritualism in Barry
The first recorded meeting in Barry of a Spiritualist Group was in 1896 and was held in Atlantic Buildings, Dock View Road. Mr. Ernest Oaten and his wife, who prior to her marriage, was Miss Johnston, addressed the meeting. Later Miss Florence Pearce from Bristol gave readings. Two local residents who were present at the inaugural meeting were Mrs. Gifford of Kingsland Crescent and Mr. E. J. Taylor of George Street. Mrs. Oaten presented an evening of clairvoyance. Later in the year Mr. Rees Lewis of Glamorgan Villa, Cardiff, a well-known medium, visited the group. In the early 1900's regular meetings were held in the Glamorgan Restaurant in Thompson Street, with readings being given by clairvoyants from London and many other places in Britain.
The Church in Buttrills Road in which The First National Spiritualist Church now meets was opened in 1889, and was built by the Methodist Free Church. In the early 1900's the congregation of the church amalgamated with the Bible Christians and the Primitive Methodists to form Court Road Methodist Church. The building was then altered and used by the Central Motor Company as a garage from 1919 until 1924, when the First National Spiritualist Church took over the building for its meetings. In 1928 a nationwide convention was held in Barry with over 100 delegates attending. Among the speakers present was Mr. Oaten, who recalled how he and his wife had come to Barry at the invitation of Mr. and Mrs. Taylor over 30 years previously, and was pleased to see them again. He also commented on the growth of spiritualism in the town.
By 1930 there were three Spiritualist Churches meeting in Barry, The First National at Buttrills Road, Barry Village at St. Nicholas Road (the entrance was in Canon Street), and Cadoxton at Kenilworth Road.
Kenilworth Road Christian Spiritualist Church, one of the few iron churches left in Barry and still used for services, was built on the site of the old Theatre of Varieties Hall that opened in 1888 and closed a year later. The Princess Theatre that opened nearby in 1889 closed in 1891 on the opening of the Theatre Royal in Iddesleigh Street (now Main Street). The Theatre Royal on its closure became St. Aidan's Church. The land in Kenilworth Road on which both theatres were built was known as Windmill Field, and was owned by the Traherne family and leased to The Barry Dock Syndicate. On the ordnance survey map for the early 30's the Church is called Zion Cadoxton Spiritualist Church. In June last year it celebrated its 75th anniversary.
A great number of devout followers of Islam, usually seamen arriving in Barry on board ship, would immediately try and find a Mosque or a place in which to worship. They would look for any building with an Arab name and enquire where the nearest Mosque was situated. On being told that Barry did not possess one, and the nearest Mosque was in Cardiff, many seamen who might have only hours in the port asked for permission to use a room in the property in which they could worship.
The room that many of those followers used was the back room of a restaurant in Thompson Street. Before the outbreak of the 2nd World War, many Moslem merchant seamen who had been unable to find ships and had made Barry their home, had also used this room for worship.
Mr. Saleh Hassien who owned the property had fed and housed many fellow Moslems without payment, until they could find another ship or work in the area. A great many of these men who had found work or who later returned to Barry gave money to him in gratitude for his help and hospitality. A part of the teaching of Islam is the extension of hospitality and help to fellow Moslems. For ten years money given to Mr. Hassien was saved to enable him to build the first Mosque in Barry. It was built using the boundary wall of the Syndicate Sidings as the rear wall of the building, and was opened in April, 1946.
The ceremony to open the Mosque was led by Mr. Hassien, and started with a procession containing over 50 Moslems from King Square to Thompson Street. Sheikh Hassan Ismail, a leader of the Moslem community who was asked to open the Mosque, was dressed in Islamic fashion and carried the green Star and Crescent flag of Islam. The Mayor and Mayoress of Barry, the Superintendent of Police, Secretary of the Seamen's Union (Barry Branch) and Mr. Hussien Sheir were among those who also took part in the parade
On arrival at the Mosque Mr. Hassien handed the keys to Sheikh Hassan Ismail who blessed the building and declared it open for worship. Hamout Soloman, on behalf of the Sheikh and the Moslem community, thanked everyone who had made the building of the Mosque possible. Prayers continued for 8 hours after the opening ceremony.
The Mosque built by Mr. H.J. Williams was capable of holding 50 worshippers, was painted in white, and equipped with beautiful rugs for worshippers to pray on. It had a small wash room where footwear was removed and feet bathed before entering the Mosque.
On the demolition of Thompson Street the Mosque was also demolished and once again Moslems had to travel to Cardiff to attend prayers.
Darwin Hinds was a Barry councillor who became the first Moslem Mayor in Britain. Shortly after his appointment as Mayor of the Vale of Glamorgan Borough Council, he went on a pilgrimage to Mecca in Saudi Arabia and also visited Libya. In both countries he met with the heads of state and told them that although his town, Barry was the first town in Britain to have a follower of Islam as its Mayor; it did not possess a Mosque. On hearing this he was guaranteed a sum of money to purchase a suitable building on his return home.
On the building of the new Police H.Q. in Gladstone Road, the old police station on Weston Hill came up for sale, and was bought on behalf of the Moslem Community by Darwin Hinds. It was opened as a place of worship and as a school for the teaching of Islam.
It is now being altered and improved and is regularly used by the Islamic community in Barry.
Rev. Reginald Lomas formed the Church in 1921 after leaving the ministry of Windsor Road Congregational Church over a disagreement with the Church authorities over the uses that Church premises should be put to. When he left, over 80 members went with him and formed their own "Christian Fellowship" which was formally constituted in 1921. Their first meetings were held in the Masonic Hall, Broad Street. Later they moved to the Garden Suburb Institute and whilst there bought a plot of land from the Welsh Town Planning Trust on which to build a Church. The church designed by Mr. T. Alwyn Lloyd, FRIBA won a place in "The Journal of Architecture" as a fine example of modern ecclesiastical art.
Members of the group would not claim a name for the Church until they had proved themselves and the group worthy. 1926 was the year when Christians were celebrating the 7th century of the death of St. Francis of Assisi, and it was then that the Christian Fellowship changed its name to St. Francis-on-the Hill. The Church was very innovative in its thinking, and in assisting various groups in self-help in the years of the depression. It formed the Churches Unemployed Movement, and opened a workshop on the docks where the unemployed could learn the use of tools. It supplied seeds and gardening implements to enable families to grow their own vegetables on allotments. It also started an unemployed workers social club to enable them to get out of their homes and meet other people in the same position as themselves. Full employment came at the outbreak of the 2nd World War, and the scheme was no longer needed.
In 1944 a group of evacuees arrived at the Church from London, and stayed in Barry for 4 months. 1946 saw a group of 60 young people from Holland arrive to a welcome at the Church, where they stayed for a short period. In 1950 a group of 30 Greek children who had been affected by the civil war in their home country arrived in Barry to receive medical attention. They were given homes with Barry families and many stayed and made the Town their new home. The hall was chosen for a farewell party in 1951, when it was time for those who wished to leave to do so.
On the social side, in the late 30's a number of junior members of the Church who attended the County Schools started a Saturday Evening Social which became known as "The Hop." Even though the war intervened, "The Hop" carried on and became a regular Saturday venue for pupils of the County Schools.
A great number of ideas were formulated and adopted by the Church. Every Christmas a large illuminated Christmas Tree was placed at the front of the Church, and gifts for Barnardo's and Ely Homes were placed around it, to be given to those children at Christmas. All Guides and Brownies of the district took part in a Christmas Carol service at the Church. A policy of an Open Pulpit was in effect allowing speakers of different denominations to preach. On a number of occasions Jewish Rabbi's took the service.
In 1954 the Church and Hall was offered to All Saints Parochial Church Council as a gift, but the offer was declined. In 1955 the Glamorgan County Council took over the Church and Hall and converted the Church into a Welsh Medium School, and the hall into a Clinic. All the seating, and the Communion Table and Cross were given to Tynewydd Road Congregational Church, as a Gift in memory of the Rev. Mydyr Evans who had remained a good friend of the Church. Residents of the Suburb now use the building as a community centre for the area.
Rev. Lomas ministered to the needs of the congregation of St. Francis from 1926 until 1955, with a break of five years in the thirties when the Council of Social Services employed him. He died at his home "The Moorings" in Cold Knap Way, in 1972.
Organisations for Young People
Most of the Non-conformist Churches in Barry at one time had "Band of Hope" Children's Temperance Groups. The beginnings of the movement can be traced to Joseph Livesey of Preston who started these groups in 1832, when he began Sunday School classes for both adults and children. Those attending were asked to sign the pledge. At one of these meetings a member of the movement, Dick Turner exclaimed "That nothing but Tea Total would do" and coined a phrase that echoed throughout the Temperance Movement. At a Temperance meeting held in November 1847 by the Rev. Jabez Tunnicliffe, a fellow worker, Annie James, addressing those seated on a platform on the stage, pointed to a large group of children seated in the hall and exclaimed "That these were the future of the Temperance Movement, and were in fact "A Band of Hope". The same day saw the beginnings of "The Band of Hope" movement. By 1893 both the Anglican and Non-Conformist Churches of Barry had formed their own Bands of Hope.
Established in 1883 in Scotland by William Smith, the first companyof the Boys Brigade in Barry was formed in 1892 by the Calvinistic Methodist Church. By the following year there were Brigades attached to most of the non-conformist Churches in Barry. A hall was built for them at the junction of Park Crescent and Pontypridd Road. It was named the Jubilee Hall and opened in 1897 catering for drill, gymnastics and bible classes. It was an innovative move on the part of the Non-Conformist movement of Barry, and was one of the first such purpose built halls in the Country.
Not to be outdone, the Anglican Churches formed their own organisation "The Church Lads Brigade". The first group to be formed was in 1894 and was the St. Nicholas group, closely followed by Cadoxton. By 1895 St. Paul's had formed its own group and combined with the other two to form a battalion.
In 1907 Sir Robert Baden-Powell formed the Boy Scout Movement. The first Patrol to be formed in Barry was the Woodpeckers in 1908, and met in the Porthkerry Methodist Church schoolroom. By the following year there were over 300 boys belonging to the Scout movement in the area. In 1911 the 1st Barry Troop won the Kings banner for the best Scout Troop in the country and held onto it for the two succeeding years. In 1914 the 4th Barry Troop which met at St. Paul's Church Hall regained the Banner for the Scout Movement in Barry. Over succeeding years the Church has always played its part in supporting the Movement.
The Salvation Army also at one time had its own Youth Movement. These were named "The Bobby Bruins" but I have been unable to discover whether there was a group formed in Barry.
There were many other Christian Youth Groups in the Town, such as the YMCA; YWCA and Toc H, but these were not attached exclusively to a particular religious organisation.
© T. CLEMETT 08/10/2003