Capel Horeb, James Street, Pontardawe, Glamorgan
Above: The neglected Horeb Welsh Wesleyan Chapel on James Street, Pontardawe (May 2013)
Name: Capel Horeb
Below: Capel Horeb from an early 20th century picture postcard.
Denomination: Welsh Wesleyan
Photograph (right): Helen Whyte
Date: 21 January 2013
Camera: BlackBerry Curve 8520
Note 1: John Wesley began exploratory evangelistic visits to Wales in 1739. He found the Welsh language a considerable barrier. However ten years after his death, the first Wesleyan Welsh mission was set up, and within seventeen years fourteen Welsh Wesleyan circuits were in action. By the end of the century there were Llanelli, Carmarthen, Llandeilo, Tredegar, Cardiff, Merthyr Tydfil and Abercynon circuits, each containing several chapels, By the 1960s many Welsh chapels had closed, and it became clear that the best course was to amalgamate several of the circuits into one large area, and thus the Morgannwg Circuit came into being, stretching from Carmarthen and Llandeilo in the west to Cardiff and Tredegar in the east.
[Source: West Glamorgan Archive Service]
Note 2: The original Horeb was opened in 1845 alongside what is now Glanrhyd Road. Sixty years later it was superseded by the 'new' Horeb in James Street. Three old cottages were demolished to make room for the foundations. The chapel opened in 1905 with a seating capacity of five hundred. The preacher at the opening was Dr Jones of bangor. From 1992 until its final closure in 1997, the chapel hosted the congregation (of a dozen or so members) of the English Wesleyan Methodist chapel in Holly Street, which had closed in 1992.
[Source: Around Pontardawe: The Second Selection, compiled by The Pontardawe Historians, Tempus Publishing, Stroud, 1999. ISBN 0-7524-1655-3]
Note 3: "The best of these [eccentric works] are the Welsh Wesleyan chapel at Pontardawe, Glam., 1902, with a spray of wild typography on the upper façade;..."
[Source: Welsh Chapels, by Anthony Jones, Alan Sutton Publishing Ltd., Stroud, 1996. ISBN 0-7509-1162-X]
Note 4: James Street Methodist Chapel was built in 1854, rebuilt in 1862 and rebuilt again in 1902. The 1902 chapel was built in the Arts and Crafts style with a gable-entry plan.
[Source: Coflein database; NPRN 10106]
Note 5: I have recollections of the interior [of Horeb Chapel], which was probably very impressive when first furnished, and the grim damp basement hall. When I was there in the 1990s the amount of damp in some areas of the building meant that the electricity had to be turned off when no-one was in the building, but turned on to work the organ. The electric distribution board was high on the wall above a curved staircase leading down to the basement, and to turn it on or off you needed either someone fairly tall standing tiptoe on the curved stairs, or someone trying to knock the master switch on or off with a broom handle which was kept for the purpose.
[Source: Email correspondence with Jeff Coleman, dated 20 January 2014]