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Wesley Chapel, Incline Row, Taibach, Port Talbot, Glamorgan
Taibach Chapel, Port Talbot

Name: Taibach Wesley

  Wesleyan Methodist

Built: 1840? (see notes below)
Rebuilt: 1893

Photography: Jeff Coleman
Date: 7 March 2009
  Olympus D-380 Camedia digital

Note 1: The Church was opened on 2 May 1893 at 3pm, on Incline Row, Taibach, in the parish of Margam, on land the lease of which had been agreed in 1887 by C. R. M. Talbot, M.P., of Margam (1803-1890). Incline Row was also known as Waun-y-glo. The baptism register started some years earlier because the Taibach Methodist Society had been constituted before they had their own building, as a daughter church of the London Road, Neath, Wesleyan society, in the Neath Wesleyan Circuit. The history of Taibach Wesley is very much tied up with that of the Taibach Copper Works and the collieries which supplied it with coal. As early as 1829/30 the Company of Copper Miners had established a school connected with the Taibach works, known as the Eastern or Margam Copperworks School, supported by the company and one and a half pence weekly contributions made by workers. In 1838 The Copper Works passed first to Mr Talbot, and then to the Vivian family, long established in the Copper business and established already at Hafod, Swansea. The Vivian family were from Cornwall, John Henry Vivian having come to the Penclawdd works in 1810. They belonged to the Church of England as a family but were happy to support their workers in other denominations, particularly Methodism, which was strong in Cornwall. In 1848 the Primitive Methodists were meeting in the school, and the Independent congregation which later formed Gibeon chapel also met there. From 1873 the Wesleyans had services and Sunday School in the Boys section of the school. Demand for a Wesleyan meeting place had arisen partly as a result of the history of the Vivians’ coal mines. After some years of worshipping and running a Sunday School in the school buildings, led among others by Mr Martin, head teacher of the Boys School, it was decided to build their own chapel. Apparently at the first meeting an old lady called Mrs Clatworthy came up to Mr Martin and said that from the 3/6 a week she had from Parish Relief she would give one shilling towards the building fund. The lease was obtained but before building could begin there was on 14 March 1890 a terrible explosion at Morfa which was felt at Taibach, and led to the death of 87 men and boys. Some bodies were only recovered 5 years later, and some never recovered. The foundations of the chapel were dug out by men from the congregation after work, going 10 feet down to allow for basement rooms. £1800 was raised, enough to build 20 houses. Foundation stones were laid on 23 June 1892, including one by Arthur Pendarves Vivian, in charge of the copper works, who lived nearby;, one in memory of Walter Hibbert, a Neath businessman who had died in 1890;, and one by 5-year-old Thomas Andrew Richards in memory of Thomas Andrew of Neath (died 1878) who with his wife had adopted and brought up the boy’s father, John Edmund Richards. The chapel was built with seating for 650 but there were said to be 750 squeezed in for the opening. An organ was installed in 1896 at the cost of £95 and survived there for 70 years before being sold to Skewen New Road chapel. Also in 1896 a decision was taken that no animals should graze in the chapel grounds.
[Source: Centenary history published in 1993 by the chapel, containing notes based on the book Taibach Wesley Church 1893- 1993: The story of a People's - Faith - Toil – Vision co-ordinated by Cled Phillips, published privately]

Note 2: Tai-Bach Methodist Chapel was built in 1840 and rebuilt in 1892. [Source: Coflein database of the Royal Commission on the Ancient and Historical Monuments of Wales (accessed 10 January 2016)]

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