A brief historical background to Carmel Chapel, Pontlliw, Swansea


· Carmel chapel is situated in a secluded, wooded location off the A48 road, 7 miles West of Swansea. Pontlliw at the beginning of the 19th Century was circled by farmsteads , but the village was significant for its woollen mill and its iron works - Lliw forge.

· The first meetings of the Cause were held in the Forge charcoal house in 1832 when John Pugh, the minister of ‘Siloam’, Killay, conducted a series of services and subsequently served as its minister for 14 years. Carmel was accepted into the Glamorgan Baptist Association in 1843.

· Ever since its inception, Carmel has maintained a consistent and regular Ministry of the Word  and Pastoral Oversight. This has continued into the 21st century with Rev. H. Vincent Watkins as minister, a descendant of the first two individuals to be baptised in June, 1832.

· The strong Sunday school tradition dates back to at least 1840, and structured Scripture teaching has continued unabated to the present. Two branch Sunday schools were formed at the beginning of the 20th century. The one held at Grovesend became ‘Bethania’ Church in 1908. On closure in 1993, the remaining members of Bethania returned to the mother-church of Carmel.

· The first vestry was added to the Chapel in 1893, and over a century later, a new, second vestry was opened in March, 1996. It was to contain all of the modern amenities required by Health and Safety Regulations. This facility has become a devotional and cultural Christian centre for the village community.

· Continuity has been a dominant characteristic of Carmel, but it has also responded to the changing times of the years. One indication of this is that it introduced a bi-lingual Sunday morning service in 1943. The afternoon service however still gives members of the church an opportunity to worship in Welsh. It has maintained a rural atmosphere of affinity and friendship.

Carmel’s core creed is the Lordship of Christ, Saviour of the world which requires from his members ‘Christ-centred and Spirit filled lives.’

Here is a newspaper cut-out pertaining to the "Special Service of Thanksgiving" held at Carmel to celebtate the installation  of the "new  organ".

Other senior members of Carmel would recognise all the characters

but my knowledge of their names would be, from left to fright,

1)   Mr Coslet Davies ?

2)   Mr Willy Walters

3)   Mr David Mathias

4)   Mr John Gwenter

5)    unknown

6)   Mr Ivor Owen, organist

7)   Miss Annie Grey, Carmel's resident organist

8)    unknown

9)   Mr John Emlyn Mathias

10) Mr Cyril Morgan

11) Mr John Walters

12) Mr Hardin Thomas

( This was sent to us by Mr Rhydwen Mathias.)

Thank you.

Text Box: The Minister and deacons of the Church 
September 2009

 In the photo, you will see some of the past members of Peniel Chapel, Pontlliw, following a special service to celebrate the commencement of the Christian witness at Peniel.  Unfortunately, the work came to an end a number of years ago and the Church was decommissioned.  It is good to say, however, that many of Peniel members join with us in worship at Carmel, and the fellowship is warm.

This photo was taken in 1950, and it looks like the Pontlliw Primary School "Infants" Christmas party, but it could be our own Carmel Sunday School party, I'm not sure. I think it's of special interest  since it shows one of our early ministers indeed, my Rhydwen Williams.
Also present is the then headmaster Mr Clee, our very own (late) Megan (Thomas) Lewis, and a host of our present and departed membership. A photo worth archiving.

If anyone can give more information please contact us.


Testimony of Mr. Islwyn James, Cilystarn, a Relative.

During our boyhood, one of the renown inhabitants of the village was Madam Sarah Ellen Aubrey, a professional singer, the daughter of Mr and Mrs Tom John, Bryntirion Road. For many years she cared for the children's graves and subsequently, by Mrs Rachel Mary Clement, Brynbach and then her daughter Mrs Millie Thomas. Mrs Aubrey was brought up in Velindre at a farmstead Ffynnonfedw with her parents. Her father was the son of Thomas John (1828 - 1900), a deacon at Carmel and Eleanor (nee Clement) Ffynnonfedw. Children of the family of Eleanor, Ffynnonfedw are amongst those buried in Carmel. Mrs Aubrey then is the grand-daughter of Tom and Eleanor. They died in the cholera plague which was an epidemic in the early years of the nineteenth century. In his History of Wales Dr. John Davies writes that the year 1832 was the first record of cholera in Britain when 160 died in Merthyr and 152 in Swansea. A more severe epidemic occurred in 1848-9 when 1682 died in Merthyr alone. The source of the plague was traced to the impure water of the wells. (The name Ffynnonfedw may be translated Birch Well) Mr Islwyn James recalls that the dead children were collected in a horse drawn cart by night and they were probably buried in the dead of night. In 1848 the Public Health Act was passed which required local authorities to build reservoirs and provide clean water, brushed streets and adequate sewerage. The Velindre Reservoirs are a consequence of this Act.

The children's graves belong to the early years of the history of Carmel. The first Chapel was built in 1834. Bethesda Velindre Sunday School began in the home of Mr Tom John, Ffynnonfedw in 1909. It is encouraging that the maintenance of the graves is continued by the present members of Carmel.

D. I. D. July 2013.

Text Box:

Eglwys y bedyddwyr carmel baptist church pontlliw

Here is a photo of Carmel taken some 50 years ago. There isn’t another house to be seen!




Thanks to

Mrs Rosemary Walters for the photo.