The Bethany Chapel Six Bells.
The Bethany Baptist Church at Six Bells was formed in 1897 as an off-shoot of King Street Baptists Church. At the time less than a dozen Coal Miners of the Baptist denomination held their Sabbath meetings in the room of a small cottage in the neighbourhood. Some of the gentlemen who were instrumental in its formation were Mr Matthias; Mr D. Rees; Mr S. Miles and Mr Gatfield amongst others, their labours paid off and their numbers increased so that their services were carried on at the Six Bells Board Day School. A few years later a Small Chapel and Schoolroom was planned. A site was secured and the building of the Chapel was started at a cost of £560.
The Original Bethany Chapel and Schoolroom.
On Sunday 7th July 1901 the Bethany Chapel and Schoolroom was officially opened. The Minister on the day was Rev T. G. James of Cefn Tydu who preached three sermons, he was aided by Rev B. Davies and Rev E. W. Edwards. On the following Monday Rev J. Edwards of Newbridge and Rev Howell Jones of Llanhilleth preached in Welsh and English respectively. Miss Tryler presided on the organ. The collections totalled £40 over the two days.
Over the next few years the population grew rapidly which also coincided with the Revival of awakening of 1904 and as a matter of urgency a much larger Chapel was needed.
The New Bethany Chapel.
In 1905 the Architect and Surveyor was called upon, plans were prepared and Tenders were invited. A new Chapel was proceeded with which was built on the same site though in front of and adjoining the old smaller Chapel. (The old original Chapel with different stonework can be seen on the featured image above, attached to the back of the new Bethany Chapel building). It was said that the new Chapel was to be built of a different style to the commonplace designs usually seen in other colliery districts. The Architect was Mr Gasenius Lewis and the Contractors were Messrs Skidmore & McWhirter of Abertillery. The Cost of the new Chapel was £1,600.
The Ceremony of the laying of the Foundation Stones.
On Monday 16th October 1905 the ceremony of the Laying of the Foundation Stones took place . Rev H. Burgess of the Forward Movement at Six Bells gave out words and hymns. The Architect Mr Gasenius Lewis presented each of the stone layers with a Silver mounted mallet for the special occasion. The first stone was laid by Miss Lizzie Evans of Six Bells on behalf of Mr David Lewis of Llanhilleth who had donated £5. Mrs A. H. Wilson unveiled a stone that had already been laid a few day prior with a donation of £5 and another stone was laid by Mr Wilson on behalf of the committee with a donation of £5. Mr T. Richards M.P. laid another stone with Mr J. Prichard who laid one on behalf of Mr R. McKenna M.P. with £2. 2s for Mr Rogers with £1 for Mr T. H. Prichard with £1 1s and the same for Mr Symons of London. An anonymous giver left 5s who had written a note “Mae fynghalon yn dweyd deg punt ond fy llogell yn dweyd umswllt” – “My heart says £10, but my pocket says 5s”!
Mr Richard Cory J.P. and Philanthropist laid the next stone and gave a £5 donation. Mr Gatfield who had laid the first stone on the original Chapel/Schoolroom, unveiled a stone that had already been laid on behalf of the Sunday School and gave a donation of £20 to the treasurer. A stone was laid in the name of the juveniles who gave £5. A memorial stone was laid by Miss Lizzie Lewis in the memory of Mrs Annie Lewis and £10 was placed on it. At the end of the ceremony over £70 was raised and tea was provided at the Schoolroom. In the evening a special meeting was held, Rev G. Harris of Cardiff presided. Solo’s were rendered by Mrs Selway, Miss Richards and Messrs Burton and Lucas. Masters Oswald Trilla and Willie Wilson recited as a result the evening meeting the days proceeds were increased to £80.
The new Chapel was built with a front elevation onto the road. The front entrance was through a well arrange porch leading to a spacious vestibule, from which access to the body of the Chapel and Galleries. There was a slight fall given to the floor of the Chapel enabling all worshippers to obtain a good view of the Ministers and also to help with the acoustics of the building. The total cost of the Chapel was £1,600. It was reported that the financial position was better than most other chapels in the district though they were no visible means of payment for a regular pastor, the services were by means of “supply” Ministers, of whom Mr J. Prichard of Church Street, Abertillery was in constant request.
The Bethany Chapel is still in service today.