Chapels and Churches
There have been many different places of worship in Bryn over the years,now the number is in sharp decline. Some demolished, some turned into dwellings and others left to ruin.
Carmel Chapel (As rebuilt 1928)
Carmel chapel opened in 1860 (pictured below). Members of Seion chapel helped to dig the foundations to help lower building costs that totalled £196. Of this money, £121 was collected in advance and the rest was to be paid in 6 years.
In 1869, £70 was spent on improving the building, with this being repaid by 1877, just before the first colliery closed. With many of its members leaving the village to search for jobs, membership fell to only 14.
When Bryn Navigation colliery was sunk in 1902, the chapel had a much-needed boost of followers. Eventually it was decided to build a new chapel. The first part completed in 1928, was intended to be a vestry with the 2nd floor to be added later to constitute the chapel itself. Again economic depression in the 1930s interfered with the plans, with the cost totalling £1750 the 80 strong members the decided to continue to use the vestry building as the chapel. Today the chapel has closed, but the building remains, turned into a home.
Carmel Chapel (Original building 1860)
This church was one of the many benefactions of Miss Emily Charlotte Talbot to whom the ownership of the Talbot estate passed on the death of her father in 1880. Even before the church was constructed there were church worshipers in the village, they used the old school room adjoining Bryn farm. They took the initiative to send a petition to Miss Talbot for the provision for a church in Bryn.( Possible following her generosity in founding St Theodore's in 1897at Port Talbot). Miss Talbot responded whole-heartedly and not only committed herself to pay for the church (£5500) but also the parsonage (£1100) and the church hall built in 1915 for (£760). On the 15th May 1902, a legal document was completed for the usage of the land, which the church had been built upon. On the afternoon of Thursday, 30 August 1900, the foundation stone was laid by Miss Talbot. The church was completed in 1902. The church and hall can be seen above to the left of the photo. The church building was demolished in the latter part of the 1990's due to a waning membership.(CLICK ON PHOTO ABOVE FOR FILM CLIP)The land it stood on was sold for private development and the money used to convert the hall seen to the right of the church, into the main church building. The photo below shows the church vicarage now in private hands. Of further interest at this time the main road through Bryn is seen to the front of the vicarage, ie. Farteg Row. Today the main road is behind this building. A sign of the times perhaps but the church is still under threat due to falling use.
Bryn Seion (below)
In 1840, the Bryn Methodists who were attending services at Dyffryn and Pontrhydyfen decided to have their own place of worship. They took over a small mill (Y Felin Fach) on the west bank of the Ffrwdyllt opposite Farteg Fawr farm. It was a derelict building, which they restored and converted. As the village grew, it soon reached capacity. A larger chapel was needed and so a plot of land was bought from the Talbot estate on higher ground above the mill now chapel terrace (pictured above). The new chapel opened in 1856. In 1914, the old 'Seion' chapel was demolished and a new one built in its place at a cost of between £1,600 and £1,700. A vestry was later added and opened in 1929. By 1986 membership had dropped to 10 and it become impossible to continue. The chapel was closed in October that year and the main building later demolished. The vestry has since been converted into a bungalow seen to the left of the church in the picture below just before demolition of the main building.
The first Baptists appeared in Bryn in 1848, services were fist held in a barn belonging to the colliery company, probably near Coalyard Row. It had 40 members and 40 in Sunday school. There was a very bad case of Cholera in 1849 and a surge in religious activity helped to establish a Baptist Chapel. This was the second chapel in Bryn. Built in 1858 with seating for 120 downstairs and 80 upstairs, the chapel had a boost of 45 members in 1859-60. At first Baptisms took place in the stream below Meadow Row, certainly up until 1900. This stopped due to pollution from the colliery a well under the 'big seat' of the chapel was later used.
Members of the chapel had to pay weekly for the rental of chapel seats, this stopped in 1970, when tickets were given out during singing schools, held after the evening service. Only those with a good attendance were allowed to go up to the gallery to sing. In its heyday, the members would produce dramas and operas, Mayor John Harry Jones was one of the members and also became its secretary. The chapel is now a grade 2-listed building which was turned into a dwelling in 2003
English Baptist Chapel
This is the youngest church in Bryn and is still open, the formation service was held in 1917 when the chapel was accepted into the English Baptist Association, at that time they had 13 members,
The Apostolic Church
The first Apostolic church was founded in Bryn in 1926. It first used the ambulance room, which was owned by the Bryn colliery, its services were every Thursday and Sunday. A new church was built near the old co-op, at its strongest point it had a membership of 58 and finally closed in 1953.
All these places of worship were a centre for culture and learning with children being taught Welsh and sol-fa which were important at the time, when so few would have had a formal education in the 18 and 19th century.