The Memorial Hall & Church Club
Seymour Street, Aberdare

Postcard

This picture is from a postcard that was available in the first decade of the last century. This one is franked 1906. The buildings occupied a large plot on the corner of Seymour Street and Whitcombe Street in the centre of the town. The building in the foreground is the Memorial Hall and further up the street is the Church Club. The foundation stones are dated July 16th, 1894. There were two of these one for the hall and one for the club, and they can be seen in the picture above, one behind the lamp-post, and the other between the second and third doorways in Seymour Street. Close up pictures of these stones are shown below. Both these buildings were erected and fitted out by a builder named Mr. Bowers, of Hereford, at a cost of £3,296 16s. 4d., and the clerk of the works was Mr. Griffiths, of Swansea. The plans were drawn by the a Mr. Wakeling, an architect based in Merthyr.

The buildings were constructed from a half-glazed red brick and decorated with terra cotta mouldings. The building was notable for its cupola, its decorated cornices and elaborate canopies especially above the doorways, particularly to the Hall. The building was demolished in 1988, and so far, (2013), nothing has replaced it.

The Church Club building originally contained a boys’ reading-room, a coffee bar, and a room devoted to amusements. The men’s department consisted of a large committee room, a reading room, card rooms, and billiard room, 42ft by 24ft fitted up with two tables. There was here also a bathroom, lavatories, and offices. The entrance to the girls’ department was in Seymour Street, and contained an assembly and a reading-room, and a gymnasium.

The Church Club building, after some alterations, was also the first home of the Aberdare Public Library, opening there on January 4th, 1904. It left these premises in May 1917. The library was then housed on the upper floor of a building on the corner of Seymour Street and High Street, opposite St. Johns Church; then, in December 1949 it moved again to Siloa Hall (now demolished) behind Green Street Methodist Chapel. Finally, in September 1963, the library moved to occupy its present and fourth home.

The school has taken a keen interest in the library over the years:
W. Jenkyn Thomas was a member of the first general committee, and in later years the school contributed chairmen of the Town Library Committee: E. Ogwen Williams 1915 - 1921; W. Charlton Cox 1922 - 1932; Mr. L.M. Thomas 1937, 1944, 1946 - 1949 and 1953.

 

Looking west up Seymour St

Looking west up Seymour Street

Towards Weatheral St

Again, looking west up Seymour Street towards
its junction with Weatheral Street and High Street.

Towards Canon St

Looking south down Whitcombe Street towards the cross roads with
Dean Street and to the junction with Canon Street.
St Elvan’s Church is in the distance.

Detail of door canopy

The canopy above the Seymour Street Memorial Hall
door. Above this, is another feature which carries
a stone tablet, partially shown above,
inscribed with the words:
“Bowen Jenkins Memorial Hall”.

Seymour St Canopy 1

This is the other Memorial Hall door canopy, in Whitcombe Street.
Notice that it has a different design from the one in Seymour Street.

Seymour St canopy 2

Another view of the Whitcombe Street canopy.

BJ_Tablet

The commemorative tablet above the Seymour Street entrance to the Memorial Hall,
carrying the words: “Bowen Jenkins Memorial Hall”.

Demolition internal photo

This picture shows one of the rooms in the Memorial Hall buildings in its last days in the 1980s.


Foundation and Memorial Stones

The two memorial stones have now been incorporated into the walls of the Dare Valley Country Park Centre. They can be found in the alley-way that leads from the car park to the enclosed courtyard of the Centre. The stones appear to be carved on a pink granite, but the mortar work around them has defaced them slightly.

The wording on this one is as follows:
 

This foundation stone of the church clubs
was laid by the
Right Honourable Robert George
Baron Windsor
Lord Lieutenant of the County
on July 16TH A.D. 1894

Baron Windsor Stone
Bowen Jenkins Stone

The hall was called The Memorial Hall, because the it was built to commemorate the ten years spent in the town by
Richard Bowen Jenkins, M.A., as its vicar.

The wording on the stone reads as follows:
 

this foundation stone of the hall was laid
in memory
of the ten years vicariate in this parish,
of Richard Bowen Jenkins, m.a.
1883 - 1893
by richard lord bishop of llandaff
on july 16TH A.D. 1894

Richard Bowen Jenkins
Vicar of Aberdare, 1883 - 1893

His last position was Rector of Llangoedmor from which he retired in 1911.
He died in 1914, aged 70.

Richard Bowen Jenkins