Merthyr Tydfil- two chapels, two prophets

by Alan Davies


In the twentieth century two LDS chapels were built in Merthyr Tydfil, South Wales. They have a unique connection: they were both dedicated by a prophet of God.

After experiencing great success in Merthyr in the nineteenth century, missionary work practically ceased after many members emigrated. The branch was officially closed in 1912. However, in the 1930s missionaries were again assigned to the area. After months of effort baptisms took place in January 1932. New converts were baptised in the river.  Weekly meetings were held in members’ homes, and local halls were hired for conferences.

By 1936 the members felt it appropriate to build their own chapel. After purchasing the materials they built their new wooden chapel in Penyard, Merthyr Tydfil, under the direction of missionary Branch President Evan Arthur. The first recorded sacrament meeting there was held Sunday 20th December 1936.

In February 1937 it was announced that President Heber J. Grant would visit Great Britain, to observe the hundredth anniversary of the gospel coming to Britain (23rd July 1837). On Monday, 26th July President Grant visited Merthyr and dedicated the recently completed chapel. His dedicatory prayer included a blessing that the chapel would stand for as long as the saints needed it.

In the 1950’s the growth of the church warranted a new larger chapel in Merthyr. A 2½-acre site was purchased in Georgetown, approximately half a mile from the previous building. Groundbreaking took place in March 1961.

Branch and District leaders now included men who had been present as young boys at the earlier dedication by President Grant. This second dedication was performed by President David O. McKay in August 1963. President McKay’s mother had been born in Merthyr and joined the church along with her family. So President McKay had a keen interest in the progress of the building work and made the effort to attend the dedication despite poor health.

As a footnote it should be recorded that in 1936 two huts were built in Penyard, both with the same materials and design. A year later, the non-church hut collapsed.

Several months after the church vacated their Penyard building (after 25 years of use), it also collapsed. Members who had been present at the 1937 dedication were not surprised.

Presidebt Grant
Presidebt Grant