Welcome to St Mary’s, St Agnes’ Holy Trinity & The St Paul’s Centre

together we are The Rectorial Benefice of Aberavon, serving Aberavon, Port Talbot & Sandfields.

We are part of the Diocese of Llandaff in the Church in Wales                                                                                                  

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Until 1901 there were only two Anglican parishes in our local area: Margam and Aberavon. Both of these were ancient sites, whose history goes back to Roman times, and whose church life has been chronicled since the twelfth century.

The area east of the River Afan was in the parish of Margam, and it was out of this that the parish of Port Talbot St Theodore was created in 1901. It met the needs of the emerging influx in population who travelled to the new district of Port Talbot following the construction of the docks (1894-1898) and the founding of the steel works at the beginning of the 20th Century.

The whole area was transformed as shops and houses grew up in and around the farm land of the now vanished Tydraw and Cwrt Ucha farms, giving us today’s Forge Road and Station Road, with the many streets running off in ribbon development.

Although many of the people travelled over the river to worship at St Mary’s it was clear to the clergy of St Theodore’s that provision for Anglican worship needed to be made closer to home for this ever expanding population. A Sunday school was set up in 1901 in the disused premises of the old Forge School, under the oversight of the Reverend Arthur Jenkins, assistant curate at Margam and then St Theodore’s from 1898 to 1908.

The much vandalised building needed much work to enable it to be used, and a band of local volunteers set about the work of repair, enabling twelve children to be the first to use the new Sunday School. For a time the only furniture available consisted of a well-worn table, a few wooden benches and a grocer’s box! Soon the numbers of children increased, and by 1903 there were 178 Sunday School scholars. The first Superintendent of the Sunday School was Daniel Howells, ably assisted by John Hazel.

Within a year the Vicar of St Theodore’s was holding Sunday Services in the schoolroom, and attracting several local communicant Anglicans. A name was given to the building: St Agnes’ Mission Church, and Evensong was held there for the first time on13th April 1902. Within a month of opening money had been found to buy 100 hymn books  - a sure sign of growth and success. Miss Emily Talbot paid to have further repair work carried out at the building, and purchase extra furniture.

That same year a new curate arrived to take charge of the mission. His name was the Reverend David Joshua James, and he was stay with the parish until June 1905, during which time service numbers increased, and were held on week days as well as Sundays.

A boys club was started, and sewing classes introduced for the girls. Numbers continued to increase and in 1904 a pulpit, no longer needed at Holy Cross Church, was sold to the mission congregation at St Agnes’. Within three years there were recorded 240 people worshipping at the mission, and by 1908 it became clear to the church leadership, clergy and lay, that a church building was required to properly meet the needs of all the people.

Emily Talbot, one of the richest women in Britain, was the benefactress of St Agnes’ Church, and many other Anglican establishments in the Diocese of Llandaff.

Emily Talbot offered to bear the major costs of building a new church, providing members themselves paid for the chancel, the Lady Chapel, the lighting and the organ chamber. She would purchase the land, the nave, altar, other furnishings, heating and gas fittings, the lych gate, boundary wall and architects fees. The total paid out by her eventually amounted to £6035.00. The elated members readily accepted the conditions she had imposed, and the building of the church was carried out by Collins and Godfrey of Tewksbury form the plans drawn by the architect F .R. Kempson of Cardiff. The foundation stone was laid by Lady Eveline Byass, wife of Sir Sidney H Byass, on October 10th, 1908. The Byass family had owned the land on which the original Forge School had been built, together with the surrounding area that had been the home to the Forge Works, demolished to make way for Tudor Street, Edward Street, Ynys Street, Afan Street and the now redeveloped area formerly the Riding School.

Less than two years later, on the 20th June 1910 the new church of St Agnes the Martyr, with seating for 611 peopple, was consecrated by the Right Rev. J. P. Hughes, Bishop of Llandaff.

The joy of the achievement was tempered only by the realisation that the congregation had to find £1948 to pay for their share of the works, and they resolutely set about their task with an energy and commitment that continues to show itself today. In 1910 £1948 was a considerable sum of money.

In June 2010 the Archbishop of Wales and Bishop of Llandaff (The Most Revered Dr Barry Morgan) gathered with the congregation of St Agnes’ to celebrate its 100 years of witness and worship in the community.

Would you like to help preserve St Agnes’ for the future?

Why not join The Friends of St Agnes’ Church?  The Friends exists to help preserve the fabric of the building and engage in the mission of the church to the community. Membership can be paid for life, or annually, and we accept Standing Orders for monthly annual subscriptions.

Send a message to the Secretary of the Friends.

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