Ca. 1836 Thomas Lloyd came to Cardigan to establish a Foundry on the Mwldan with English-speaking Nonconformist workers from Pembrokeshire. He resolved to establish an English Nonconformist Chapel in the town. The Chapel book from 1887 records:
“…In 1836 Mr. Thomas Lloyd settled in Cardigan as an Ironmonger. He as well established a large anchor and chain cable works and a ship smithery. Bringing with him a large number of work people from a district in Pembrokeshire where English was the vernacular, he found no service in that language at Cardigan except at the Parish Church, and as the bulk of his work people were Nonconformists this was soon found to be a great disadvantage, and in consequence, with the assistance of the Welsh Independent Church of Capel Mair it was determined to establish an English Chapel for his workmen and others…”
“…Mr. Lloyd had taken a lease for 21 years of premises in St. Mary St. and he proceeded to covert a portion of these in Carrier’s Lane into Hope Chapel. Mr. Lloyd was of course assisted by friends in this undertaking…”
In 1837 the chapel was built as an English Congregational chapel by Thomas Lloyd, ironmonger, of No. 40 St. Mary Street, with assistance from Rev. Daniel Davies of Capel Mair Congregational Chapel, Feidrfair. Prior to completion the congregation met in a loft behind No. 39 St. Mary Street. Iron gates were provided from Thomas Lloyd’s ironworks. The first sermon took place on Sunday 2nd October 1837 and seven ministers attended and took part. Rev. David Phillips attended and was the first Pastor of Hope Chapel, from 1838-45. On 3rd October 1837 the first members were enrolled: Thomas Lloyd, ironmonger, St. Mary Street (formerly Haverfordwest); Martha Lloyd, his wife; Jane Jenkins, Pwllhai (formerly a member of Capel Mair); Elizabeth Lloyd, St. Mary’s Lane (formerly Capel Mair); William Groombridge, Kilgerran (formerly Stoddhurst, London); and Elinor Davies, St. Mary Street (formerly Capel Mair). In January 1840 Minister Rev. David Phillips married Elinor Evans, the widow of Captain Evans. In 1845 Rev. D. Phillips left. In 1847 a report was made of the Sunday School here, taught by Thomas Lloyd.
In 1849-50 Rev. Richard Hancock was the second Minister here and ran the ‘Cardigan Academy’ school in Pendre. The Chapel book’s account of the history continues:
“…The first sermon was preached Sunday 2nd October 1837 by the first Pastor, the Rev. David Phillips who remained for some years. He was succeeded by the Rev. Richard Hancock who left somewhere about the year 1850. During this period the small chapel was well filled and the Church was fairly prosperous…”
Membership fell following the closure of Thomas Lloyd’s Mwldan Foundry in 1850 and the dispersal of the workers. Rev. R. Hancock left that year. In 1851 there were 71 attendees and 35 scholars on a Sunday morning, 67 afternoon scholars and 85 in the evening. Rev. Richard Hancock was still the Pastor according to the religious census of that year. The chapel book continues:
“…Mr. Lloyd now determined to abandon his business transferring the ironmongery business to Mr. Levi James and discontinuing the chain and anchor works. This led to the dispersion of his work-people and consequent lessening of membership of Hope…”
In 1854 Rev. Robert Breeze became the Pastor for a short time. The chapel book notes:
“…The Rev. Robert Breeze became Pastor in 1854 – he remained but a short time with us, obtaining employment elsewhere…”
The pastorate was then vacant and the chapel was the only Independent English Nonconformist chapel in the county. Rev. Daniel Davies of Capel Mair assisted with services as often as possible at that time. On 3rd January 1855 Launcelot Lowther joined. Rev. Robert Breeze left in 1855. The chapel book notes:
“…Then followed a period when the Church was without a Pastor and depended upon supplies which were exceedingly irregular and difficult to obtain from the fact of Hope Chapel at this time being the only English Nonconformist place of worship in the County. Still despite this very serious disadvantage the Church remained united and fairly successful. The Rev. Daniel Davies, Pastor of the sister Church at Capel Mair supplied so often as possible during this time…”
In 1858 the lease on the property expired and the chapel was advertised for sale. It was purchased for £125 from Levi James of No. 40 St. Mary Street by public subscription in 1859. The chapel book catalogues the events in the following words:
“…In 1858 the lease held by Mr. Lloyd expired and the owner of the freehold gave our church notice to quit. Soon afterwards the whole premises were advertised for sale in one lot. We ineffectually endeavoured to induce the owner’s agent to separate Hope Chapel from the other premises. Prior to the Public sale, the friends came to an understanding with Mr. Levi James that if he purchased the premises at the auction he would re-convey the Chapel to the Trustees of the Church for one fourth of the purchase money of the whole. Fortunately the premises were knocked down for the sum of £500, consequently the friends obtained their chapel for £125. This sum was soon obtained through the kind assistance of many local and other friends, and the building was duly enrolled in the Court of Chancery…”
In 1861 Rev. David Jones became the Pastor. He left in 1865. According to the chapel book:
“…Under the adviceof Rev. Daniel Davies the Church was induced to call to the Pastorate a young student from New Quay – David Jones – studying in Cardigan for a Town Missionary and he was admitted some time about the year 1861 and remained until the year 1865…”
In August 1867 Rev. John Newman Richards was ordained here and became the Pastor until 1872 when he left for Pembrokeshire. The chapel book records:
“…Another interval followed when the Church was without a minister, but about August 1867 the Rev. John Newman Richards accepted the Pastorate and remained between 5 or 6 years…”
In November 1873 Rev. Lewis Beynon of Bristol became the Pastor. According to the church book:
“…After an interval of a few months from his leaving, Mr. Richards was succeeded by the Rev. Lewis Beynon from Bristol. At this time a suggestion was made by a valued member that some improvement should be attempted in the arrangement of the Chapel which was exceedingly inconvenient, the situation being also very bad, in a narrow lane. After consideration it was determined that if possible a better site should be secured and a new Chapel erected. The carrying out of this was facilitated by the I. O. G. T. being desirous of obtaining a Hall for their meetings. Negotiations with them eventuated in an arrangement for their purchase of the old chapel…”
On 7th May 1879 work began on a new Hope English Congregational Chapel at Pendre. On 22nd October 1880 the old property was sold off for use as a temperance hall by the ‘Association of Good Templars’ for £200. In 1885 the ‘Salvation Army’ founded a local headquarters here. The ‘Salvation Army’ left in December 1888. On 2nd October 1914 the former Temperance Hall was suggested for use as a cottage hospital. In June 1920 it was advertised for sale.
On 3rd April 1925 permission was granted for a door on runners to be installed for Griffiths Bros., who moved their motor repair business here from Bridge End, Cardigan. In 1925-36 Griffiths Bros. had a Motor Repair Shop here. In April 1936 Ifor Griffiths left to set up his own garage – Pioneer Garage, at Bridge End, Cardigan. The motor repair shop was referred to in 1937.
On 7th November 1952 the fist issue of “The Cardigan & Tivy-Side Advertiser” to be produced at the new print works here was published. The print works closed in 1991.
In 1992 the building was ‘listed’. The gates still exist and were held at the back of No. 39 St. Mary Street in 1999. In September 2008 planning permission was being sought to turn the building into a café with residential accommodation over. Permission was granted in late 2009, but no work had taken place as of 1st June 2013.
In 1992 the building was described by CADW:
“…1837 former English Congregational Chapel, sold c1879 and used until 1991 as printing house of Cardigan & Tivy-Side Advertiser.
Blue lias rubble stone with slate roof, half-hipped to south end. West side wall has 2 windows, long 12-pane sash to left with timber lintel and off-centre 6-pane window, formerly 12-pane sash, with painted stone voussoirs, the lower half lost for workshop entry with big timber lintel. Later infill with double doors. One ornate wrought iron gate affixed to wall, to right of entry. Blocked door at left against rear wing of No 40 St Mary Street.
South end wall has lean-to on ground floor, first floor 12-pane sash with red-brick cambered head. Plaque to left ‘Hope Chapel 1837’. Rear has one window with red brick head and one with timber lintel…”
Pigot’s Directory 1835
Hope Chapel Record Books
Slater’s Directory 1850
The Religious Census of 1851
Post Office Directory 1871
Cardigan & Tivy-Side Advertiser 1879-80; 1914; 1920; 1925; 1932; 1935-37; 1952; 2008
O. S. Map 1887 etc.
Headed Paper – Griffiths Bros., Carrier’s Lane 1931-34
Capel Mair, D J Roberts 1955
Buildings of Architectural or Historic Interest – Cardigan, CADW 1992.
© Glen K Johnson 09/06/2013