I continue to build up the information on our website. It’s always been my aim to try and make our website the ‘go-to’ site for information on the history of the old parish of Roath. It is still a long way from being that at present I admit. For the past couple of months I have been making a determined effort to complete our page on the histories of churches, rather than dart around witting about churches, pubs, schools, streets and buildings etc. I’ve a fair number still to go but I am getting there. The final number could be close to a hundred I think.
One advantage of tackling churches is that there are some good resources to hand including the book Cardiff Churches Through Time by one of our members Jean Rose and of course the books on Roath by Jeff Childs. These are available to purchase from our Society.
Some of my work has led to exchanges with people who know about the history of certain churches. One of those people has been Richard Haworth who knows about Ebenezer Baptist Church in Pearl Street. He has kindly not only provided some interesting photographs but also expanded on the history of the church. I reproduce the full article below.
For anyone worried about all this emphasis on churches, panic not, I’m planning on finishing off the pub history page next.
Ebenezer Baptist Church
Ebenezer Baptist Church on Pearl Street was a daughter Church of Tredegarville Baptist Church. It started as the Christ Church Baptist Mission on Theodora Street in 1879, moving briefly to rooms on Broadway before a building was constructed on Pearl Street in 1883 at a cost of around £700. In 1886 the newspapers reported that a communion plate and baptismal dress and some other items were stolen from the church. In November 1981 the foundation stones were laid for the new Chapel, the previous building becoming the schoolrooms at the rear of the Church.
The Church was built in the gothic style with a capacity of 500 in mind, though the gallery was not added at this stage. The cost was projected to be about £1200. Alderman Richard Cory JP laid the foundation stone and contributed £100 towards the building fund. The Church building was opened on 1st October 1892 with the Rev. Edwin Schaffer preaching a sermon entitled “The Preservation of Mankind”. The following year however Rev. Shaffer was dismissed and Alderman Cory led a service in November 1893 in front of what was described as a “meagre congregation”. The Church survived this wobbly start and the Rev. T Walton ministered from 1894 – 1897.
In 1899 Rev. Caleb Joshua took up the ministry of the church and remained until his death in 1923, he was said to have “enjoyed throughout the years a good measure of God’s blessing”. Such a significant leader for the Church that on his passing a large plaque was commissioned in his memory and was mounted next to the pulpit. In the late 1920’s, thanks to the good works established by Rev. Joshua, the Church was redeveloped somewhat, this included the installation of a new organ in 1929. Rev. Garnet Powell, locally recognisable for his unusual skull cap, ministered through the late 1920’s and 1930’s. It was during his ministry that the Gallery was finally built. The Church flourished through the next few decades and at one point had a considerable choir who were nicknamed “The Pearl Street Pigeons”. The Rev. Winston took over the ministry for the War years. In 1946 Rev. Glyn Thomas took on the ministry and remained until 1963, his period being described as “a long and stable ministry”.
In the early 1970’s discussions with Tremorfa Baptist Church commenced, initially around calling a minister together but this soon progressed into the idea of uniting the Churches due to dwindling congregations. In 1972 Rev. Doug Harbour began his ministry of both Ebenezer and Tremorfa Baptist Churches. Over the next three years plans were put in place for the union and in 1975 it was decided that the new Church should be called “Belmont” named by Church Deacon Mr. Fred Browning. Morning services would take place in the Tremorfa building and evening services in Ebenezer, with any larger special services taking place in Ebenezer as it was the larger property. Because of the size of the Ebenezer building, it soon became apparent that it was becoming too expensive to maintain, especially when considering there were now two church sites. A proposal was made to build a new Church, equidistant between the two locations, the chosen plot was the site of the former Moorland Road Forward Movement Hall on the corner of Moorland Road, Habershon Street and North Park Road. However, despite initial favourable noises form the council it soon became apparent that they had their own use for the site and it went onto become the Moorland Community Centre. So, in 1976 the Ebenezer Church was used for the last time by this congregation. The building was rented to the New Testament Church of God for a year before it was sold to the Sikh community who opened their Gurdwara in 1979. The Sikh community added an extension to building in 2014 also adding a new entrance through one of the houses on Pearl Street and also levelled off the Gallery to create a new room on the upper level. Belmont Baptist Church continues to worship as Belmont Tremorfa Family Church to this day over 140 years after it was first established (2020).
Than you Richard for the work you put in,a very interesting piece
Caleb Joshua (1851-1923) was a brother of Seth and Frank Joshua, the Evangelists and CM ministers of Neath (Frank) and Cardiff, East Moor (Seth),whose lives are documented in the book by T Mardy Rees (1925). They were the sons of George Joshua of Pontypool (1820-1899) and Mary Waldon. One of Caleb’s sons was the Rev Clifford Joshua, Minister of the First Baptist Church, Union City, New York, whose new church was opened by Seth Joshua in 1924.
Hi Bob, thanks for this very interesting information.
One of the most disapointing aspects of the fellowship leaving the Ebenezer building was the loss of the plaque in Rev. C Joshua’s memory. I have tried to track it down but it was removed as part of redecorations when the building became a Gurudwara.