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Abergavenny Baptist Church

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History of ABC

Abergavenny Baptist Church, formerly called Frogmore Street Baptist Church, was constructed in 1877. The original chapel building, sited across the street, was not at that time adequate in size for the church congregation.

 

The cause, during the early 19th century had flourished under the ministry of Rev. Micah Thomas. He also founded the Abergavenny Academy for the training of Baptist ministers. This Academy is now the South Wales Baptist College, located in Cardiff.

 

During the period when Micah Thomas was minister, a split in the church arose out of doctrinal differences. This resulted in another church being formed, which then worshipped at Bethany Baptist Church in Market Street.

 

With the development of the iron and coal industries at the nearby town of Blaenavon, there was a great Influx of population into the area. Abergavenny became the important centre for food supply and many of the owners and managers of the industries resided in and around the town resulting in a degree of increased affluence.

 

Rev. Micah Thomas died in November 1853, but his church continued to flourish and grow, hence the need for a new church building. The well-known chapel architect George Morgan of Carmarthen, was appointed to design a new chapel. The site chosen a prominent one, at the end of and facing the length of Frogmore Street, which is the main shopping street at the west side of the town. The design of the building to reflect the affluence of the period.

 

Being situated as a ‘full stop’ to the street with the hills behind, the front elevation gives an imposing appearance, which has considerable influence on the overall character of this part of the town conservation area. George Morgan undoubtedly recognised the importance of the location in choosing to give the front facade a North Italian Romanesque effect with twin towers, a porch with carved decorations and what is considered to be one of his best grand central rose windows.

 

The building, completed in 1877, gave the traditional chapel accommodation of a large ground floor seating area with a gallery surrounding the three sides and pipe organ situated behind the pulpit.

 

By 1978 the building proved to be too large for the ongoing congregation. The nearby original Frogmore Street chapel and Memorial Hall were sold to Tesco and this financed the adaptation and modernisation of George Morgan’s building.

 

A sympathetic conversion into a totally two storied building was made. A new floor being constructed across the church at gallery level, with schoolrooms, kitchen and toilets being fitted into the ground floor. The original pine pews from the ground floor were placed in the new upper sanctuary and some, of the gallery balustrade’s decorative ironwork adapted into a splendid screen in front of the organ.

 

In 1990 the members of both Bethany Baptist Church and Frogmore Street Baptist Church decided to unite once more. Bethany Church building was closed and worship was continued in the Frogmore Street Church, then renamed Abergavenny Baptist Church.

 

By the year 2000 it was recognised that a major restoration of the building was needed to make it sound for the foreseeable future. Also its facilities to be improved, as is required in the 21st century. In 2001 restoration work commenced. The four slate roofs were replaced with under felt and new Welsh slate, some roof timbers renewed and lightning conductors fitted. Since then the church heating system has been upgraded, and a new sound system and Power Point installed. Now, with total upgrading of the electrics carried out and a new kitchen fitted, the church looks forward to putting the building into good use for the Lord in ever increasing activities.

 

June 2009

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