Hanes Eglwysi Annibynnol Cymru
(History of the Welsh Independent Churches)
By Thomas Rees and John Thomas; published in 1871+.
Proof read by Steve Stephenson (March 2008)
Translations by Mary Jane Stephenson (March/April 2008)
Fochriw is the name of a farmhouse on the edge of Gelligaer mountain, at the far top of Cwmbargoed, Rhymney, and on the western slope of the valley. On the eastern slope of the same valley, opposite Fochriw, is Brithdiruchaf, where the well-known Jenkin Lewis D.D. was born. Up to eight years ago there were only four or five dwellings within a mile of this place, but in 1864, when Dowlais iron works opened collieries here, many houses were built in the district and crowds of workers and their families came to live in them. After the new houses were built a Sunday School was begun in a house. Mr James Evans, at that time from Craigfargoed, preached first in the house of Lewis Edwards. Three months after that, on October 9th 1864, a church was established with eleven members. Their names were, Jacob Jones, Mary his wife, and John their son; Hannah Evans, Boaz Lloyd, and Eleanor his wife; Thomas Thomas, William Hughes, David Rowland and Mary his wife, and Mary Edwards. Mr Evans, Craigfargoed; Mr Howells, Ynysgau and Mr Roberts, Graig Rhymney were present and led the occasion. This meeting was held in the house of Thomas Jenkins. Soon after this a wooden chapel was built. This young church was in the ministerial care of Mr James Evans until the end of summer 1865, when he gave up the work. In February 1866, a call was given to Mr W.H. Thomas, Berry Edge, Northern England. An induction meeting was held here shortly afterwards. As the population increased the wooden chapel became too small and it had to be extended. This again became too small to hold the congregation. Then it was decided to build a handsome, convenient chapel valued at 900 pounds. It was opened in July 1867. Mr Thomas laboured here diligently and successfully until the end of 1869, when he moved to Cadle, near Swansea. In the summer of 1870, a call was given to Mr John Griffiths, from Bala college. His induction services were held on October 17th and 18th that year. The following ministers took part in the services, J. Evans, Dowlais; R. Rowlands, Aberaman; W.J. Richards, Penywern; W. Williams, Hirwaun; D. Price, Aberdare; W.H. Thomas, Cadle; J. Matthews, Neath, a J. Peter, Bala. The congregation continues to increase steadily and the minister and the church work well together. The number of members at present is 130 and there is good cause to expect that there will be a very strong church here very soon.