Usk Road, Bargoed, CF81 8RH
An early twentieth century nonconformist chapel on a sloping corner site, acquired for Catholic use in 1915 and altered and extended between the wars. Post-Vatican II reordering was not entirely sympathetic, but some older furnishings survive.
Mass began to be said in the lower Rhymney Valley in 1895 with various public halls and schools serving as Mass centres. In December 1903 the Rev. Frederick Dent, mission priest at Rhymney, obtained a plot of land from the Marquess of Bute at Ty Coch in Brithdir. A temporary iron hut chapel was constructed on the site and opened in February 1904 (The Tablet, 20 February 1904); it was dedicated to St Peter and could hold around 200 worshippers. Local miners financed construction by each giving up two days’ pay; a set of Stations of the Cross was given by friends in Dowlais.
Development of the nearby town of Bargoed and an increase in the Catholic population soon necessitated a larger and more permanent church. In September 1915 Fr Dent purchased an English Congregational Chapel on Usk Road in Bargoed, which had been built in about 1903 at a cost of £1000. It became the Catholic church of St Peter on the Graig and continued to be served from Rhymney. The opening was marked by a procession from St John’s, Rhymney to the new church. The tin hut chapel at Brithdir was sold to the British Legion.
The church was altered and extended in 1933-4, increasing the capacity to 430. In effect, it was rebuilt. The orientation was changed, a larger sanctuary and polygonal apse added at the east end, a gallery installed at the west end, flat-roofed sacristies added and reinforcing work carried out to the retaining wall along Usk Road. A pulpit was given as a gift to the parish priest Fr Mahoney from his former parishioners at Dowlais. The church was formally reopened by Archbishop Mostyn of Cardiff in October 1934. Subsequent chapels-of-ease were established at Tirphil (in a workman’s hall) and Tiryberth (in a Scout hall), but both closed in 1943. There was also a Catholic chapel in Markham. Thomas and Teresa O’Connor-Sinnott donated the large crucifix in 1939, originally accompanied by statues of Our Lady and St John; a brass plate commemorating the presentation is in the narthex.
The church was reordered in 1975, with a new stone altar and sanctuary furnishings. A false ceiling and a WC were also added. The church was rededicated by Archbishop Murphy of Cardiff on 7 April 1976. The sanctuary was repainted and the external rendering renewed in 2001.
Over the years various local houses have served as a presbytery, including Penrhos at Hillside Park, 46/48 Park Place, and 15 Capel Street; today there is no presbytery and the church is served from St Thomas, Abercynon (qv).
The church is built into a sloping site. It is of longitudinal plan, brick built and rendered with slate and felt roof coverings. The church is aisleless and of six bays, with a flat-roofed extension at the west end, an entrance on the south side, a polygonal apse at the east end and a north transept at the same ridge height as the main body of the church. A simple metal cross is placed on the east wall of the apse and windows throughout are tall and rectangular with concrete sills.
Inside, there is a narthex with piety stall, sacristy and kitchenette leading off and a stair to the gallery above. A glazed screen separates the narthex from the nave and the WCs are accessed from the northwest corner of the nave. The nave is of three bays, the floor throughout is carpeted and there is a modern false ceiling. A wide central arch with two smaller flanking arches separate the nave from the sanctuary and side chapels. The altar is modern and of cut and polished stone with an applied six-point star. Beyond the altar and up a further step is the brass tabernacle, set on a hardwood plinth with retables either side, above is a good painted crucifix, all that remains of a rood group given by Thomas and Teresa O’Connor-Sinnott (see plaque in narthex). There is a modern hardwood ambo, the pews are also modern and hardwood, to the front of these is a matching painted steel and hardwood rail. The Sacred Heart chapel is to the south and a Lady Chapel to the north; beside the Lady Chapel is a confessional and an emergency exit. The chapels have matching oak veneered modern altars with plaster statues. Beside the Sacred Heart chapel is a painted plaster statue of St Philomena.
Architect: Not established
Original Date: 1903
Conservation Area: No
Listed Grade: Not Listed