Salem Road, Cwmavon, SA12 9EL
The church was originally built in 1901 as a small Methodist chapel and was acquired and adapted to serve as a Catholic church in 1974. The building has a highly ornamental entrance front and the interior retains much of its original nonconformist character.
The largely Irish Catholic community in Cwmavon was served by St Joseph’s church in Port Talbot until the later twentieth century. In 1951 Canon Quilligan arrived at St Joseph’s and in 1972 he began to hold Mass in Cwmavon. The vicar of Cwmavon had offered the Catholic community the use of St Michael’s church for their services but they decided to use the parish hall instead. Soon after this, the minister of Salem Methodist chapel approached Canon Quilligan. His congregation had dwindled and the minister did not want to see the chapel, which had been built in 1901, turned into a warehouse or a bingo hall. The building was sold to Canon Quilligan and opened as a Catholic church in 1974. It was dedicated to St Philip Evans, a Jesuit missionary in South Wales and one of the Forty Martyrs of England and Wales canonised by Pope Paul VI in 1970. Today the church is served from St Joseph’s, Port Talbot (qv).
The building is rectangular on plan with a pitched roof overall. The main front is of rock faced local stone laid to courses with a limestone moulded plinth, moulded strings, dressings and corner quoins. The gable looks somewhat truncated, and may have lost a parapet or coping. The side walls are pebbledashed and the roof covered with Welsh slate. The gabled main front to the street has a central doorway with an elaborate panelled stone surround and an open pedimented stone hood on paired brackets. The date 1901 is incised in the lintel. Below the string are stone dedication plaques, now eroded so as to be unreadable. The main door is flanked by tall round-headed windows set on a moulded string course. Another string above the window heads is swept down over the central door in a slightly mannered fashion to accommodate paired rectangular sash windows in a pedimented stone surround with a central column with a floriated capital. Above the windows is inscribed ‘Salem Capel Methodist’. The side walls are plain and relieved only by rectangular window openings with modern uPVC windows.
The interior retains much of its original Methodist character. The main doorway leads to a timber inner porch. The walls are plain plastered with a vertical-boarded dado. The windows are all clear gazed. The interior is fully pewed with what appear to be the original pews. The roof trusses are partly exposed, but are ceiled at collar level. Against the liturgical east wall is the original raised minister’s reading desk, flanked by doorways leading to the rear room. The altar is set in front of the desk, the wall behind the desk has a crucifix in a painted surround and there are also modern side altars with canopies. Stations of the Cross have been added around the walls.
Architect: Not established
Original Date: 1901
Conservation Area: No
Listed Grade: Not Listed