Building » Ynyshir – St Mary Magdalene

Ynyshir – St Mary Magdalene

Gynor Avenue, Ynyshir, CF39 0NH

A functional design of 1997, replacing a church of 1929 destroyed by fire. Advantage is taken of the sloping site to provide level access from the street and a hall below.

The Rhondda is made up of two valleys, the Rhondda Fawr (large) and the Rhondda Fach (small), which meet at Porth. The local Catholic community that developed with the industrialisation of the region in the nineteenth century was largely working class, employed in the local mining and iron industries, and included large numbers of Irish immigrants who settled here after the Great Famine. An early centre for this community was at Tonypandy (qv), where a church was built in 1886, close to the site of the historic shrine of Our Lady of Penrhys. A chapel-of-ease to Tonypandy was opened at Treorchy around 1900 (now closed). These were both in Rhondda Fawr. In 1912 a church dedicated to Our Lady of Penrhys was opened at Ferndale in Rhondda Fach, thanks to the benevolence of Miss M. M. Davies of Llantrisant (also now closed).

A small church was built on Gynor Avenue, Ynyshir in Rhondda Fach in 1929 (not in or just before c.1953, as stated on the Coflein website); it was opened by Archbishop Mostyn of Cardiff in October of that year. On 2 June 1994 the church was destroyed by fire. It was replaced by a new one on the same site, completed in 1997. The architects for the present church have not been established, but the design bears a family resemblance to others built around the same time in the Diocese of Menevia by the Gammon Partnership (Llanelli and Pontarddulais, qqv). The church is part of the Rhondda parishes, served from Tonypandy.


A long building on a steeply sloping site, set back from the street behind a stone and concrete boundary wall. Apart from a small cross outside the front door, there is nothing to mark the building out externally as a place of worship. It is of two storeys, with the main worship space on the upper floor level with the street and a hall below. It is of red brick under a pitched slate roof, with small square windows with stone cills and powder coated blue window frames. A gabled and glazed bay marks the entrance, reached from the street via a short steel bridge.

A well-lit narthex leads onto the main worship space. To the southwest is a staircase down to the hall, while in the northwest corner is a lift. The main worship space is of conventional longitudinal form, a single volume consisting of nave and sanctuary with a laminated timber open truss roof. The walls are plastered and painted, the floors carpeted. The sanctuary is raised up two steps, with a sacristy to the north and a confessional to the south. Through the sacristy door is a stairway down to the hall. A low wall separates the sanctuary and sacristy, stepped and serving as a retable for the tabernacle, a crucifix, six candlesticks, and a pair of kneeling painted plaster angels. Above this in the east gable end is a circular window with yellow coloured glass forming a cross. The altar and ambo are of panelled light oak. In the nave, the Stations of the Cross appear to be ceramic with a copper green finish.

Heritage Details

Architect: Not established

Original Date: 1997

Conservation Area: No

Listed Grade: Not Listed