South East Wales

Capel Aberfan to be sold with repairs too costly

Capel Aberfan
Image caption Capel Aberfan acted as a mortuary in the wake of the disaster in which killed 144 people, including 116 children

A chapel that was given a memorial organ by the Queen following the Aberfan disaster in 1966 has closed after what has been a testing time for its minister.

Capel Aberfan acted as a mortuary in the wake of the disaster in which killed 144 people, including 116 children.

Fundraisers spent £225,000 renovating the chapel, formerly known as Aberfan Calvinistic Methodist Chapel, in 2004 but it now has dry rot and substantial damage.

The chapel can no longer be insured, the current owners Capel Aberfan Free Church said.

It is now due to be sold off.

Minister Morgan Phare says his faith has been tested and his only consolation is that the chapel's organ is protected by listed status.

"The organ, a very special memorial to those who lost their lives, will have to be retained by whoever takes over the chapel, whether it continues as a place of worship or not," he said.

"That is at least something for which to be grateful. We've all been tested over the last few years, but the fact that the organ has been saved has reminded me of the tale of the man who cried because he had no shoes until he saw the man who had no feet."

The chapel was built in 1876 and under went extensive renovation before reopening at Easter 2008.

But dry rot quickly set in and destroyed newly installed window frames and beams, which will cost £60,000 to replace.

Struggled

"It's not like the heyday of the chapels when there would have been tradesmen amongst the congregation who could have conducted the work at cost price," he said.

"Those sorts of skills are dying out and now come at a very high price which, as a very small congregation, we simply cannot afford.

"For the last four years we've struggled on, holding services in the vestry, which was unaffected by the dry rot.

"But now we've been told that the property is uninsurable and given the amount of trespass we've experienced in the past we simply can't leave ourselves open to the liability of a claim against us."

The chapel has a guide price of £22,000 for the auction later this month.

On Friday, 21 October 1966, a coal waste tip slid down a mountain and engulfed a school and surrounding houses.

Victims who could not be accommodated at temporary mortuary Bethanya Chapel were taken to Capel Aberfan.

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