St George's Methodist War Memorial Church

Photo:St George's War Memorial Church, Tonyrefail, South Glamorgan

St George's War Memorial Church, Tonyrefail, South Glamorgan

Photo:George Kendall OBE 1915

George Kendall OBE 1915

Tonyrefail

By Tim Kendall

In 1925 Rev George Kendall OBE, an English Senior Military Chaplain and Primitive Methodist Minister, decided to build a Church as a War Memorial. Rev Kendall served with many divisions including the Welsh division. Attached to the 53rd Welsh div post war, Rev Kendall had wanted to build a personal memorial to all the soldiers and officers who died in the Great War, many of whom he buried.

The land in Mill Street was donated by the owner, as was much of the building material. Local coal mining families and Tonyrefail residents donated whatever they had to complete the Church. The Memorial was opened with the biggest party the village had known. A mile long parade started the event with dignitaries including The Lord Mayor of Cardiff attending. St George's was the only War Memorial Church in South Glamorgan.

St George's  thrived for decades and the Rev Kendall's contribution is still warmly remembered by some older residents today. He left Wales a year later in 1926 for London, where he became a leading clergyman in national life. Serving as a Chaplain in London during WW2 Rev Kendall died in 1961 aged 79.

In 1970, following a period of decline in attendance, the Methodist Church commissioners decided to sell the Church to the local council. The narrative of the sale is best illustrated by the fact that they failed to continue to honour the Church's status in the transfer. The War Memorial and it's original sacred purpose and significance was forgotten.

In 2013 Rev Kendall's lost autobiography manuscript was discovered by his grandson, Tim Kendall. After making contact with the owners, Rhondda Cynon Taf council, a plaque has been commissioned to be placed outside the building. The plaque will be unveiled in a ceremony with Rev Kendall's son David and grandson Tim in attendance on Armed Forces Day, 20th June 2015. The building has also been re-registered as a War Memorial by The War Memorials Trust.

Rev Kendall also established a football Team in 1925, Tonyrefail Welfare AFC, and bought the land for their ground, Welfare Park. The Team went onto to become one of the best Amateur Clubs in Wales, post WW2. They still exist today, albeit in the lower leagues. 

This page was added by Tim Kendall on 12/02/2014.
Comments about this page

Pictures of the plaque and its unveiling in June 2015 can be seen here.

By Jill Barber
On 08/10/2015

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