Pillars Of Faith
Remembrance of Nonconformist and other chapels in The Rhondda
The purpose of this review is to compare the seating accommodation as reported in the Nonconformist statistics with the contempory informaton available. That information consists of 'measurements' undertaken by witnesses or on their direct behalf (independent of the compiled statistics) and the official - in the ordinary course of business - statistics i. e. the Year Books or their equivalent.
From the outset, such a comparison can create its own problems inasmuch that these 'measurements' would most likely have been done some time later than the reports to which they are being compared to i.e. at 31st December, 1905 for no other reason that such information was required before June, 1906 when the Commission was established. With that in mind you can expect to find some variations in the figures.
While I am no student of physcology, I can well understand the temptation of some chapel secretaries when sending information to the Year Books to reflect the changes that were in the course of happening purely for the reason that by the time the Year Books were published those changes would have been effected. Equally, those same chapel secretaries could well have misread the instructions in compiling the later statistics and were quoting figures that had occured in 1906.
I have also eluded to chapels that I considered missing from the schedules. I have previously mentioned the Unitarians and the Salvation Army. For the former, I can only imagine that the clear lack of co-operation with the other denominations, which is discussed in the evidence and subsequent reports, did not encourage the persuit of statistics. For the latter, there is no obvious explanation. However, other districts did include both of them. Other ommissions are mostly in the split of Trehafod and the relevant chapels are included in the published statistics for the Urban District of Pontypridd although, according to my maps, Penuel was on the Rhondda side of the border. Then there is the mystery of Bethabara, Williamstown which appears nowhere despite having been built in 1890. Equally odd that it also does not appear in the contempory Baptist Handbook. Another chapel, Zion, Ferndale, while appearing in the Baptist Handbook is also missing from the statistics.
One can not dismisss the possibility that the instructions to these secretaries were confusing and they were invited to include information that should have been disclosed separately. Or, by the same token, the returned figures were not sufficiently verified which would have been impossible if the basis of measurement was not identical. And they could not be verified if it was the case, as it seems to be in some situations, that the Year Books themselves were inaccurate or simply not up-to-date.
The table as set out below highlights the inconsistencies between the various information sources and also quotes from subsequent 'official' sources to see if any of these inconsistencies were subsequently corrected.
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