Shiloh Chapel


Giclee printed on 305gsm off white coloured archival paper with a subtle texture. A4 297mm x 210mm, A5 148 x 210mm.

SKU: SC Category:


Roofless, windowless and choked by weeds, the skeletal stone husk of what was once the Shiloh Methodist Chapel is a very sad sight indeed. Built in 1831 and successively rebuilt over the years, the final iteration in 1855 is rumoured to have been designed by the legendary Isambard Kingdom Brunel. New ground was literally and figuratively broken in creating a network of transport links for the wares of the industrial revolution. Of these the most significant were the Glamorganshire Canal and the Vale of Neath railway line, that ran from Merthyr Tydfil and Aberdare to Neath to ports on Swansea Bay. Being engineer to the Vale of Neath Railway Company and designer of the nearby train station (now demolished) it would be pleasant to think that he was responsible in some way for the chapel.

In its heyday it must have looked magnificent; a sober essay in the Romanesque with interlacing stone arches, a variety of intricate mouldings, nook shaft columns topped by scalloped capitals (sounds enticing) complete with a grand tower. The tower was lost when it was converted to a Miners hall in 1921 and the diminishing flock of Methodists were replaced by political speeches railing at the injustices of the coal world and various other pleasures such as wrestling, auctions and bingo. I knew the building best in its final incarnation, after its conversion in 1987 into the Charbonniers nightclub where I spent many a hedonistic evening. A catastrophic fire in 1992 condemned it to its current fate where it has lain derelict for over 20 years. There is no romantic ruin here however, only a potent reminder of our past that waits patiently for something to happen be that further decay or happy rebirth.