THERE will be no more sermons or services at a Radnorshire church from next month, as the decision has been taken to close it after more than 150 years.

The Ithon Road Presbyterian Church has been steeped in the history of Llandrindod Wells since opening in 1870, but dwindling attendances, the increasing age of its congregation and a general decline in support means the church’s custodians have taken the difficult decision to shut.

A closing service is set to take place on Wednesday, May 3, at 6.30pm, which will be the final activity at Ithon Road after 152 years.

Stephen Roderick is the church’s secretary and has been involved with services there for almost 50 years, having moved up to Llandrindod from Crai, near Sennybridge, to work for the local authority in 1974.

Now in his 80s, he has been an elder since 2012 and secretary since 2015; his combined role another hint as to why the closure of the church has been brought about.

County Times:  The church is closing next month after being open for 152 years The church is closing next month after being open for 152 years (Image: Matt Jones)

“We have 23 members now, including five elders. It’s very sad but no-one is willing to take the running of the church over so we thought it best to close,” said Mr Roderick.

“There are 10 members who aren’t elders but they didn’t wish to serve. We have a fairly strong congregation still but we’re all octogenarians at the youngest so there’s no fresh blood.


“People aged 20 to 60 don’t go to church on Sundays as much these days and there’s a huge gap in the age of worshippers at old churches like ours.”

He added: “Covid certainly hasn’t helped. When we returned to gatherings we would have a service every other Sunday and thought maybe we’d get a full house with less services, but that hasn’t proved to be the case.

“I think because members are older there’s been a general fear of mixing with others too.”

The Ithon Road venue, sandwiched in-between the Gwalia building currently housing various Powys County Council services, but which was originally a hotel, and the Albert Hall theatre, was opened on November 1, 1870, thanks to the pioneering work of Howey native John Lewis.

Mr Lewis was a great believer in Calvinistic Methodism but there was no such provision for a nonconformist body to publicly worship in the increasingly popular spa town.

He, along with the Reverends Daniel Jones and Simon Roberts, were anxious to establish a cause. Rev Roberts was offered a different site in town on which to build a chapel but this was, in his opinion, according to church history documents, considered “a hole”.

It was opened at a cost of £900 and worship became so popular in the late 19th century thanks to Llandrindod’s booming tourism due to its healing waters, that another building was constructed next door.

The Albert Hall, finished in 1896 and a separately-run entity since the 1950s, was open every day for services during the summer months.

County Times:  Stephen Roderick, secretary of Ithon Road Presbyterian Church and one of its 23 remaining members Stephen Roderick, secretary of Ithon Road Presbyterian Church and one of its 23 remaining members (Image: Matt Jones)

“The Albert Hall was built because of the amount of Welsh language worshippers and services, it was open every single day from July to October, for the amount of visitors coming to Llandrindod,” said Mr Roderick.

“To think, yet another building was built just due to the overflow of Welsh language visitors to the town at the time.”

The original chapel was expanded in 1904 due to its increasing popularity, with galleries and other rooms installed.

Almost 100 members of the church served in World War I and, over the ensuing century, the membership has slowly dwindled. There were 222 members in 1923, which had halved to just over 100 by 1955. That had shrunk to 27 by 2016, with 23 hardy souls now remaining, well at least for another month.

Mr Roderick said Eileen Edwards and Margaret Spooner would likely be the longest-serving members, having probably attended services there for more than 70 years.

The Presbytery has authorised the closing of the church and the final service will be conducted by the Rev Aled Huw Thomas, from Rhayader, who retired as a minister in Cardiff last October. Everyone is welcome to attend the service.