In 1852, Edwin H. Bennett and his wife came to reside in Cardiff. They had a deep desire to commence a meeting on New Testament lines, and they were joined by a Mr. Bright, who shared their desire. In a book published in 1901 entitled The History of Nonconformity it is recorded that ‘a meeting of Christians commenced in 1852 in a house in Nelson Street (the home of Mr. and Mrs. Bennett) who call themselves brethren, or Christians who gather only in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ’. Adamsdown was the first assembly in South Wales, and possibly in the whole of Wales.
Numbers steadily increased, and in 1874 the brethren comissioned the building of the present hall on the site of the old Adamsdown farm, situated alongside the main railway line. The building took three years to complete and was officially opened in November 1877. About 1882 Dr. Joseph Ledger- Smith, who had just qualified in Dublin, moved to Cardiff and was received into the growing fellowship at Adamsdown. He was the local doctor and, as there was no NHS in those days and much poverty, he would frequently be called to a sick patient, and seeing the circumstances, not send his bill, but often return with vital provisions at his own expense. He accepted the responsibility of Sunday School superintendent and because of his deep love for the children and their parents, the Sunday School prospered and it is recorded that at that time over one thousand children attended the Whitsun treat.
At the beginning of the last century the Great Western Railway provided a footbridge across the railway lines near the rear of the hall, so it was decided to reverse the interior. The ‘back’ thus became the ‘front’ and a new entrance was created so that hundreds of folk using the footbridge each day would be passing the new main doors. Just across the footbridge was the industrial part of the city, and thousands of workmen used this route to reach the large steel works, timber yards and dockland. Some of the brethren would meet once a week outside the main doors of the hall, at six o’clock in the morning, to distribute gospel literature and have personal conversations with the men as they finished their night shifts. The Lord blessed the work and consequently the assembly grew to over two hundred in fellowship. In the 1923 July edition of The Christian Worker it is recorded that there was a mothers’ meeting of over four hundred members who met every Monday afternoon for the preaching of the gospel.
The assembly grew and many of the saints moved to the newly developed parts of the city and helped to establish new assemblies. By 1901 there were seven assemblies in Cardiff, and by 1924 there were 24 assemblies in Cardiff and district and 85 in the whole of South Wales. In that same year a list was compiled of 2000 names of believers in the Cardiff and district area who had associations with the Adamsdown Hall.
But the work expanded beyond the local area. Then in 1922 Mr. and Mrs. Henry Spencer were commended to work in the West Indies, jointly by the Adamsdown assembly and the Handsworth assembly in Birmingham. Mr. Walter Norris was also commended by the assembly to full time service, and his ministry was appreciated, not just in the South Wales valleys where he spent most of his time, but in many parts of the country. During the summer months he would team up with Mr. William Trew, and together they held gospel tent campaigns resulting in new assemblies being established and others being encouraged.
The interior of the hall has been modernized over the years but the exterior is much the same as the day it was built. Gas central heating installed in 1937 cost £80! In the 1990’s the hall had a new roof and windows, and more comfortable chairs replaced the original wooden seating. Though now there are fewer in fellowship, the work of testimony in the area continues – with children’s work, ladies’ meetings, literature distribution, coffee mornings, and a wellattended conference, etc. As we look forward we take courage from the words of Paul, ‘God is faithful, by whom ye were called unto the fellowship of his Son, Jesus Christ our Lord’, 1 Cor. 1. 9.