Christ Church, Ebbw Vale

Christ Church, Ebbw Vale

This church has been known since Victorian times as “the cathedral of the hills”. The 1930 aerial photo, courtesy of the Royal Commission on the Ancient & Historical Monuments of Wales, shows the church standing out among the terraced houses. The photo is from the Aerofilms Collection of the National Monuments Record of Wales.

Aerial photo of Ebbw Vale in 1930
Aerial view of Christ Church and surroundings in 1930,
courtesy of the RCAHMW and its Coflein website

The church was opened in 1861. The land and most of the money for construction were provided by Abraham Darby and other members of the Ebbw Vale Iron Company. It had hoped to build the spire and roof from iron, but the idea was dropped.

By then, Ebbw Vale had already become a large town but the nearest places for Anglican worship were in Tredegar and Newchurch. In the hope of reducing drunkenness, Christ Church was strategically positioned in an area which had more than 20 pubs!

Unusually, the church was not consecrated when services began but seven years later, in August 1869. That was when the company gave the building to the Church of England.

The exterior walls are made of sandstone quarried in Risca. Inside, the circular columns along the nave are of limestone from Trefil. The stones were turned on a lathe and, for decorative effect, burnt in pitch before being polished.

On a windy night in 2003, fire broke in the church spire. Firefighters spent several hours extinguishing the flames. More than 30 local homes were evacuated in case the spire collapsed.

In 2004, the vicar was told he would face no enforcement action following a complaint – which made international news headlines – of “noise nuisance” from the hourly chime of the church clock. The chime had been silent for seven years but restarted after the clock’s £600,000 restoration. The clock was installed to commemorate Hilda Mills, daughter of steel company chairman Frederick Mills. She died in 1903, aged eight.

The church’s eight bells replaced an earlier peal in 1937, celebrating completion of the rebuilding of Ebbw Vale steelworks at a cost of £6m.

During a visit to the church in 2012, Queen Elizabeth II met the oldest member of the congregation, Maud Baskerville, aged 101. Maud had been christened and married at the church. Her husband Fred was a bell-ringer here.

Postcode: NP23 6UG    View Location Map

Christ Church website

Copies of the old photo and other images are available from the RCAHMW. Contact: