Ruined chapel of lost community, near Llanberis

Ruined chapel of lost community, Cwm Brwynog, near Llanberis

Photo of Capel Hebron in ruinsA little below the Snowdon Mountain Railway’s Hebron station are the remains of Capel Hebron, where residents of this valley worshipped before the area was depopulated.

Calvinist Methodists erected Capel Hebron in 1833 and improved it 1859 and 1871. The chapel, c.275 metres (900ft) above sea level, seated up to 120 people. It was the valley’s only communal building. Concerts were held there, and locals met in the chapel whenever problems needed discussion. The caretaker lived in an adjoining chapel house. The chapel had 31 members in 1875, 50 in 1887 and 44 in 1900.

In 1899 the congregation was described as small but particularly faithful. The Rev JO Jones had raised scores of pounds for the chapel over 30 years. Recently two of the chapel's walls had cracked but were repaired after fundraising by the members and a donation from an anonymous well-wisher.

The settlement in this valley, Cwm Brwynog, was recorded as Combroinok in 1352. There are remains of 11 medieval huts further up the valley from here (below Halfway station). Remnants of peat cutting have also been found in the valley.

In later centuries, some of the valley's residents supplemented farming incomes with copper mining. They included Thomas Williams, of Tyn yr Aelgerth, who slipped on ice and died in December 1813 as he arrived for work at the high and exposed Clogwyn Coch copper mine – not far below the summit of Snowdon.

Slate quarrying, farming and tourism dominated the local economy in Victorian times, and many families moved to the growing village of Llanberis. Changes to farming practices in the 20th century further depleted Cwm Brwynog’s population, and Capel Hebron closed in 1958. The final service was held outside – because the key to the chapel was missing!

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With thanks to Ken Jones