Cymdeithas Hanes Resolfen History Society

A web log for the Resolven History Society which publishes articles and stories related to Resolven and the immediate surroundings.

Tuesday, May 13, 2014

May Meeting: The Revival of 1904/05

Evan Roberts meets the Titanic
Evan Roberts
Mr Tony Waters has spoken to the Society on two previous occasions on the Titanic disaster of which he is an expert. However, some decade ago he produced a documentary film on the Religious Revival of 1904/05 which was shown on Sky TV. He explained at the outset of his talk, that he had little personal background knowledge on the life of Evan Roberts the instigator of the Revival, though he had played a “Hitchcock like”, part in the film as an extra in three of the scenes. His school friend Kevin Adams, who is now a pastor in New England, had supplied the historical content  to the documentary which had been produced on a shoestring budget. However, not to be outdone Mr Waters did manage to bring in two Titanic references to his introduction. WT Stead (the prophet of peace) of Swansea, who had proved a mentor and muse to the enigmatic Evan Roberts in 1904, had died in the maritime disaster, and Lyn Harper a preacher inspired by Evan Roberts had drowned on the Titanic dispensing the gospel to his dying breath.

The film was a very powerful one, based on the voice of Evan Roberts himself. It followed the story of Roberts as a young collier in Loughor, who was “saved” at thirteen years of age and who prepared himself for the revival at the tender age of 26. It started in west Wales, centred on the market town of Newcastle Emlyn where Roberts made a fleeting appearance as a student in Ysgol Emlyn. Influenced by Seth Joshua of the Forward Movement, he returned to Moriah, Loughor where the Revival started with missionary zeal throughout south Wales and beyond. His charisma clashed with the conventions of the age and the meetings often lasted into the early hours. Evan Roberts rarely prepared his orations which were often short and relied on a consort of young women who unconventionally, regularly took part in the services. The Revival itself drew the wrath of some of the established nonconformist denominations who denounced it as a form of hysteria. Eventually, exhausted by his efforts, Roberts retreated to a friend’s house in Leicester. He never regained his former prominence in Wales and passed away quietly in Cardiff (1951), and was buried in Moriah, Loughor.

Paryer meeting underground
In terms of the social consequences of the Revival, they were certainly far reaching. Publicans complained that the sales of beer had fallen, apocryphal tales of pit ponies refusing to budge underground because the hauliers had stopped swearing at them and sporting teams had stopped playing. Evan Roberts had visited Resolven during the revival and Resolven Rugby Club had ceased playing for two seasons. Thousands of people in Wales had been changed by the revival and these were documented in the papers of the time (along with exact numbers of converts ), including the Western Mail. Roberts had spawned a bevy of charismatic preachers in Wales and beyond, though many of his followers were mown down on the fields of Flanders during the Great War a decade later.
Evan Roberts Memorial, Loughor
Mr Trefor Jones thanked Mr Waters for coming to address the Society once again and added what a pity it was that Mr Phylip Jones was absent. He did add however, that Seth Joshua had founded the large Mission Hall in Neath where his grandparents had been members. He also added that two Brazilians who had stayed with his family a few years ago had asked to go to see Evan Roberts’s memorial in Loughor.
Mr Tony Waters

The meeting brought down the curtain on another successful year of lectures. Members will now have a few months rest over the summer. The summer trip to Dyffryn House will take place on Saturday, July 5th and the bus will leave the square at 9:00. Anyone wishing to come on the trip to contact a member of the committee or place a comment on the site.


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