West Vale Catholics - Covering the areas of Llantwit Major and Cowbridge in South Wales.
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HISTORY OF THE PARISH FROM THE
20th CENTURY TO THE PRESENT

Page 1 of 8
By the beginning of the 20th century there were a few Catholics in the area, but these had to travel to Bridgend or Barry for Mass until 1919 when the Church of St.Vincent de Paul was opened at Rhoose.

Not until May 1921 was the first official open Mass since the 16th century celebrated in Llantwit Major. It was made possible because Ham House was bought from the Nicholl family in 1921 by the Catholic, Lewis Turnbull. This Mass was celebrated at Ham House by Fr.Turnbull for a congregation of 47 people. Mass continued to be said at "The Ham" fairly regularly until 1931 when Mr.Lewis Turnbull died, and the last Mass there was his Requiem celebrated by his son with a congregation of 52.

Whenever there was a priest to say Mass the 20 to 30 Catholics from the Cowbridge area hired a bus to take them to Llantwit Major. However, in 1925 a regular bus service was established between Cowbridge and Bridgend, so Cowbridge Catholics were then able to travel to Bridgend for Mass.

When Mrs.Clare McConville arrived in Cowbridge in 1939 there were only five Catholics apart from the Williams family of Verlands. Mass was celebrated in the Blue Bell Inn (now Nisa supermarket) once a month by Fr.Meyrick from Bridgend. It was the owners of the Blue Bell Inn who gave the Stations of the Cross that now hang in the Church. Confessions were also held once month at Mr.Ryan's who ran the saddlers' shop (now "Lois" - a fashion shop).

For Llantwit Major the situation was improved with the opening of RAF St.Athan so that Catholics were able to attend Mass on camp. With petrol rationing this became very difficult, so Mr.Gerald Turnbull approached Canon Quigley of Barry who discussed the matter with the Archbishop.

As a consequence, from 1941 to 1948 a priest came each Sunday from Bridgend to say Mass in the Institute beneath the Town Hall. In the first two years this was Fr.Andrew Gibbons O.S.B., followed by Fr.J.Hennessey to 1945, and then Fr.G.Daniels. During the same period, Cowbridge only had Mass twice a year, on Easter Monday and St.Stephen's Day.

However, by the end of 1948 the number of Catholics in Bridgend had increased so much that it became impossible to serve Llantwit Major Parish. The Parish was served from Barry first by Fr.W.Long, then Fr.P.Murphy, until 1950 when Archbishop McGrath appointed Fr.J.Magner to be the first Parish Priest of Llantwit Major, Cowbridge and Rhoose.
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