All Saint's Church Penarth

All Saint’s Church Penarth

The Penarth church that’s somehow survived a disastrous fire and bombing by the Luftwaffe – All Saints Church in Victoria Square – is about the celebrate its 125th anniversary.

The official date of the celebrations is October 31st 2016 – but in advance of that the Church is appealing to anyone who has photographs, recollections or memorabilia – even christening and wedding invitations –   which will help trace the history of the church and the part it’s played in the life in Penarth, to send them in to be shown in a special exhibition

All Saint's Church is launching its organ appeal and celebrating its 125th anniversary

All Saint’s Church is launching its organ appeal and celebrating its 125th anniversary

As part of the anniversary events a new Roll of Honour is to be dedicated – commemorating the 32 men from the Parish of All Saints who gave their lives in the First World War .

The organisers are appealing for anyone who has family connections – and possibly photographs –  of any of the 32 war heroes named on the roll to let the organisers know what they have, so that the nominees can be properly honoured in a special Parish Remembrance Service to be held on November 13th 2016.

Canon Peter Cox, Jane McLaughlin and Dr Len Smart are organising the anniversary events the events

Canon Peter Cox, Jane McLaughlin and Dr Len Smart are organising the activities

It’s an important year for All Saints, as the church is also launching a £100,000 appeal to renovate its 1954-vintage organ. This organ is actually the third to have been installed in All Saints over the years.

In October 1891 then-new church  – designed by John Coates-Carter and John Pollard Seddon –  was fitted with a brand new organ and completed and consecrated in October 1891 .

In April 1926 fire ripped through All Saints Church - totally destroying the interior

In April 1926 fire ripped through All Saints Church – totally destroying the interior

On April 30th 1926 there was a huge fire which wrecked the church and destroyed the first organ.

The fire broke out in the early hours of the morning and was discovered by a passing police constable. Cardiff and Penarth Fire Brigades were called out to tackle the blaze.

The interior of the church became “a veritable inferno” . The fire was thought to have started by  “heating apparatus under the nave “.

Local newspapers reported “the destruction involved a fine organ” and “all the beautiful and costly furnishings”.

By 1928 however All Saints had been re-built and a new – second – organ installed.

Guy Gibson and Eve Moore after their wedding at Penarth's All Saint's Church in 1940

Flying Officer Guy Gibson scans the skies as he and his bride Eve Moore leave All Saints after their wedding in 1940

On November 23rd 1940 Eve Moore, daughter of Mr and Mrs Ernest Moore of Archer Road, Penarth married Flying Officer Guy Gibson (who was to lead the Dambusters 1943 attack on the Mohne and Eder Dams ) at All Saints.

The full extent of the German air raid on Penarth of March 4 1941 was not reported until the war was over

The full extent of the German air raid on Penarth of March 4 1941 was not reported until the war was over

N On March 4th 1941 the Luftwaffe bombed All Saints to a shell. The raging fire consumed the building and the second  organ was destroyed in the flames .

The full story of that German air raid on Penarth wasn’t published in newspapers at the time because of wartime censorship. After the war was over it was revealed that 100 high-explosive bombs and 5,000 incendiaries  had been dropped on Penarth that night. Five people were killed in the raid and 25 seriously injured.

After the war the shell of the church was rebuilt yet again and a new organ installed in September 1954. However, even though the church says that organ has been well maintained , it’s  now failing to “provide predictable and reliable performance”.

Amongst other faults, the electrical system is said to be in urgent need of replacement.

The 1954 organ at All Saints Church Penarth=- is the third to have been installed. Both its predecessors were destroyed by fire

The 1954 organ at All Saints Church Penarth is the third to have been installed. Both its predecessors were destroyed by fire and now this organ is becoming unreliable.

Under the management of a Parochial Church Council sub-committee, the project will involve a complete overhaul and modernisation of the instrument.

The church is used by many organisations in the community for public concerts, school services and civic occasions. An unnamed “major donor” has already made a commitment to the fund and donations and  the proceeds of concerts have already got the appeal primed . Donors can , if they wish may sponsor an individual organ pipe – presumably chosing their own preferred note in the process  .

Full details of the anniversary events and organ appeal – and where to send memorabilia, photographs and recollections –    are on


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  1. AK says:

    When e’r I see a little church
    I always pay a visit
    So one day if I’m carried in
    The Lord won’t say ‘who is it?’

    Best wishes to All Saints Church and its members for a great celebration and a successful appeal.

  2. Christopher David says:

    It also- well the building did, survived an act of gross vandalism in the 60’s when an incumbent(s) decided to destroy its wonderful gardens. They were a haven for wildlife with huge natural laurels that took eons to grow. The provision of town habitat and a nice place to sit, watch and contemplate was far and away the churches best ever function. Vandals.

    • LJS says:

      Christopher. The All Saints Church grounds belong to the Vale Council and not to the Church.

      • Christopher David says:

        Definition of incumbents? Segregation! Even vandals claim desperate escape. Why didn’t the church save the gardens?

  3. Jane says:

    Many thanks, yes we hope that as many people will contribute memorabilia and contact us as possible

  4. Tim says:

    Quite surprised nobody has come on here saying the organ has had its day and will be so costly to replace that it’s not worth the bother and the building should be razed to the ground for something more business-like. You know how go-ahead this town is getting. I’m sure developers would pay handsomely to put a Marks & Sparks on that site.

    • Doctor David says:

      This logical fallacy is called ‘poisoning the well’. It is a debating trick used by those with limited thinking skills to pre-empt opposing views, and to wrong-foot anyone arguing against them.
      When you point it out, the perpetrators are shown to be rather shallow and petty.
      I have only seen this church full on one occasion – for the funeral of someone who was irreligious, but with believing relatives.
      Like so many such institutions, as the congregation ages, and churchgoers die, there are fewer youngsters attending. There is hope for the human race after all.

  5. Christopher David says:

    Hope! Maybe DD- Sapiens will need a reprograming.

  6. Daffy Dilwyn says:

    I hope we won’t make a special case. Many are troubled by an organ that is failing to “provide predictable and reliable performance”. Of course, this may be age-related, but the majority cannot rely on charitable support.

  7. Jane says:

    Well Doctor David you need to take another look at All Saints, I think you will find it is a more than thriving church, with lots of positive things happening and an growing congregation

    • Doctor David says:

      What a shame.

      • LJS says:

        Doctor David
        We are lucky in Wales and the UK to be able to practice religion freely. It may not be for you and you are free to choose the poison pen as your god. All Saints Church is a focus for a community who aid the elderly, deprived and hungry, it works with the lonely and sick and together with all churches in Penarth raises money for the innocent victims of famine, hunger and war. The Church is full on many occasions with young and old together. It is thriving and stronger than your pen.

    • Woowoo Wizzywoo says:

      “Lots of positive things happening” is contradicted by a “growing congregation”. The sooner that people everywhere stop believing in imaginary beings, the better.
      Most of the trouble in the world is caused by one lot killing another lot who are brought up to believe a different load of nonsense. It’s infantile nonsense, and every religion is just as bad as any other. Anyone can get a bad person to do bad things, but you need religion to get a good person to do bad things.

  8. Christopher David says:

    Ahh be better if we could opt out of religion on organ grounds. Well the brain is an organ and we need people with one to get away from this detracting and dangerous stuff. I think the gardens should be reinstated and the church turned into a “Wildlife in Towns Leaning Centre” along with other educational facilities for the real world.

  9. Christopher David says:

    Are there Horrie? Well they don’t include churches unless you count peddling fantasy and lies as learning. Having said that a creative writing section in the new centre could be good. So Horrie Torrie- you’re not suggesting we can have too much education are you? Very well said Woowoo. These religious people purport we live a way of life written down by ancients, that didn’t know what happened to the sun when it went below the horizon.

  10. Christopher David says:

    Very good Horrid. Really like that especially as the Bishop of Llnadaff opposed auto opt in. Ditch (just) one baseball cap hah.

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