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
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.
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 .
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.
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.
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.
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 www.allsaintsappeal.co.uk