So far our story has covered the beginning of the mission, from 1953, all due to the vision and hard work of Rev. Canon William Roach, who was Rector of Newton Nottage Porthcawl Parish in the 1950s and 60s. Then it happened that in the early 1960s, there was a complete re-planning of Trecco Bay Holiday Camp – as it was called at that time. During that re-planning, the original church building was demolished. Sir Lesley Joseph, who was Chairman of Porthcawl Recreations Ltd., arranged for the erection of a new building – the one that we now use (see photograph from Glamorgan Gazette of Friday 24th July 1964).
As the original purpose of the holiday camp was for tented structures, non-permanent buildings, the design of St. Mary’s is in the form of a large ridge tent. It has a long sloping roof with copper surface and the wooden supports on the two sided of the building represent guy ropes.
The church is built on an east / west plan with a large plain glass window in the shape of a cross, high in the east wall, giving the building a simple beauty and dignity. The building was designed to seat approximately 50 people.
On Monday 20th July 1964, Dr. Glyn Simon, Lord Bishop of Llandaff, accompanied by clergy from all over the district, blessed and consecrated the new church at a service in the crowded building, with many hundreds joining outside. The Bishop had been invited by Sir Lesley Joseph, who was present at the dedication service with his wife, Lady Irene Joseph. The service was led by Canon William Roach, still, at that time, Rector of the Parish.
The singing that day was led by the choir from All Saints’ Church and the sound of recorded church bells was played over loud speakers before the service began. A joyful beginning to the life of our new St. Mary’s Church.
At the time of the opening of the new building, there was an arrangement for the clergy in the area to each take two weeks duty, during the summer, at this camp church – the only one of its kind in the country at that time. There were chaplains at most of the large holiday camps but their services were held in halls, whereas, St. Mary’s was designed, built and consecrated for Divine Service.
The summer programmes have continued, varying at times, but still a continuation right to the present time, of that original vision.
Part Three, next month, will tell the story of more recent years.