The first Wesleyan Chapel to be built in the area was at Bron y nant in 1809, nine years after the denomination started its mission in Wales. A chapel was started at Pen-y-bryn in Old Colwyn in 1832.
By the early 1870s the construction of some houses in Station Road had commenced, along with the Colwyn Bay Hotel – now demolished. With all the building work going on, labourers and construction workers came into the area to work and live, many of them staying during the weekdays and they wanted a place to worship when away from home.
In 1871, the Wesleyan Ministers, the Rev. John Cadfan Davies of Old Colwyn and the Rev. Thomas Morris believed that there was a need to set up a Church and, with the support of Bron y Nant Wesleyan Chapel and the Old Colwyn Chapel, they began holding worshipping services in the town. Some of the services were conducted in the home of Mr. and Mrs. Roberts of Sea View Villa but, because some of the construction workers moved away, these eventually ceased. However before long, the cause was again established and in 1873 they had a convenient room for worship in the home of Mr Robert Roberts, who had a house and shop in Station Road. Subsequently they conducting services in the town in a works shed.
In 1875, Church members felt that there was a need for a more suitable place of worship and the decision was made to secure a plot of land for building a small chapel. To this end land was acquired in Greenfield Road at a cost of £122, and there they built a small chapel, which opened in 1876. However by the mid 1880s the congregation had grown along with the population of the town and it was decided to rebuild and enlarge the chapel. Whilst this work was ongoing, the members worshipped temporarily with the Welsh Independent (Annibynwyr) Chapel. The new chapel, Shiloh, was opened in June 1888. The ensuing years saw the Chapel full for every service and the renowned Rev John Evans of Egwlysbach regularly conducted services there.
By 1898 the size of the congregation had once again outgrown the size of the building, with all the seats having been allocated. Discussions were held by the Trustees and opinions varied considerably on the best way forward. Some wanted to build a gallery in the existing Shiloh, whilst others wanted to purchase a piece of land opposite and build a new chapel. Although it was passed that the Secretary, Mr Morris, who worked at the Metropolitan Bank, and the Treasurer, Mr Thomas Evans, to purchase this land, Mr Evans refused as he believed that the land in Rhiw Road (the location of Horeb) would be cheaper and better. A further meeting was held where it was finally decided that the land in Rhiw Road was most suitable option as a chapel and schoolroom/vestry could also be built, together with a house, if needed. At a meeting in 1899 permission was granted to sell Shiloh Chapel in Greenfield Road.
Whilst worshipping continued in Shiloh, the English Wesleyans did not have a chapel in Colwyn Bay and they reached an agreement with the Welsh Wesleyans to hold their services there twice on a Sunday. They bought with them a very good pipe organ and Mrs Griffiths of Lawson Villa, played the organ for both congregations. As there was no electricity or water to operate the organ it had to be manually operated by pumping the organ blowers. Two boys – Shadrach Evans and Robert Jones carried out this task. In later years both contributed greatly to Horeb Chapel. It is worth noting that a Sunday School had been opened in Park Road in the home of Robert Jones with 30 to 35 children attending.
Shiloh was sold to the English Wesleyans for £850 despite the asking price being £900. Fellow worshipers from St John’s were prepared to pay no more than £850 and to ensure they acquired the Chapel, it was agreed to sell it for £850. However before this, the Trustees had purchased 1,374 square yards of land in Rhiw Road for £550. The building of the Schoolroom began immediately and it opened on May 6th 1900. It cost about £1,000 and the contractor was Thomas Jones of Harland House. This was a major venture for such a small group of people, the total Chapel membership at the time being 119.
At the beginning of 1901, a contract was let for building the new Chapel and on April 16th 1902 the Memorial Stones were unveiled. A service was held at which a presentation was given by the Rev. T. Jones-Humphreys where he presented the financial accounts showing that the cost of the building would be about £4,000. Also present at the service were the children who had collected money for the cause. A number of Ministers who were present addressed the meeting. £171 was collected at the service and afterwards a concert was held which raised a further £200.
The new chapel, named Horeb, was opened on November 2nd 1902 with a service conducted by the Rev. T. Jones-Humphreys and the Rev. F.E. Jones.
The female members were fully occupied in arranging a fund raising bazaar which was held in September 1903 and made a profit of £527.
In 1904 two houses were built behind the schoolroom by the contractor, Richard Williams.
Since the year 2000 Horeb and the schoolroom have both undergone extensive improvements and renovations.
The Bevington pipe organ currently in the chapel was installed much later. It was delivered to the chapel by goods train on the May 2nd 1923 from Messrs. H. Willis ad Son & Ewis Co, Organ Builders of 97a, Great George St, Liverpool. It is believed that it became fully operational in 1926. An extension had to be built at the rear of the chapel to house the organ. Between 2005 and 2012 it has been totally renovated at a cost of more than £12,000 by Robert Edwards & Co (Keith Edwards), Pipe Organ Builders of 18, Newall Close, Tattenhall, Chester.
Horeb Chapel stands on the Western side of Rhiw Road, up from St Paul’s.
The front elevation is of squared limestone. As with several churches and chapels on the Heritage walk, sandstone has been used for the gable parapets, string courses, and for door and window openings.
The front elevation consists of slightly projecting central portion with high level glazing with small leaded lights. The central window opening has two windows, flanked by single windows, all with arched tops. Below these windows there are two fine boarded doors, each in pairs, with stained glass panels above. An ornate lamp is located between the doors. Stained glass windows flank the doors.
Note the name “Horeb” carved on a stone plaque above the main entrance and the date 1902. A number of commemorative stones record the names of those people who laid the foundation stones.
The front elevation and the original glazing have survived largely intact.
The side (North and South) elevations are much simpler – the masonry is far less refined or dressed compared to that on the front. The two levels of windows have sides in yellow brick with stone cills and lintols. The roof is of slate with simple red ridge tiles.
A low limestone boundary wall, with sandstone copings, runs along the road boundary. Unusual tapering stone pillars support ornamental gates.
“Y Cyhoeddwr” No. 16 Spring 1976. Recorded by the late Mrs Robert Roberts of Lansdowne, St. John‘s Crescent, Old Colwyn on the occasion of the celebration of 50 years of Horeb Chapel in November 1952.
Norman Tucker – Colwyn Bay, its origin and growth.