Among the nonconformist pioneers in Colwyn were the Welsh Congregationalists. They began their cause in Bryn-y-Gwynt cottage in 1804 and held regular services there for 11 years.
The site of the current Union Church was bought by Congregationalists in 1874, but it was not until 1878 that an iron structure seating 200 was erected and dedicated. Whilst initially services were held in both languages, this arrangement was not satisfactory and in 1882 eleven English members formed a separate church. Nevertheless both congregations still used the same building and for several years separate services were held in Welsh and English. However the arrangements proved to be unsuccessful and the English Church bought out the Welsh Church and took possession of the land on which the Union Church now stands. A Welsh church, Capel Salem, was opened nearby on Abergele Road in 1885.
The first permanent minister of the English church, the Rev. Thomas Lloyd, was ordained on January 22nd 1884 and he remained for 40 years. His initial salary was £100 per annum.
On May 25th 1885 the foundation stones of the church were laid and the building was dedicated on September 21st 1885. The building cost £2,450. A Minister’s house was built adjacent to the church building. The church seated 250, but this soon proved to be inadequate during the summer, and in 1901 it was extended to accommodate 600; at a cost of £4,700. The extension included several classrooms and a spacious hall. A new organ was bought at a cost of £500.
Rev Lloyd was followed in 1924 by Rev. W.T. Morris, and then in 1929 by Rev. Meurig Thomas, who left in 1941 to become a Forces Chaplain. At the induction tea of his replacement, Rev. Lincoln Jones, the Women’s Guild had to appeal for rations from the congregation as their request for additional rations had been turned down by the Ministry of Food. During the war the Church hall was requisitioned by the local authority for use as a British Restaurant.
In December 1945 the Congregational Church united with the English Baptists from Hawarden Road and the Church then became known as the Union Church, with Rev. Eynon Davies becoming the minister. He was followed by Rev. Lake Thomas in 1956, who on retirement in 1973 became Minister Emeritus. Rev. Tegwyn Evans took over ministry in 1974 and then Rev John Huntingdon in 1980.
In its later years the part of the lower floor fronting Sea View Road was used by the Cooperative Funeral Services to conduct their undertaker’s business.
Sadly by the turn of the century the structural condition of the building had seriously deteriorated. The Congregational Denomination, which owned the building, felt that its repair was not realistically possible and decided that it had to be sold. It is now understood to be in the hands of a developer who has obtained planning permission for its conversion into 8 flats. However the adjacent house that was built along with the church is understood to be in separate ownership and is still occupied.
The final service to be held in the Church was a service of thanksgiving held on August 25th 2002. The church congregation then moved to worship at the nearby Dewi Sant and remained there until June 4th 2006 when they united with St John’s Methodist Church on Conway Road to become St John’s United Church.
The former Union Church stands roughly opposite St Paul’s Church at the junction of Abergele Road and Sea View Road.
The sloping nature of its site means that the building has two storeys. The main entrance at the corner of Abergele Road and Sea View Road is to the main, upper part of the church. At a lower level, with a subsidiary frontage facing Sea View Road, the building contains a large hall and ancillary rooms.
As with a number of churches and chapels in the town, the local limestone is the main walling material, with the use of sandstone for the gable parapets, string courses and the door and window openings. The roof is of slate with red ridge tiles.
The main feature of the south elevation facing Abergele Road is the large gable with three arched windows above which are three smaller windows. The porch, with its arched doorway, has a lean-to roof. Another entrance to the church lies to the right.
The western side facing Sea View Road is a noticeable feature with its two large gables, each with three tall windows and coloured lights. Note on the north elevation the mock Tudor work at high level.
Norman Jones – United Reform Church and Baptists, Colwyn Bay 1887- 1987.
Norman Tucker – Colwyn Bay, its origin and growth.