St. Theodore's Church, Kenfig Hill
Eglwys Sant Theodore, Mynydd Cynffig
St Theodore’s Church was dedicated on June 10th 1889. It was built on land donated by C.R.M. Talbot of Margam Castle and was built at a cost of £850. The church was built to serve the growing mining village of Kenfig Hill. St. Theodore’s Church was originally a simple structure, but the rapid rise in the population of the district caused Miss Talbot to contribute substantially to its enlargement in 1909.
When did the Harvest auctions start – it could have been early 1970s, or mid to late 1970s. The auctions in aid of St Theodore’s church were instigated by David (Dai) Thomas of Pencastell farm. The first auction is believed to have taken place in the White Lion, Bedford Road, Cefn Cribwr. However they became established in the Masons Arms, Woodstock Inn and the Royal Oak public houses in Kenfig Hill, rotating on an annual basis.
Each year, all the produce that had been donated at the Harvest Festival in church was divided into lots and taken to whichever pub was the host that year. Added to this produce were donations from regulars of the pub and the wider community.
The evening’s proceedings began with a short service led by the parish priest of the time and then the auction would get underway. John Morgan of auctioneers Watts & Morgan being the first auctioneer to take control of proceedings. It was amazing how much someone would pay for a bedraggled bunch of flowers once they had had a few pints!
The climax of the evening was the auctioning of a lamb, donated by Pencastell farm with the actual lamb making an appearance! I am sure that the eventual buyer of the lamb was arranged beforehand, often the licensee of that year’s pub. However not before Dai had pushed up the bidding, buying the lamb and then it back up for sale.
All the money raised at these auctions was a source of much needed funding for St Theodore’s church. They wouldn’t have happened without the support of the licensees, John Richards of the Masons Arms, Arthur Hughes of the Royal Oak and Ron Collett of the Woodstock.
Following the death of Dai Thomas in 1979, his widow Tilly took on the role of arranging the auctions. She couldn’t have done this without the help and support of Keith and Malvina Morgan, John and Prima Barrett, Cliff and Gloria John, Colin and Sandra Chapman and all who gave donations.
The auctions continued each year until the late 1990s when age and ill health caught up with the organisers and they came to an end.