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St. Timothy's Church Closed

By Michael Cridland

OBITUARY St Timothy’s Church in Caerau, Cardiff held its last service on Sunday, January 29th.

St Timothy’s was a big part of the life of the Caerau community of Cardiff. it is the last (Anglican) church standing. built in 1957 to serve the new emerging council estate, as the then medieval church of St Mary's was too small and too isolated on the nearby hill. It was a large part of our family's life there. My father was People's Warden (an ancient post in the Anglican church stretching back to the Middle Ages) from 1976, he was also caretaker assisted by my mother. My sister sang in the choir, and I served at the altar. St Tim’s (as it was affectionately known) what was known as a “dual purpose church” it was a church on Sunday, and a hall for social functions, such as the church’s popular bingo, numerous jumble sales and Christmas bazaars. It was a big part of the local community. There were the people who made up that family. Joseph Barry (Joe) when we started there was Vicar’s Warden, Choirmaster, Lay Reader, bingo caller, treasurer. Joe was there when St Tim’s opened, where he was choirmaster, People’s Warden. He was a permanent fixture and since as Reader which is a type of “minor order” he was a type of minister.

I remember the 1970s and 80s well, Father Jack (later Canon) Buttimore was the Vicar (based at St David’s). St Tim’s was served by curates (assistant parish priests) whilst vicar usually served for 10 or 20 years (Fr Buttimore stayed from 1970=97 his predecessor 1933-70) curates were apprentices and remained for 4 or 5 years. Fr Hugh Broad, 1975-79, Fr Colin Sutton, 1980-1985, Fr Bernard Sharp, 1986-91, they all had their strength (and weaknesses). however, it was the people themselves that was the important part of this family Saint Tim's. Besides Joe, there were others that I remember, May Collins, Lou Jenkins, Honor North Olive Newbury, Lily Nichols (with her husband Albert who had been caretaker before my father) Gwenny Wade, Melanie Sloman, Queenie Brown, Beaty Cozey, Nelly Cotta. They have all gone, all collaborated tirelessly with my mother and father.

The last years things kept ticking on with my Pauline Boughton and Barbara Cuddihy as churchwardens, Pauline raised money with her teas and legendary baking. There was Margaret Daniels and her husband Alpheus who returned to their home in St Kitts, Millie Parris an old friend my Mum’s who passed away after enduring a lengthy illness, she and her daughter Selma were pillars of the church as were Fred (a veteran of Anzio) and his wife Winnie Andrews good people. It pains me that they are gone. My time at St Tim’s effectively ended when I went to the US in 1990, but never lost touch with the place where my faith was formulated though it is not what it was the loss of that still is sad.

St Tim’s was a important part of the community, its loss will be and already lost. The reasons for its closure seems to be due to an inspection from the diocese of Llandaff that found cracks in the buttress that made it structurally unsound, and it was condemned. This survey happened out of the blue and I was told that the vicar had not been aware that this was going to happen. I was quite surprised. I remember talking to someone about replacing the current building with a new church. I suspect that individual knew that it would never happen. The Diocese sold the land for flats for £750k, the diocese got the bulk of it. There was a building fund which for a permanent building to be built and the current building would have functioned as a hall, the fact that this never happened was tragic. People will say that the church are the people and not the building, church is the family! Yes that is true. Yet family lives in a house and that makes it a home. So losing St Tim’s closure is akin to having the family home demolished. To the those living like my mother Audrey Cridland, Gayle Hook, Salma, Pauline,Barbara and those who are gone, like my father, Joe and the rest it’s sad. May St Timothy’s rest in peace!