Early in the history of Newbridge appears “the house known by the name and sign of the New Bridge Inn and Beulah Chapel or meeting house”.
These were the two focal points of social life as the township began to develop. For it was at the ‘cymanfa ganu’, the endeavour and teetotal meetings, the fetes and the bazaars that men met one another.
Side by side with these religious activities were the clubs. Groups of people loosely associated together who formed themselves into primitive provident societies.Records show that at least four of these clubs met regularly.
They were the Odd Fellows, the Ivorite Club, the Male Benefit Club and the Women’s Benefit Club.The latter started in Newbridge as early as 1808.
Beulah Baptist Chapel
In the same year as the benefit club was set up, Beulah Church was opened for public worship.The church was built on a plot of land leased from one Henry Symmonds, a local farmer. Before this it was the custom of Baptists to hold religious meetings in the neighbouring farms, particularly Hafod-Fach on Mynydd Maen.
One of the earliest deacons of Beulah was Henry Edmunds.It was he who loaned people in the district “sums of 15 shillings free of interest” in order that they might buy their seats in Beulah meeting house.Later, in 1820, William Daniels, an influential iron master of Abercarn, lent the Church £20 (and charged £4 interest) towards repairs.
However, it was not until the latter half of the century that the religious causes really began to expand.
In 1882 the Wesleyans built a stone church at Golden Grove, and Y Demi, the Welsh Presbyterian Church was built at Parry’s Square in 1891.
It is from the pen of schoolmaster William Stocker that we have the turbulent history of the established church.
In the parish records he writes:-
“In 1878 the first meeting of the church people took place at Newbridge Inn. The vicar of Penmawn assisted the cause and a small iron church dedicated to St. Augustine was erected.”
This church stood on the site of the old police station. It became so overcrowded that a more commodious building was erected at the expense of Lady Llanover.However, by this time, the village was predominantly English speaking and in spite of her charity, Lady Llanover found hostility to her instructions that the services in the church should be conducted in Welsh.Because of the people’s refusal her ladyship took away the building from Newbridge and erected it at Woodfield Side, Blackwood.
As a result of this action the people of Newbridge were without a place to worship, so under the leadership of Mr. Stocker they had their services during the Spring and Summer of 1888 in a room at the Greenfield Board School. However, by September the people had built another temporary church capable of seating 300 people and it was dedicated by Bishop Lewis of Llandaff to St. Paul.
A few years later, with the growing importance of Newbridge as an industrial area, plans were laid to make the town an independent parish and erect a permanent church.Interrupted by the First World War, these plans came to fruition in 1921 when the parish council met for the first time and the Rev. D. Evan Thomas had the distinction of being the first vicar.