A STONE MARKER from more than 200 years ago has been dug up in Pontypool.

The marker for 'Wesley Methodist Chapel' was dug up on Blaendare Road, Upper Race, and is thought to date back to 1811.

Wesley Methodist Chapel was a church in Pontypool, at the top of Maunds Row, named after John Wesley, the founder of the Methodist Church.

It could be seen on maps of the area until 1901, but was replaced, in 1911, by the Race Methodist Church – then known as Race Mission.

Free Press Series: The engraving on the stone reads ‘Wesley Methodist Chapel 1811’.The engraving on the stone reads ‘Wesley Methodist Chapel 1811’.

“My friend Dale was talking to me about gardening and said he had found a slab of stone while digging,” said Neil Waite. “He asked me if there was a Methodist church in the area. I told him there was one at the Upper Race and that there used to be an old Methodist church at Maunds Row.

“He asked if I wanted it, to which I agreed.

“After he brought it to my house, I managed to clean it up and make the engraving that was there clearer to see. The engraving on the stone read ‘Wesley Methodist Chapel 1811’.

“My friend Dai and I have placed the stone where it belongs, at the front of the Race chapel.

“It’s back in the place where it rightly belongs.”

Free Press Series: Race Methodist Church in Upper Race, Pontypool, was built in 1911.Race Methodist Church in Upper Race, Pontypool, was built in 1911.

Mr Wesley preached in Pontypool “two or three times”, drawing a crowd of around 600 people on one occasion, Mr Waite said.

This came after he first preached in Wales to a crowd of around 400 at Devauden in Monmouthshire on October 15, 1739. From there, he continued through south Wales – preaching in Abergavenny, Pontypool, Usk, Newport and Cardiff.

The Race Methodist Church is one of two remaining ‘tin churches’ in Pontypool. The churches were once a very common sight in the Valleys but are now extremely rare.

In August last year, the church was able to celebrate its 110th anniversary with a new roof, thanks to the "incredible" support of the local community.