Reverend R.J. Barker, Papers

Scope and Content

Reverend R.J. Barker papers including records relating to Community House, Tonypandy; personal papers; photograph albums; correspondence

Administrative / Biographical History

The Rev. R. J. Barker was responsible for the establishment of Community House at Tonypandy. He served in the army during the First World War, enlisting as he did not believe that his role as a priest should provide him with an exemption not available to other men. He was called as a chaplain and served in Malta. It was during this period that he experienced a further spiritual awakening. As part of a group of soldiers who referred to themselves as 'A Circle of Inquiry in Quest of Christ', he came to realise the significance of the gospel to everyday life. Barker returned to England in August 1919, and began work in Highbury, London. In 1922 he was made minister to the Methodist congregations at Blaina and Abertillery, where he was faced with a community suffering high unemployment and industrial unrest. He attended various conferences across Europe on social problems, and became convinced that what the world needed was a social order where men were one family. He saw Christianity as offering such a life. From this idea of a new social order sprung Barker's vision for a community house. He returned to Wales and began looking for a cottage in a country area, but to no avail. In 1924 he was transferred to the Methodist church in Tonypandy. It was here that he began holding open air meetings for non-members, and many gradually entered the church, forming what Barker referred to as an 'open fellowship'. In 1927 the fellowship held its first camp. Barker attended a conference at Caerleon later that year, where he spoke of the blossoming fellowship and his hopes for a community house. As a result, he was offered several monetary gifts towards his work, and purchased a house in Trealaw. Community House was opened by Sir Wilberforce Allen on September 26th 1928, after months of hard work for little or no pay by members of the fellowship. The final responsibility for the house lay with the Methodist Church, although its trustees came from many different churches. It was never intended to be a church, and as such remained closed during traditional hours of Sunday worship. It formed a centre of Christian fellowship for the local community, holding conferences and camps for members, and housing a chapel. The garden was regularly used by members, as was the carpentry shop, where unemployed men and women would work at making toys for local children.


Reverend R.J. Barker papers arranged by item

Conditions Governing Access

No Restrictions

Acquisition Information

Deposited by Mid Glamorgan Methodist Mission, 2002

Other Finding Aids

A detailed catalogue is available online.

Archivist's Note

Compiled by Annabel Wickham for the ANW Project; Sources used: Glamorgan Record Office finding aids

Conditions Governing Use

Normal Glamorgan Record Office conditions apply

Appraisal Information

All records offered have been accepted and listed


Accruals are possible