Tonyrefail memorial after Ainon Chapel headstones ruined
A memorial erected to replace 34 gravestones destroyed when former chapel grounds were redeveloped has been welcomed by a woman with six relatives buried there.
The stones were knocked down without warning last year when owner Tonyrefail Workingmen's Club carried out work on the land to enable it to be sold.
The local council has arranged for a replacement memorial to be created.
Marion Llewelyn, 89, said the stones had been removed "without any thought".
The stones lined the walls at the Ainon Chapel memorial garden, which was owned by the workingmen's club and had a children's playground and a car park on the site.
The playground and car park were being demolished in order for the land to be sold.
Rhondda Cynon Taf Council said there had been 40 gravestones left on the land, which the club removed and stacked against a wall which led to some becoming broken and cracked.
Miss Llewelyn's mother, who died shortly after her daughter's birth, was buried there along with her grandparents and great-grandparents and a male relative who died at the turn of the 20th Century at the age of three.
The retired local government worker said it was the way the demolition was carried out which had caused offence.
She told BBC Wales that the destruction of the stone was "tragic".
"People living opposite it heard a lot of noise about eight o'clock on a Saturday morning. They went to investigate and a lot of [the stones] had been shattered by that time.
Miss Llewelyn said her relatives had not been commemorated with headstones but their names had been collected to be added to the new memorial by the Glamorgan Family History Society, along with all others buried at the site.
The new plaque, which was funded by the local council, was unveiled at a consecration ceremony at Tynybryn Park, Tonyrefail, last Friday.
"It's quite a nice memorial," Miss Llewelyn said.
She believes she is one of the few people now living who knew in person any of those commemorated.
"The only one I remember is my grandmother, who died in 1952. My mother died in 1923 only three weeks after I was born, and was buried with my great-grandmother," she added.
Her family was heavily involved with the Ainon Chapel, and she was the last secretary before the building was closed, and then demolished in 1992.
Rhondda Cynon Taf councillor Eudine Hanagan said she and many residents, had been "shocked and saddened" by what happened.
"While this issue was in no way the responsibility of the council, we have conveyed the upset this has caused in Tonyrefail and I very much welcome the council's response to intervene and provide this solution.
"We are very grateful to the Glamorgan Family History Society for providing us with the information on the names of people buried at Ainon.
"I hope that the memorial plaque will be appreciated and valued by the people of Tonyrefail."
The workingmen's club has been asked to comment.