of the chapel by courtesy of
Littleborough Historical & Archaeological Society
has always been an area with a village character of its own,
independent in its ways from its neighbours, Littleborough
and Walsden. It first
got the name of Summit after the Rochdale canal was taken
through the summit gap, and as it was a level pound, it took
the name summit, as the canal then starts to drop towards
Yorkshire. Before this, the area was known as Wilderness.
An apt name it would have been in those early days; bleak
and cold with lots of rain as befits one of the watersheds
beginnings of the actual village began with the drying out of the
valley bottom, which enabled the turnpike road to be extended from
Steanor Bottom Toll Bar through to Littleborough in 1824. Before
this, the area was a quagmire of marshy ground and no horse or vehicle
could travel it. They would have to go over the high Calderbrook
Road which took much longer. The digging of the Rochdale Canal helped
with the draining of the area and so aided the establishment of
the community that began to spring up.
and other buildings essential to village life began to emerge with
the advent of the road, and so in 1824 a small group of people who
wished to worship according to the Congregationalist doctrine decided
to begin meetings in the upper room above two cottages near to the
top end of Summit village, the home of James Shackleton.
Rev. Ely, minister at the Providence Chapel in Rochdale, was the
instigator of this, and preached at the meetings. So much influence
did Rev. Ely have, that in 1825 the small group became recognised
and the church was formally constituted as an Independent Congregational
Church. The preaching was then
taken over by Mr. Rhodes of Littleborough, who was helped out on
occasions by Mr. Charles Hamer of Sladen.
went on until the Rev. Henry Cheetham took over as the official
minister. He was a member of the Providence Chapel in Rochdale,
and in 1833 he was ordained as a pastor and became the first official
minister at Summit. From then on things began to move quickly, and
a scheme, which had already begun to be talked about by the village
worshippers, looked likely to be realised sooner than they thought.
They had dreamed of building their own chapel for a few years, and
with the help and drive of their newly appointed first minister,
it became a reality.
lease of a plot land was obtained by Henry Cheetham on the
1st of January 1834 at Wilderness Hill from a member of the
church, Mr. John Marsden, who gave the site and the stones
as a gift.
was assigned in trust to build a chapel for the use of a Society
of Protestant Dissenters of the Independent Denomination on
12th. April 1834 and signed by Mr. Henry Cheetham, Mr. Abraham
Crossley and others. It was built at the top end of the village
and was finished and opened on July 22nd 1834, and proudly
bore the name Ebenezer Independent Chapel. It had cost near
on £500 and officiating at the opening were the Revs.
Dr. Raffles, J. Sutcliffe and J. Ely.
document applying for the registration of the new chapel was made
on the 5th of April 1836 and is transcribed below.
His Majesty's Justices of the Peace assembled at the General Quarter
Sessions of the Peace, holden in and for the Hundred of Salford
in the County of Lancaster.
Henry Cheetham of Calderbrook in the Township of Blatchinworth
and Calderbrook in the Parish of Rochdale and the said County
of Lancaster, Minister of the Gospel, do certify your worships
that a certain tenement building situated and being at Calderbrook
aforesaid and called or commonly known by the name of “Ebenezer
Chapel” is intended on and after this date here mentioned, be
appropriated for religious worship of Protestants.
I hereby desire your worships to cause the said tenement or building
to be registered and recorded pursuant to the direction of An
Act of Parliament made and passed in the fifty second year of
the reign of his late Majesty King George the Third, entitled
“An Act to repeal certain acts and amend other acts relating to
religious worship and assemblies, and persons teaching or……………
hand this 5th day of April 1836
was heard at Salford Quarter Sessions on the 11th April 1836 and
was duly granted that Ebenezer Independent Chapel be registered
as a Place of Religious Worship for Protestant Dissenters. Two years
later on 30th September 1838 it was licensed for marriages.
It is recorded that between 1832 and 1843, 179 infants were baptised.
the building of some houses started in front of the chapel, the
builders were approached and asked to put a room over two cottages
which would serve as a school. The
Sunday schools played an important part in the religious life of
the chapel and it was sometimes the only place where children could
learn the rudiments of reading and writing.
Henry Cheetham and his wife Susanna settled into the life of the
village minister and no doubt had their fair share of ups and downs.
He and his four children lived amongst the community, but in 1842
after just nine years, which had seen the birth of the new church
building and an expanding congregation, Henry decided to leave.
He preached his last sermon on the 29th of January that year and
the chapel was full to bursting. It must have been a sad occasion
for the members of the church and probably a hard decision for Henry
to make. During his ministry
he had seen the chapel cleared of debt but the house-cottage and
school was left with a debt of £400.
new minister was appointed and took up his post in 1843. He was
the Rev. Daniel Calvert and he served the community for 6 years.
Previous to coming to Summit, he had served some time at Tosside
near Settle. In the time he spent at Summit there were 31 new members
admitted to the church, so he had a very successful term. It was
only his premature death that cut short his term of duty. He died
at Calderbrook on 22 of September 1849 aged 55.
left a huge gap in the community, being a very popular minister
and he was replaced by the Rev. Samuel Sugden, who took over the
duties of minister in 1850.
Rev. Sugden served the community for 18 years but it was not a happy
time in the history of the chapel. He was not happy in his job and
his 18 years service were regarded as a complete failure. In the
last two years of his ministry, his sermons would include gossip
he had heard on his visits to the homes of the congregation and
he began to get very personal with some of the comments he preached
from the pulpit. This was no way for a minister to behave and he
was asked for his resignation, which he duly tendered.
doubt it was a relief for the village people as they must have wondered
what he was going to reveal in his next sermon and attending services
must have been a severe trial for some, especially those who had
things in their lives that were best not talked about in public.
He was also deemed incompetent to serve two churches. A new church
had been built in Littleborough as the amount of worshippers travelling
from Littleborough to Summit had increased greatly and it was felt
that a separate new chapel was needed in Littleborough.
journey to Summit from Littleborough would have been particularly
hard in winter, battling up that long hill against the wind would
have taxed even a young person, never mind the old. A
room was hired on Church Street for a beginning, but it soon became
clear that it was too small, so work began on building a new chapel
in Victoria Street and it was opened in 1869 but work carried on
until 1874 before it was completed. It
was a small church but adequate for the needs of the Congregational
community of Littleborough.
years were to pass before a new minister was appointed, probably
to the great relief of the parishioners, who, after 18 years of
the Rev. Sugden would have welcomed the respite. The
newly appointed minister was the Rev. John Whitton who served the
chapel for five years from 1877 to 1882. He originated from Scotland
and had a family of three, all born whilst in his ministry at Summit.
He had been approached and
asked if he would accept the living at the salary of £100,
composed of £70 from the church and £30 from the union
and that he pay his own house rent. Obviously he agreed and took
up the post.
Rev. Whitton's term of office, it was agreed in 1881 that the Summit
and Littleborough Churches should “co-operate under one Evangelist”.
The representatives from the union at the meeting held on January
11 th 1881 were the Revs. Mr. Berry of Bolton, John Younge of Warrington
and B. Aitken of Rochdale.
Jubilee of the Chapel in 1884 fell between the leaving of Rev. Whitton
and the appointment of Rev. Morgan and plans were made for the celebrations.
There was to be a special treat
organised which took the form of an Old Scholars Tea Party and special
sermons at the Sunday service. Invitations
were sent out to the congregation and a copy is transcribed here
along with a copy of the original invitation.
Established in the Year 1825
Chapel Opened 1834
Deacons and Teachers of the above Place of Worship are making
special efforts in commemoration of the JUBLIEE,
it is intended to have
OLD SCHOLARS' TEA PARTY, on Saturday, December 27th 1884.
on the tables about Four o'clock. Afterwards there will be a PUBLIC
MEETING, presided over by Mr. John Lancaster of Southport and
addressed by several Gentlemen, who were formerly scholars here,
and Special References will be made to the Past History.
Sunday, Dec. 28th SPECIAL SERMONS will be preached and collections
made at the close, in aid of the
you were formerly a Scholar at Summit, the Committee give you
a capital invitation and will be glad to see you present at
the above Services.
I append you a Ticket for Tea, and if you cannot possibly be present,
perhaps you would kindly return it to the Secretary.
Todmorden Rd., Summit
Rev. David Morgan was then invited to become the new pastor of both
churches in 1886. He was of the Lancashire Independent College,
but he was to last only two brief years. In 1888 he was requested
to retire by the Littleborough Church.
Rev. John Jones was next to take up the ministry agreeing to become
pastor of the two churches. He held his first service on Tuesday
evening 5th of March 1889 and stayed until 1914 when he moved to
Bromyard, Worcestershire. Much happened during his pastorate and
he was to see the chapel undergo a major refurbishment. After him
came Rev. Smisson from Oldham who arrived in 1916 to serve the two
churches. He became an army chaplain and resigned from the pastorate
1921 the Rev. J.D.Smith took over but left in 1925 being appointed
as curate of the Parish Church in Littleborough. Obviously disillusioned
that the Congregationalists could not pay him his due salary, he
went over to the “other side”.
1886 it was reported that the present larger school was built
and the chapel building restored at a cost of near on £900.
By 1893 this had been reduced to £200. After
the new school was built, the old school building was used
as a carpenter's shop. By 1896 it had been cleaned, beautified
and decorated with pretty pictures and was to be known as
the Summit YMCA.
trustees appointed for the newly built school in 1886 were:
interior of the chapel was not very well maintained, possibly because
they did want to accumulate a lot of debt, so by 1890 it had deteriorated
into such a sorry state that an architect was consulted and a “Ways
and Means” committee was formed. This
constituted of the Deacons, Messrs. M. Uttley, Thomas Byers, John
Uttley and James Clegg together with Messrs. James Cryer, Emmanuel
Shackleton, the Pastor, John Jones, Secretary Mr. J. W. Travis and
Treasurer Mr. E Shackleton.
firm of architects, Shuttleworth and Blacke submitted plans which
were accepted by the committee members. The
plans showed a new central doorway in front, two new window spaces,
all new windows, new pews, new communion rostrum, minister's vestry
and new vestibule plus some other smaller alterations.
work was done and a reopening service was preached on Sunday June
8th at 2-30 pm. The turnout
for the reopening was a good one and it was reported to be a “holy
happy day”. In all the collection amounted to £30.
members of the church were working class as is to be expected. They
ranged from farmers to dressmakers, stone getters to millers, colliers
to drapers, but the majority of the congregation was made up of
the factory workers and weavers.
admissions to the church were:
Howard of Deanhead, a farmer's wife October 11th 1831
Hill of Calfholes December 20th 1831
Crossley of Gorse Hills, a stone getter who died 16 June 1862 and
his wife Frances October 30th 1833
Sugden September 8th 1850
Townsend June 2nd 1853
Rodgers 2 Feb. 1854
Mariah Sugden of Chapel House February 3rd 1859
Whitton and Sarah January 27th 1878
Anna Uttley of Longley Heys, a weaver March 25th 1883. It was recorded
that she had gone to America.
extracts from the Church Minutes
2. That our pastor, the Rev. S. Sugden have the use of the Chapel
house pew rents and the grant from the County Union for his salary
a church meeting it was resolved that Robert Crossley should be
suspended for three months on the grounds of drunkenness.
was resolved that Robert Crossley and James Rhodes be the deputation
to the county union meeting.
was resolved that the cottage used for some time as a vestry of
the chapel should be let to John Birtwistle at the rate of 1/6d
was resolved that J. Shackleton should play the organ in the chapel;
the appointment is subject to the following conditions;
That it shall be annual
That Thomas Crossley the leading singer shall find tunes to the
hymns so long as he leads.
That an annual collection be made for the organist.
was resolved that Robert Crossley, John Birtwistle, Joseph Wilson
and James Kershaw should be Deacons of the church.
notice having been given in pursuance of the provisions of the trust
deed, of the 12th day of April 1834, on two successive Sabbaths
previous to this meeting, we now proceed to the election of thirteen
the chapel keepers salary remains as it is, viz. £4 per annum.
we take steps towards raising funds with a view to the erection
of a new schoolroom
mention of union of Littleborough and Summit churches.
and his wife Jane Rhodes were stated to have applied for membership.
unfermented wine be used at the communion table instead of the fermented.
the front six pews in the bottom of the chapel be 1/3d per seat
per quarter, the remainder 1/6d per quarter.
Accounts of the Chapel from Jan. 1st to December 31st 1894 make
interesting reading. It looks like the Sewing Class and the Musical
Cafe were the most popular. The weekly offerings are rather paltry.
from County Union £30
for Foreign Missions £3.5.10
for Home Missions £1.13.0d
Rent, Taxes £5.8.11d
and blower £4.4.0d
Keeper's salary £4.11.0d
and Stationary £1.13.8d
to Property £20.15.3d
an even balance between the two.
firms were always used to undertake any work, keeping the tradesmen
in work and helping the local economy where possible. A
list of the firms who supplied their services to the Chapel between
1907 and 1910 were:
Pilling Brothers, 51&53, Church St. Ironmongers
The Empress Orchestra 7, Henderville St.
Halstead Bros. Eastwood near Todmorden Joiners, builders and timber
William Powell 74, Summit Joiner & Undertaker
Abraham Fielden Summit Builder and property repairer
James & Joseph Rushton & Sons Bacup Slate cement etc.
J.T.Chad wick 54, Albion Terrace General repairers of property
Arthur Holden 83&85, Church Street. Complete house furniture
E. Taylor& Co. 71, Church St. Wholesale and retail ironmonger
Wm. Taylor & Sons 32, Featherstall Rd. Funeral Undertakers
Robert Earnshaw Peel St. Smith & wheelwright.. mangle roller
T. R. Byers 78, Todmorden Rd., Summit General draper, milliner
Grindrod Rochdale Organ builders
H. Jewell Heywood Teacher of Music
Robert Hudson Plumber, glazier, gas fitter
Jackson Bros. Henderville St. Park Press
Mitchell & Son Wheat Sheaf Buildings Stationers, booksellers,
E. Stansfield 13, Todmorden Rd., Family grocer
Littleborough Co-op Society of Industry 44 Hare Hill Rd.
Fawthrop & Co. 17, Hare Hill Rd. & 82, Church St. Confectioners
1866, a chapel of the Primitive Methodists was built quite close
to the Ebenezer. This was an offshoot of the Knowlwood Chapel in
Walsden, which can be read HERE.
Independents and the new Primitive chapels always maintained a good
relationship with each other and in 1918 they united for worship
and held joint services beginning on Sunday October 6th 1918 up
until Sunday March 30th 1919.
poster from the time is reproduced here.
Ebenezer Congregational Chapel continued until 1975, when
it finally closed it's doors after 141 years. It
looks little changed although it has now been converted into
Congregationalists Chapel in Victoria Street continues to
serve the community as the United Reform Church.