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WALSDEN METHODIST CHURCH

Previously the United Methodist Free Church

and Trinity Methodist Church

INCHFIELD BOTTOM

WALSDEN

 

During the construction of the railway between Todmorden and Walsden in the late 1830's, there were many itinerant workers in the area and the population outgrew what little educational facilities there were. It was described as a "destitute neighbourhood" by Methodists James Fielden and Joseph Dearden. They decided a school was needed, and went ahead and built one at SQUARE in Walsden. The school, a small affair in the upper rooms of two cottages, was named the United Methodist Free Church Sabbath School. Religious services were also held, and a chapel developed along side the school. The main aim of the school was to teach the children to read so they could avail themselves of the scriptures. The church was initially a Free Church, independent from the Wesleyan and Primitive Methodists.

Records from the school show that on 17th May 1846 it was:

"a wet morning, we opened the school at half past nine o'clock. The numbers of scholars were as follows: boys 22, girls 18, total 40. Behaviour pretty well. Teachers present 5 ... after part of the day fine, we opened the school at half past one o'clock. The number of scholars were as follows: boys 21, girls 18, total 39. Behaviour middling. Teachers present 5.

Signed J. Newell."

 

The cottages at Square where the school and

preaching room were from 1841 to 1848.

Photo taken from the centenary booklet 1961

 

The tiny school and chapel were so successful that by 1847 a new building was needed. A site was acquired at Inchfield Bottom and the new school and chapel were opened at Easter in 1848. The chapel held 350 people and the school had 85 scholars. In 1853 the chapel's administration merged with the one at THORNSGREESE at Inchfield Top, although both chapels continued to run side by side until Thornsgreese closed in 1889 and its members made the trek up and down the steep hill to Inchfield Bottom.

By November 1856, the staff at the school were working under great stress and with much difficulty. They reported:

"We feel the inconvenience of having too little room for our children, and hope the time is not far distant when our way shall be made plain for an extension of our operations."

On 6th December 1857, the superintendent wrote:

"I have had more work than I could manage very well, and yet it has afforded me some satisfaction to toil in this crowded school."

There were 141 pupils at this time, and not only was the building overcrowded, it had become dilapidated after just 13 years owing to defective construction.

Moves to build a larger chapel and school were already underway, and an application had been made to secure an extra 8 yards of frontage by 16 yards back at the lower end of the building. The terms of a lease were agreed with the landowner, Mr. Greenwood, and a committee was appointed to raise money for the new building, but it was not until 1860 that the resolution to build a new chapel was confirmed and plans drawn up for raising the money.

The cutting of the first sod was done on Saturday 2nd February 1861. The architect Mr. Nicholson was appointed to supervise the project. Messrs. Worsnip and Houldsworth contracted for the masons' work at £192 13s. and George Crossley for joiners' work at £422. Suitable material from the old chapel was used, and extra stone was brought in by boat from Halifax. The foundation stones cost £6 16s.

The last school service in the old building was held on May 26th 1861. The following Sunday the teachers and scholars met beside the chapel and walked in procession to a large room set aside for them at WINTERBUTLEE MILL, which the owner, Samuel Fielden, had given them free of charge.

The ceremony of laying the foundation stones of the new building took place on Saturday June 15th 1861, when teachers, scholars and friends marched in procession headed by a brass band from Winterbutlee to the site of the new chapel. After the service, they returned to Winterbutlee where tea was laid on for between 300 and 400 people.

The Trustees offered a vote of thanks to Samuel Fielden for allowing the use of his room free of charge for nine months, and presented him with a bible for himself and a hymn book for his wife.

   

The building is 21 yards by 16 yards, built in the Italian style of architecture. The school opened in February 1862 with 21 teachers, 98 boys and 84 girls. Thomas Stansfield was the superintendent. The chapel opened on Good Friday, 18th April 1862.

extracted from the centenary booklet of 1961

   
A stone from the old chapel was engraved and inserted in the outside wall of the chapel, facing the road. The inscription reads:.

United Methodist Free Church

AD 1861

   
From later accounts it seems the pulpit was never finished, and at the time of the opening there were no proper stairs, just a temporary arrangement. The pews were unfinished and the plastering was only half finished. There was no talk of decorating for a further 5 or 6 years. There was no cutlery and this was borrowed as and when needed, people bringing it in clothes baskets. The debt at the time of opening was £1,150, and therefore there were no funds left to pay for the finishing details.
   
A spacious vestibule led to the large school room, which measured 44 feet by 35 feet and was intended to accommodate 400 scholars! (One has to wonder how they managed to squeeze so many children in a space that size). The chapel was on the upper floor designed as an amphitheatre to seat 650 persons. The place was lit by gas provided by Messrs Fielden Brothers.
   
The singers were allowed to sing or chant the hymns as they thought fit, and were accompanied by fiddles until 1866 when a harmonium was introduced. The Trustees resolved to allow an organ but not until all debts were paid and the internal work was finished. Hence the harmonium. However, an organ was later installed in the gallery.
   

The  interior of the chapel

The chapel was first licenced for marriages in 1873, and in answer to a query from the Registrar as to the name of the chapel it was decided to name it the United Methodist Church, Inchfield Bottom.
   
The ministers have lived in various places as no separate manse was provided when the chapel was built.
   
In 1881, ministers from the Wesleyan, Primitive and United Free Methodist Chapels in Walsden lived at Stones Villas. This was a row of 7 houses on Rochdale Road near Copperas House in Walsden. John Hartley from Inchfield Bottom lived at number 12.
   
About 1884 a manse was built a little higher up Rochdale Road to house ministers from the various methodist churches in Walsden, and given the name Stones Manse. This was in reality a pair of semi-detached houses numbered 1 and 2. In 1891, Samuel Chester was the resident at number 2. He was the minister at Inchfield Bottom. The last minister to live at the Manse was Revd. Roy Wedgewood in the 1960's.
   

After that time, the Manse moved to Woodlands Avenue in Todmorden, and later to its present position at 2, Walton Fold, Cross Stone Road, Todmorden.

In 1914, the Minister was Rev. George Walters. Early in September of that year, he obtained leave of absence and joined the Royal Army Medical Corps. He was made a Major and sent to the battle fields of France. During one of the big engagements on the Western Front, Major Walters worked for 4 days and 4 nights dressing wounds at one of the stations. He was awarded the Military Cross for his bravery and services rendered in France, receiving it from His Majesty the King at Buckingham Palace.

Back at the chapel, the schoolroom was given over to the Education Committee for the purpose of feeding children in 1914. This was repeated during the Second World War when the Health Committee asked if they may use the room for a communal feeding centre. This resulted in the opening of a Civic Restaurant that operated in the schoolroom for nine years.

   

1930 saw a few changes when the pews in the centre of the chapel floor were removed. The area was covered with carpet and a communion table that was presented by Councillor and Mrs. Enoch Law.

   

In 1944 it was resolved to institute joint activities with the Wesleyan and Primitive Methodist Churches in Walsden. This union of the three Methodist Churches gave rise to Inchfield Bottom being renamed as Trinity Methodist Church. Inchfield Bottom is now the last remaining Methodist Church in Walsden, and in 2007 the name was changed once more to the Walsden Methodist Church.

Behind the pulpit are memorials to the men of the school and chapel who fell in the First World War.

   

(photo kindly sent by Karen Greenwood)

   

IN MEMORIAM 1914-18

 

Harold Anthony James T. Harrison
Arthur Jackson Thomas Barker
Harold Hargreaves John W. Greenwood
George A. Stenhouse Arthur Ashworth
Wilfred S. Kingsbury Ernest Barker
Edgar Crossley Walter S. Kingsbury
   
TO THE GLORY OF GOD AND IN LOVING MEMORY OF THE MEN OF THIS CHURCH AND SCHOOL WHO GAVE THEIR LIVES IN THE GREAT WAR OF 1914-1918
   
E. Morris F. Cryer
N. Kerr-Moore W. Cockcroft
J. H. Midgley A. Dawson
J. Midgley W. E Farrar
F. Nichol T. Greenwood
F. Stott G. Greenwood
S. Taylor H. Hartley
F. Taylor J. Hocking
W. Wade H. Jackson
J. W. Woodhead A. Leah
   

In addition to the memorial to the men who died, there is a roll of honour with the names of the men who served their country. The memorial tablet and the roll of honour were erected in 1921 and unveiled by Mr. J. E. Fielden.

 
John W. Greenwood John A. Crowther Sam Crossley
John Ogden William Pilling Arthur Fielden
Ernest Ogden W. Raymond Dugdale Arthur Crossley
Harry Mitchell George Hoyle Thomas Rigg
Albert Heyworth Harry Taylor Frank Holden
James Barker George F. Walters Edwin Leah
Raymond Law John E. Fielden Herbert Ogden
Walter Sutcliffe Herbert Fielden Fred Crabtree
Ernest Jackson George S. Wood Eli Heard
Albert Uttley Crossley Dewhirst Albert Fielden
Willie Dewhirst Albert Kingsbury Willie Crabtree
Frank Greenwood Harold Fielden Douglas Greenwood
Fred Southwell Reuben Harrison Albert Southwell
Paul Farrar William Crossley Charles Heyworth
Robert Crowther Herbert Jackson Arthur Kingsbury
James Fielden Henry Harrison Samuel Harrison
James Dawson Herbert W. Penrose John Coupe
Jesse Sutcliffe Levi Hoyle Frank Highley
Albert Crossley Walter Rigg Albert Highley
Fred Sutcliffe James F. Dawson Frank Jackson
Fred Jackson Joseph Rigg
 

(there are a further 15 men whose names are not legible)

There is also a memorial to three men who fell during the Second World War.

Albert Bellenger

George Coupe

Edmund Leah


 
The church closed its doors for worship in September 2010 and the building is to be offered for sale. The beautiful war memorials have been given to ST. PETERS CHURCH, WALSDEN, who are applying for a faculty from the diocese to have them erected in the church.
 

Ministers
 
1842 John Gibbons 1915 George Kilgour
1844 G. Chesson 1918 Fred Wimbush
1846 B. Glazebrook 1925 Brinley H. Davies
1848 E. Darke 1927 Harold Tomlinson
1851 H. Breedon 1928 James Jackson
1853 William Mackenny 1928 Stephen F. Park
1854 William Jackson 1929 Brinley H. Davies
1858 E. Wright 1933 Harry E. Young
1860 Joseph Bennett 1937 H. C. Bishop
1861 William Jackson 1938 A. Woodward Brown
1864 John Clarke 1942 Brinley H. Davies
1866 George Downing 1947 Albert J. Ball
1869 William Howard 1950 Josiah J. Mee, B. Litt
1871 William Patterson 1953 W. Edward Hughes
1874 W. Jackson 1955 Isaac Bond, B.Sc.
1875 W. Dawkins 1959 Robert Way-Rider, B.A.
1877 J. Holgate   Roy Wedgewood
1880 John G. Hartley   Philip Hibbert
1882 Charles H. Buxton   Revd. Easthope
1887 Samuel Chester   Trevor Noble
1894 J. S. Miller   Brian Bullick
1897 T. Rees Bott   Leslie Dawson
1902 W. Rendell Britton   Arthur Nelson
1905 George Osborne   Lewis Burton
1908 James Wynn   Christopher Sharp
1911 George F. Walters   Robert Bowen
 
 

Grateful thanks to Janet Beardwood for her help and for providing a copy of the Centenary Booklet 1961 from which much of the information was obtained.

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