A Short History of Methodism in Meltham (1969) by Rev. Conrad Scott (compiler)

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Minister : The Reverend Conrad Stott

Trustees :

Messrs. J. Garlick, F. Lee, A. Dunn, S. Crawshaw, J. Walker, _E. Baker, K. Lee, L. Moorhouse, W. Ashcroft, H. Fisher, N. Fisher, J. Yates.

Trustees Secretary : Mr. J. Yates. Trustees Treasurer: Mr. E. S. Mellor.

Chapel Stewards: Messrs. F. Lee, J. Walker, S. Crawshaw.

The Leaders’ Meeting : “Society Stewards : Messrs. E. S. Mellor, J. Walker, E. Baker. Poor Stewards: Mr. and Mrs. S. Crawshaw.

“Class Leaders: Mrs. J. Garlick, Mrs. H. Parkin, Mrs. F. Lee, Mrs. S. Crawshaw, Mrs. E. S. Mellor, Mrs. G. Froggatt, Mr. H. Fisher, Miss K. Garlick, Mr. K. Lee, Mr. F. Lee, Mr. K. Pratt.

Sunday School Superintendent : Mr. H. Fisher. Overseas Missions Secretary : Mr. R. Taylor. Women’s Work Secretary : Mrs. G. Froggatt. Home Mission Secretary : The Revd. C. Stott. Christian Citizenship Secretary : Mrs. G. Froggatt. Cradle Roll Secretary : Miss L. Manchester.

Representatives from the Society Meeting : Mrs. G. Lodge, Mr. G. Froggatt, Mrs. A. Dunn, Mr. A. Haigh, Mr. J. Yates.

Representatives from Women’s Groups: Mrs. S. Haigh, Mrs. M. Morrison.

Local Preachers : Mr. R. Gold, Mrs. C. Stott, Mr. G. Minney. Secretary to the Leaders’ Meeting: Mr. R. Gold.

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Methodism in Meltham

Methodism first came into the area around Meltham through the labours of the Methodist preachers of the Birstall Circuit who in the 1750’s began to preach in the vicinity of Nether Thong. We know that by 1765 Methodism was established there and the first Chapel erected in the Huddersfield district was the chapel erected at Thong in 1769. It was from Thong that Methodism spread to Holmfirth, Thurstonland and Scholes, where classes were formed in 1776, 1777 and 1778 respectively and Thong, together with these infant societies, was part of the Birstall Circuit until 1780, when the Huddersfield Circuit was formed by dividing the Birstall Circuit.

The first record of Methodists meeting together in Meltham for worship is in 1795, when a cottage occupied by a Mr. James William Mellor in the neighbourhood of Bower Hill was used for cottage worship. This cottage and one in Brighouse Fold leading to Near Lane where services were held from 1815 onwards sufficed until the erection of the first chapel in Meltham. Cottage meetings were held too in the Meltham Mills area in a house in Shady Row.

By 1797 the number of Methodists meeting in class-meetings in Meltham had grown to forty-four and the young Methodist Society was listed (with Thong and the others mentioned above) in the Huddersfield Circuit. Difficult times were however in store, for the Huddersfield Circuit in common with many others was to lose many members in the agitation which led to the formation of a new Methodist Denomination—the Methodist New Connexion. Differences of opinion in Methodism about the relationship of Methodism to the Church of England and regarding the right of laymen to have a say in the government of Methodism in appoint- ing local church officers and through representation in the District Meetings and Annual Conference had come to a head after the death of John Wesley in 1791. There were many who thought that far too much authority was in the hands of the Methodist preachers and trustees, who allied themselves with Mr. Alexander Kilham, a Wesleyan preacher who was a spokesman for the people who wished for a greater say in the Wesleyan Methodism of which the early Meltham Methodists were a part. The Wesleyan Conference issued the

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(the Old Body) and formed the New Itinerancy which title was soon changed to the Methodist New Connexion. The Huddersfield Circuit of Wesleyan Methodism lost nearly half its members between 1797 and 1799 and the loss of members at Meltham to the New Connexion accounted for a decline from forty-four members in 1797 to eleven members in 1799.

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Meltham chapel was built Meltham Methodists attended the love- feasts at Thong chapel. The order of service would be similar to this : Hymn. Prayer. Grace (sung). Bread distributed by stewards. Collection for the poor.

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cost of £750, towards which the Circuit subscribed £311. and the rest was met by the Holmfirth Wesleyan Church.

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the text,

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The chapel was not always full, however, and the report on the Chapel Anniversary in the same year says that the congrega- tions were “ moderate.” At this period there was a Wesleyan Young Men’s Bible Class in being and they were enterprising enough to promote a lecture in the Oddfellows’ Hall with a speaker from London, Mrs. Gervase Smith, who entitled her lecture “ The Siege of Derry and No Surrender.”

The class meeting was still an integral part of the life of any Methodist Society and in the period immediately before the present chapel was built the class leaders met their classes in people’s homes. One of the class leaders at Melham was Mr. George Butter- worth and this class used to meet in the homes of its different members. At the home of the parents of Miss Ada Hirst it was the custom on the occasion of the class meeting for a home-made carpet to be brought downstairs to cover the stone floor in order for it to be more comfortable for the members of the class to kneel and pray. A large oil lamp was placed in the centre of the room and the class leader stood near it. When singing the members of the class would stand with their backs to the centre of the room in order that they might be able to see their books more easily by raising them so that the light of the oil lamp shone directly on to the page. The members of the class paid their penny a week class money and Mr. Butterworth would go round the class asking each member, “ How is it with you,

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Church. Close relationships existed between the Wesleyan and Baptist Sunday Schools and the joint Whit Monday walk was already in existence. I

The last service in the old chapel took place on Sunday, February 14th, 1886, when the preacher was Mr. J. Douglas Brown, of Holmfirth. The new chapel, which had been built at a cost of about £4,000 and seated 720, held the first of its opening services on the following Wednesday, when the preacher was the Reverend Robert Morton, of Liverpool. On the following three consecutive Sundays further Special Opening Services were held, conducted by the Rev. John S. Pawlyn, the Rev. F. W. Macdonald, and the Rev. T. W. Johnstone. At each of these services there was special organ music on the new organ which had replaced the harmonium which had been used in the old chapel (except on Anniversaries when a band of sixteen players had provided musical accompani- ment).

Whilst the Chapel was being built Day School scholars who attended the British School at our Sunday School premises in Sefton Lane had had accommodation provided at the Baptist schoolroom but were of course now able to return. The new chapel was commodious enough to enable those who required sittings to obtain them. Eight shillings and twopence per quarter to be paid on the first Wednesday in March, June, September and December enabled a member to have this privilege though if he fell three quarters or more in arrears his place was liable to be re-let. The officials at the time of the opening were:

Chapel Stewards: Mr. D. Mellor, Mr. U. Taylor. Society Steward : Mr. Dyson. Poor Steward: Mr. Mosley.

Class Leaders: Mr. G. Butterworth, Mrs. Butterworth, Mr. Kippax, Mr. S. Lockwood, Mr. D. Mellor, Mr. R. E. Mellor, Mr. Moorhouse, Mr. Mortimer, Mr. Quarmby, Mr. Redfearn, Mr. L. Taylor, Mr. W. Wright,

whilst the following Meltham men served the Circuit as Local Preachers: W. Roberts, W. Wright, J. Pogson, A. Quarmby, J. Moorhouse, W. E. Sykes, G. W. Pogson, W. Hirst, S. Brooke.

At Meltham in the closing years of the nineteenth century there was a strong Band of Hope which used to process with other Bands of Hope from Meltham Baptist Church and from Meltham Mills to Thick Hollins at the spot where Meltham Golf Course is now situated and there singing, recitations and demonstrations would take place. Anyone who wished to watch but felt unable

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to walk was able to go by wagonette. There. was too at our Meltham Chapel: a Wesley Guild with a varied programme of religious, cultural and physical activities.

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In the early years of the present century a football team was organised in connection with our Sunday School and one of: the conditions

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The Wesleyan Methodist Chapel at Meltham became the Methodist Chapel with the union of Wesleyan, Primitive and United Methodists in 1932. These first years of Methodist Union at Meltham were a time when all sections of the church were con- cerned to put their finances in order. In 1933 the introduction of the envelope system of giving was considered and rejected. In 1934 the income and expenditure of the various sections of the church was as follows : _ Income Expenditure


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In 1967 the Anglican churches of the village joined with our church at the Annual Covenant Service for the first time and the practice then begun has since continued. In recent years, too, Methodists and Baptists have joined with our Church of England friends for the Whitsuntide procession of witness. The climate of church relations has been changing and Methodists and Anglicans have been drawing closer to each other in Meltham as elsewhere. The Revd. Peter Spivey (Vicar of Meltham), the Revd. T. H. Yeomans (Vicar of Helme), the Revd. R. Orton (Curate of Mel- tham Parish Church) have all preached in our church in recent years. We look forward too in this our 150th Chapel Anniversary year to having the Revd. J. D. Morison (Vicar of Meltham Mills) to preach for us. The present Methodist Minister, the Revd. C. Stott, has been the first Methodist minister to preach at the Angli- can church at Meltham Mills and has also preached at the parish church at Wilshaw. This year sees the judgment of the Methodist Conference and the Anglican Convocations on the Anglican- Methodist Union Conversations. Who can tell what the future holds ?

Down the years the Methodist Church at Meltham has faced the varying challenges that time has produced and has sent out workers into the wider family of Methodism (including at least three ministers — the Revd. W. Brook Hirst, the Revd. Alfred Goldthorpe, the Revd. James Mellor) and maintained its witness in the village. Today, though we have our problems we also have our assets. We have a good Sunday School, in training and in numerical strength, a lively Young People’s Fellowship, a talented choir (conductor, Mrs. E. Mortimer) and strong Ladies’ Sections (Young Wives, Pleasant Hour, Married Ladies) with a Men’s Meeting which caters for men of all age groups. As we face the future we remember that as John Wesley, the founder of Methodism, told us,


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The author wishes to acknowledge the following sources of information used in the production of this brochure :-

Methodism in Huddersfield, Holmfirth and Denby Dale,” by J. Mallinson. 1898.

Holmfirth Wesleyan Methodist Circuit Centenary Celebration Souvenir. 1910.

Echoes of the Past (Wesleyan Methodism in Netherthong) 1897,

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29th MARCH. Organised by the Young Wives Group. “MOCK WEDDING” with Entertainment and Supper.

9th APRIL. Organised by the Ladies Pleasent Hour.

EVENING RALLY. Conducted by Mrs. C. Stott. Guest speaker: Mrs. Fairclough.

25th APRIL. Organised by the Married Ladies.

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