CHAPTER 2 : 1816-1842

3. METHODISM

During these years, Wesleyan Methodism was prospering after its slow and difficult start. In 1825 the school had 25 teachers and 155 scholars1 . By 1827 the Methodists were able to build a chapel in Brunswick Street, which was known as Brunswick chapel. This was a substantial building, measuring 54 by 48 feet, with a stone portico. It had two storeys, the chapel above with galleries on three sides and a schoolroom below, and a minister's residence was built opposite the chapel. The chapel was enlarged in 1839-40 and in 1842 a Sunday school was opened on Mill Brow.

In Halton village, after the Wesleyan Methodists had met for some years in a house in Main Street, they opened their first purpose-built chapel in 1818. A Sunday school was opened in 1824 2. In 1832 the first Wesleyan Methodist chapel in Weston village was built3 . In 1840 a Wesleyan chapel was set up in a small detached cottage in Helsby 4.

Another Methodist movement, the Primitive Methodists, which was founded in 1807, and which became independent of Wesleyan Methodism in 1811, was active in the area at Preston Brook in the same year, 18115 . The movement later became established in Runcorn. The members built a chapel in Regent Street in 1838, having previously met in a cottage in Nelson Street6 . In 1822 a chapel was opened on Windmill Hill by a small branch of a Methodist movement called the 'Dependent' Methodists7 . Nothing is known of what happened later to the chapel or the movement within the town. In 1829 the Welsh Calvinistic Methodists established a chapel in King Street and later moved to a new chapel in Rutland Street 8 .

In 1835 the Methodist movement nationally experienced a secession which was to do with a struggle for power between the central organisation, the Conference, and the local societies. This resulted in the formation of a new Methodist denomination, which was initially called the Wesleyan Association. There is no evidence of the effect that this had in the town of Runcorn itself, but it certainly had an effect in nearby Frodsham. There, after meeting in a boarding school, members of the Wesleyan Association built a chapel, Rock chapel, in High Street in 1837. In the village of Kingsley, the Association built Blake Lees chapel in 1843. After merging with other small Methodist groups in 1836, the denomination changed its name to the Wesleyan Methodist Association9 .

1 'Origin and Development of Wesleyan Methodist in Runcorn.'
2Mullin, pp. 63-67.
3Nickson, p. 230.
4Website of Helsby Methodist church.
5Mullin, pp.138-142.
6Starkey, Old Runcorn, p. 101.
7Nickson, p. 216. See my note on 'Dependent' Methodist in the previous chapter.
8Ibid.
9Mullin, pp. 154-159. This denomination was later, in 1857, to join with the Wesleyan Reformers to form the United Methodist Free Churches.
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