CHAPTER 5: HAZLEHURST AND SONS AFTER 1878

4. METHODISM

In 1880 a Sunday school was re-opened in Nelson Street, being provided at a nominal rent by 'Capt. Hazlehurst'1 . The cost of improvements to the school was met by him and by George Steward HazlehurstIn Halton village the Primitive Methodists failed to thrive towards the end of the 19th century and their chapel in Main Street was closed in 1901. It became the village hall2.

In 1892 the original chapel at Farnworth, Widnes, was replaced by a new one3 on the other side of the road. The pulpit was moved from the old to the new chapel and remains there to this day. The chapel in Hough Green closed in 1987 and it has since been demolished. The site is occupied by a health centre whose name still maintains a connection with the chapel as it is called Chapelfield Clinic

To the south of the river and out of Runcorn, Eden chapel closed in 1885 and was replaced by a chapel nearby on the Kingsley Road. Eden chapel itself has been converted into a house and, from the outside at least, is remarkably unchanged. Frodsham Trinity chapel in Main Street developed dry rot and became unsafe. Most of it has been demolished but, following a campaign by the Frodsham Society to 'Save our Spire', the spire and some of the stonework behind it have been restored and housing has been developed on the site. Helsby Trinity chapel has been converted into a house. Kingsley Hurst chapel is still in use and from the outside looks unchanged.

Brunswick Street Wesleyan Methodist day school, then teaching only boys, closed on 1st July 1898 and the boys were transferred to Victoria Road Board School.

St Paul's chapel was eventually closed in April 1964 having been declared superfluous to the requirements of the Methodist circuit in that part of the town. In September of that year it was sold to a property group for £34,000 but with the arrival of the New Town, they decided that it would not be suitable for their purposes. It was bought from them by the Runcorn Development Corporation. By this time the rear part of the building was in a state of disrepair and beyond economic repair; it was even a potential danger. There were ideas to conserve the façade but these came to nothing and the building was eventually demolished in 19694. Commenting on this Pevsner's collaborator stated that Runcorn's town centre had lost its one distinctive building5.

Camden chapel was closed in 1970 and Halton Road chapel in 1975. Both have been demolished. Weston Point chapel also closed in 1970 and the building has since been used for various commercial purposes. Widnes Victoria Road chapel closed in 1953 and was used thereafter as a venue for theatre and concerts, being renamed Queen's Hall. This use ended in 2004 when the Brindley Arts Centre opened in Runcorn. Ironically this arts centre stands on land once occupied by the works of Hazlehurst & Sons but it has been named after the engineer of the adjacent Bridgewater canal rather than after the soap and chemical manufacturers. The only chapel donated by Thomas Hazlehurst in Runcorn (although strictly outside Runcorn) to still be functioning is Trinity chapel in Halton village.

In Halton village the Primitive Methodists failed to thrive towards the end of the 19th century and their chapel in Main Street was closed in 1901. It became the village hall6 .

1 It is not clear whether this was Charles Whiteway Hazlehurst or Thomas Francis, son of John Hazlehurst. Both served in the army and both used their military titles.
2 Nickson, p. 214.
3 Diggle, G. E. (1961) A History of Widnes. Widnes, Corporation of Widnes, p97.
4 Miller, R. 'Why St. Paul's failed to live out its days.' in Runcorn Weekly News, 2 March 1984.
5 Pevsner, N and Hubbard, E. (1971) Cheshire, Harmondsworth, Penguin, p. 325 (footnote).
6 Mullin, p. 152.
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