An article which appeared in Darlington Street News, Volume 2 No: 3, Easter 2000.
The Church is 100 years old in October 2001.
The foundation stone for the new Darlington Street Wesleyan Church was laid by Wolverhampton MP and Privy Councillor, Sir Henry H Fowler, on 23rd. February 1900 with an enormous crowd looking on.
The large crowd gathers in Darlington Street and School Street for the Foundation Stone laying ceremony on 23 February 1900. Just look at the hats! *
Crowds of that size were by no means rare at the turn of the nineteenth and twentieth Centuries. And not just for the Church. The opening of Town Halls, art galleries, other public buildings and even railway stations attracted equally large crowds and all with large buffet meals (in those days described as "cold collations") served in the marquee after the ceremony.
But the excitement in Wolverhampton was fully justified. One of the largest and most ornate Methodist Churches in the country was being built. And it was going to have a dome to rival the one to be built on Westminster Central Hall. There was money in Wolverhampton in those days!
The new church was not the first to be built on the site. In 1825 the Darlington Street Chapel was built half way along the brand-new Darlington Street which had been cut through the Earl of Darlington's land in Wolverhampton by Thomas Telford as part of the great Holyhead Road improvement. School Street had not yet been made.
In 1859 the buildings were enlarged and in the 1860's the organ was put in.
But by 1897 the buildings were in poor condition and had to be demolished.
The laying of the foundation stone in February 1900 marked the first step in the building of the new Church which was opened on 29th October 1901.
We are now starting to prepare for the Centenary Celebrations in October 2001.
Tony Kinch and Dick Rhodes examine the Foundation Stone on the centenary of the stonelaying: 23rd February 2000 (Picture courtesy of Wolverhampton Ad-News)
The first thing in any preparations for a centenary is to get as many mementoes as possible together.
Do you have anything tucked away which would help with the preparations? Photographs are particularly useful. We don't even have to send them away to be re-processed. We can print out a new photograph - without having to make a new negative - from the old in minutes with equipment we now have in the office. And we can store the photograph electronically so that it can be used later in a magazine, centenary booklet or on a display.
A Centenary Committee consisting of the Ministers (Tony Kinch & Ken Collins), Jennifer Anderson, Margaret Brownlow, Merle Cunningham, Gerald Godby, Pat Godby, Mary Hextall, Lorraine Howarth, Rose Priest, Dick Rhodes and Roger Squire has been formed. Any member of the Committee would be very pleased to receive anything from you which would help toward the Centenary preparations.
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*In the original printed version of this article the date ascribed to the photograph was 23 February 1899. On consultation with the author the date shown in this Web version is 23 February 1900.