Pountney Street Wesleyan Methodist Mission Hall


by Peter Hickman
(From the records held in Wolverhampton Archives)

Front of Pountney Street Chapel

Pountney Street
Primitive Methodist Chapel

Pountney Street Chapel building still stands (January 2003) on the corner of Thomas Street. It was opened in 1893 as a mission hall in the Darlington Street Wesleyan Methodist Circuit. At the first Trustees meeting, on Wednesday 8th November in that year with Rev J Prescott in the chair, the following Trustees were elected. Mr F C Harriman ( Secretary)-Mr Geo Reed (Treasurer)-Mr James and Mr Bell as Chapel stewards together with Mr Sydney Reed to act as an Executive Committee. Other Trustees were Messrs. J W Sankey-S M Wright-N Frost-J C Miller and J P Haslam.

Mrs Mary Jones of 1 Little Pountney Street was appointed as Caretaker at a weekly wage of 3/- per week to be paid every four weeks with one months notice to be given either way.
Sunday Schools were held both in the morning and the afternoon with Divine Worship in the evening. A weekly meeting for mothers was begun, also a young women’s Guild run by Mrs Gibbs. The Trustees also gave permission for a regular Saturday evening entertainment, and added that the Vestry may be used as a smoke room if so desired!!

The Chapel thrived so that by 1901 sufficient funds were available not only to pay off the debt on the building but also to provide for the renovation of the hall. Matters of finance from then on seem to have been a problem solved by the generosity of the Treasurer who annually made an ongoing loan of around £30 up to his death in 1914 when £16-7-0 still owed. This sum was finally paid to his widow in 1918. In 1923 the question of Methodist Reunion was discussed, but while agreeing in principle the Trustees felt that the matter should be deferred to a future date.

1924 saw the Caretaker getting a rise to 4/- per week.

The Sunday school seems to have been very successful with 40-60 on the roll and there were thoughts of putting a second storey on the building. However the 1920’s and 1930’s saw major redevelopment of the area, which involved the many narrow streets of terrace houses giving way to the multitude of small, and medium sized factories, which we see today.

The Trust was renewed in 1930 with 17 men, but not one of them lived within a mile of the Chapel. Throughout the 1935-45 War, Sunday School attendance continued in the 40’s both morning and afternoon, but maintaining the necessary number of Teachers was becoming a problem. Staff reduced from 8 in 1938 to 3 or 4 by 1946. The congregation was similarly fewer in number.

On 7th October 1949, a combined meeting of Leaders and Trustees chaired by the Circuit Superintendent Rev Dr Eric Parsons with the Minister Rev Robert O Moate came to the conclusion that since the Chapel was no longer serving a surrounding residential area they should close. This was accepted with some reluctance, the vote being 5 Trustees for closure, one against and one abstaining.

Many of the folk moved their membership to Bethel and Ranelagh Road, among them Mr Terry Bowen, now the Caretaker of St John’s Parkfield who was a seven year old Sunday School Scholar at the time. Are there any others still around?

Dr Parsons asked that the names of Pountney Street workers should be recorded in the Minute Book when the final meeting was held on October 20th 1950. These were: -
Mrs Lee-Mrs Padden-Miss Farmer_Mr A H Harrold (Secretary for 33 years)-J Morris-F Morris-E A Ward-G Costley-H G Harwood-S J Jones- C Watkiss-F Watkiss-A Astbury- G Whittaker-Mrs Wainwright (Caretaker)- J A Matthews-W J Whitehouse.

The funds of the Chapel amounting to stock worth £1934-13-0 were sent to Department of Methodist Church Purposes Manchester.

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