When he completed the return to the 1851 Census of Places of Public Religious Worship for Halton Primitive Methodist chapel, Richard Turner, the steward, was describing a brand new chapel. It had been opened in 1850 and held 108 people.
Many thanks to Christopher Wells for the story of the chapel
The address of the chapel is 12 Main Street, Halton; it is labelled as a Primitive Methodist Chapel on an 1875 map (https://www.old-maps.co.uk/#/Map/353769/382005/12/100093).
There are 16 surviving Preaching Plans in the plans section of this website for the Preston Brook Circuit from 1835 to 1895; these all show that Halton was in this circuit; therefore there was a society at Halton at least as early as 1835 which held services on Sundays at 6.30pm and alternate Mondays (later Fridays). Was there a chapel before the 1850 chapel or did the members meet in a private house?
I have not been able to find any reference to a Halton PM chapel in newspaper records.
The Preaching Plan for 1853 2nd Quarter (the first surviving Plan after the 1850 chapel opened) shows Sunday services at 2.30pm and 6.30pm and a weekday service on alternate Mondays. This pattern continued on the Plans for 1861 Q4, 1870 Q1 and 1872 Q2. My wife’s great grandfather Rev John Hill (1843-1878) was stationed at Preston Brook in 1875-1876 and probably lived in Runcorn; the chapel there in Greenway Road was about 2 miles away from the Halton chapel.
The next surviving Plan is for 1894 Q4; Halton appears at the bottom of the list but there are no Sunday or weekday services shown and no Society Stewards or Class Leaders named. The final surviving Plan is for 1895 Q1. Halton is again shown at the bottom of the list but this time Sunday evening services (but not weekday services) are again planned (but still no Society Stewards or Class Leaders named).
The Plan also shows that 13 January 1895 was set for the ‘Reopening of Halton Chapel’ and a Yearly Meeting of Trustees for Halton was set for 24 January 1895. Sadly though, this attempt at revival was unsuccessful.
The Crewe Chronicle of 14 December 1901 reported that ‘Sir John T. Brunner, Bart., M.P., … has recently purchased a disused Primitive Methodist Chapel at Halton, and builders are busy converting it into a “Village Hall” for the general use of the inhabitants.’
Then the Northwich Guardian of 1 February 1902 reported: ‘Sir John T. Brunner, Bart., M. P., formally opened a village hall [at Halton] which he has generously provided for the free use of the parishioners. The building, formerly known as the Primitive Methodist Chapel, was recently purchased by Sir John, and he has borne the cost of putting it into a thorough state of repair, adapting it for the meetings of the Parish Council, local friendly societies, educational, social and recreative gatherings and the like.’ Sir John responded: ‘For the last 15 years or thereabouts it had been a rather melancholy object, for it had been almost entirely unused. … He remembered once arriving there before the doors were opened, and when at last admittance was obtained he found the place almost as melancholy inside as out. During those 15 years it had become very dilapidated, and he (sir John) had to appeal to … to have it put into a habitable state. He was very glad to say after viewing the place externally and internally that the work had been carried out with very great skill and efficiency. (Applause) The walls outside looked as if they would last now a good deal longer than he (Sir John) would, and the inside looked as if it belonged to someone.’
Why did the chapel fall into disuse? Possibly attendance had fallen and/or the chapel had become too expensive to maintain; maybe then, rather than travelling to the nearest Primitive Methodist chapel in Runcorn, the members had transferred their allegiance to the Wesleyans with their fine new (1875) chapel at the other end of Main Street.
A 2015 Liverpool Echo report about planning approval being given for a hair salon stated that the building had not been used as a village hall since 1969. Google Street View in August 2009 shows the building in poor condition. By May 2012 it was boarded up and in July 2015 was up for auction with a guide price of £20,000. Various planning applications had been submitted and at least one was approved. Street View July 2018 shows it still boarded up. However, it had now started a new life as the Hummingbird Art Studio.