According to Kelly’s 1850 directory, page 671:
‘WALLASEY … is a parish comprising the townships of Wallasey, Liscard and Poulton-cum-Seacombe.
Then on page 674:
‘POULTON-CUM-SEACOMBE is a township, 1 mile south by east from Wallasey; in 1841 had 371 houses and 2,446 inhabitants. Population in 1801, 178; in 1831, 1212. SEACOMBE, the most populous part of the township, is situated on the banks of the Mersey, opposite Liverpool, and commands a striking view of that port and the shipping. The hotels and taverns afford every accommodation to the multitude of visitors brought over here by the steamers.’
I have not been able to find a definitive history of Primitive Methodism in this area; what follows has been pieced together from various sources. A description of all of the societies and Primitive Methodist chapels in Seacombe is given in the download below.
First Society 1837 to mid-1850s?
1837: According to History of Wallasey:
‘In 1837, a 17-year-old convert of Poulton, William Hughes, and some of his companions, began to hold prayer meetings in the neighbourhood. When these proved successful, they looked for a place for regular services and [in 1838] built a chapel.’
Is this chapel the one for which an 1851 Census Return for Wallasey was made? It stated that the chapel was built in 1838; it held around 180 people, but the average attendance in 1851 was 15 in the Sunday morning service and 30 in the evening.
Furthermore, is this the chapel listed as Wallasey in the 1849 Preaching Plan mentioned in a 1923 booklet?
The 1859 Q2 Preaching Plan listed a chapel in Liscard but no others in the Wallasey area.
The Brighton Street Chapel 1865 to 1907
1865: The Liverpool Daily Post 19 February 1868 reported:
‘In 1865, a new Seacombe Primitive Methodist society was formed; they worshipped in ‘a wooden structure’.’
1868: The same newspaper report continued by describing ‘the ceremony of laying the foundation stone of a new chapel in connection with the Primitive Methodist Society took place, at Seacombe, in the presence of a considerable assembly. The Primitive Methodist Society at Seacombe forms part of a circuit, the head-quarters of which are in Birkenhead, and has been in existence about three years. It numbers 40 members, together with about 80 attendants at chapel. … The society at Seacombe has for some time past worshipped in a wooden structure.’
This chapel and school were at the south end of Brighton Street on the northern side of Shaw Street. I have scaled the building from an old map at about 55ft x 35ft – rather small for 400 seats but perhaps there was a balcony.
1869: The 1869 Q3 Preaching Plan for the Birkenhead Circuit (a copy of which was put in a time capsule under the foundation stone of Grange Lane chapel) showed Camperdown Street in Birkenhead as the head of the circuit and seven other chapels including this one. There were two Sunday services at Seacombe, at 10.30 and 6, led mostly by lay preachers apart for three or four visits per quarter from each of the two circuit ministers. The chapel had two classes (there were 19 in the whole circuit).
1879: The Liverpool Mercury of 10 January reported that the Seacombe Primitive Methodist choir took part in a charity fund-raising concert ‘for the relief of the destitute poor of Seacombe’.
1881: The 1881 Census lists a ‘Primitive Methodist Chapel and School’ on Brighton Street (possibly on the corner of Shaw Street).
1899: The 1899 Q2 Preaching Plan for the Birkenhead Circuit shows Grange Road in Birkenhead at the head and six other chapels including Seacombe. The Seacombe society had seven members and the only weekly service was at 7.30 on Mondays taken by the two ministers alternating.
1900: Gore’s Directory 1900 for Liverpool and Birkenhead, p. 79, shows in the Street Directory for Brighton Street, Seacombe:
- 18 Edward Evans and Sons, ironmongers
- Shaw st
- Primitive Methodist Chapel & Schools
- 20 Hornby Henry grocer
- 22 Cheshire Furnishing Company
- Tabor st
About 1905: The book ‘Wallasey: the Postcard Collection’ by Les Jones has a postcard of Brighton Street which ‘shows the start of the street [southern end looking north] near its junction with Borough Road. … [on the right a] small confectioner’s shop is joined to the larger premises of Evans & Sons’ ironmongery business. The gabled building beyond was a small chapel.’ The Gore’s 1900 Directory entry above confirms that Evans’s and the Primitive Methodist chapel stood either side of the entry to Shaw Street.
Early 1900s: The History of Wallasey states that early in the 20th century, the Prims leased buildings in Brighton Street from the Salvation Army for a Primitive Methodist chapel and school. This is confirmed by a 1908/9 25” map which shows the Brighton Street/Shaw Street building labelled ‘S.A. Hall’. I wonder whether, in about 1900, the society decided to build a new and larger chapel (in Poulton Road); they sold their Brighton Street chapel to the Salvation Army to raise early funds but then leased the premises back until the new chapel was opened.
Shaw Street no longer exists. The site of the chapel is now occupied by a Car Wash at CH44 6QN.
The story of the two Poulton Road chapels can be found here.