Tranmere Queen Street Primitive Methodist chapel
Queen Street, Lower Tranmere, Birkenhead
There’s a short account in the 1863 Primitive Methodist magazine of the opening of the first Primitive Methodist chapel in Lower Tranmere, Birkenhead.
“Lower Tranmere, Birkenhead Circuit.—The want of a chapel or room amidst the increasing population of this place has been long felt. Vigorous and persevering efforts have been made in the open air, the fruits of which may be with other churches. But a better day has come. Our Wesleyan friends having recently vacated a chapel, we took it on rent, and had encouraging opening services on November 2nd, 1862, conducted by Rev. S. H. Booth, (Baptist) ; George Pennell, Esq., of Liverpool ; and Dr. Palmer, of America.
It was a day long to be remembered. About £5 10s. were collected, and since the opening several souls have found redemption. A Sabbath and a week evening class have been formed, and a Sabbath School has been commenced under promising circumstances. We are led to hope that with the blessing of God on prudent and prayerful management, we shall soon have to send more good news from Lower Tranmere. T. Doody.”
The magazine does not tell us exactly where the chapel was so I turned to historic Ordnance Survey maps. There is a Primitive Methodist chapel in Holt Road at the junction with Leighton Road, but that is a later chapel. That building first appears on Ordnance Survey maps between 1875 and 1899, but it is not labelled as a Primitive Methodist chapel until 1912 . In 1955 it is named as Mount Tabor Methodist church. There is new housing on the site in 2018.
The 1879 Primitive Methodist magazine tells us they were working on a new Primitive Methodist chapel at Tranmere in the Birkenhead station to replace the previous less “commodious” one. It was expected to cost £3,000 and would include a school room and class rooms.
Thanks to Chris Wells for providing clarity. There were in fact three Tranmere chapels:
- Grosvenor Street, South Tranmere; opened 1846
- Queen Street, Lower Tranmere; opened 1863
- Mount Tabor, Holt Road, North Tranmere – successor to both Grosvenor Street and Queen Street; opened in 1879
Chris tells the story of Queen Street:
Queen Street itself still exists, just 200 yards long linking Hinderton Road to the Old Chester Road. The site of the chapel is directly opposite the footpath to Hillside Road that runs alongside ‘The Old House At Home’ pub. The nearest modern building is a private residence at no. 49 Queen Street (CH41 9AS).
Tranmere is an area on the Wirral banks of the Mersey immediately south of Birkenhead. According to the 1850 Bagshaw Directory for Cheshire, page 695, ‘It [Tranmere] is pleasantly situated on high ground, and commands a delightful view of the Mersey. Extensive tracts of land, which a few years ago was a barren waste, is now covered with elegant mansions, terraces, and handsome villa residences. … The township contains 1,130 houses and about 6,700 inhabitants. Population in 1801, 353; in 1831, 1,168; in 1841, 2,554.
Chris has pieced together the following history from a number of sources.
1818: According to the 1850 Bagshaw Directory for Cheshire, page 695, the Wesleyans have a chapel in Queen Street, built in 1818.
1862: The Primitive Methodists started renting the chapel; see the account above of its opening in the Primitive Methodist Magazine March 1863, page 245:
1864: Morris’s 1864 directory, page 482 lists Tranmere Primitive Methodist chapels in Grosvenor Street and Queen Street (this chapel), and a Primitive Methodist minister, Rev Thomas Parr, who lived in the manse at 46 Derby Road, Tranmere Park, about 10 minutes’ walk west of Queen Street.
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 the following Places: Camperdown Street (by implication the head of the circuit), South Tranmere (Grosvenor Street), Lower Tranmere (this chapel), Beckwith Street, Poulton, Bebington, Seacombe and Saughall. There were two Sunday services at Lower Tranmere, at 10.30 and 6, led by mostly lay preachers apart from four or five visits in the quarter from each of the circuit ministers, Rev T Swallow and Rev W Thornley, and a Monday evening service at 7.30. The chapel had three classes (there were 19 in the whole circuit). For a description of Primitive Methodist Classes see here.
1874: Morris’s 1874 Directory p. 217 lists three Primitive Methodist chapels in Birkenhead: this one, Beckwith-street and Grange-lane (both in Birkenhead).
An 1874 map shows the chapel labelled ‘Methodist Chapel (Primitive), seating for 132’. The footprint scales at about 30ft wide x 46ft deep, possibly split into a chapel and a schoolroom.
1876: An 1876 map (no longer in the public domain) shows the chapel labelled M. Ch. (Prim).
1878: The 1878 Post Office Directory, Tranmere section p. 362 lists two Primitive Methodist chapels: Grosvenor Street and Queen Street.
1880: The Birkenhead News 3 January 1880 reported:
CHRISTMAS TREAT. – Mr. and Mrs. G. Green, of Hampden-street, Tranmere, gave, on Christmas morning, a free breakfast to about 250 scholars, teachers, and friends in connection with the Primitive Methodist Church, Mount Tabor, Tranmere. Breakfast was provided in the Queen-street chapel. After it the party formed in procession and walked to Mount Tabor, where a suitable discourse was delivered by Rev. R. Phillips. All received oranges, apples, books, and cards.
By the time of the 1883 Slater Directory, Birkenhead section p. 64, the only Tranmere chapel mentioned is Holt Hill (Mount Tabor, built in 1879).
1889: A map prepared for an 1889 event but possibly dating from earlier shows the chapel (labelled but no denomination). By 1899 the terrace of houses north of the chapel has been demolished and the chapel building seems to be only half of the depth (perhaps the back hall had gone).
Therefore the chapel was in use by the Primitive Methodists from 1862 until the early 1880s when it was replaced by Mount Tabor, Holt Hill.
Primitive Methodist magazine March 1863 page 245
Primitive Methodist magazine 1879 page 60