Hepthorne Lane Primitive Methodist chapels

New Street and Station Road North Wingfield S42 5JJ

Hepthorne Lane Primitive Methodist chapel

Hepthorne Lane Primitive Methodist chapel appears in an article on the Clay Cross circuit in the Christian Messenger of 1910. It says

HEPTHORNE LANE was opened in 1870 by Mr. R. Banister, who gave land for the building. The chapel, etc., are now too small for the school and congregations. Land has been purchased, and part of the boundary wall erected at a total cost of about £160. The debt on the church is cleared, and a fund is being raised for the erection of up-to-date premises for congregation and school. It is anticipated that building operations will shortly be commenced.

The chapel is labelled as being Primitive Methodist on the 1878-81 Ordnance Survey map – very soon after its opening  – but its footprint doesn’t appear to change on later maps so was the accommodation discussed in the magazine ever built? The building is last labelled as a chapel on the 1939 map, but it is still there in 1982. It has since disappeared. There is a gravel floored car park there on Street View in 2011.

Rev David Sharp tells us that his Prim great grandfather, William Thomas Salway, was involved  at Hepthorne Lane before transferring to Bridge Street, Clay Cross.

John Quick provides the explanation here.

“This page is missing a vital piece of information on Hepthorne Lane PM church. It mentions the announcement of building works due to the fact that the chapel was too small, but then notes that the footprint of the church did not change, and so you wondered whether the work was ever carried out. The vital information is that  the building work referred to was not an extension to the church but the construction of a completely new church about 100 yards further down the hill.

Like the Rev David Sharp, I am also the great grandson of William Thomas Salway, but I lived in Hepthorne Lane in the 1960s – at the bottom of Knighton Street, on the other side of Station Road from the original church in New Street (as can be seen on the map).

Hepthorne Lane has always been a part of the larger and much older village of North Wingfield, but it was created and grew up quite independently from it. When George Stephenson built the North Midland Railway line from Leeds to Derby (which was opened in 1840) he had to dig a one-mile long tunnel underneath the hill on which the then-tiny hamlet of Clay Cross was situated. In so doing he discovered that the hill contained huge amounts of coal, iron ore and limestone. Therefore, after having completed the railway he went back to Clay Cross and formed a company to extract these minerals.

As a result Clay Cross grew rapidly, but in order to transport his minerals Stephenson needed a station at Clay Cross. He couldn’t put it in the village because he had just put the railway line underneath it, so instead he put it north of Clay Cross, just outside the village of Tupton.

However, access to the station through Tupton was very long and difficult for the people of Clay Cross, and so demand grew for the construction of a new road on the other side of the River Rother, linking the Clay-Cross-to-North-Wingfield road with the station. The road, which was probably completed in 1867, was built through agricultural land and was originally called Epthorne (later to become Hepthorne) Lane.

The first building to be constructed in the Lane was a pub, The Midland Hotel (now called The Shinnon), which was opened in July 1868. Houses were then built in a small block of streets around it.

You can see, therefore, that as the first church in the Lane was built in 1870, the people who first moved into these houses wasted no time at all in creating a place of worship for themselves, but as there were very few people in the Lane at that time, the church didn’t need to be very big. There is a  newspaper clipping from the Sheffield Independent of 18 April 1870 reporting the opening of the first chapel.

However, the George Stephenson Company (later to be renamed the Clay Cross Company) was expanding by opening more coal mines and increasing its output of iron and steel, and consequently both Clay Cross and Hepthorne Lane continued to grow. By the end of the 19th century houses had been built on both sides of most of the length of the Lane as well as along a number of new side streets that had also been created. Eventually the Lane became renamed as Station Road, but the name Hepthorne Lane was retained to indicate the small hamlet that had grown up along Station Road and its side streets, as it stood quite separate from North Wingfield. The two places were not physically joined together until the late 20th century.

Consequently, as the 19th century ended it was painfully obvious that the original church in the Lane was far too small for the congregation, and so a decision was made to build a new, larger church on a piece of land further down Station Road, quite close to Berry Street (see the  map). A newspaper clipping from the Derbyshire Courier of 2 January 1915 reports the opening of the church. The article also includes a drawing of the building.

Therefore, it is probably safe to assume that the original building in New Street ceased to be used as a church in late 1914/early 1915. I have no idea what it was used for immediately afterwards or who owned it, but in the 1960s and 70s it was used as a warehouse facility for a wholesale fruit and vegetable company owned by Nigel Day (the Days were a significant business family in the Lane in those days). I believe the building was demolished towards the end of the 20th century.

The new building was the one used as the place of worship in the Lane for most of the 20th century, but I believe it ceased being used as a church in the late 20th century, and for a while it lay empty and covered in weeds.

However, I believe it has recently been purchased and converted into a domestic residence, although the main features of the church appear to have been retained, including a stone plinth near the top of the building that carries the words “Primitive Methodist Church 1914”. My second cousin, Rev David Sharp, told you that our great-grandfather, William Thomas Salway, “was involved at Hepthorne Lane before transferring to Bridge Street, Clay Cross.” This is not quite correct. You have a web page that describes the history of the Clay Cross Circuit, which began in 1867. This circuit included churches in many of the villages around Clay Cross, including North Wingfield and Hepthorne Lane, and the ministers preached in all of them according to a rota. In fact, the Bridge Street church was effectively the ‘headquarters’ of the circuit, and William Salway was a leading light in that church as well as the one in Hepthorne Lane, as was one of his sons, Robert William Salway, my grandfather. Therefore, William would never have stopped preaching at Hepthorne Lane.

There is a photo of William Thomas Salway on the web page for Clay Cross here, supplied to you by David Sharp.

Reuben Bannister was an important character in the Lane during the 19th century. For many years he owned a brick kiln in Clay Cross and was also a well-known Primitive Methodist lay-preacher in the area. In the 1870s he started to take an interest in Hepthorne Lane. Unfortunately his life ended tragically.

He purchased a brick kiln built on open land adjacent to Clay Cross station and he and his wife lived in a house situated next to it. He probably supplied most of the bricks used to build Hepthorne Lane. Although he lived next to the railway line for over twenty years, eventually it was his undoing.

It seems that, when he wanted to visit Tupton, instead of walking down to the road and crossing the railway bridge, Bannister used to walk across the railway line, and on more than one occasion the gateman for the Hepthorne Lane crossing, John White, had to pull him away from approaching trains. It is possible that he had poor hearing because, on the very foggy morning of Thursday 13 September 1900 at 7.30am, he was hit by a goods train, despite being warned by a nearby railway worker. The train was only travelling at two miles per hour but after knocking Bannister down it ran over his right leg, just below the knee.

The stationmaster, James Hays, bound up his leg and put him on a special engine that rushed him to Chesterfield Hospital, but his injury was very severe and doctors had to amputate the leg. Unfortunately, being 78 years old, he never recovered from the operation, and he died in hospital a couple of weeks later.

At his death, in addition to the brickyard and associated housing near the station, he owned seven houses in Ward Street, Tupton; eight houses in Hepthorne Lane; plus three houses in Thanet Street and twelve houses and a shop in New Street, Clay Cross.”


Christian Messenger of 1910 page 249

Comments about this page

  • John Quick adds: After sending you the information I then discovered a web site by the North Wingfield Local History Group which claims that the second church in the Lane was opened on Christmas 1914 and was closed in 2004. It says the property was sold in 2013 but was converted into two dwellings, not one. You can check this information here:


    It’s in the section called ‘Notes on local chapels’, and you will have to scroll down a long way to find it. They also include an original drawing of the church

    By Christopher Hill (01/11/2021)

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