Bury William Street Primitive Methodist chapel

William Street BL9 0JX

Bury: return from the Primitive Methodist chapel to the 1851 Census of Places of Public Religious worship. Return no: 469 6 6 8
transcribed by David Tonks 2021
Bury William Street Primitive Methodist chapel

The Primitive Methodist magazine tells us that Bury Primitive Methodist chapel in the Bolton circuit was re-opened in September (?) 1833, although it doesn’t tell us when it was first opened.

The original chapel which measured 30′(w) x 42′(l) had dry rot so the Trustees agreed to take off the roof, raise the walls, put in a gallery and build three cottages.

The account is written by S Tillotson.

Good information about the original date for the chapel comes from its Return to the 1851 Census of Places of Public Religious worship. Thomas King, the minister of 68 George Street, tells us that the chapel was erected in 1829 and seated 300.  On Census Sunday there were 150 worshippers in the afternoon and 100 in the evening, which reflected the average attendance.  The morning and afternoon Sunday schools each attracted 134 scholars.

Chris Wells provides more of the story

1828:  Barrett’s Directory of Bury, Heywood, etc 1883 p.16 Bury, states that ‘The Primitive Methodists had a place of worship in William street in 1828, but this was abandoned in 1866, when the new chapel was erected in Walmsley road.’

1829:  The History and Directory of Mid Lancashire 1854, states in the Salford Hundred section, Bury entry on page 696:

‘… and the Primitive Methodist Chapel, William street, erected in 1829, and rebuilt in 1836, containing 500 sittings of which 200 are free, Rev. Samuel Smith [1854 minister].’

The Bury Times of 17 February 1866 reported at length on the opening of the Walmersley Road chapel built to replace the William Street chapel. The following extract describes the first society and the first chapel:

‘The society commenced its labours in Bury some forty years ago, holding its services in the open air, then in a cottage, and afterwards in a room.  The plain, pointed, and earnest labours of the first preachers were rendered very effective, especially amongst the poorer classes, and as a consequence the room soon became too small for the increasing congregation.  In 1829, the William-street chapel, now vacated, was built, the late Rev. J. Verity being the superintendent of the Bolton circuit, to which circuit Bury then belonged.  Neither preacher nor people possessed much architectural skill, and very little pecuniary means, their main idea being to secure a place large enough in which to worship.  When built, the chapel was a very poor and inconvenient one, with a crushing debt upon it.  The society had however kept together, and is believed to have accomplished a vast amount of good; for while hundreds had been benefited therein, they had found more comfortable houses in other places of worship in the town and elsewhere.’

The chapel can be seen on the 1847 OS Town Plan, and scales at about 42 feet x 31 feet, with a back room 20 feet x 14 feet.

1836:  Chapel was rebuilt (see 1829 entry above).

1836-7:  The Bury Archives hold baptism registers for 1836-7 (RG4/810)

1850:  Heap’s 1850 Trade Directory Part 1, page vii: Bury: under ‘Places of Worship’:

‘Primitive Methodist, William Street – Rev. Stephenson Stobbs’.

And on page ix under ‘Clergy’: Stobbs, Rev. Stephenson, 68 George street

1851:  The minister, Thomas King, provided a Census Return for the chapel (see above).

1858:  From the Bury Times of 29 May:

‘PRIMITIVE METHODISTS, William-street School.  No. of scholars, 210; teachers 25.’

1860:  From the Bury Times of 26 May and 23 June:

‘TO BE DISPOSED OF, suitable for a Ragged School without further outlay, the PRIMITIVE METHODIST CHAPEL, William-street, Bury; and FOUR COTTAGES attached.  The cottages alone bring in £26 yearly rent and the ground rent is only£4 5s. for the whole per annum. … The above chapel would also be suitable for a store for dry goods.  Parties wishing to purchase for any benevolent purpose will meet with a favourable response on the part of the trustees.’

1866:  From the Bury Times of 6 January:

‘PRIMITIVE METHODIST TEA PARTY. — On New Year’s Day, the annual tea party and entertainment was held in connection with the Primitive Methodist chapel, William-street, Bury.  About 270 persons sat down to an excellent tea.  After tea, the Rev. J. Mould, minister of the place, occupied the chair, and congratulated the audience on the advanced state of the building of the new chapel, and said that they hoped to occupy the place in about two months.  The entertainment consisted of …’

Presumably therefore the attempt to sell the old chapel in 1860 had been unsuccessful.

The Bury Times report of 17 February 1866 (see 1826-29 above) says that the William Street chapel was vacated when the new Walmersley Street chapel opened.

1867:  Both the William Street chapel and the Walmersley Street chapel  were listed in the 1867 List of Places for Public Religious Worship, Lancashire No. 23.

By the time of the 1890 25” OS map, the chapel building had been demolished.

The site is now under the east corner of the Millgate Shopping Centre Parkade, BL9 0JX.

Editor’s note; This page has been rewritten and the original final paragraph removed


Primitive Methodist magazine 1834 p.113



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