Middleton Irk Street Primitive Methodist Chapel

Boarshaw Road, Middleton M24 6AP

Middleton: return from the Primitive Methodist chapel to the 1851 Census of Places of Public Religious worship. Return no: 475 4 1 11
transcribed by David Tonks 2021
Middleton Irk Street/Morton Street Primitive Methodist Chapel

The chapel in Irk Street was replaced by the chapel in Morton Street.

The return from Middleton Primitive Methodist Chapel to the 1851 Census of Places of Public Religious worship was completed by James Horrox, an Elder of Rhodes. He reports that the chapel was erected in 1823 and held around 350 people.  Average attendance at the Sunday service, held on Sunday morning, was 300.

No Sunday School is listed.

Thanks to Chris Wells for compiling the story of the chapel

1821:  The British History Online: Middleton (original source 1911) reports that the Primitive Methodists appeared in Middleton in 1821.  This date is confirmed by the booklet ‘There is Holy Ground’ – A History of Methodism in Middleton 1760-1950 (Middleton Library):

‘Services were being held in Franklands Garrett, Church-Brow-Wood ….’

1822:  From the Centenary Souvenir pamphlet, 1834-1934, of the Chapel Street Methodist Church, Rhodes, near Middleton, Lancashire (Middleton Library):

‘… our records show that the Middleton Society was formed in 1822.’

1823:  There is Holy Ground’ continues:

‘… and two years later a chapel was built at the bottom of Barrowfields, in that part of Boarshaw Lane which was known as Irk Street.’

This chapel can be seen on the 1848 OS Town Plan lying about 1/3 mile NE of Middleton town centre on a road entitled ‘Bottom of Barrow Fields’; the building scales at about 50ft x 32ft and the chapel within it about 38ft x 32ft.

Boarshaw Lane is now called Boarshaw Road; it runs parallel to Whit Brook (a tributary of the river Irk) on its west bank.  ‘There is Holy Ground’ continues:

‘The first chapel was opened by Hugh Bourne, founder of Primitive Methodism, in July 1823.’

A Sunday School was started in 1823, and in 1825 there were 120 pupils.

1828:  This chapel labelled ‘Middleton’, appears on the Preaching Plan for 1828 Q4 Manchester Circuit.  There were 26 ‘Places’ in the circuit.  Once a month one of the ministers took services there at 10.30, 2 and 6pm.  All other weeks a local preacher led services at 2 and 6pm.  The three ministers took turns at leading services at 7.30pm on Mondays.

1853:  The preaching arrangements for Irk Street shown on the 1853 Q3 Manchester 1st Circuit Plan are similar to those of 1838 except that the weekday services had been reduced to alternate weeks.

1863:  From the Middleton Albion of 21 February:

‘TEMPERANCE BAND OF HOPE. – On Saturday evening last, a numerous meeting of members of the above, was held in the Primitive Methodist schoolroom, Irk-street …’

1864:  The Middleton Albion of 17 July reported:

‘SILK WEAVERS’ MEETING. – On Wednesday evening last, a meeting of the hand-loom silk weavers of this neighbourhood, called by special request of the committee of the Silk Weavers’ Union, was held in the Primitive Methodist Schoolroom, Irk-street, Middleton … for the purpose of determining what means should be taken to redress an alleged grievance. … ‘

1871:  The Manchester First Circuit Plan 1871 Q2 shows that a Middleton Branch had been formed with (presumably) Irk Street at its head, in preparation for the formation of an independent Middleton Circuit the following year.

1872-1890:  The Preaching Plans for Middleton Circuit from 1872 Q3 to 1889-90 Q4 show a Middleton chapel as the first ‘Place’; this was presumably Irk Street until it was replaced by Morton Street chapel in 1881.

1881:  According to the ‘There is Holy Ground’ booklet, on the page about the Morton Street chapel:

‘The organ which had been used in the Irk Street chapel for 21 years was re-erected in the new building [Morton Street chape] and served for a further 52 years.’

1883:  From the Middleton Albion of 26 May:

‘TO BE SOLD OR LET, the Old Primitive Methodist Chapel, Irk Street …’

Similar announcements appeared through until September.

1884:  The Middleton Albion of 1 March announced:

‘Lot 3.  All that PLOT of LAND and the Commodious CHAPEL erected thereon, with the Out buildings belonging thereto, situated in Irk-street, Middleton, in the county of Lancaster, formerly in the occupation of the Primitive Methodists, but since partly as a Mission Room by the Church of England.’

1890:  From the Middleton Guardian of 31 May:

FIRE AT MIDDLETON. – On Saturday afternoon, shortly before 2 o’clock [pm], a fire broke out at the old Primitive Methodist Chapel, situated in Boarshaw-road, Middleton, and which for about five months has been used as a chemical works by Messrs. Alfred Royse and Son, manufacturing chemists and dry-salters. … The ground floor was almost completely gutted … The damage in the upper room was not near so much, but still it was serious.’

1915:  The 1915 25” OS map  shows three terraced houses on the site.

The site of the chapel is now open space in front of Nos. 107 and 109 Boarshaw Road, M24 6AP.

You can download  the story Chris Wells tells below.


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