Morecambe Bay Primitive Methodist chapel

We would have collected more in the tourist season

Morecambe Bay Primitive Methodist chapel

The 1863 Primitive Methodist magazine contains two accounts, both by T Bennett, of Morecambe Bay chapel in the Lancaster Circuit.  I’ve been trying to track down the chapel.  On the 1891 Ordnance Survey plan and subsequent maps there is a Primitive Methodist chapel on Pedder Street, almost opposite the end of Anderton Street – click here to see.  The building still exists as the Sea Cadet centre – but carries the date stone 1855 on the front, and the dates in the Morecambe Bay articles are 1862.

Where was Morecambe Bay chapel?  Philip Thornborow suggests that it was actually the Pedder Street chapel, and that the 1855 date on the front of the chapel is a red herring. His reasoning is:

  1. There is no account in the 1854-1856 Primitive Methodist magazines of the opening of a chapel in Pedder Street.  There is however an account (January 1855) of the opening of a chapel – presumably Moor Lane – in Lancaster in 1854.
  2. The Lancaster Society and Mission were struggling to pay for their first chapel in 1854 so  they couldn’t afford to build another one; and Philip believes that if they were building another chapel they would certainly have said so!
  3. The 1867 returns from the Registrar General are clear that there were only three Primitive Methodist places of worship in the Lancaster Registration District: Moor Lane (Lancaster), Poulton (i.e. Morecambe) and Broadgate Foot Farm, Higher Heysham, which Philip is convinced would be  only a preaching station rather than a chapel. Heysham is not a big place.
  4. There is no account in the Lancaster Gazette of the opening of Pedder Street in 1855 (or 1863 come to that).

What do you reckon? Can you cast any further light?

There is a further Primitive Methodist chapel  in West End at the junction of West Street and Parliament Street – where there is a children’s playground in 2016.  But this does not appear on maps until 1913 so is not the same chapel. You can see a bit more here.

Here are the Primitive Methodist magazine accounts of Morecambe Bay chapel:-

Foundation stone laying.—Services in connection with the laying of the foundation stone of a Primitive Methodist chapel, Morecambe Bay, in the Lancaster Mission, were held on Monday, August 25th, 1862. At half-past three, the services began by the singing of a hymn, which was given out by the Rev. T. Bennett ; after which the Rev. J. Graham, of Preston, engaged in prayer ; another verse having been sung, the stone was laid by E. Dawson, Esq., of Aldcliffe Hall, who then delivered a most appropriate and impressive address, in which he referred to the usefulness of our body. After a few remarks by the writer a collection was made, and then Mr. Graham delivered a very appropriate speech. Prayer was then offered by the Rev. T. Lord, (Independent) which brought the services to a close.

We then adjourned to the Independent wooden chapel, (kindly lent) where tea was provided ; and while the tables were being removed, we went to the front of the beach, sung several hymns, delivered several addresses, and processioned back to the chapel, where a public meeting was held. The chair was occupied by Mr Gaukrodger, of Burnley, and addresses were delivered by the Revs. J. Graham. T. Bennett, T. Lord, and Messrs. W. Dodd and W. Jackson.

The collections amounted to £8 Is. 9d. The proceeds of the tea are not yet ascertained. In conclusion we beg to state that this is the third connexional chapel erected on this station since the beginning of 1861. The cost of the present one will be about £300, which we feel to be a great undertaking, considering the times, our slender means, &c. It will nevertheless be a great boon to our numerous friends, who during the summer months, visit this rapidly improving sea bathing place, and we sincerely trust they will assist in the undertaking. T. Bennett. 

Chapel opening.— On Sunday, February 15th, 1863, three sermons were preached by the Rev. J. Jobling, of Silsden ; on the following Sabbath, I preached morning and evening, and my colleague (Mr. Harker) in the afternoon. A very gracious influence attended the services; and at the last service one person professed to find pardon. The collections amounted to the sum of £10 14s.. which, considering the prevailing distress, the fewness of our members, the season of the year, &c, may be considered pretty good. Had the chapel been opened in the bathing season as we had hoped it would, a much larger amount would have been given.

An unfortunate circumstance occurred during its erection, which delayed its opening some months. Some of your readers will remember the terrific gales which happened in the last autumn. The roof was only then just put on, without the slates, and the peaks standing up so high, and being so much exposed to the violence of the wind, the gables fell, causing considerable delay, and a loss to all parties concerned. The building is now, however, complete, and is considered not only strong and substantial, but very handsome and a great credit to the Connexion.

 It is built of the Lancaster best white free stone. Its size is 40 feet by 30. Height to the square about 18 feet, and about the same height to the ridge. It has seven handsome mullion windows, and one large wheel or circle window, which ornaments the front, and which is about ten feet in diameter inside the circle or wheel. It has the appearance of a star or rather of stars, when lighted with gas, for it contains nine ornamental star lights, the centre one being the largest, and of stained glass. All the windows are glazed lead lights, and the framework is of solid hewn stone. In the front there is a stone porch with folding iron gates, through which we pass into the chapel. In a line with the gates there is wrought iron palisading to protect the chapel front.

The interior of the chapel is equally neat and beautiful. One half is in the form of a rising gallery, with reclining seats, without doors. The rest is fitted up with moveable seats and plain forms. There are seats for about 200 persons. Instead of an ordinary pulpit, there is a platform, with steps and hand railing at each end. In the centre where the preacher stands, it has the appearance of a pulpit, of octagon shape ; from the desk in the centre to each end of the platform, the front is open panelling, very tastefully executed. The chapel is open to the roof, which, with the front of the platform, all the seats, the inside of the doors, &c., are stained and varnished. The outside of the doors is beautifully grained oak.

In the centre of the chapel is the stove, and cast iron piping, which is covered level with the rest of the floor with ornamental grating, which allows the heat to rise and warm the chapel. It is protected from the wood work by stone casing. The gas-fittings are neatly done. The chapel is well ventilated. Each window has an iron casement in it, which opens and shuts with cord and pulley.

Attached to the chapel there is a vestry 27 feet by 10 feet, grate, cup boards, &c, all complete. There is also a yard for coal, &c, and a sanitary water closet. The erection has a noble and commanding appearance, and stands in a most eligible situation ; and cannot be concealed by other buildings. It is admired by all classes. The total cost, including the purchase of the site, expense of conveyance, and all other things, is about £520: towards which we have raised but about £100, so that we have a considerable sum yet to raise, to bring the debt within the limits of rule, and to place the trust in a working position.

As the chapel will be of great advantage to those of our Yorkshire friends and others, who visit this beautiful watering place during the summer, we may reasonably hope they will lend us a helping hand. Since the opening, several persons have joined us ; and, I am happy to say, our station is doing well. O for a richer baptism of the Holy Ghost. T. Bennett.


Primitive Methodist magazine  1863 page 111-112

Primitive Methodist magazine  1863 page 370-371

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