Thanks to Ron Naylor for photographs and a transcription of the badly eroded memorial stone. Ron reports:
“All letters are in CAPITALS; some of the initials are in a larger case ; and the letters between KING and ROCHDALE are italicised. The first two lines are the most weather-beaten and unclear: I have suggested words that seem to fit both into what remains of the stone carving and in their meaning: others may have differing views”
THE MEMORIAL STONE
OF THIS PLACE OF WORSHIP
AND SUNDAY SCHOOL
WAS LAID ON APRIL 16TH 1875
BY WILLIAM HENRY KING, ESQ.
OF SANDFIELD, ROCHDALE
o – o – o – o – o -o
1875: A very long account of the laying of the corner-stones of the ‘large school’ and ‘infants’ school’ was published in the Rochdale Observer on 17 April 1875 (note: the date on the Memorial Stone is 16 April 1875). It makes clear that the Durham Street Schools (with chapel above) were built to replace the Crawford Street chapel and school (see ‘Rochdale Oldham Road PM chapel’ on this site).
Here are some extracts (my comments in square brackets):
PRIMITIVE METHODIST NEW SCHOOLS.
The scholars and teachers, with a number of friends, assembled in the old school [Crawford Street] at about 3 o’clock, and walked thence in procession … to the site ..
[after the ceremony] An adjournment was subsequently made to the Crawford-street School.
In the evening a tea meeting was held in the school-room under the present chapel. About 350 persons sat down. Subsequently an adjournment was made to the chapel where a meeting was held …
The school underneath was well attended, and there were 200 scholars on the books, and they were increasing so fast that new premises were absolutely necessary. As far as money went, they could not up to the present see above £400 towards the new premises. They, however, considered the object they had in view to be one of necessity, and it was their intention to canvas nearly every house in Rochdale and to push the matter as far as reason and common sense would allow. They had no rich men among them, and the man who laid the corner-stone had placed a £20 note upon it might perhaps do a little more, and he was about the richest man they had. … those who inaugurated the present project, at a cost of about £1500 must, to say the least, have a very strong stomach to begin with. …
The Rev. DAVID TUTON pointed out the difficulties which Primitive Methodists had experienced in chapel building. Things were now, however, in a much better state, and it was now incumbent on societies to subscribe one third of the expenses before they began to build, and he trusted that this rule would soon be altered to two thirds.’
Then the Rochdale Observer reported in its 6 November 1875 edition:
DURHAM-STREET PRIMITIVE METHODIST SCHOOLS. – A tea meeting in commemoration of the opening of the Primitive Methodist New Schools, Durham-street, was held on Saturday last in the large upper room, fitted up as a chapel, in the new building. There was a large number at tea. The after proceedings were presided over by Mr. James Ashworth, of Sparthfield. –The Rev. John Mould read a report as to the cost of the building, and the amount raised towards the expenditure. He said that at first it was thought to erect a new chapel, but when they got an estimate of the cost the force of circumstances compelled them to confine themselves to the erection of new schools. Having got 270 square yards of schoolroom on the ground-floor of the new buildings they thought that this would serve them for ten or twelve years, and they therefore decided to smarten that upper room, erect a platform, fit up oak pews, &c., and convert it into a chapel. With the fencing round the building, the ventilator, tables and other fittings, the premises had cost all together £1,588. On the other hand, the total sum raised towards this expenditure was £688. The chairman allowed him to announce that he would give £10 towards the fund —(applause)— so that the amount would stand at £698, leaving a little less than £900 of a debt. The chairman reminded him of one matter which he had forgotten, namely what had been done with the old premises [presumably the Crawford Street chapel]. Well, they had sold them for £340. There was a mortgage of £300, and when that was arranged, and every matter paid off, they had received just 9s for the old premises. …
The chapel can be seen on the 1890 50” OS Town Map; it is labelled ‘Methodist Chapel (Primitive) (seats for 150 [error? Note the 1940 record below stating seating for 350])’. The front building (chapel above, schoolrooms below) scales at 56’ x 36’, and there is a rear (south) extension (for Infants?) scaling at 28’ x 24’ – a total of about 300 sq. yds based on external measurements, or 268 sq. yds. assuming 12” walls (note: 270 square yards mentioned above). It can also be seen on the 1889/91 25” OS map.
The Rochdale Observer carried at least 30 articles about the Durham Street chapel and schoolrooms between 1875 and 1926. These referred to services and marriages in the chapel, and meetings (some by non-chapel organisations) and entertainments.
1910-15: The schoolrooms were used on occasions for county coroner’s inquests.
1940: The chapel was listed in the 1940 Methodist Church Buildings Report Districts ‘B’, Circuit 222 Rochdale (South). The following information was provided:
Made of brick; seating for 350; pews; one hall and fifteen other rooms.
1960: National Archives: the last record held dates from 1960.
The building is now used as a clothing shop, Reve Apparel, at 104A Durham Street OL11 1L, at the junction with Hereford Street.