Rochdale Holebottom Primitive Methodist Chapel

Holebottom: return from the Primitive Methodist chapel to the 1851 Census of Places of Public Religious worship. Return no: 476 10 1 4
transcribed by David Tonks 2021

The return from the Primitive Methodist chapel in Holebottom, Rochdale, to the 1851 Census of Places of Public Religious worship was completed by the minister, Robert Kaye of 49 Great George Street.

He reports that the building which was erected in 1850 held 300 people, mainly in free seats. Attendance on Census Sunday was 65 at the afternoon service and 62 in the evening.  There was also an afternoon Sunday school of 94 scholars.

When I created this page I asked “Where was the chapel?” In fact, where in Rochdale is Holebottom? What happened to the chapel and the people in it?

For the answers, see the comments below and download the document to see Chris Wells’ sources.


Comments about this page

  • Scrap my previous efforts! I am now confident I have found this chapel!
    There are more than a dozen reports in the Rochester Observer between 1859 and 1871 about the Primitive Methodist Chapel or School in Holebottom, Whitworth, East Lancashire (the main sources I have used for this research are given in a download to this page).
    A letter (written in verse!) to the Editor of the Rochdale Observer, 29 March 1862, to complain about the state of Tonge-end Lane, included the following:

    ‘A few miles out of Rochdale, on the Bacup turnpike road,
    Is situated a thriving place, ‘twas once my own abode;
    Holebottom then, but Bridge Mills now, ‘tis by genteel ones named,
    Its rapid rise to present size is that for which ‘tis famed.’

    So the area called Holebottom had become known as Bridge Mills. Two 1876 newspaper entries confirm this ‘double name’ situation by referring to ‘Hole Bottom, or Bridge Mills, Whitworth’.

    There are 30 reports about the Primitive Methodist Chapel or Sunday School in Bridge Mills in the Rochester Observer between 1863 and 1917.
    An 1844 6” OS map labels the area including St Bartholomew’s Church (around OL12 8QG) as ‘Whitworth’ and the area just under half a mile north up Market Street as ‘Bridge Mill’ (singular) (around OL12 8DY). By the time of the 1891 25” OS map, the Bridge Mill area is shown as ‘Whitworth’. The main road off Market Street to the west in this area is Tong Lane (note ‘Tonge-end Lane’ mentioned above), where a Primitive Methodist chapel can be seen (see ‘Whitworth Tong Lane Primitive Methodist chapel’ on this website). I have found 18 entries in the Rochdale Observer that refer to ‘the Primitive Methodist School, Tong Lane’ or to the ‘Whitworth Primitive Methodist Church, Tong Lane’.

    So I believe that the Holebottom chapel about which an 1851 Census Return was made and the Holebottom that appears in the 1867 Registration List both refer to the Tong Lane chapel (which was also sometime known as the Bridge Mill(s) PM chapel).
    Unless anyone else knows better!

    By Chris Wells (13/01/2023)
  • Thank you for trying to locate this chapel. As the transcriber of the 1867 list, and sole compiler of the accompanying map, I have to confess to being as unsure as anyone else. The map shows an indicative position. The 1867 list is arranged by Registration District, and within that the places appear in a seemingly random order, with some apparent duplication. My interpretation is that the order may be the order in which the buildings were registered, or the original lists from districts reached the Registrar General’s office. In the original list for Rochdale Registration District. Holebottom is the second of a series of six Primitive Methodist places of worship. It is listed between Smallbridge and Shore, near Littleborough. The sequence continues Firlane, Shawclough and Bamford. I am sure it is significant that it is listed as a Primitive Methodist chapel. Smallbridge and Shore are Preaching houses. If we could find out when the other places were registered it would be possible to track down the actual certificate of registration (in Lancashire Record Office or the National Archives). This should give more information. The only other informatin we currently have about Holebottom is the 1851 return. it is unfortunate, for us, that it was the minister who submitted this. Had someone who actually attended the chapel signed the form we would have much more helpful information, as we could track down where they lived in 1851. The sittings and attendance figures in 1851 are, unfortunately, regarded as being only partially in touch with reality, but we can rely on the information that Holebottom was a building used purely for worship: it was a proper chapel, not someone’s back room. There was another Holebottom Chapel (Wesleyan) in the Ashton under Lyne Registration District, for which there is far more evidence. Apparently there was also a Holebottom Colliery just outside Oldham, but at a later date. Until then, your theory is as good as it gets. There is another map series at 1:500 scale, which seems to cover Littleborough and Smallbridge, but it is dated 1890. Worth looking at?

    By Philip Thornborow (26/08/2022)
  • Have I found this chapel?
    As well as providing a 1851 Census Return, Holebottom chapel appears in the 1867 List of Places for Public Religious Worship, Lancashire section, no. 65 (in the Rochdale Registration District). If we look at the associated Lancashire map, we find no. 65 about 2.7 miles SE of Rochdale and 3.4 miles N of Oldham, squashed between no. 87 Newhey to the NW, no. 107 Shaw to the SE and no. 43, Fir Lane to the SW. Looking on old maps in that area, I have found a ‘Hole Bottom’ – a single unlabelled building about 500 yards NE of Burnedge Cotton Mill. The building can be seen on the 1844-48 6″ OS map and the 1890-91 25″ OS map; from the latter it scales at about 22ft x 52ft, split into two equal parts. Its footprint can be seen at 53.591293, -2.117601 on the Google satellite image. It would have taken a preacher from Rochdale about an hour to walk to.
    However, it seems quite a squeeze for 300 people and in quite a remote location (the only village nearby – Burnedge – seems to have about 60 houses). Any comments?

    By Chris Wells (22/08/2022)

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