Shaw Refuge Street Primitive Methodist chapel

Refuge Street, Shaw and Crompton, Oldham OL2 8RH

The Refuge Primitive Methodist chapel, Oldham, around 1900, viewed along Kenworthy Street.
with permission from Oldham Local Studies and Archives: thanks to Sue Latimer for finding the picture
Shaw Refuge Street Primitive Methodist chapel

Shaw lies 3½ miles SE of Rochdale and 2 ½ miles NNE of Oldham.  A comprehensive description of Shaw and Crompton can be found on Wikipedia.  The manufacture of textiles can be traced back to 1474, firstly based on wool and then, with the Industrial Revolution, on cotton.

In 1870-72, John Manus Wilson’s Imperial Gazetteer of England and Wales (in ‘A Vision of Britain’) described Shaw like this:

‘SHAW, a village and a chapelry in Prestwich parish, Lancashire.  The village stands on the river Beal, near the Oldham and Rochdale railway, ….; is a large place, with well edificed and well-paved streets; presents a neat and clean appearance; carries on industry in cotton mills and in other establishments ….  Pop. in 1861, 3,618.  Houses, 767. … A new church [Church of England] … was founded in 1869.’

1835:  According to the Manchester & Lancashire Family History Society website: St. Paul’s Methodist Church, Shaw, ‘1811-1961 Anniversary Booklet, A Brief History’:  ‘The [Primitive Methodist] building in Refuge Street dates from 1835.’

1844-48:  The chapel can be seen on the 1844-48 6” OS map labelled ‘Prim. Meth.st Chapel’.  Refuge Street did not exist and the roads are unnamed.

1851:  This website does not hold a census return for this chapel.

1867:  The 1867 Registrar-General’s List of Places for Public Religious Worship: Lancashire includes

‘No. 107: Shaw, Miln Row Road, Preaching room, Oldham Registration District’.

Travelling north from the chapel, Refuge Street becomes Market Street north of the junction with High Street and Greenfield Lane; further north, Market Street becomes Milnrow Road.

1870:  The Rochdale Observer of 17 December reported on ‘a panoramic entertainment’ given in the Primitive Methodist schoolroom, Greenfield, Shaw.  The subjects of illustration were Bible incidents.’  Where was the schoolroom?  ‘Greenfield’ may just refer to the area around Greenfield Lane, which would include the chapel.  Was there a schoolroom below the chapel?

1872:  The Rochdale Observer of 30 March reported on ‘PRIMITIVE METHODIST SUNDAY SCHOOL, SHAW. – Last Saturday a tea-party took place in this school, the proceeds of which will be devoted towards the erection of a new school in lieu of the present one.’

1877:  The Preaching Plan for the 4th quarter, Oldham 1st Circuit shows the following Places: Henshaw Street [Oldham], Shore Edge, Chadderton [Middleton Road], Royton [probably Oldham Road rather than Fir Lane], North Moor, Middleton Road [Royton], Shaw [Refuge Street] and Ashton Road [‘Bethel’, Copster Hill Road].  There were two Sunday services at Shaw, at 2.30 and 6, both services led by the same lay preacher apart from one week when one of the two circuit ministers took both, and another two weeks when the other minister took the afternoon service.  There were also fortnightly Tuesday evening meetings led by one of the ministers.

1891:  The chapel can be seen on the 1891 1-to-500 Town Plan labelled ‘Meth. Chapel (Primitive) (Seats for 150)’.  It stands in Refuge Street near the junction with High Street, Market Street and Greenfield Lane.  The chapel scales at 37’ x 30’ and occupies a site about 60’ x 53’.

About 1900:  The 1907 25” OS map shows that, between 1891 and 1907, the first chapel had been replaced by a new one filling the whole of the site and now labelled ‘Prim. Meth. Chap.’.  It scales at 58’ x 51’.

1940: The Register of Methodist Buildings: District 822. Oldham (Middleton Road) lists:

Shaw, Refuge Street: Primitive Methodist; Brick; 380 seats; Pews; 1 hall; 7 rooms.’

1957:  According to Genuki, the chapel closed in 1957.

The site is now occupied by an Aldi supermarket at 1 Refuge Street, OL2 8RH.

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Comments about this page

  • Does the photo show the 1835 or the 1907 chapel? Comparing its frontage with the 1891 and 1907 maps referred to above, it is clear that the photo is of the earlier chapel. It appears to be in poor condition, or perhaps in the process of demolition to make way for the new much larger chapel.

    By Chris Wells (24/03/2023)

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