Norwich; Old Catton Primitive Methodist Chapel
An early Primitive Methodist society was formed in Old Catton in the 1830s and a watchnight service was recorded there in August 1837, but problems with renting suitable accommodation meant that from November 1838 preaching was done in the open air and shortly afterwards it disappeared from the plan.
A further attempt to mission the area in 1878 resulted in a society which held services in a small chapel built in 1830 and rented from the Baptists. It was situated on the North Walsham Road near Allen’s Lane in Old Catton. By 1881 the congregation averaged 40 regular attenders.
The Quarterly meeting of September 1895 decided to change the name of the society from ‘Sprowston number 2’ to ‘Old Catton.’ Among the first members were Charles Quantrill and his wife whose family maintained its membership until the chapel closed. In 1912 Arthur Futter and his wife joined the society and their family was also a mainstay for the remaining 60 years of the chapel’s history.
Trustees were appointed in 1901 when the chapel ceased to be rented and the building was bought. Land at the rear was given to the congregation in 1907 by Frederick Neville, a market gardener. An extension was planned, but never put into effect.
In 1909, a piece of land on George Hill suitable for a new chapel was purchased for £75, but no action was taken to start building. During the intervening war years, building costs rose very considerably, so that the trustees could no longer consider the expense of a new chapel. Frederick Neville donated another plot of land adjoining the existing chapel which may have encouraged the congregation to remain where it was. The George Hill site was eventually sold in 1921 for the same amount for which it was bought eleven years previously and the money spent on renovations to the chapel.
Sunday school and congregations increased in the 1920s and 1930s and a Christian Endeavour society was begun in 1934. In 1939 improvements were made to the building including replacing the old forms with pews from the old Lady Lane church.
In 1948 Frederick Neville’s widow gave a further plot of land and a large nissen hut for youth work was erected at the rear of the site. Sunday school numbers rose to 100. Much of the progress was due to the work of members of the Futter family, particularly Ethel Futter who was always so full of enthusiasm. Old Catton was famed for its Sunday school anniversaries always known for being topical. In the 1930s they introduced into one of their special hymns, the line ‘Safe on the rock, from the earthquake shock’ – the area had just experienced a sharp earth tremor!
Everything went well until 1965 when declining numbers and deterioration of the building forced closure. The plan of autumn 1972 announced that public worship had been discontinued there. Many members then transferred to the new Sprowston church at Wroxham Road.