Alvecote/Shuttington Primitive Methodist chapel
Primitive Methodism around Tamworth 2
The second Primitive Methodist chapel in Tamworth was that built at Alvecote which, until 1873 had been a nondescript hamlet about 3 miles from the town centre. In that year, the rich 7’ seam of coal lying towards the westerly end of the North Warwickshire coalfield was reached. The Tamworth Colliery company established a pit head there and later built cottages for the miners and their families.
It was a number of years however before a decision was made to mission Alvecote, At the September Quarterly Meeting in 1889 Alvecote was put on plan. In March 1990, came an offer completely out of the blue when the Tamworth Colliery Company owners offered to erect a chapel at a nominal rent. The building was not to be just a chapel though. In thinking ahead of its time, the building was to be put to community use also since, during the week, it was to be used as a newspaper reading, class and lecture room.
The building opened on 23rd and 24th August 1891 with the building crowded on the Sunday. It could accommodate some 150 people.
During the winter months, certain evenings were set aside for the miners’ use. Daily newspapers and periodicals, as well as books, were made available free of charge. A series of lectures were given fortnightly by the education department of Warwickshire County Council. These were arranged by Mr J Reeves. Not only was he the leading Primitive Methodist in the village but also the under manager at the colliery.
Some eight years after opening, the well used building was found to be in need of redecoration and again in 1907. The re-opening service was on the 2nd June and taken by Rev Nathanial Boocock. A large congregation was present and we are informed that a good old fashioned Methodist meeting was held!
The Primitive Methodist society thrived. It had its Mission Band and Band of Hope. We are told that on 14th January 1914, the Band of Hope organised a special tea for the youngsters in the afternoon with around 60 taking part. This was followed by an adult one with about 80 visitors and villagers present. By the time the entertainment started later there were some200 crammed into the building!
By the First World War the mantle of being the leading Primitive Methodist family has passed from the Reeves’ to the Bettany family a position which remained until the final demise of the chapel. In 1942 the decision was taken to close the colliery and, by the end of the war, the number of members at Alvecote had fallen to six and, by 1950, to just four, three of whom were the last surviving members of the Bettany family. Even so, it was not until the summer of 1960 that the decision was taken to finally close. Thereafter, the building served as a field centre for Alvecote Nature Reserve before finally being demolished. The site now forms the cartilage of the end terraced house of the row of former miners’ houses.
Thanks to Anne Langley for confirmation that a Primitive Methodist Chapel appears on the 2nd edition OS map (1900s) but was not recorded in Warwickshire trade directories: Sources: OS maps; Historic Environment Record MWA 2816.