Swindon Railway works, the core of the new town in the Nineteenth Century, was opened in 1843 with the building of the Great Western Railway. The Prims were quick to establish their presence with the opening in 1849 of a chapel at Eastcott, at the foot of the hill down from Old Swindon. The occasion is reported by E Bishop in the Primitive Methodist magazine. After a detailed account of the story to date he tells us the chapel was opened on 25th/26th “ult” but didn’t tell us the date when he was writing.
The land, given by Mr Edwards, was midway between the New Swindon of the Great Western Railway works and Old Town. The new chapel was 30′ square and had a burial ground.. It accommodated 214 people and had the potential to install a gallery.
Information about the opening comes from the Wiltshire pages of British History Online.
“In 1848 Thomas and James Edwards, who had long been connected with Primitive Methodism, sold a field, through which Regent Street later ran, as a site for a chapel. The following year a small brick chapel accommodating about 150, with a burial ground to its east, was built. Membership was 27. In 1850 the congregation’s first resident minister came to live in a thatched cottage in what later became Regent Circus. By 1863 the chapel had become too small, and that year a larger one, with an adjoining schoolroom, was built on the same site.”
That 1863 re-building is also described by E Alford in the Primitive Methodist magazine. The re-opening of what he calls New Swindon chapel took place on September 20th 1863.
“By 1875 membership was 112 and again the chapel was found to be too small.” This led to the opening of the large set of buildings – Regent Street Primitive Methodist chapel.
British History Online: A History of the County of Wiltshire: Volume 9 (1970) pp 144-159 http://www.british-history.ac.uk/report.aspx?compid=66548 accessed May 8th 2014
Primitive Methodist magazine 1849 pages 248-249
Primitive Methodist magazine January 1864 page 48