My Family and other Primitive Methodists
Tunstall Primitive Methodist Church
Mrs. Thelwell’s society class, Tunstall, 1889.
Hannah Durose, fourth from left on the front row, is my great grandmother, and Mary Durose, fifth from left on the second row, is my great aunt. They get a brief mention in James P. Langham, The Tunstall Book,
‘At the present time  one of the most successful classes is in the capable hands of Miss Durose, whose father and mother gave many years of loving service to the cause.’
Mary taught in the Sunday school for many years.
Sarah W Thelwell
Sarah Thelwell achieved something of a legendary status at Tunstall Jubilee and was still talked about within my lifetime. In an article about her father, James Nixon, in the Primitive Methodist Magazine, 1902, the then minister at Tunstall, John T. Horne, wrote
‘We have still living with us Mrs. Thelwell, a daughter of Mr. Nixon, who has inherited many of her father’s remarkable powers. For thirty-eight years she has been a preacheress, and during her public ministrations has witnessed many remarkable manifestations of spiritual power. Although seventy-six years of age she is still vigorous, with keen intellect, tenacious memory, and is of a loveable disposition; exerting an influence for good over hundreds of lives, in almost all parts of our Empire.’
In 1972 as part of an oral history project, I interviewed Maggie Hammond, then aged 89, who was a younger sister of the Miss Hammond, who I think was called Annie, who is fifth from the left on the back row on the photograph. Maggie was also in Sarah Thelwell’s class.
‘We went to her class meeting on Thursday nights, five of us, and we were only young, just in our early teens. She used to get all the five of us altogether and, you know how they did in a class meeting, get you to tell your experience and they’d talk to you back, well she used to get the five of us together and say, “God bless the five of you, bundle you up in a bundle of love and tell them all Thy name.” We went for many a year until we were about eighteen. She was a lovely old lady. She used to get us like that [i.e. with her arms round them], that was instead of talking back to us as they used to do in the class meeting.’
William Vodrey’s bible class c.1900
The man standing on the right is my grandfather, Harry Durose.
William Vodrey later had a book stall in Hanley indoor market and the next photo shows him with a display of “Primitive Methodist relics” on his stall sometime in the late 1940s.