Scunthorpe Circuit, Lincolnshire
Transcription of Article in the Christian Messenger by Rev. William Turner
The rise and progress of Primitive Methodism in Scunthorpe is a fascinating story. About 1855 the village, as it was then, was missioned, and a small society formed, but it met with little success, for in September 1867, it was taken off the Circuit Plan. In July 1868, the late Rev. W. Whittey (Note: This should have been ‘Whitby’) was appointed to Winterton Circuit as superintendent, and finding the place given up decided to make another effort to establish our church in the village. The first step was taken on Sunday, October 18th, 1868. The congregations were good, the Lord was with His people, a society of five members was formed, the place was again put on the Plan, and from then until now remarkable progress has been the result. At the December Quarterly Meeting in 1868 the society reported eight members and sent 11s. 4½d. income!
After having held services in Mr. Hollingsworth’s house, Mr. Whittey purchased land, and built a chapel, in Crosby Road, at a total cost of £456. The chapel was opened in 1870, and all went well until 1889, when a serious calamity befell the little society. One Sunday morning the members were startled by the news that the chapel was on fire. It is supposed that the heating apparatus had been overheated, with the result that fire broke out so fiercely that almost everything was destroyed. The situation was faced with commendable spirit, the Assembly Rooms were engaged for worship and steps were taken to erect a larger building in a more prominent position. Land was purchased and on July 15th, 1890, the foundation stones of the present High Street Church were laid, and the premises were opened for public worship on April 7th, 1891. The Rev J Strong was the Superintendent Minister, and the total cost was £2,447, but since then alterations and additions have been made, making the cost about £3,500.
In 1895 Scunthorpe was detached from the Winterton Circuit, and became the head of a new and independent station. Subsequent events have quite justified the steps then taken, for during the last few years the village has been transformed into a great industrial centre through the development of the iron-stone mines, and large steel and iron works employing thousands of men. The population in 1871 was 616, and is now estimated at over 12,000.
To increase our influence in face of this rapid development it became clear that something must be done; High Street Church, which seats about 600 people, was totally inadequate and scores were turned away on Sunday evenings. The Rev. W. Turner commenced a forward movement. The High Street Church was so strengthened that it could withstand the removal of members and workers to a new cause. Land was purchased on the main road in the new neighbourhood, a new Trust formed, and the handsome new Centenary Church and Schools, with seating accommodation for 800 people, was erected at a cost of £6,000. The Church Extension Fund made this possible by making an encouraging grant, the Chapel Aid Association advanced £3,000, and with promises of support from other quarters and friends the foundation stones (64) were laid on January 29th, 1908, and the church and schools completely furnished throughout with pipe organ, etc, etc. It was opened for worship on October 21st, 1908. This meant hard work indeed, but everything has justified the bold venture, and already there have been seasons of great fruitfulness and there are signs of still greater success, for the field is white unto harvest.
At the present time there are seven churches in the Circuit, with a membership of over 400, and about 900 Sunday school scholars and 100 teachers, and property valued at £12,000. The Circuit has a history of which any Circuit might be proud, and has been favoured with officials whose distinguished services have largely contributed to its growth and prosperity. In its ministry the Circuit has been equally fortunate. It has had as its ministers men whose names have been honoured in our
Church, and this has largely been the secret of its success and distinction; in addition we have an excellent, staff of officials, including local preachers, Class leaders, Society steward and Sunday school officers and teachers.
HIGH STREET CHURCH.- High Street Chapel was built in 1890, at a cost of £2,447, but subsequent additions have made the cost about £3,500. Sittings are provided for about 600 people. The schoolroom is fairly good, and considerable improvements re Vestry accommodation for modern Sunday schoolwork are now in hand. A new pipe organ, costing £420, and opened free from debt, new lighting and ventilating systems have been recently installed, and chapel and schoolrooms thoroughly renovated. The church has been the spiritual birthplace of many, and remarkable scenes have been witnessed at revival times.
The membership is now 174, and although sustaining considerable loss through removals to the new church and other causes, the church is still strong, healthy and vigorous. There is a large Sunday school with over 300 scholars, a devoted staff of teachers, and the future is full of promise.
New CENTENARY CHURCH.- This church and schools is our most recent enterprise. Its erection was undertaken by the Rev. W. Turner, and was opened for worship‘ on October 21st, 1908. It is a beautiful and commodious church, and is an imposing and noble structure in a prominent position. Sittings are provided for 800 people, and the schoolroom, vestries, etc., etc., are of the most up-to-date kind, and furnished for aggressive work in a new and progressive district. The buildings have been erected and furnished at a cost of £6,000, and are designed to meet all the needs of modern church activities. Already the membership is eighty-seven, a good number of sittings are let, and an excellent congregation has been gathered; over 200 scholars belong to the Sunday school, and a staff of devoted officers and teachers are actively engaged in the work of the undertaking. Both in church and school work the fruits of the new enterprise are already being gathered, and if the work of the past has been arduous, difficult and exacting, the present success is worth it all, and the future is richer still in promise.
BRUMBY.- Our Brumby Chapel was built in 1877, at a cost of £1,620, and has sitting accommodation for 250 persons. A pipe organ has recently been added at a cost of about £300 (opened free from debt), and new lighting, ventilation and thorough renovation has been undertaken. We have a membership of 100, and most sittings are let. The church consists of a generous, hard-working and devoted society. There are 250 scholars in the Sunday school, and an excellent staff of officials and teachers carry on a vigorous work, both in the church and school. Land has been purchased for further extension if required, and the future is full of hope.
CROSBY.- Crosby is only a small society, but is exceedingly good. It boasts of a splendid past and is the oldest society on the station. Its glory is yet to be, for it is situated within the area of the new steel works, and presently extension will be necessary. The present chapel was built in 1886, at a cost of £390, and is almost debtless. We have recently placed a new heating apparatus throughout the premises, and although the membership is but nineteen and the scholars total but fifty, both church and school are served with loyal and devoted workers.
GUNNESS LANE.- This chapel is situated on the bank of the river Trent, and was built in 1883, at a cost of £200. Recently it has been thoroughly renovated, and the debt was extinguished at the re-opening meeting. The membership is fifteen, and the officers and members alike are generous, devoted and loyal. One of the best missionary meetings of the Circuit has been held here for many years.
SANTON.- This is a Mission Room rented and worked by our Circuit. Our membership is but ten, and we have nearly I00 scholars in the Sunday school. Recently we have installed a small pipe organ, and altered and renovated the premises. We have generous, loyal and devoted officers in society and school, and much good work is done in connection with the Mission, especially in Sunday school work.
FLIXBOROUGH.- This is a rented room in a small village. But although our membership is small, the society is good. The membership is nine, and we have but one or two scholars. Recently we have re-seated and renovated the room. The village is near the new works, and extension may be necessary ere long. The members and officers are generous, loyal and devoted to their church.
Taken altogether, the story of Scunthorpe Circuit is worthy of the finest achievements in the Connexion. Its material resources are being developed, and its general interests consolidated. The past is a record of loyal and devoted service crowned with abundant success.
During the writer’s ministry of seven years, over seven thousand pounds have been raised for building, renovation and relighting, the erection of pipe organs and reduction of chapel debts, and for Circuit and Missionary work, etc. The membership has increased by nearly 100 members, and in many ways our influence has extended, and all along the writer has been ably assisted by our Connexional and District officials, and by ministers and friends in town and district and by a devoted and generous people.
Christian Messenger 1911/61