Nottingham: Primitive Methodism in Nottingham
An overview of its churches in 1916
‘The Conference City: Our Churches in and Around Nottingham’, by Rev Jacob Walton
When the Primitive Methodist Conference met in Nottingham, in 1916, The Primitive Methodist Leader published an article which gives a good overview of the churches in the city at this time.
This was the sixth time that the PM Conference had been held in Nottingham. In 1916 , ten circuits participated in its organisation: six circuits in the city of Nottingham itself, plus Long Eaton, Hucknall, Ilkeston and Kimberley.
The article mentions the following Primitive Methodist Churches:
Head of the 1st Nottingham circuit, Canaan Street was the ‘mother church’ of Primitive Methodism in Nottingham.
Head of the 2nd Nottingham circuit. This church was built as a Wesleyan Chapel in 1783, and one of the oldest nonconformist churches in the city. In 1797, when it had 600 members, it became ‘a centre of agitation’, when 320 of its members left the Wesleyans to join the Methodist New Connexion. As this was over half of its membership they actually took over the building, which was used by the Methodist New Connexion until 1817, when the Wesleyans regained possession.
About 1840, it became a Primitive Methodist Chapel. ‘For about forty years there was genuine progress, and Hockley was in the heyday of its power and influence. But from about the year 1882 Hockley has carried on its work with difficulty, and there is a constant strain on the nerve, energy and loyalty of the workers. … The work here will never be easy. The character of the neighbourhood has changed. It has become down-town, and yet is thickly populated. There is plenty of scope for the energies of a large band of workers, but crippling debt has prevented systematic evangelistic labour.’
Blue Bell Hill
5th Nottingham circuit. This church was also struggling with crippling debt, although Sir William Hartley and others had offered their support, and it was hoped that ‘a brighter day may yet dawn for Blue Bell Hill.’
Head of the 4th Nottingham circuit, it ‘is rich in young life’, with a flourishing Sunday School.
West Bridgford is ‘a part of Nottingham which has changed from a quiet village of 300 inhabitants to an up-to-date suburb of 13,000 people.’ West Bridgford has also initiated a local solution to ‘the drink problem’ by introducing prohibition. Only one public house remains, at Trent Bridge, and new licenses are ‘severely tabooed’.
A mission from Mayfield Grove, began in January 1913, when Primitive Methodists started holding services in George Road Schools. There are now 80 members. The society has bought ‘a magnificent site’ for a chapel, and has embarked on raising the money to build it.
3rd Nottingham circuit. A mission where ‘Primitive Methodism has a unique opportunity of demonstrating that it has not lost the art of reaching the working classes.’ At present a school chapel built in 1908 is being used for worship, but ‘a fine corner site is in reserve for a church building.’
4th Nottingham circuit. This society ‘worships in an iron structure’. It has a strong Sunday School, and a strong Christian Endeavour.
Head of the 3rd Nottingham circuit. It is ‘up to date and virile’.
‘A vigorous society in premises that are modern’.
Head of 6th Nottingham circuit, a new circuit, formed in 1914. Here there is a Sunday evening congregation of 500.
5th Nottingham circuit. The church ‘is in the possession of a beautiful sanctuary and a spacious schoolroom with a good suite of class rooms. This society was an offshoot of Forest Road.
2nd Nottingham circuit. The church ‘possesses a wealth of young life’, but because of this has been hit hard by the loss of so many young men to the war.
1st Nottingham circuit. A very promising society. ‘The neighbourhood is a railway centre, and is a type of suburb in which Primitive Methodism should win great triumphs.’
1st Nottingham circuit. The church has a particularly successful weeknight service, usually attended by 70 or 80 people.
4th Nottingham circuit. ‘A vigorous and progressive church with 100 members and a block of buildings valued at £2,580, of which only £450 is left as debt. The Sunday School is a large one.’
4th Nottingham circuit. ‘A healthy church of 80 members, worshipping in a building valued at £1,800, and the debt is only £100. There is a fine missionary interest in this society.’
‘A strong circuit’, with six societies and two ministers.
A circuit which ‘has in it all the promise of morning’.
The circuit ‘rejoices in elements of real strength, and is likely to develop into a first-class circuit.’
The circuit ‘is composed of smaller societies that support with great loyalty the work of the church.’
‘The Conference City: Our Churches in and Around Nottingham’, by Rev Jacob Walton, The Primitive Methodist Leader, 8 June 1916, p 356
Editor’s note: Click here to see the account of the growth of Primitive Methodism in Nottingham and district from the Handbook of the 1916 Conference.