Bradley in 1861
Trouble brewing in Staffordshire
In 1851, according to White’s Directory of Staffordshire, Bradley was a small village and manor in the township of Bilston, one mile SE of the town, remarkable for its extensive coal and iron works.
A preaching place for the Primitive Methodists was established at Bradley in April 1860, with Sunday afternoon and evening services, and an evening in the week. In July 1860 it first appeared on the Darlaston Circuit Plan.
There was already a Wesleyan and a United Methodist Free Church, but they were at opposite ends of Bradley.
By 1861 there was a class of 20 members ‘nearly all gathered out of the world’, in other words these were new converts, not drawn from other chapels. The Sunday School met in another rented building nearby and had 80 children.
In a letter to the District, Primitive Methodist Minister, Noah Wardle Stafford reported: ‘Conversions of an interesting nature have taken place under our labours there. And we enjoy the commendations of our Wesleyan friends who deplore the lamentably ungodly character of the people among whom we are labouring.
Trouble broke out when Primitive Methodists from the neighbouring circuit of Bilston started missioning and preaching in Bradley, holding services at 5.00pm only 50 yards from the preaching place, and sometimes in the open air at the same time ‘their voices mingling with ours in the hearing of the people’. They also opened a Sunday School about 100 yards away from the existing Sunday School.
‘Storm in a Primitive Methodist teacup, Darlaston Circuit, 1861’, in Bulletin of the Wesley Historical Society, West Midlands Branch, vol 1 (5), Jan 1967, pp.47-8. There is a copy at Englesea Brook Museam.