03. Tunstall Circuit

Tunstall is Primitive Methodism’s “Jerusalem, the Mother of us all.” Rendezvous of the FOUNDERS, centre of their worship and site of our first Chapel, it established Societies all over the Midlands and mothered them until sheer necessity demanded their division into separate Circuits. It sent Bourne and Crawfoot to mission London, and William Knowles and Ruth Watkins to mission America!

It is not strange that Tunstall attracted to its service the Connexional giants. Space permits reference only to three who stand out like lofty peaks in a mountain range.

First and greatest of all, PHILIP PUGH, a great scholar learned in linguistic and theological lore, carrying piles of books into the pulpit and wielding a polemic that completely pulverised Calvinistic Cousins, a Baptist minister who in a misguided moment ventured to cross swords with Philip, but collapsed and fled the country, at which no one will wonder who has read it all in Pugh’s monograph, ‘’Weighed in the Balances.’’ Into his fifty-three years’ life and thirty-six years’ ministry Pugh crowded a marvellous mission in Ireland on a board-bill of tenpence half-penny a week, Secretaryships and Presidency of Conferences, Connexional Editorship and other achievements that put us all to shame.

Second in the trio is WILLIAM JONES, prince of pulpit orators, master rhetorician, and a wily dialectician in whom Tories, Catholics and High Churchmen found “a foreman worthy of their steel,” with whom they were loth to try conclusions a second time. 

A good third was Dr. JOS. FERGUSON, a big human, a great encourager of budding preachers, a fearless smiter of abuses and a successful soul-winner, whose torrential oratory, social sympathies and abounding philanthropies are still a treasured memory.

Jubilee afforded a fine sphere for these and other princes of the pulpit. With officials, who eased ministers of many tasks, a debtless Church (the £1,600 debt was liquidated during the present writer’s ministry), a powerful organ, a far-famed organist, a full and efficient choir and a well-organised Sunday School, what wonder such triumphs can be chronicled!

Of the other Churches in the Circuit, PITT’S HILL —still a village though in the city—Is efficiently officered, debtless, has a fine organ and organist, an excellent choir and Sunday School, and is alive! 

GOLDENHILL, hard hit by the industrial depression, has in its staunch veterans and eager juniors a promiseful future.

NORTON GREEN, where Hugh Bourne preached his last sermon, and where the crucial Camp Meeting was held after the Wesleyan Conference’s condemnatory edict, still keeps the torch alight.

BADDELEY EDGE—close to historic Stanley—inherits and sustains the spiritual traditions of that primal class of ten.

SANDYFORD, since liquidating its debt, has made encouraging headway. 

BRADELEY, in its bevy of young folk, has a hopeful future. 

The Revs, Upright and Watson are fulfilling a highly-appreciated ministry. Mr. A.G. Jones is resuming the Stewardship with Mr. Jas. Smith as Junior, and the Circuit has a membership of 530 with 250 Teachers and 1,560 Scholars.


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