Huddersfield Circuit, Yorkshire
Transcription of Article in the Christian Messenger by Rev. W.E. Goodreid
Huddersfield was missioned from the Barnsley Station on July 16th, 1820, by the Rev. W. Taylor and Miss S. Perry, who sang along the street which leads to the market place, and began to preach, when a constable seized them and thrust them into a dirty prison cell and locked them up for the night. But their singing and preaching drew a crowd of sympathisers who listened to Taylor as he preached through the window of his cell. Miss Perry was taken out of the cell at night, and on the morrow they were brought before the magistrates, who tried to induce them to make a promise not to preach again in the town. They refused to comply with such a request, and met with great success in the town, and though Huddersfield does not appear as an independent circuit for four years after, it is clear from the circuit records that it soon rose to considerable importance, the Baptismal Register of the circuit has been kept from the year 1822, and the first entry is made by the Rev. Thomas Holliday, who became Superintendent in 1824. There is a blank in the circuit records from this period onwards, and some lost minute book holds the secret of its subsequent career for the next eleven years.
It appears in the Conference Minutes of 1824 as part of the Liverpool District with two ministers stationed, Thomas Holliday and Samuel Bottomley, but in 1834 it appears in the Manchester District with three ministers stationed. In 1835, John Verity was stationed and under his able leadership the circuit grew rapidly, for in 1836 there were thirty-seven places on the plan, some of which, like Mirfield and Scholes, are now the heads of circuits, while other places are included in the Dewsbury and Heckmondwike Circuits.
Mr. John North was the first Circuit Steward and acted as the Treasurer of the General Chapel Fund. The brothers Samuel and Alexander Glendinning were among the earliest local preachers on the plan, and rendered conspicuous service, and for many years shaped the history and the policy of the circuit, and after eighty years the family is still represented by Mr. Alex. Glendinning and the Misses Sykes, and Mr. Herbert.
In 1832, a chapel was built in Spring Street, but was rebuilt in 1847 on its present site by the railway company who removed it at their own cost to make way for the air shaft of the new tunnel. The Chapel was opened in 1847, and the Rev. T. Morgan preached the opening sermon on December the 6th. Writing of the service, he says: “Several sinners were laid hold of and one at least was brought through.” The commodious Sunday-schools were built during the ministry of the Rev. Henry Woodcock, and are probably the finest schools in the town. We have here a growing church whose liberality and connexional spirit are a joy to all who know it. Its present value is £8,250. In 1864, a Chapel was built at South Street, and subsequently enlarged to meet the growing requirements.
At one time it could boast of some of the most influential families of the circuit, but death took away, from the church those whom it failed to replace, and handicapped by debt, it has had a hard struggle. Sir W.P. Raynor, whose father was one of the founders, and who did a great work himself there long ago, came to its aid, with a gift of £200 and a grant from the Chapel Aid enabled the friends to clear the debt. Thomas Crawshaw, who for over fifty years has been a local preacher, has nobly seconded the efforts of Mr. Noble Duce and the Pearsons, and Mr. Johnson have gathered around them a faithful group of young folk who will win through and restore, we trust, some of its past glory.
Lepton Chapel was built in 1835, and is the only Free Church in the village; a new church is badly needed here, and the friends have already £700 in hand. It has been singularly rich in families, and one thinks of many splendid characters it has created by its ministry.
We think of Jesse Brook and Andrew Shaw and the Seniors all of whose children to the third generation are still with us.
The late Mr. Henry Jagger’s simple piety and strong manhood has left an abiding impression. Mrs. Jagger, his wife, who still remains one of the rarest and sweetest characters I have ever known. Four of their sons have been conspicuous in all the circuit life, serving it as local preachers and almost every official position the church can offer. Taylor Hill was built in 1869, and afterwards enlarged at a cost of £800. During the year they have raised £500 for a memorial organ to those who laid down their lives for their country. Here Alderman W. Jepson still leads the van of devoted workers and his interest is as keen as ever. The church is a family of kindly affectionate men and women of great sweetness and simplicity of faith. Highburton was built in 1832, and enlarged in 1898. Here we have a fine village cause, which is served with rare devotion by the Brothers Oldroyd. It has a wealth of life, and the Sunday morning Bible Class is filled with young men who are ably taught by Mr. Ben Senior, who serves the circuit admirably as a local preacher. A new pipe organ has been installed during the year, and the total cost of it raised.
Crimble Chapel was built at a cost of £450 and opened in 1911, during the ministry of the Revs. F.M. Ridge and James Graham. This year the debt was cleared and there is talk of adding the much needed class rooms. The cause was founded by men who came from Lincolnshire and brought with them the sturdy faith and zeal which characterizes the County. From its opening it has been ably led by Mr. William Bradley, and the Robinsons and the Webbs have rendered splendid service. It is a society by itself, and reminds us of the great things that men and women can do in this world without wealth and learning when they are devoted to Christ.
At Fenay Bridge we commenced a cause in the Council School In 1917, by members largely drawn from Lepton Church. A small Sunday school was commenced, and under the leadership of Mr. Edwin Jagger, it grows steadily. He has pioneered the cause through its darkest days. When some feared it would fail, his faith never faltered, and he came up smiling and with an agenda at business meetings that suggested resources some of us smiled at, but his faith is justified, and in the near future we shall put down a school church. A fine site has been secured at Waterloo on the main road, and before the year is out the society hopes to erect at least a temporary building. The circuit is rich in preachers, and Mr. G. Bottom and Mr. G. Clay are among the popular host whose services are eagerly sought after. Mr. J.B. Weatherburn is a prominent District Official, and he and Mr. Tom Hind have both rendered conspicuous service as Circuit Stewards. During the last four years the Circuit Missionary income has increased 130 per cent., and finances have been enormously increased. The station has reported an increase of sixty-five members, and the property at Northumberland Street has been renovated and electric light installed at a cost of nearly £630. The present Circuit Steward, Councillor J.S. Gibson, is the father of the Rev. Albert Gibson, and he will ably carry on the good work which was ably led by the late Circuit Steward. He has already won a reputation in the public life of the town for his urbanity and sound business judgment. He has the confidence of all his brethren, both ministerial and lay, and his geniality and tact conspire to make him a leader of whom any circuit may be justly proud.
The Rev. W. Jacques laboured with great acceptance on the station for a fourth year, but was appointed to an Army Chaplaincy in 1918. He was succeeded by the Rev. A.C. Wright, a third year probationer, who has served in the army. The last Conference appointed the Rev. J. Bellis as a first year probationer, and he has won for himself golden opinions which promise well for his future ministry.
Primitive Methodism has found its best successes through the circuit system. In great industrial centres this policy has been vindicated through all the years. The combination of ministerial oversight and service with local preachers is all to the advantage of the churches. There is room for every gift and opportunity for the exercise of all types of talent. In such a circuit every man can find his place. We are happy to think, too, that there is the spirit which rejoices in each others‘ gifts. In these industrial centres we are certain to have a great future. All that is needed is devotion and consecration and the evangelistic spirit.
Christian Messenger 1920/266