St Paul's Methodist Church, Shaw, 1811 - 1961
Reproduction Courtesy of St. Paul's Methodist Church. The following item is extracted from the anniversary booklet:
* Ministers who have served on the Oldham Circuit, and later the Shaw & Royton Circuit, from 1791 HERE
* Links to Gallery and 1920 fundraising Autograph Book HERE
PREFACE from the booklet
The record of a century and a half of Methodism has been compiled with the help of many people. At the outset, on behalf of the Committee appointed to deal with the celebrations, I would like to record sincere appreciation of their kindly co-operation.The history of the School is so linked with the history of the Chapel that to separate the two is almost impossible. A survey of this type dwells mainly on bygone days, but one is not unmindful of our present day and generation nor of the officers and staff who week by week loyally and zealously carry out their work.
One hundred and fifty eventful years have passed since the Wesleyan Methodists began to worship in this town. James Buckley in his book 'History of Oldham', published in 1817, says in the chapter headed 'Township of Crompton':
"Shaw, what is generally called Shaw Chapel, is the principal village in the township of Crompton; it consists of one irregularly-built street, divided by its inhabitants into what they denominate Higher and Lower Shaw. At Lower Shaw there was lately erected a Methodist Chapel of the Wesleyan connection, denominated Bethel: it is a small but neat building. the gallery is semi-octagonal, and so contrived that every auditor therein has full view, if not of the pulpit, at least of the preacher. The seats in the bottom part thereof are not yet completed, but are intended to be formed on the same plan as the gallery. The first stone of this building was laid by Mr. James Cheetham, of Clough, near Shaw, on the 22nd June, 1815."
The Reverend George Allen, M.A., in his book 'Shaw Church in bygone days' records this:
"The first mention we found found of Wesleyans at Shaw is in the year 1790, when a number of persons singing hymns marched through the village after dark. This caused much sensation at the time as people generally were quite at a loss to know what it meant. I am informed that they first started a school in an upper room over the Woolpack Inn, and as they increased in numbers another room for senior scholars was taken in Duck Street (now named King Albert Street). The Chapel in Rochdale Road was built in 1815 in Bell Meadow, the foundation stone being laid by Mr. James Cheetham of Clough. This building was called little 'Bethel' and it has since been considerably enlarged. For some years many persons attending this building were practically churchmen, going to Shaw Chapel to receive the sacrament of Holy Communion, and also attending special services there, such as Trinity Sunday Musical Services. One of the ministers, Mr. Hardcastle, is said to have so arranged his hour of service at these times that both he and his people could get to Shaw
Chapel afterwards, thus providing at the outset there was no intention of breaking away from the Church of England. The Primitive Methodist Chapel at Shore Edge was built in 1846. It was erected on common land belonging to the township, for at a Vestry Meeting held at Shaw Chapel it was resolved to sell them so many yards of land as was required for the nominal sum of 20s. surely this was a case of toleration. The building in Refuge Street dates from 1835."
Within these few lines our beginning as a Church is recalled and mention made of Societies which ultimately became our Sister Churches. Let us turn to a more detailed account of our first century and here I quote from 'A Short History of the Wesleyan Sunday School, Shaw,' compiled by Urban Sellers Esq., in 1911.
"The earliest mention of the Non-conformist movement was in 1790, when a number of persons, probably from Oldham, wended their way through Shaw one night, quite late, singing hymns, which created much consternation."
In this year Mr. Cheetham became a trustee of the Manchester Street Chapel, Oldham, and soon afterwards a Society Class was formed. In 1805 a Class was existing at Burn with Mr. John Buckley as leader. His members were John Rhodes, James Clegg, Robert Low, Edmund Mills, Mary Clegg, Mary Bentley, William Rhodes, Thomas Rhodes, David Platt, James Stott, Joseph Greaves, Elizabeth Greaves and Publius Platt. In 1806 public worship was conducted in the house of John Farrar, a cotton weaver, as the following extract from a document will show. We must remember that many of the disabilities imposed on dissenters in the reign of Charles II had not yet been repealed, hence this registration:
"To the Right Reverend Father in God, Doctor Majendie, by divine permission Lord Bishop of Chester.
We whose names are hereunto subscribed being his Majesty's Protestant Dissenting Subjects Dissenting from the Church of England have agreed to set apart for the Pubic Worship of Almighty God the dwelling house of John Farrar, Cotton Weaver, of Shaw, in the Township of Crompton, in the Chapelry of Shaw and County of Lancaster, and Diocese of Chester, and desire that the same may be registered according to an act of Parliament made in the first year of the Reign of their late Majesties King William and Queen Mary Intitled an act for exempting their Majesty's Protestant Dissenting subjects dissenting from the Church of England, from the
Penalties of Certain Laws as witness our hands this 14th day of March, in the year of our Lord One Thousand Eight Hundred and Six.
John Farrar, Henery (?) Smethurst, Samuel Gandy, Abram Hilton, John Wild.
Registered July 12th, 1806 in the public Episcopal registry at Chester according to the act above mentoned.
William Nicholls, Clerk"
The first Sunday School held in Crompton was in 1802 at the premises last used for the Local Board Offices, in High Street, and what was then known as Shaw Lane. "Four masters to superintend" are recorded. The Wesleyan Methodists were not long behind and in 1811 commenced a Sunday School in a room over the Woolpack Inn, now demolished, but standing on the site now occupied by Mr. R. Levers shop (now the premises of Timothy White's and Taylors, Chemists). When that became too small, a room in Newtown, and later the room now used as a joiner's shop (The site of the Chapel of Rest) by Mr. Joseph Street at the bottom of Duck Street were used, and in the latter place until the erection of the Chapel in 1815, pubic service was held. It is not difficult to imagine the many meetings held in the late evenings by cande light, the many casual conversations, and the numberless prayers offered for guidance in the serious undertaking of erecting a Chapel. The time had gone past when agriculture formed the chief employment, the boom of the woollen trade had departed and the cotton trade was now getting well established, though it gave little indication of assuming the proportions of today. In 1815, Publius Platt, weaver, of Saddleworth, a member of the Burn Class, executed an indenture with the Rev. Sir Thomas Horton, of Chadderton, whereby the plot of land :
"Lately forming parcel of a certain close or field there called Lion House Meadow, bounded on the Southerly side by the King's Highway leading from Shaw to Rochdale, on the Easterly side by an intended street of ten yards wide, and on the Northerly and Westerly side by the said Lion House Meadow"
was secured for the erection of a Chapel. The first stone was laid by Mr. James Cheetham, of Clough, on Thursday, the 22nd day of June, 1815. This was four days after the Battle of Waterloo, the news of which could not have long reached Crompton. The defeat of Bonaparte would give intense satisfaction (for his name was used to inspire terror) and so the accomplishment
of their hearts' desires in the commencement of a Chapel and the defeat of the national enemy made their sky unclouded. The trustees were Publius Platt, George Hadfield, William Hill, James Cheetham, John Travis, Jonathan Mellor, John Bamford, James Fletcher, Thomas Cussons, Thomas Cooper, John Stead, James Hoyle, Abraham Thornton, Nathan Stott, James Taylor, William Taylor, William Sudlow, James Firth and John Mellor. The cost was £878, and of this amount £400 were subscribed before the opening, which took place on Sunday, June 16th, 1816, the preacher being the Rev. John Bryan, of Manchester.
The collection at the opening was £30 18s., and a tea for the singers cost 3s. The Chapel was named 'Bethel,' and the original stone bearing name and date is to be found over the door leading to the Vestry of the present Chapel. A detailed account of income and expenditure has been preserved, and throws many sidelights on the life in Shaw at that time. We find the postage of the licence was 3s. 1d. and the postage of the deeds 4s. 1d. There is an account for 'Slating and Moss,' showing that stone slabs and not blue Welsh slates were used, for, being uneven, they had to be bedded in moss. 'Candle snuffers, 1s.' 'Quick Thorns and Setting 7s. 4d.' Amongst those to whom wages were paid were 'Old Yem,' 'Old Scott,' and 'Joseph and James from Yorkshire.' A curious item is 'Wiskets and Pitchers, 3s 11d.'
This edifice was jointly used as School and Chapel. The floor was flagged, and the walls bare plaster, so that in appearance and reality it was cold. The first Sunday School Anniversary was held in the Chapel in 1816, the preacher being the Rev. William France, and the collection £8 9s. 9½d. Until 1821 only one service was held, and for many years afterwards, only two on this festive day. A fee of threepence was charged on the admission of a scholar and continued to be charged until 1848, when the annual Teachers' Meeting abolished them. The only exception to this rule was a resolution passed in 1826. "That any teacher may bring his own child or children at any time and have them admitted without the accustomed fee." There is no record of the number of scholars at this time, but that considerable increases were made is manifest from the collections, which in 1824 amounted to £22 4s. 1d. Mr. John Travis was the School Treasurer, and Mr. Joshua Cheetham the Secretary, an office which he held
until 1856, when Mr. Joshua Cheetham succeeded him. For a time Mr. James Taylor acted as his assistant. The neatly and carefully written minute and treasurer's books showed how methodical he was and what zest he threw into his labour of love. In 1828 a funeral fund was established, and continued until 1857, when the Sick and Burial Society was established by some of the teachers and others, as the funeral fund was not sufficient to meet the needs of of the poor people. A 'wall and pallisading' was subscribed for in 1825 and cost £41 4s. 9½d., and the Chapel was painted and whitewashed in 1826, the cost being equally divided between Chapel and School. A clock was purchased the same year from Mr. Anderton for £7 6s. The following resolution was passed at the annual meeting in 1829 : "That all children stand up while taught their lessons," and in the following year this minute was penned :
"That as the Chapel bottom is very damp and cold in the winter season and as several teachers and scholars have suffered in consequence, it is in the opinion of this meeting that it would be expedient to board the Chapel bottom at the expense of the School, but in case a School should hereafter by built, the Trustees of the Chapel to make a reasonable remuneration to the Managers of the School for the expense incurred by boarding the Chapel bottom."
The regulations the teachers adopted for their own conduct were stringent. The resolutions "most unanimously passed" provided "that if a teacher was absent two successive Sundays, or came late twice after being reproved, the Committee might exclude him." In 1830 the Trustees decided to light the Chapel with gas, and this was done by subscription at the cost of £18, the 'friends at Luzley Brook' who had now a School of their own contributing £2 4s.
There had been some agitation for a new school, and in 1831 it was decided to erect one. The foundation stone was laid on September 15th, 1831 (one week after King William the Fourth was crowned) by Joshua Cheetham of Clough. It was built at the rear of the Chapel and a further parcel of land was leased from 'Lion Meadow.' The new building was soon erected, for on Sunday, February 26th, 1832, that is twenty-one weeks from the laying of the foundation stone, the boys were taught in the lower room for the first tiime. The upper part of the School was occupied as cottages for about six years. From the cash book it appears
there were five tenants, and the annual rent was £25 4s. 8d. The cost of the building was £468 15s. 7d. The opening service was conducted by Rev. Joseph Forsyth of Delph, who preached from Isaiah xi 9, and the collection was £23 6s.
In 1838 the cottage dwellings were abolished, and upper storey used as a Girls' School for the first time on Sunday February 11th. The trustees were Joshua Cheetham, John Thornton, John Travis Sen., Eli Collinge, James Firth, Edwin Travis, Abram Bottomley, Josiah Wild, James Whitehead, James Hoyle, William Sudlow, and John Travis Jun. From the Sunday School funds the sum of £50 was given towards the cost. Forms or benches were provided and a "pulpit to answer also as a bookcase." Gas was installed in 1838.
Up to this time it had been customary to provide a supper for the teachers and singers on the evening of the Anniversary, but this custom was abolished, and tea and coffee provided on Christmas Day, when the annual meeting was always held. The children were trained for the special singing by Mr. William Pogson, and afterwards by Mr. John Turner, and 10s. were annually paid to the trainer. An instruction was given in 1842 that only good, plain hymns, and only good, plain congregational tunes without any pieces should be rendered, with as few 'strange singers as possible.'
The Anniversary was held in the autumn, near the end of September or early in October. Most carefully written and elaborate reports covering many pages were read. The reports for 1843, '44, '45, '48, 49, '51, '52 and '57 are preserved. They are intensely interesting, and worthy of publication. I give, as a sample, an extract from the report of 1843 :
"The professed and real design of this Institution is to give the children plain learning, and instruct them in the knowledge of God, their Saviour. It is true it has an eye to the Health of the Body, by means of temperance and action; to the comfort of life arising from industry, frugality and honesty; to domestic concord and peace resulting from decorum, fidelity and love; to the improvement of society by assiduity, probity and public spirit, but it more especially and ultimately looks to the soul, as having a superior claim to attention, being involved in more afflicting and alarming circumstances than the body, and presents, explains, and recommends a remedy sufficient to extricate it, and render it permanently and for ever happy.
To insure these objects much more is required than merely learning to read, to say their catechism, or to repeat some passages from the Scriptures or other good books. It is by an education early begun and long continued that we may expect to see them exhibiting fixed principles and moral habits. Principles, motives, and examples are to be drawn from the pure sources of sacred truth, for this is the broad and solid foundation upon which alone we wish to erect the goodly fabric of moraity and religion. And what Christian heart does not glow at the thought of the weekly assemblage of so many young people met to worship God and be instructed in that Book which is to be their guide through this world to another; and it is a pleasing fact that more than 320 young persons attending this Sabbath School can read this blessed Book.
We confidently assert that through the instrumentality of this School a barrier against that flood of immorality and irreligion to which the youthful population was exposed; and the feet of so many who might otherwise have wandered in the paths of folly and destruction, have been happily directed to the House of God."
The number of scholars was 471,
"The Committee have to lament the death of one of our warm, long-tried and liberal friend[s] to the School in the Person of John Travis Esq. He was one of the original projectors and Trustees of the School and for 20 years its Treasurer. The Committee have to acknowledge the very liberal donation of £350 from him given a short time before his decease, and appropriated at his request to the liquidation of the debt upon the School."
A tablet to his memory is now in the North wall1 of the present school. The boys were taught in the bottom room and the girls in the upper room. On very rare occasions the boys were taken there, to what they considered almost sacred ground, to have an address. The scholars assembled at 9:00 in the morning and were dismissed at 11:30. In the afternoon the meeting was from 1:30 to 2:30, and then to Chapel for the afternoon service. 'Tasks' were given to be committed to memory and repeated the following Sabbath. The females used to attend the morning School with a silk 'kerchief on their heads and wearing print dresses, newly cleaned clogs and spotlessly white stockings. In the afternoon boots, stuff dresses, and bonnets for old and young were the fashion. The discipline was somewhat severe. The superintendant would walk about the room with an ash stick,
[Footnote 1: Removed to East Wall when stage erected in 1946]
two or three yards long. These sticks were procured in bundles and stored it the attic, with the tables used for tea parties. Writing and arithmetic were taught, but after a time a week evening was set apart for this exercise until the Government Day School. The School funds were drawn upon for the cost of candles.
The annual Sunday School Tea Party was held of Good Friday and it was a high day for both scholars and parents. Recitations, addresses, vocal and instrumental music was the fare provided.
Whit Friday was a great day, and the procession much enjoyed. No band accompanied, and the route taken embraced Luzley Brook, Heyside House, Woodend and Clough. No wonder the fare provided was substantial. In 1866 it was stipulated the buns should weigh half-a-pound. Four hundred and fifty were provided, fifty quarts of buttermilk to drink and ten quarts of new milk to put in coffee. In this year James Mellor, Joseph Clegg, James Henthorn, Abraham Sunderland and John Mills were 'water fetchers.'
On Trinity Monday 1857, Mr. Joshua Cheetham records in his diary, "Took a waggon load of Wesleyans and a waggon load from Refuge Street to Peel Park."
In 1857, Joshua Cheetham, Esq., of Clough House, died. He became a member of the Church at the age of 17, and for the last 35 years of his life was a kind and faithful Class Leader in connection with it. The School greatly benefitted by his aid during its early history, and for more than 40 years this institution had his warmest attachment, his most anxious thought and his assiduous care. During that period more than 3,000 children were enrolled on its books, and with a pious zeal he sought to promote the eternal welfare of each of them. By his will he bequeathed £400 towards liquidation of the debt remaining on the School, and £100 to form a nucleus of a fund for their enlargement. A tablet to his memory was erected in the Chapel by the Trustees.
Amongst those who gave of their best to further the interests of the School were John Thornton, James Firth, James Milne (James o' Sally Clegg's), William Sudlow, James Harop, Eli Collinge, William Butterworth, James Longbottom, Robert Townend, James H. Rogers, Thomas Rogers,
Hepsibah Bakewell, Grace Longbottom, Ralph Byrom, Samuel Mason, John Farrar, Abraham Hall, Mr. Byron, Mrs. Abraham Stott, Joseph Clegg, John Mills, Robert Whitehead.
In 1872 the present Schools were erected, at a cost of £1,920 14s. 2d. towards this £1300 was raised at once, and the debt cleared off in 1876. The suite of vestries was erected in 1866 at a cost of £1,138 9s. 11d., and the final payment was made on December 9th, 1888 ...
"There is enough to show that our fathers, in spite of many difficulties, laid the foundations of this noble institution, and that we have entered upon a rich heritage built up by their toil and self sacrifice. They now inherit the promises, and we are left to carry on their work. How shall we do it?"
Mr Sellars posed the question 50 years ago. Have we carried out the challenge? Over the remaining pages are accounts of the various departments of our Society, written by ex-members or serving members. They all show how over the years the work of teaching the Gospel has been linked with other activities and how methods have changed.
If you want to read more, the pages are continued on the .pdf copies of the original booklet :
pages 1 to 22
The Institute Movement
The Christian Association
The Cricket Club
The Band of Hope
The Boys Life Brigade
The Boys' Brigade
pages 23 to 38
The Young Leaguers' Union
The Dramatic Society
Listed, (those with *, below) but without accompanying text :
* The Sick and Burial society
* The Cottage Meetings
* The Sisterhood and Minister's Class
* The Ladies' Circle
* The Ladies' Fellowship
* The Church Choir
* The Guilds and Youth Fellowship
* The Juvenile Missionary Association
The Film Unit (started in 1958)
Shaw Methodist Day Schools
Headmasters of the Day School
Sunday School Attendances
The Sunday School Today
Memorial and Thanksgiving Bazaar, 1920
Shaw Wesleyan Senior Scholars' Party, 1900
Letter from America
* Ministers who have served on the Oldham Circuit, and later the Shaw & Royton Circuit, from 1791 HERE
Link to Oldham HRG page and ... "fundraising to build an Institute in memory of the servicemen who had served and died in WW1"
This book is an autobiographical 'Souvenir of the Memorial and Thanksgiving Bazaar' held at the St. Paul's, Wesleyan Schools, Shaw, Feb. 1920.