The following was written as a Celebration of 150 years of Methodism in Baildon
It is quite remarkable that within only two years of the conversion of John Wesley the movement he founded should have reached Baildon resulting in the formation of a Methodist Society and over two hundred and fifty years of continuous witness to the Gospel in the village and district.
No written history, especially one which of necessity must be as brief, can record all that has happened in that time or do justice to the loyal service and commitment to their Lord of each successive generation. The best one could hope to do is to afford us a brief glimpse of the highlights of a long and noble history and Hazel and Lorna Whiteley’s contribution, and their band of helpers, have done that extremely well.
This is a reminder to us of the pragmatism of thousands of loyal Methodists who have taken seriously their charge to glorify God and serve their own age, constantly adapting themselves to the changing needs of the society in which they lived. It is also a challenge to us, for we too are called to glorify the same God they glorified by adapting ourselves to serve the needs of the people of Baildon today. Only be accepting this challenge can our celebrations be worthy of the
BAILDONS FIRST METHODISTS
When our present church was opened in 1890 the reason given for selecting that particular year for the replacement of the old chapel was to celebrate the 150th anniversary of the coming of Methodism to Baildon. According to Mr Charles Burrell, the local historian of last century and secretary of the Baildon trustees, this happened in the year 1740, the first meetings being held in private houses and later in a building in Browgate, now an Italian restaurant.
Baildon was at that time part of the great Haworth Round and the Rev William Grimshaw, Vicar of Haworth at that time and a staunch friend and supporter of John Wesley, referred in a letter of 1744 to there being Methodists in Baildon.
In the year 1747, a young woman was taking a very active part in carrying on the work here, but she died while young of “consumption2, as it was then known. John Nelson in 1750 in his report as to how the work was progressing in his circuit, names a young woman, a member of the Baildon Society, who for three years, and “lived in a justified state and had closed a life of active service by a triumphant death”.
In the early days the curate of Baildon was hostile to the Moravians and Methodists and invited the colliers living in the village to seize the preachers and put them in a pond. One Scottish preacher, William Damey, did indeed suffer violence at their hands. The local people became so incensed by his words that they ducked him in Sandals Pond to cool his ardour.
Forty years after the start of the society, Baildon Methodists took exception to the doctrines preached by the Vicar of Baildon. They were exhorted by John Wesley to attend their parish church notwithstanding the views of the clergy in charge. Being blunt Yorkshiremen they rebelled against this and the matter was referred to Conference. Conference advised them not to make a man an offender for a word, adding “If it does not hurt you, hear him. If it does, refrain. Be determined by your own conscience”.
Wesley in Baildon
John Wesley preached at Baildon on four occasions. The first was on August 23rd 1748 at one o’clock in the afternoon. Later the same day he preached at Bradford and recorded in his diary that on this occasion “none behaved indecently save the curate of the parish”.
By his second visit on July 27th the society had 38 members out of a then population of about 1500. This time Wesley preached in the churchyard, as the parish church would not contain all the congregation. He recorded that the wind was extremely high and blew in his face all the time. On his third visit on July 19th John Wesley dined at Baildon, then preached and afterwards went on to Otley to preach again. He was 81 years old on his final visit on July 22nd 1786. He arrived at Baildon by chaise and tradition has it that he preached from the upper window of the house in Browgate.
Joshua Briggs, the great Sunday School pioneer, in a pamphlet of 1788, states that a school had been started in Baildon, adding that the children of Baildon were much corrupted in their manners and morals. This seems to have been started as a result of Wesleys third visit, after which a consultation took place in the village and sixteen men offered their services as teachers.
The school appeared to have been held in the house at Browgate, occupied by Mr Samuel Rhodes, who also ran his grocery business in the same premises. It was at the time still being used as a dissenting preaching house. This must have caused considerable overcrowding and not surprisingly the society and school removed to a building in Binns Well Fold, later converted into two cottages. This area was named after John Binns, one of Baildons first Methodists.
A document in the possession of the Parish Church states that at a time after 1811 there were 500 children in attendance, not all of them Methodists. The Rev. Joseph Sutcliff was minister of the Baildon Society about this time. According to Charles Burrell he entered the ministry in 1786 and served the church for 70 years.
Rev. John Pollitt, who left in 1889, seems to have been a favourite minister. They invited him to preach at the dedication of the present Church, when he refused but sent £1 to the Building Fund. This was a generous donation, considering that the minister 15 years later was paid only £90 per year. Mr Pollitt returned to the Circuit in 1897 at Superintendent and was Baildons minister again.
Another popular men was Rev. R A Jones, a supply minister in 1913-14. He was later given invitations to the Circuit on two occasions, but was unable to accept. Rev. T Henry Ranns (1914-1915) disliked Baildon and said so – in the Methodist Recorder. A stormy Circuit Quarterly Meeting followed. Mr Ranns was not present.
The first Baildon Methodist Church was opened in 1806 and its beginnings and end were equally marked by near catastrophe. For the first 66 years meetings had been held in the houses or any building that was available and large enough to contain the congregation, but in the early years of last century it was decided to build a Wesleyan Chapel and land was purchased from Ann Hollings for this purpose in Binswell Fold.
The cost of the building was £800, for this represented a very large sum in those days and much sacrificial giving would have been called for from the tradesmen and small shopkeepers who formed the greater part of the congregation. The pulpit of this old church was sited near the present vestibule and faced north and a large gallery provided a fair proportion of the total seating capacity of about 400.
A frightening incident took place in the new chapel at a crowded service. Traditionally this happened at the opening service itself, but Charles Burrell places it at a special service held very soon afterwards.
The Careless Builder
The Rev. John Womersley was preaching, when one of the pillars supporting the gallery, which had apparently not been properly fixed into its socket, was suddenly driven home with a loud crash with the weight of the people above it. In spite of assurances from the pulpit that there was no danger, the congregation left in panic, believing that the church was about to collapse. It was necessary to adjourn to the top of Westgate and finish the service there. Very little is known about the life of this old church, but we do have records of the names of two of its caretakers. In 1887 it was recorded that Will Greenwood was appointed chapel keeper in place of his father, the late Mr T Greenwood, at an annual salary of £18.
One tale survives, however, to illustrate the typically Yorkshire thrift and dour humour of the congregation. It is recorded that the Baildon worshippers were greatly displeased with inferior quality of the preachers sent to them by the Shipley Circuit to which they belonged. One of the leading members at the time was an old worthy named Bentley. On one particular Sunday evening in the candlelit chapel the preacher had been unusually dull and long-winded. Old Bentley got very fidgety and when, after a discourse already an hour long, the local preacher said, “And now, my friends, I will proceed to deal with the third point”, he jumped up in disgust. “Tha’ll do nowt o’t’ sort lad,” he exclaimed. “Tha’rt not addin’ anny more t’ candle brass!” At that he proceeded to blow out all the candles.
Mrs Hilda La Page possesses an old programme for the final services on Sunday March 16th 1890, shortly before the church was demolished.
On this occasion the Rev Charles Crawshaw preached in the morning. In the afternoon, a service of sacred song entitled ‘John Nelson’ was given. The choir and scholars, we are told, presented a picture of Methodism 140 years before, with connective readings by the Rev. W H Clogg. The evening service was taken by Mr James Boocock, the grand old man of local Methodism, who at that time had been a Baildon local preacher for 52 years. Naturally a collection was taken for the Chapel Building Fund.
In the late 1800’s there appears to have been discussions as to whether the church should be renovated, or demolished and rebuilt, but eventually it was decided not to renovate. The reasons for clearing away the old church and building the present one on its site seem to have been twofold. More seating accommodation was required and in addition the building was found to be infested with dry rot. The extent of the rot did not become apparent until the building was in the process of being pulled down. It was then found that the state of the gallery in particular was such that had the trustees been aware of the full position they would not have risked allowing so many people up there at the packed final services. The last tradition belonging to this old building was that its rotten timbers were purloined by people from Westgate and the surrounding folds to keep them supplied with firewood during the coming months.
Before the 1880’s the Circuit had only one minister, but there was about a dozen local preachers, filling the plan must have presented problems and this was solved by staggering service times. Baildon met at 10.30am. James Boocock went on trial on December 31 1838 and was accepted as a fully accredited local preacher on October 7 the following year.
Baptisms was almost always performed by the minister, but funerals were often taken by local preachers. James Boocock did much of the pastoral work at Baildon. There was one baptism register for the Circuit, but in the late 1850’s a separate one was started for Baildon, probably by James Boocock.
Two membership lists exist for Baildon in the 1820’s. The 1825 list gives 90 members and the class leaders were John Brook, James Bentley, Benjamin Coates, Thomas Hall and James Galloway. The last class became the Tong Park Society the following year. John Brook was the principal office holder in the last 1700’s and early 1800’s.
FROM SLATES TO STAR CARDS
175 Years of Sunday School work at Baildon
The cottages facing onto the church garden and known to Baildon folk as “Chapel Houses” were built in 1815. The two nearest to Westgate were erected by public subscription, as a plaque over the door of one of them still declares, ‘to be used as a Sunday School under the direction of the Wesleyan Methodists, but to admit teachers and scholars of all denominations’.
Originally there was an upper entrance reached by a flight of steps, which can be seen in the above sketch, but these were pulled down when the building was converted into living accommodation. The third cottage was a later addition.
For some years this was the only Sunday School in the village and children came to it from as far afield as Esholt and Hawksworth.
This school in course of time gave rise to others in the area, including the Moravian, Primitive Methodist and Baildon Green Methodist, which were all established between 1824 and 1834. Anyone going backwards in time to one of these early Sunday Schools would find striking contrasts with those to which we are now used. A large part of the time was devoted to secular instruction and at the time of the opening of our present Church there must have been many people in Baildon who received their only lessons in reading and writing in this old building. Books were scarce and expensive. The Catechism, Watts’ Hymns and a scanty supply of Bibles and Testaments usually formed the whole teaching stock.
Baildon was more fortunate than many other places in having a purpose built school. It was not unusual at this time to find Sunday Schools held in the spare room of a cottage, in a back kitchen, or the out-building of some farmhouse. As other denominations gradually provided their own schools Wesleyan children began to predominate in Binswell Fold. Only the first floor was then used and the ground floor became a cottage and day school.
The day school opened in 1871 and later in the same year building started on new premises adjoining the chapel to accommodate both this and the Sunday School. The Superintendents were Matthias Ellison, James Roe, James Boocock, Robinson Moore and John Lancaster. David Bentley was secretary.
Probably the most notable event in the life of the Sunday School last century was the celebration on Baildon Green on September 4 1880, to mark the centenary of the Sunday School movement. All the Schools in the town met at Lane End and walked in procession to the Baildon Green Cricket Ground, headed by the Baildon Temperance Band. The numbers of scholars and teachers taking part were Baildon Parish Church and three Mission Churches, 456; Charlestown Wesleyan, 241; Baildon Primitive Methodist, 220; Baildon Wesleyan, 208; Moravians, 172; Baildon Green Wesleyan and Christian Brethren, 132; Charlestown Baptist, 92 and Moorside Primitive Methodist, 81. Spectators have been variously estimated at 5000 and 8000.
In the early years of the present century it was felt that the 1871 Sunday School, with its two storeys, small assembly rooms and only three classrooms, was inadequate for the work being done at the time. On the suggestion of Mr John Reddihough, the trustees decided that the building should be pulled down and new premises erected on the site. This scheme was carried into effect in 1909 and the foundation stones of the new building were laid on May 22. It was opened by Mr J B Sleight of Manningham on December 4. This was the building known to most present day Methodists of this area and which was destroyed by fire in 1982.
A girl who attended Sunday School in the late 1950’s and 60’s, recalls the difference between then and now:
“…the Beginners met in the old choir vestry under Miss Clegg (now Stella Hird). The Primary were in the Guild Room under Hilda La Page, assisted by Alice Weightman and Monica Storey (now Monica Leyburn of Wrose)…”
“…in the corner of this room sat Margaret Whybrow marking star cards, yellow for girls and blue for boys. It was necessary to have a complete set of stars in order to get a first prize. I very much wanted to achieve this, but couldn’t. My parents insisted on going away for a fortnight’s holiday. Most of us did get a prize, however, which meant missing only three Sundays in the year”.“In the Juniors the boys sat on one side of the room and the girls on the other under different teachers. Mr Stuart Paul was in charge and we had Mr Derek Smith. Mr Tom Emmott took the boys until he became ill, when Mr George Terry, the pianist, was pressed into service…”
“…we went into church only four times in the year, in the afternoons for JMA, Church Anniversary and Harvest Festival and in the evening for Carol Service. On the first three of these there was always a tremendous amount of shuffling as we climbed up (or were lifted) on to the pews, to kneel and face the congregation whilst we sang…”
“…we had to keep so quiet all through the service it was possible to hear a pin drop. If anyone fidgeted or stopped their collection money, they would face trouble from both teachers and parents after the service…”
A CHURCH IS BORN
The old Chapel seated 400, but even so it was often impossible to find accommodation for everyone. Much of the seating was in a large gallery which extended round three sides of the interior and this was not felt to be ideal. The vestries were too small and dry rot was also suspected, although the extent of this did not become apparent until the building was demolished. In order to accommodate 450 people, mainly in the body of the Church, an additional plot of land was bought from the Baildon Industrial Co-operative Society. This land is the area on which the front part of the present Church and Sanctuary now stands.
A report from the architect, Mr Hubert Isitt, to a meeting of the Trustees, explained that the new building would be detached from the adjoining school, with a passageway between. The accommodation provided for 450 worshippers, 330 in the area and 120 in an end gallery. After the recent alterations the present Church is now designed to seat 310.
A large vestry ‘for the purposes of the Society’ and a minster’s vestry, with a lavatory attached, occupied positions at either side of the organ recess. The style adopted was an adaptation of the Romanesque, which contained the lighter details of the Gothic with the more convenient arrangements of the Italian style.
The principal feature of the front elevation was to be its centre gables. Vestibule windows on either side on the upper floor would be two-light traceried windows with a rose window in the centre of the gable, surmounted by corbelled weather tabling.
Internally, Mr Isitt described the effect as ‘somewhat unique’. The report of Mr Isitt was accepted and on May 3 1890, a stone laying ceremony was held. The proceedings were led by the minister of the Church, the Rev. Charles Crawshaw and the reading was given by the Circuit Superintendent, the Rev. William H Clogg. The Chairman of the Halifax and Bradford District, the Rev. Featherstone Kellett, was also present and it is interesting to note that in those insular days, the prayers were led by the Moravian minister, the Rev. J W Davey.
The corner stone was laid by Mr John Reddihough, who provided £735, half the cost of the building. This corner stone included a bottle in a central cavity, containing a copy of the Methodist Recorder, a copy of Joyful New Experience, a Circuit plan, the names of the Trustees and the Building Committee, a ‘short historical account of Baildon Wesleyan Methodism since 1740’ a ‘circular of that day’s proceedings’ and two copper coins. He was presented by Mr Charles Burrell, secretary of the Trustees, with a commemorative silver trowel and an oak mallet made from the wood of the old Church.
Mr John Denby, who had given £50, then laid the first memorial stone and was presented with his trowel and mallet by Mr Crawshaw. Mr James Boocock laid a stone on the right of the main entrance, after which the children who had been collecting for the Building Fund, placed their contributions on Mr Boocock’s stone. These amounted to £19.11s.1d. He was presented with a hymnbook and an oak mallet by Mr Pickles Constantine. The stones in the lintels of the door were laid by two ladies. Miss Thresh, who had given £10, received her presentation from the Superintendent and Miss Craig (£25) was presented with her trowel and mallet by Mr Crawshaw; Mr George H Hodgson (£10) by the District Chairman and Mr John H Beaver (£10) by Mr Joseph Curtis. After the collection was taken, an address was given by the Chairman of the District. Tea was served in the Sunday School, followed by a public meeting, at which Mr Thomas Craig presided. Proceeds for the day amounted to £170.
The opening service should have taken place on October 28. Various notable preachers were approached, including the President and Secretary of Conference. None were able to make this date, but the Secretary of Conference in his reply said that if the opening was moved to December 2 he would come. This was done and the Church was opened on that day at 3pm by Mrs Reddihough. The sermon at the Dedication Service was preached by the Rev. D J Waller, Secretary of Conference. The service was followed by tea in the Moravian Sunday School.
The total cost of the Church was £1470.4s. This was made up as follows : Mr Thomas Myers (mason) £595; Mr Deacon (joiner) £499; Mr R D Taylor (plumber) £134; Mr Hartley (slater) £80; Wilks & Sons (plasterers) £66.10s; Mr E W Walker (painted) £24; extra moulding in ceiling £15; architect £70; land and associated costs £36.14s.
Before building began the Church had received subscriptions or firm promises amounting to £904.2s. In addition to Mr Reddinhough’s £735, the subscribers included Mrs Burwin and Mr John H Beaver, £50 each; Mr Nutt, Mr P Constantine, Mr William Nutt and Mr Charles Burrell, £10 each; Miss Thresh and Mr Joseph Booth, £5 each; Mr Thomas Denbigh £3; Mr John Bentley £2.2s; Mr Davenport £2 and 12 donations of £1. Miss Craig’s £25 and the £50 from Mr Denby were not included in this list for some unexplained reason.
By the following year they had also received a number of additional subscriptions namely, Edward Holden, £50; Joseph Gill, £30; Alfred Benn, £5; Mr E Constantine, £5; two extra gifts of £1 and £1.17s in sundry small amounts. In addition, the architect gave £3. A few people made their donations in kind. Mr William Hardaker of Bank Walk provided the vestibule lamps. Mr W Newton of Bradford, gave the Chapel Hymn Book, presumably the pulpit book, although this is not clear.
Baildon’s first manse was leased in 1905 from a Miss Haley, who seemed an unsatisfactory landlord. Its location is uncertain. The first minister to occupy it was Rev. T Harold Mallinson, who stayed there two years. The Circuit Quarterly Meeting received continued complaints about its dampness and difficulties in regard to getting any remedial work done by Miss Haley. Rev T Henry Ranns complained that the dampness had made him ill.
When he left in 1915, the Circuit first leased and later purchased, 1 Rushcroft Terrace, as a Manse. This did not seem ideal either and the Quarterly Meeting received complaints about smoky chimneys. A new manse, 6 Moorland Avenue, was leased in late 1944 and Rev A I Young moved there. This was not large enough, had no study and was regarded as temporary accommodation.
In 1951 the owner gave the Circuit notice to quit, as she wished to sell when Rev W J Robson left in 1952. Despite great efforts it was not possible to find a suitable house and eventually it was decided to build on the site of part of the church tennis courts in Cecil Avenue. This Manse cost £4000, of which £700 came from the proceeds of sale of 1 Rushcroft Terrace. Building was complete in 1955 and Rev. Stanley Crowther moved there from Moorland Avenue. The patient owner had allowed the Church to remain there for three years after the notice to quit had expired.
HE GAVE HIS TIME
Harry Robinson, the Baildon chemist who died in the 1950’s at the age of 101, once said a common sight in the town during his youth was a man walking up the entry to the Wesleyan Church, wearing an overall which he removed at the vestry door before going in. It was James Boocock, the grocer and warp dresser of Westgate and the leading local preacher of the day, who was on his way to conduct a funeral.
Described by Mr Robinson as ‘a charming old man’ he occupied the shoe shop, now the premises of K and B Brewster. His warp dressing activities were carried on in the room upstairs where he and his family also slept.
He was noted for keeping his bible under the counter and pulling it out to read when he had a little spare time. His shop was also his living room and in it he kept a parrot. He had no shop bell, but if he was engaged in his textile work and a customer walked in, this bird was trained to call out “Shop, Boocock” and Jim would come hurrying downstairs.
Jim was probably the most prominent man of his day in the Shipley Circuit and almost certainly the only person to merit a black mourning border to the minutes of the Trustees’ Meeting recording his death.
He began his work for the Church at the age of 14 and from then until his death in 1895 at the age of 86, he served as a Sunday School teacher. For many years he was Sunday School superintendent, a chapel steward and a trustee. He was a class leader for 64 years, but it was as a local preacher that he was chiefly known. For 57 years he preached not only at Wesleyan churches, but for other denominations as well. In this he adopted a more modern outlook than his Superintendent minister, as the following correspondence indicates.
In 1851 Jim wrote to the Superintendent, the Rev. Samuel Allen, “The purport of this note is to say that if you have not sent your new plan to print, be so kind as to erase my name from it unless you can grant me the liberty of preaching to any section of the Church that may request me, when not appointed on your plan. I have preached a few times for the Ranters and am invited to visit them again, I wish neither you nor me any trouble after it”. To this Samuel Allen replied that he was unable to accede to the conditions required and had therefore left the name of James Boocock off the forthcoming plan.
He was not back on the plan until 1860, but from then until shortly before his death, he preached with great regularity. He was in greater demand by the bereaved to conduct funeral services than the regular ministers. This was borne out a few years ago when Mr Arthur Whitaker examined the funeral register prior to the closing of the burial ground. He found that for 50 years every entry was in Jim Boocock’s hand until there came a sudden change. The funeral in question was Jim’s own. Possibly the greatest measure of the esteem in which he was held as a preacher was shown by the programme for the final services in the old Chapel. The crowded evening service, the last to be held in that Church, was taken by James Boocock.
HE GAVE HIS MITE
At the opening of the new Church he was invited to lay the principal foundation stone. At the time he was stated to be the poorest man in Baildon and he was able to provide only five shillings as a donation to the Building Fund. The seven people invited to lay foundation stones were each presented with a mallet made from oak taken from the old Church. Six were also given silver trowels, but Jim received a hymn book instead (probably at his own request). For a few days before the foundation stone laying these items were displayed to the public in the windows of the Baildon Co-operative Society’s shop.
Jim was a familiar figure at the Trustees’ Meetings, but his attendance ceased altogether after February 18 1893. Presumably he was too feeble after that to get there, as these were not always held in Baildon.
After his death a public subscription was organised by Charles Burrell and John Reddihough, secretary and treasurer of the Trustees’ Meeting, to erect a memorial stone in Jims’ honour. This raised so much that in addition to a fine marble tablet, they were also able to enlarge his gravestone in front of the Church and have it inscribed.
The memorial hung on the centre panel of the West wall of the Church until the renovations took place.
HE GAVE HIS TALENTS
John Reddihough of Beech Mount, Baildon, who laid the corner stone of the present Church building, was a man who not only performed sterling service to the Wesleyan Methodist community, but was their most generous patron. He gave the Building Fund a subscription of £735, which was half the total cost. In addition, the stone of which the Church is constructed, came from his quarry free, on the sole condition that they filled in the space. He had not always been in such prosperous circumstances. He was born in 1841 at Oxenhope, the son of a farmer and became a ‘bound’ apprentice to a tailor until he reached the age of 21. This probably gave him the experience of cloth which caused him to become so astute a man in the wool trade later on.
Shortly after he had completed his apprenticeship he started his own wool business in a small way and under his expert management it grew until he was counted as one of the most successful among Bradford’s wool men in the heyday of the industry. John Reddihough was treasurer to the Church Trustees from February 1889 until February 1903, a period which covered the building scheme. From 1987 until 1890 he also served as chapel steward. His generosity was not confined to spectacular giving, but as old records show he was ready with gifts on a number of occasions. John La Page once recalled that when the Methodist Hymnbook of 1904 was published, John Reddihough provided each member of the choir with a music edition.
One item of correspondence still in existence suggests an occasion when he helped the Church out of an embarrassing situation. After the building of the 1909 Sunday School the architects sent several letters pointing out that their fee had not been paid. Shortly afterwards a receipt was sent for this money made out personally to John Reddihough.
His death took place in October 1924, at the age of 83. Charles Edward Burrell, secretary to the Trustees from March 1886 to February 1902, covering the time of the building of the Church, was another greatly respected man in Methodism at this date. He lived at 11 Westfield Terrace and is described as a traveller by occupation.
His name is constantly found in various capacities in records of this period and his subscription of £10 towards the Building Fund was amongst the ten highest to be received. He was chapel steward from February 1882 to March 1885.
In addition to his work for the Church, Charles Burrell was also well known as the local historian of his day. The records kept in his various capacities are the most reliable surviving from this time and without them much of this book could not have been written.
100 LIVELY YEARS
Heyday of the Bazaar. When £1,000 was needed to pay off the debt on the £2,200 Sunday School built in 1909, an ambitious three day event, the Grand Floral Bazaar, took place on January 12, 13 and 15 of the following year. Each day had its opening ceremony, at which the openers were supported by an impressive platform party. The stall represented different flowers and were presumably decorated with paper representations of these, it being January. In the guidebook a description of each stall was accompanied by a suitable quotation, together with certain quips such as, “The ladies, so amiable in themselves, are never so amiable as when they have something to sell”.
In addition, ice-cream, afternoon tea, suppers, café meals and refreshments each had a separate committee allotted to them. There was also a coffee and smoke room and a post office from which items could be despatched to any person in the building, at the price of one penny. Different concerts and entertainments took place from 4.30 to 9.15 on the first two days and no fewer than six entertainments followed each other from 3.45 to 9.45 on Saturday. This stupendous effort raised £481.4s a sum which represented riches in those days. As a balance of £500 still remained to be paid in 1913, another three day effort, a Dutch Village Bazaar, was held in November. No more money-making efforts for the Sunday School seem to have been held, so it is possible that this bazaar was equally successful. So elaborate were the decorations on these occasions, that the well-known local joiners, Fawcett and Halliday, charged nearly £11 for putting them up. Printing costs of a 40 page brochure containing a number of pictures, were only £2.15s.3d.
When the Church was again in financial difficulties in 1955, the Big Top Bazaar was held in a Church Hall decorated to represent a Circus Tent. On this occasion an additional £250 a year was needed to run the Church, as well as £1,900 for repairs and decorations. In connection with this event many members of the congregation contributed to the production of a cookery book. The Church finances were put on a less problematical basis in 1963, after the first Christian Stewardship campaign.
Parade Services: The Scout Troop began in 1922 and the Guides 12 years later. The monthly parade services started on Young People’s day, October 20 1946. They were found to be so successful that more such services were planned and they are now a regular monthly event.
People’s Services: An innovation introduced by Rev. Bernard Marks was the evening People’s Services, held monthly during the winter. These became extremely popular and on occasions the Church was filled for them. Subject matter varied. One year members of lesser known sects, such as Jehovah’s Witnesses and Christadelphians, were invited to speak and answer questions. Another season films were shown. Sometimes Mr Marks answered questions from the congregation.
Old Folks’ Party: One of the oldest traditions of the Church is to start the season of Christmas festivities with an old folks’ party. This very well attended event takes place in November and a dedicated committee works towards it for most of the year. After a meal, an evening’s entertainment, usually combining the nostalgic with the hilarious, takes place. Prizes are awarded to the oldest man and woman and to the longest married couple. For many years Mrs Hilda La Page has opened her house for a day’s bring and buy sale and social gathering in aid of this event.
The Lean Years: Like every other Church at the time Westgate Methodists as well as Browgate had many of their younger men leave them for war service. Both Churches supported the War Effort and many events took place in aid of the Comforts’ Fund. When the men returned the two Churches had amalgamated. On September 28 1946 they were officially welcomed home at a reunion in the Church Hall, at which the minister, Rev. A I Young and Mr Thomas Bottomley, acted as hosts. A meal, sumptuous for the time, was served, consisting of soup, cold meat and Russian salad, followed by fruit tart and cream. An entertainment followed. During the war Baildon received a quota of children from the Channel Islands, many of whom made firm friendships with their hosts. When they returned in late 1945, the Sunday School kept in touch with them, sending them Christmas cards and prizes to any who were entitled to them.
In the cold winter of 1946-47, which was also a time of extreme fuel shortage, the Church and its organisations were badly affected. To save fuel services were held in the Hall and the Junior and Senior Departments of the Sunday School met in Towngate Rooms. In 1947 the Brownies had to postpone their meetings. The Guides met at the home of their leader, Moira Wood and although it was not possible to hold all of the normal Guide activities, some continuity was preserved. Many of the small meetings took place in the homes of members of the congregation and it became the custom for those attending to bring a piece of coal with them.
By 1947 the situation eased, but food rationing was found to be a problem where the youth organisations were concerned. Rev. W J Robson obtained a catering licence for use by them and this was administered by Mrs Jean Withy. This allowed them to share a weekly ration of half a pound of tea, a pound of margarine, one and a half pounds of sugar, a pound of jam, 12 points (which could be spent on canned goods) and some potatoes.
Sisterhood Saga: The most successful organisation for women run by the Church is the weekly Sisterhood meeting. From its start in 1929 to the present day it has not changed its principal aim and remains largely devotional. A few speakers on other matters, such as Red Cross, are occasionally invited and donations given, but the main body of the annual programme takes the form of services. The founder vice-president was Mrs Mary Emily Dale and she remained in this office until 1949. Other officers of the early days were Mrs Frank Reddihough and Mrs Thomas Butterfield.
Mrs Ada Wilson, who has been a Sisterhood member since 1934, recalls her introduction to it as a young mother in her early twenties. She had lived in Baildon for only a few weeks when her husband’s aunt and a friend came to afternoon tea. The friend was Mrs Dale and over the thinly cut cucumber sandwiches served on the best china, she invited Ada to a Sisterhood meeting. She found the Guild Room filled with about 50 women of various ages. In those days few married women went out to work, so there were some there of a similar age to herself. Mrs Dale introduced her to Mrs Kathleen Marshall, Mrs Annie Whitaker and Mrs Olive Brear.
Recalling the annual Sisterhood Sundays Ada says, “The ladies ran the service themselves and always had a women preacher. Some of the members formed a choir and other led prayers, announced hymns and read lessons”.
“Mrs Reddihough, formerly Sarah Mountain, was a tremendous character, with boundless energy and ideas. During the War she provided us with knitting wool and needles and encouraged us to knit for the Comforts’ Fund. She formed some of us into group reading parties and rehearsed us herself for Sisterhood entertainments”.
Ada who is now secretary of the Sisterhood herself, says the membership has remained fairly constant over the years. At the beginning of 1989 they had 60 members with an average attendance of between 40 and 50. “We have always been non-denominational” she says. “We have members who are Moravians and Anglicans and people come from over a wide area to the annual rally. Last year’s had 93 present, with visitors from the three Anglican Churches, the Moravians, Baildon Green Independent Methodists, Charlestown Ladies’ Meeting, Wrose, Windhill and Crag Road Methodists, the Salvation Army and Westcliffe Road Chapel”.
When I got a little older I asked my mother why we must continue to attend Browgate Church. All my friends from school went to Westgate and I wanted to go there too. Although she was a Wesleyan by birth, my mother would not allow it. She said Browgate was a struggling church and we had a duty to support it. This was true. The Wesleyans had a number of wealthy members and a good deal of support in the town. They never seemed to be unable to get anything they wanted. This was not so with Browgate. Most of our members were not in a position to give lavishly to the church and we would have been unable to run at all if it had not been for the money raising efforts we held.
Mr Albert Laverack was one of our members. He ran the Church orchestra and we used to hire the Moravian Sunday School and give musical entertainments. Our own schoolroom was not suitable for these as the stage ran lengthwise down the room and a substantial portion of the audience could not see what was going on. Tom Tetley played and flute and a great number of us took part. I remember that we once gave a musical show called “The Mandarin”, which seemed to be a simplified version of “The Mikado” My mother and Mrs Willie Clegg (Stella Hird’s mother) made the costumes.
We were in the Shipley Primitive Methodist Circuit, which also included Windhill and Saltaire Road, but when Methodist Union came about in 1933 we shared a minister with Westgate. Mrs Gibbins, the minister’s wife, started a Girl’s League at Westgate and she invited the Browgate girls as well. I was one who went. It was the War that eventually caused Browgate to be unable to continue. Mr Laverack was a conscientious objector and he disagreed with the decision of the church to support the war effort. He left us and joined the Quakers and without him we were not able to stage such ambitious entertainments to raise money.
To make matters worse our Sunday School was requisitioned and an Army unit was billeted there. This meant that we had no accommodation except the church itself. The heating arrangements were in the Sunday School underneath the church, so we often found we have no heating either, as the soldiers usually forgot to put it on for us. They were very noisy at times and sometimes disturbed the sermon by chopping wood and other activities.
Finally we closed in 1944 and joined the former Wesleyans at Westgate. I did not mind too much as I had many friends there and was used to going there for social occasions, but a lot of the Browgate people were very bitter. We lost a number of our prominent members, who never came back to the church on a regular basis. There was a lively social life at Westgate at this time, but during the war many of our meetings were held in private houses. There was the blackout to contend with and some of the members did not like meeting at church in the evenings in case of aid raids, as there was no telephone at church. About 40 people attended meetings of Women’s Work. There was a monthly meeting of the British Women’s Total Abstinence Union, of which Mrs Hannah Bentley was secretary. There was an Old Folk’s Party Committee which is still going, in which Mrs Bertha Brooke and her daughter, Mrs Alice Weightman, played large parts.
There was the Men’s Fireside, which became the Church Fellowship when it began to admit women. There was an active Wesley Guild and the Sisterhood, as well as a number of occasional social events. Oddly enough practically none of the old Wesleyan families are left at Westgate, but several of the prominent Primitive families are still very much in evidence there. As far back as we have been able to trace Baildon has had only two ministers sharing a surname – Rev. Benjamin Gartside (1848-50) and minister Rev. James Gartside.
ORGANS, CHOIRS AND ORATORIOS
The only item to be transferred from the old church to the present one was the organ. This has been described by those who knew it as a fine instrument. It was installed in 1866, but only two items seem to be known about the 24 years before its transfer to the present building. One was that the organist was a Miss Constantine, who resigned that position in 1884 and the other was that the following year a Mr Nicholson was engaged to keep the organ in order. It is not know for certain who built this organ, but it is believed that the woodwork was made by a firm of joiners named Robinson. According to John La Page their workshop was in Northgate, but was eventually demolished to make way for a new road.
At the time of the building of the present church we are on firmer ground. During building operations it was taken for enlargement and renovation to the firm of Laycock and Bannister, organ builders, at a cost of £45. A joiner named Robinson (probably the same firm as did the original work) was paid £15; Bagnall’s £2.6s for painting; and a Mr Hent and two apprentices were paid £4 for some unspecified work in connection with the instrument. As a gift Mr Raphael Ambler paid for the cost of transporting it to and from the organ builders.
After the installation in the new Church an organ recital was given by Joseph Clough of Bradford Festival Choral Society, on October 22 1891, to celebrate the event. As the infestation of dry rot in 1981 was discovered in the area of the organ and choir stalls, it is tempting to speculate whether the seeds of the trouble had not been originally carried in some way by the instrument. It continued to be used until 1915, when a new organ was presented to the church by Mr Thomas Butterfield. As many will remember it bore a brass plate commemorating this. The present organ, one of the most sophisticated electronic instruments at the time of its purchase, was installed after the renovation of a few years ago.
In the hundred years of its life the Church has had only four organists. Mr A Sanderson succeeded Miss Constantine. He was followed shortly afterwards by Mr Levi Thorpe, who continued to serve until the 1920’s. In the programme for a three day bazaar held in 1910, he is also described as choirmaster and is billed as conductor of a Gipsy Chorus Party, who performed a completely different programme each day. He was followed by Mr Wilfred Bentley, who continued as organist until 1956, when he was forced to resign under tragic circumstances. He became deaf very suddenly during rehearsals of “Daughter of Jairus” which was being performed in the Church. During the final practice he turned abruptly to Mr Ronald Wood, then a choir member and exclaimed, “Th’ll ‘a to do it, lad. I can hear nowt but a low jangle”.
Thus at two days notice and without having played the music before, Ronald took over as organist. Until shortly before that it had been the custom to have a choirmaster as well as organist. He recalled that his first memory was of Harold Lister in this capacity, during the 1930’s. He was followed by Arthur Cordingley, a very fine tenor soloist, who remained until shortly after the War, when he left to become a Cathedral chorister in the South of England. He was succeeded by Merlin Bennett. Ronald looks back wistfully to the days when Baildon had a really good choir. “We used to give parts of the ‘Messiah’, ‘Creation’ and ‘Olivet to Calvary’, he recalls. “We also regularly sang anthems and introits in Church”.
At one time it was not unusual to perform cantatas at anniversary, when the choir was joined by a junior choir, rehearsed by Miss Connie Mountain. Sometimes they would organise music festivals in connection with these events.
During the War concerts were held in the Guild Room in aid of the Comforts’ Fund, at which Arthur Cordingley’s solos were a popular item.
On Christmas morning, 1988, Ronald, who was organist at Crag Road Methodist Church and Saltaire Congregational Church before taking over at Baildon, was presented with a Methodist Church Music Society Long Service Certificate for over forty years as a church organist.
In recent years he has been assisted by Roy Copley, who also trains and conducts a Young People’s Band, which is now becoming a regular feature at some of the services. The arch over the organ recess was at one time painted blue and inscribed in gold lettering in Gothic script, “O Thou that hearest prayer, unto Thee shall all flesh come”. One Sunday School child whiled away sermon time by trying to read this, feeling that to do so would be the height of scholarship. A few more letters became legible each time and at last, at the age of nine, the entire quotation could be read. But alas, education did not stop there!
When the Methodist Service Book was published in 1975, rev. Ralph Fennell, the Chairman of the West Yorkshire District, was asked to conduct a Sunday service including Communion from this book, to be transmitted on ITV’s programme Morning Service. Mr Fennell chose Baildon as his venue and the event took place on February 2. A large congregation assembled at 9.30am on a warm morning, ready for the service, which was transmitted live at 9.55am.
The service was conducted by Mr Fennell, who also preached and Margaret Parker and Derrick Whybrow read the lessons. The 12 communicants had been selected beforehand from the best attenders at both morning and evening services and represented different age groups of the congregation, from John La Page in his 80’s, to two members of the Youth Fellowship. The bread and wine were carried in from the back of the Church by Jean Lorrain Smith and Helen Benson.
THE PHOENIX EXPERIENCE
With the arrival at Baildon in September 1980 of the Rev. Ian Lewis, the Church entered a period which was to prove as traumatic as any in its history. It began at the Church Council meeting of that autumn with a discussion on the suitability of the premises for the work they wished to do and a small Forward Planning Committee was appointed to look into the matter and report back to the Church Council in March the following year. In the meanwhile a serious outbreak of dry rot was discovered in December and it was realised that a major task to restructuring and renovation was in store.
A full structural survey of the building was made and architects were commissioned to prepare a choice of possible schemes. One of these, at an estimated cost of £150,000 was accepted and at the March meeting the Forward Planning Committee was enlarged into the Building Committee and reconstruction work began. The entire Church building was reduced to a shell to deal with the dry rot. The ceiling was lowered to conserve heat and the balcony was removed along with the organ, choir stalls, pulpit and communion area. The whole of the work was complete by May 25.
Work then began on demolishing the Guild Room, part of the choir vestry and the front of the Church Hall. The intervening area between Church and Hall became the Link area.
The dedication of the Church and the opening ceremony of the Link, the culmination of the scheme which by now had reached a proposed cost of £170,000, was scheduled for Saturday, December 4. In the early hours of the previous Monday a fire swept through the Church Hall, gutting the building, destroying much of the materials and church property stored then and rendering the structure unsafe. It was decided to go ahead with the opening ceremony nevertheless and ironically this took place just 73 years to the dry and hour, from the opening and dedication of the burned Sunday School, on December 4 1909.
When the result was assessed it was found that the Fire Service had managed to restrict the blaze so that damage to the new built Link Area was minimal, mainly from smoke and minor problems with the roof. The Building Committee now turned their immediate attention to the task of building a new wing to replace the old. Plans and estimates were presented to the Church Council on March 2 1983 and the rebuilding began on June 27. By the following spring the work was completed and a dedication of the new community centre was held on April 7 1984.
Somehow the money was raised. For over two years efforts were constantly held in aid of the Building Fund. There was a massive sale at Bradford Wool Exchange; there were gift days, bring and buy sales, coffee mornings, talent schemes. People sold apple pies and craft items, went on sponsored walks, faster on sponsored slims, made up for it on home made cakes, cleaned cars, played beetle, guessed the names of dogs, dolls and chickens and above all gave generously to the Building Fund. Fortunately, the Church Hall was adequately insured so that money had only to be raised to cover the cost of the Church and Link Area. Grants were received from the Joseph Rank Benevolent Trust, £25,000; Methodist Church Division of Property, £3,500; Circuit Advance Fund, £5,000; D.I.A.L (Bradford), £350.
Three cottages, two of them the town’s original Sunday School, were sold, the pews were sold to a church in America and the organ was also sold, a total of £26,000. Donations totalled a magnificent £49,000; adults’ efforts raised £6,000 and efforts by children and young people brought in £1,000. With a tax rebate of £3,000 and interest of £2,500, this brought the amount raised at the time of the opening ceremony to £124,000. The rest of the money needed came in during the year and the Building Fund was officially closed on December 31 1984.
Very little of the old Church woodwork remains. The front of the balcony and part of the front of the choir stalls were used to form the panelling in the Sanctuary area; the doors to the Quiet Room and the office were the original doors from the back of the Church leading to the entrance; the pulpit and communion table were made by John Schofield from wood from the pews; and three handsome chairs, recovered to match, are from the old Church.
The Link Centre is now part of the life of the town. People, many of them non-Methodists, meet friends there for coffee or light meals. All the principal Churches in the town are represented on the Link Management Committee and have a big voice in its functioning.
Organised activities of various kinds take place there daily. There is a writing class, an aural history group, a keep fit session, a bookstall, under the Rev. Mark Bishop of the Parish Church, a knitting group and an art group. There are sessions where advice can be obtained on supplementary benefits, a group for women aimed at broadening the outlooks, entitled “As We Are” and a mother and toddler group and many other activities.
50 YEARS OF DRAMA
The War, which prevented the Church from doing justice to its Jubilee in 1940, was the direct cause of the start of its Drama Group, who are 50 years old this year. Hilda La Page, Rayner Tetley and Donald Bottomley decided to help the Comforts’ Fund and got together a small group to present a comedy, “Someone at the Door”. The proceeds were shared with the Trust. From this beginning arose the Westgate Drama Group, now one of the foremost dramatic societies in the area.
In the spring of 1989 they won the Yorkshire Post Cup at the Bradford Theatre Guild Drama Festival, for their production of the one act play, “The Big Cats”. In the previous year Peter Jackson and Peter Berry, two of their members, were jointly presented with the Best Actor award. Ian Morton, who has been connected with the Drama Group since his teens, recalls the days when there was also a Junior Dramatic Society. His first play was in March 1949, when Derrick Whybrow and Brian Galling were also in the cast. They gave three one act plays. This junior group put on some ambitious productions, including “The Wandering Jew”, in which David Wildman played the Jew.
In December 1950 the junior and senior groups merged, as it was felt they were to some extent in competition. Some of the youngsters who graduated to the senior society are still mainstays of the Drama Group today.
Most of the highlights of the past took place in the old Church Hall, where there was a good stage, adequate dressing-room facilities and storage and a large auditorium, but even here certain problems were presented Ian recalls in 1954, during a performance of “The Suspect”, Ronnie Vaudin suddenly noticed an axe, wanted on stage during a scene taking place at that moment. He seized it, went under the stage, used as storage space by the Church, packed with trestle tables and crisscrossed with electric wiring, crawled through the dust and around the objects in the dark, reached up at the appropriate place and put the axe on stage just as Greta Lodge bent down to snatch it.
In the following year the Group put on a difficult programme, which caused problems with the different scenes. This was three one act plays, the first in a cottage room, the second in a cheap café and the third on a desert island. The problem was overcome by having three sets of flats clipped on to each other, so that during the intervals these could be removed one by one.
Other plays that stand out included “Miranda” in which David Wildman’s set was worthy of the professional stage. It also involved real ‘rain’ from a hosepipe, which called for great accuracy on the part of behind the scene workers. There was “The White Sheep of the Family” in which Brian Galling played a master burglar and was criticised for lending himself to the part and “Bell, Book and Candle” in which Rita May played one of her finest roles as the 20th Century witch, only weeks before her tragic death.
Of all the many and varied parts Ian has played, the one he hated most was in “Isle of Umbrellas” where he played the Greek God, Hermes, returned to earth as the guest of a modern family. “I hated the costume most of all,” he says. “It made me feel a complete fool”. None of the audience was able to tell how he felt. Ian, so keen an actor that he spent his honeymoon learning his lines – and left the book behind in Spain – says the part he most enjoyed was the Butler in “Lord Arthur Saville’s Crime” a costume play given in the present hall.
It is quite remarkable that within only two years of the conversion of John Wesley the movement he founded should have reached Baildon resulting in the formation of a Methodist Society and two hundred and fifty years of continuous witness to the Gospel in the village and district. Actors are wary of stage food. Ian has been served sausages coated with marmalade, George Brown was once given green ginger instead of Ribena and Derrick Whybrow biscuits spread with mustard.
Overcoming surprise without letting the audience realise, is all part of the game, as is covering mistakes of other actors. Ian remembers one religious drama in which an actor had to rush on stage and in his speech announce that Jesus had been arrested. He forgot to say this. Thinking of a plausible reason for everyone hurrying off taxed the ingenuity of the rest of the cast.
ORIGINAL CRAFT DESIGNS
Visitors to the Church cannot fail to notice a striking tapestry panel hanging on the wall opposite the organ. This is one of several pieces of unusual needlework which have not only been made but individually designed for the Church. The panel was a group project. It was designed by Mrs Audrey Lewis, wife of the then minister, for the refurbished Church after renovations caused by a major infestation of dry rot. Audrey prepared six designs which were brought to a service. The congregation were invited to view them and select their preference by voting.
The one chosen is a symbolic representation of the various aspects of the life and aspirations of the church community. Mrs Margaret Harrison worked out a scheme for the stitchery and superintended the work, which was carried out by twenty-four members of the congregation, including four boys. Finally it was stretched, framed and hung by Mr Walter Walker.
This panel has attracted much attention from people outside Baildon. It has been photographed for various publications and has been exhibited at a West Yorkshire District Arts and Crafts Day. The Church also possesses two fine Communion cloths. The smaller of these was made by Mrs Bertha Brooke and presented in her memory by her daughter, Mrs Alice Weightman. A crochet border depicting bunches of grapes surrounds a centre of Richelieu embroidery.
The other cloth was originally owned by Browgate Primitive Methodist Church, who received it as a gift from Polly Holmes. The outer border of Bedfordshire bobbin lace is an elaborate variant of the pattern known as Running River or Tree of Tallies and dates from about 1860. The present centre, which is believed to be at least the third to be mounted on the lace border, contains four Bedfordshire motifs, designed and made by Lorna Whiteley, using stitches copied from the original lace. Two of the panels depict Celtic crosses and two are pictorial representations of the Church’s chalice.
Mrs Margaret Harrison is designing a set of frontals for the Communion table, to represent the different seasons of the church year. These are being worked as a group project by members of the congregation and will serve as a permanent reminder of the Centenary.
When Ada Wilson taught in the Sunday School she was once taken to task by a mother for teaching unsuitable matter, the “Lino Song”. Ada denied knowing a song about Linoleum. Next week as the children sang, she heard, “I am smalL I kNOw” and the Lino Song was identified.
It was a sultry day for Anniversary and when the Primary filed on the platform for their contribution one boy was overcome by the warmth. He took off his jacket and finding this was not enough, his pullover and tie. Just as he was starting on his braces, Mrs Alice Weightman arose and the service was halted as with accusing finger outstretched, she called, “Enough. Stop that!” The strip tease act ended abruptly.
The afternoon service at one Anniversary was completely disrupted by a five year old. Lorna Whiteley, now a district committee member of the Methodist Church Music Society, but then newly arrived in the Primary, decided she did not like the hymn they were to sing. Mrs Ida Thompson began to play the piano introduction to “Jesus, friend of little children”, but before she had quite finished was interrupted by a loud rendering of “We plough the fields and scatter”. Amidst titters Rev. John Atkinson tapped the rostrum and said “Someone seems to have mistaken the festival”. Despite Hilda La Page’s whispered lecture the same thing happened again twice. Pandemonium broke out when two Primary children began to cry and Juniors and Seniors rocked with laughter. Order was finally restored by John Atkinson announcing the next hymn.
Margaret Gill was illustrating to the Beginners the pleasures of doing things together. She brought some biscuit dough, which the children rolled and shaped with cutters in the form of Scotties. The biscuits were then baked ready for the “feast”. At the end of the session the parents were greeted with, “We’ve been eating dog biscuits”. The mothers were not amused.
A senior Baildon local preacher got up one Sunday with a migraine attach. He staggered to the telephone to get a substitute to take his morning service at Saltaire. After several calls he could only find a young local preacher on trial. As the day wore on his condition improved and when in the late afternoon friends arrived unexpectedly he was feeling himself again. During a convivial evening he answered a knock at the door to a background of conversation and laughter. It was two ladies from Saltaire with the Church flowers.
In 1905 the Shipley Circuit Meeting requested Conference to appoint a third Minister to the Circuit to take pastoral charge of the “Baildon and Shipley churches” and a Minister was duly sent that September. From this point on the position is quite clear. Before that information rests on who acted as regular Chairman of the Trustees’ Meeting, the Minute Book for which is still available back to 1880, but at this time there is a much greater fluidity than is the case later, for example, Rev W H Clogg and Rev. C Crawshaw were both Ministers in the Circuit during the same period.
1877-1880 George Dickinson (S)
1880-1883 William Jessop
1883-1884 Theo S Gregory
1884-1885 T Ogden Taylor
1885-1889 John Pollitt
1889-1891 Charles Crawshaw
1891-1892 William H Clogg (S)
1892-1895 Joseph Hammond
1895-1897 Thomas B Harrowell
1897-1900 John Pollitt (S)
1900-1903 Silvester Whitehead (S)
1903-1905 W J Marris (S)
1905-1907 T Harold Mallinson, BA
1907-1910 John Heaton
1910-1913 William Partridge
1913-1914 Lorenzo Daniels (who was ill throughout his time in the Circuit and Conference sent Rev R A Jones as a supply Minister
1914-1915 T Henry Ranns
1915-1918 John Shenton
1918-1921 Ernest J Nuttall
1921-1924 John Goldsborough
1924-1927 Edwin A Spear (S)
1927-1929 M L Foyle
1929-1932 Bert Adcock
1932-1935 Gerald L Gibbins
1935-1940 Donald G Brook, MC
1940-1943 George W Harrison
1943-1947 A Iestyn Young
1947-1952 William J Robson
1952-1957 Stanley Crowther BA. BD
1957-1960 John H Atkinson MA
1960-1967 Bernard P Marks BA. BD
1967-1974 David A Clarkson MA
1974-1979 Frank Smith (S)
1979-1980 G Rodney Hugman (S)
1980-1987 Ian W Lewis (S)
1987-1991 James Gartside (S)
1991-1994 George Kime
1994-2006 Graham Smith
2006-2007 Brian Brown (supplemented by Demetris Palos for 3 months)
200-2012 Alistair Newton (S)
2012-2014 Team Ministry: Nick Blundell, Ian Griffiths, Sara Jemison, Phil Drake
2014-2015 Team Ministry: Nick Blundell, Phil Drake, Christine Crabtree
2015> Team Ministry: Nick Blundell, Phil Drake, Christine Crabtree, Andrew Taylor (Baptist)
(S) Denotes a Minister who was also the Circuit Superintendent.