Bakewell Bridge

History of Methodism in Bakewell

Building the Chapel

           The site of the present chapel was previously occupied by Messrs. Norman and Groom's timber works which subsequently moved to Coombs Road.  The chapel bears the date 1866, the year when the building commenced, and it and the adjoining school premises were opened on the 4th June, 1867 by the then President of Conference the Reverend William Arthur M.A. author of 'Tongues of Fire'. The new chapel was known as the Bunting Memorial Chapel. The minutes of meetings of trustees have been preserved from after the opening to the present day and from these it has been possible to glean something of the history of the chapel, its witness over the years and the early financial difficulties with which it was beset.

          The first of these minutes, of a meeting held on May 8th 1868 records an offer of 200 (a very significant amount at that time) by Mr George Smith for the old chapel.  It proved a real hardship for the Church to clear the debt for the rebuilding but in the minutes of the Trustees in February 1878 it was reported that the entire balance of the loan owed to the Chapel Committee had been paid. A minute of 1876 says 'an earnest conversation took place in reference to the trespass and damage to which the premises have been hitherto subject, something we are well aware of today.

The interior of the Church as it was in the late 1920s

          On October 31st 1932, the Trustees, consequent upon the act of union of the Primitive and Wesleyan Methodist Churches, were asked to decide on a distinctive name for the Church. It was agreed that the name 'Bakewell Wesley Methodist Church' should be adopted and this name has persisted to the present.

Wesleyan Church Bakewell

           During the 1939/45 War the Church played its full part in looking after the spiritual and social needs of the members of H.M. Forces.who were stationed in the town. Many of our members provided a home from home for them and large numbers joined in worship with us.

           As a result of the receipt of a bequest by George Norman of Patricroft in Manchester whose parents are commemorated on the memorial tablet in the Church vestibule, an extensive modernisation scheme was undertaken including the provision of two vestries at the front of the Sanctuary, a new pulpit, a new cloakroom and toilet, new communion furnishings, an alteration to the position of the organ and several other modifications. During the renovation, most Sunday services took place in the Court Room at the Town Hall with the remainder at the Parish Church.  The modifications to the front of the Sanctuary are shown in the picture below.

 Church Interior before 1980s alterations

          The manse is shown in the following picture taken in approximately 1967, with the Rev N Holden at the front.

          After 100 years at the Church, in 1967 a new Bakewell Methodist Junior School was built at Stoney Close and shortly afterwards the scholars and staff moved to the new building.  The Bakewell Methodist School on the Church site, before the move to the new building at Stoney Close, is shown in the following two photos taken in approximately 1966. The teacher shown in the first of the two photos is Mr J Dunsford, who was the headteacher at the school for many years, and who still worships at Bakewell Methodist Church today.


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