Methodist faiths grew as popular choice among manual labour work forces inside industrialised Midland regions. Origins within Huthwaite begin after Eleazor Boot's conversion into Wesleyanism towards 1807. But while his Wesleyan Church continued popular preachings, an outcast group split in 1849 following a personal dispute in regard to nonpayment of dues.
Led by John Tagg, a dissenting group of followers setup their own meetings in the house of Micah Sutton on Common Road. Their society grew and a Free Church took root meeting at an abandoned framesmiths shop in Hopkins Yard.
This group first purchased land in Main Street and on 23rd November 1856 their newly erected chapel was completed. Opening services conducted by William Bott of Wrexham brought followers who newly recognised a Free Wesleyan Church. The site once sat below Club Yard now accommodates housing, Oldest memories can only retell how that former building next functioned as the Gem House, the first resident theatrical picture house, then a garage.
A successful revival event was reportedly organised the following February 1857, helping to gain increasing popularity and membership. Their Main Street chapel served the faith until 1884, while making plans for newly siting a much larger building. A good sized plot of land was found when residentially forming Sherwood Street. Reportedly purchased 1880 for £100 by this religious society, through architects Messrs Ridge and Sharpe the proposed construction on this new Methodist chapel was planned to give seating capacity for upwards of 300.
On the afternoon of 24th June 1884, another reported laying of foundations had devotionally commenced construction for the newly renamed United Methodist Free Church. An excellent attendance rewarded with a public tea in the old chapel. Cost of building this fine church including an additional two vestries had totalled £750, by contractor Mr Shaw of Sutton Forest-Side.
Even more foundations were to be laid, next incorporating an 1890 Sunday school chapel extension. A list of funding donators reveals some notable members and interested names including the Duke of Portland and New Hucknall Colliery. Work recommenced 1891 adding Sunday School facilities, plus choir gallery leaving space for an organ at a combined cost of £400. Eventually, at an extra cost of £180, an instrument was first installed 1903.
The Wesleyan Free Church joined membership within a United Methodist Free Church that formed 1857. Smaller Methodist factions were also to become united by 1907. In 1932 the original Wesleyan Church also combined faiths with the Primitive Methodists under an existing United Methodists. Altogether these collectively formed what is now widely recognised as the Methodist Church.
The Sherwood Street chapel proved a popular venue for hosting local marriages, as our family album proves from 1966 marriage between my aunt Kay Elliott and Neil Fowler. Stood left is the brides mother Dora, while I, her grandson play the young role of page boy.
Being raised just a doors away we recall many families would turn out witnessing regular weekend celebrations, when the bride and groom would happily exit under a customary shower of coloured paper confetti. Orderly arranged family shots were usually framed by the fronting large wooden doors that first offered entrance. Afterwards the happy couples would be traditionally chauffeured away by horse drawn carriage, or their modern equivalent in a convoy of ribbon bonneted limousines. With a vast choice of licensed houses, the couple would arrive first to greet their guests to enjoy evening celebrations, before leaving early for a honeymoon vacation.
The dedication stones surrounding the original entrance were all dated 1904, identifying the various groups socially involved with this church. Lost from the present frontage with clean modern appearance than originally built, reflecting needed major renovation work around years 1980. The New Hucknall Colliery perhaps not anticipating any further church funding until, like many other residential properties, this suffered structural damage due to ground subsidence caused by miles of pit tunnelling.
Extensive internal restoration did disrupt ceremonies and regular services. But the work helped incorporate modern facilities, and busy need for car access points for the first time enabling off street parking within its walls. Much of this was successfully completed in time for marking the buildings centenary, officially reopened as Huthwaite Methodist Church on 9th June 1984. Service was conducted by Sister Gwen Bell and a Reverend Christopher Edwards preached sermon.
After long having two separate Methodist congregations in Huthwaite, the decision to merge both into one building caused great debate regarding choice of which popular chapel should continue conducting services. The fact such recent and extensive rework had already been done here suggests to me why the alternative Sutton Road chapel lost voters favour. Thanks to reader Mrs Enid Jones for supplying year 1991, dating when those historic Wesleyan Methodist congregations joined the Sherwood Street church.
Written 26 Oct 02 Revised 28 Jan 13 © by Gary Elliott