St Paul's Methodist Church, Shaw

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History

Old Chapel Building

Older Chapel Building on the Same Site


In 1811 the Wesleyan Methodists started a Sunday school in a room over the Woolpack Inn, now demolished, which stood on the site of Boots in Market Street. In 1815 a Methodist chapel was built on the current Rochdale Road site. The foundation stone was laid by Mr James Cheetham on 22nd June 1815 and the building opened a year later on 16th June 1816. It was named Bethel and was used as both a Sunday school and chapel.

In 1831 the foundation stone was laid for a new Sunday school building at the rear of the chapel. On Sunday 26th February 1832 boys were taught in the lower school room for the first time. The upper part of the school was occupied as cottages for about six years until 1838, when the upper storey was opened as a girls' school. By 1842 a Wesleyan Day School operated in this building. During the next two decades it developed into a thriving day school with more than 200 children on the role. Only with the Education Act 1870 was universal education introduced and not until 1880 was attendance until age 12 made compulsory. The site has since been shared by the church and school until Easter 1975.

A larger replacement chapel was erected in 1863, and a replacement school was built in 1872 at a cost of 1920. A three storey extension was added in 1886 at a cost of 1138. Other buildings were later added to the West side of the site. A single storey day and Sunday school was built in the early 1900's for infants and primary children. The Institute was built in 1923 as a memorial of the First World War.

In 1932 the Wesleyans, the Primitive Methodists and the United Methodists joined together to form the Methodist Church of Great Britain. The day school was renamed Shaw Methodist School and the church and Sunday school adopted the name of St Paul's. When other local Methodist churches closed, Refuge Street in 1957 and Grains Road ("Nook") in 1964, St Paul's extended a warm welcome to their members and scholars to transfer and fully share with them. Similarly a few members came from Luzley Brook, Royton in the early 1960s.

In the period 1974 - 1976 the Crompton Way by-pass was built. Five cottages on Rochdale Road adjoining St Paul's and owned by the church were cleared. The council required a boys' playground area (next to the present rear car park) for the new road. In exchange they gave the church some of the cleared area in Rochdale Road and half a street width of King Albert St.

For some time up to 1974 Lancashire Education Committee had considered building a new school to replace the existing one. As the date for the new school approached, the church had to consider the option of moving its Sunday school to share the new school buildings. In view of the distance from the church and possible restraints on Sunday school use, the church trustees decided against moving the Sunday school. In Easter 1975 the staff and children of the day school moved to the new "Beal Vale Junior School" in Glebe Street.

The church now had the expense, previously shared with the Education Authority, of maintaining all the buildings on the site. So a decision was made in 1975 to close the chapel building and make the hall a dual purpose room. Services continued without interruption in the hall while refurbishments were made. These included removal of the church organ and using the cleared area as a chancel (or sanctuary) area, moving four stained glass windows from the chapel to the hall and sanctuary and constructing a new two story foyer giving access to a new entrance to the hall. The adapted building was dedicated to its new use as a place for worship, preaching, recreation, fellowship and service and was officially opened on the 17th June 1976 by Mr R M Butterworth.

In the late 1980's the church hall was enlarged by moving the stage backwards. At the same time a mezzanine floor was added below the stage, creating two new rooms. A new entrance was created on Rochdale Road with a glazed passageway leading to the church hall. A lift and disabled toilet were added and the kitchen remodelled.