The original Centenary Wesleyan Chapel
The rebuilt Methodist church
Inside the church
The inside of the church after the 1996 refurbishment
In 1839, the centenary year of Wesleyan Methodism, the Wesleyan Society bought a plot of land on Queen Street and a year later the Centenary Wesleyan Chapel opened with Rev. John Rattenbury.
It had pews for 1500 and rooms below to be used as Sunday School and Society Class rooms. It was a busy church especially in summertime and well-loved by the community. It became the mother church to numerous other chapels built in the surrounding areas all part of the large circuit.
Unfortunately during the First World War the church roof,
organ and stained glass windows were badly damaged in a
German bombardment December 1914. Undaunted, the church
made the repairs and were ready to celebrate with an organ
recital on the 28th February 1915. However two days before,
disaster struck the church again, as a fire from the Boyes’
warehouse next door spread, and reduced the church to ashes.
After much fundraising and at a cost of £43,100 the new building was officially opened on Wednesday March 14th 1923. The opening ceremony had 2000 people in attendance in the forecourt.
The main hall of the church was made to seat 1237 people and had been designed to be used as a concert hall as well as a church.
The church looks very similar today, although a large refurbishment in the 90’s updated the lower hall and the main church, removing some chairs and adding curtains to give a cosier feel for smaller congregations.