We currently do not have any images of Stubshaw Cross Independent Methodist Church in our archives. If you have any photographs that we could use, please contact our Archivist at the Registered Office address. Thank you.
Formed in 1854 in “Cottage Meetings” this church has since had three buildings on its current site. It is still there today.
We hold no archive materials in relation to this church.
|Year||Page in Magazine|
|1855||Minority Minutes 24|
|1856||Minority Minutes 18|
|1857||Minority Minutes 14, ZT4 (chapel opened)|
|1858||ZTJan 8, Minority Minutes 17|
|1859||Minority Minutes 16|
|1860||Minority Minutes 13|
|1878||14, 38, 48, 100, 328|
|1883||14, 58, 141, 178, 221, 308, 424|
|1884||69, 104, 141, 178, 225|
|1885||13, 264, 419|
|1907||187 (stonelaying), 228|
|1924||15, 73, 93, 178|
|1925||92, 110, 215|
|1926||151, 167, 188, 206, 223|
|1927||14, 31, 50|
|1929||17, 58, 119|
|1933||75, 107, 145|
|1953||92 (fruitful mission with E. James)|
|1957||20 (centenary – his. account)|
|1979||5-11 (chapel demolished)|
|1981||3-1 and 5-1 and 6-3 (new chapel), 9-4|
|1982||1-15 (Rita Nightingale visit), 10-5, 10-13|
|1984||5-12 (children’s mission)|
|1986||1-12, 6-12, 7-14, 10-4|
|1992||1-2, 6-5, 9-13|
|2003||1-1 (Anglican link)|
|2006||5-5, 8-1, 12-12|
|Name||Year||Page in Magazine|
|Kathleen||Greenall||2008||May P 10|
|Cyril||Catterall||2013||Jun P 11|
From 1854 to 1857 “Cottage Meetings” were held in the homes of various people under the leadership of Ralph and Hannah Tunstall. As these meetings grew in number, it was necessary to build the first church building. Ralph Tunstall became the first Superintendent of the Sunday School and also the first President of the church, and under his leadership the work of God prospered. However, after his death in 1875, apathy seems to have prevailed and in an attempt to revive interest the church members successfully applied for the church to be transferred from the Warrington to the Wigan circuit. That the spiritual life of the church had reached rock bottom at this time is evidenced by the fact that the church was actually offered for sale. By a phenomenal effort by such stalwarts of Independent Methodism as Richard Lee, Thomas Worthington, James Trickett and Will Price the church recovered its former spiritual life.
An important milestone in the church’s life was reached in 1898 when it was placed on the Model Trust Deed. In the last three years of the 19th century, Mission Services were frequently held and conducted by such evangelists as Miss Clara Green and Mr R B Woods. The result of these Missions was a spiritual revival and, to quote from the Wigan Circuit’s Half Yearly Book of May, 1901, “The spiritual revival continued with great strength and earnestness and remelted its solid additions to the strength of the church, both in numbers and resourcefulness. The efforts being made during the period of this report have been carried forward with determination and zeal, and served several whose characters were previously of unenviable distinction in the village and are now added to the church and are proving of much assistance and encouragement in the work.”
The second church building was built on the same site in 1907 at a cost of £594. At the opening ceremony in the new church, Greenough Street Choir gave us a musical service. It seems that the musical reputation of our church had still not been established at this time since in 1908 it was found necessary, when arranging musical services, to invite the choirs of such churches as Stubshaw Cross Primitive Methodist, Lowton Common, Low Green and Spring View Independent Methodists. However it was not long before we formed our own choir and it sang in the very churches which once helped. It was at this time that the choir started the practice of visiting Gerard Hall to sing Christmas carols to Lord and Lady Gerard – an annual event, which was repeated later with the brass band accompanying the choir every year until Lord and Lady Gerard died. Stubshaw Cross was the only choir to have this honour, and this is a favourable reflection on the high standard of the choir in view of the fact that Lord and Lady Gerard were devout Roman Catholics. The brass band was formed in 1908 and gave unbounded pleasure to those who listened to it and to those who played in it, and had it not been for the depression of the 1930’s, it might conceivably have been in existence today.
The fact that on the 13th November 1918, the Lord’s prayer was sung for the first time in the church may mean nothing to most people but it was, nevertheless significant, since the spirit of strict puritanism lived a long time in some of the nonconformist churches and they held out a long time against the practice of putting the Lord’s Prayer to music. What must have been even more shocking to the puritans was the formation of our own football club two years later! The Dedication of the new pipe organ in our second church in 1919 was sufficiently important to warrant special services on three consecutive Sundays including the Anniversary Sunday.
The present generation can be proud of our church’s practical Christianity during the general strikes of 1921 and 1926. During both of these strikes money was borrowed from the Wigan Circuit and from Bryn Gates Co-operative Society in order to supply food to those who were going hungry as a result of unemployment. A local farmer, Mr. Wilfred Cowell, generously loaned his pony and cart so that the food could be distributed to the houses.
On November 13th 1949, a wall plaque in memory of those connected with our Church who gave their lives in the Second World War was unveiled by Mr John Woods who himself served in the Armed Forces during the war. It commemorates Leslie Markland, killed in Italy; Sydney Thompson, killed in North Africa, and Wilfred Abbott, killed in the air over France. Had Wilfred Abbott lived he would probably have been our first Minister. This honour, however, went to one of his own generation, Miss Jean Tunstall, who, incidentally, is a descendant of Ralph and Hannah Tunstall.
The future of the second church looked very secure in the hands of a generation already engaged in christian work, and a good Sunday School with a capable teaching staff being trained under the leadership of the Superintendent Mr J W Gill. The Elders of the church in their wisdom and guided by God obtained the Mineral Rights of our church, therefore any structural damage caused by mining became the responsibility of the National Coal Board. Strict records were kept by both parties on different areas of the building. The Fellowship enjoyed a wonderful time of blessing. The Lord had blessed it with an abundance of musical talents which they rejoiced in using. On Anniversary and Harvest Services the church would be filled to capacity, and one year the service was actually relayed to an overflow congregation accommodated in the Sunday School. It was from one such service in 1946 that the “Ashton Victory Male Voice Choir” was formed under the leadership of one of the many fine Welshmen in the area at the time, Mr. Tudor Jones. The church was the first in the Wigan Circuit to introduce John W. Peterson’s music to the area when in 1967 the choir sang “Night of Miracles” to a packed Church, Mr. J. R. Gill being the conductor.
However, over a period of a few years we suddenly found ourselves, like many other Churches, losing a number of good faithful, hard-working members – pillars of the Church whose devoted service we shall never forget. The young people who were expected to fill the positions were unfortunately lost through varying circumstances, mostly, they married and moved to other areas and churches. The Church suffered very badly both spiritually and structurally, the Lord was surely testing the faith of his people. There were still times of rejoicing like the night all the Churches in the area were invited to select their favourite hymn, and a packed church sang the “Top Ten” favourite hymns, a wonderful night.
The Sunday School won the Scripture Exam Circuit Cup for three consecutive years even though the church was going through a period of lean years. When the members fell to below ten the circuit was asked for help. A team came and talked to the church members, encouraging them to carry on. An appeal was made to members whose loyalty had grown cold but the response was not encouraging. However, the decision to close the church was forced upon the members when it became very clear that the building had become unsafe, and the premises could not be insured. The last service was held on Sunday 14th January 1979 at 6pm as Mr G Wright led in a sad but joyous evening. The church rejoiced in the knowledge that it had served the community well for 71 years.
By this time, the church had called upon the expert knowledge and experience of Architect and Planning Consultant, Mr W G Burrows. It was not very long before the combined efforts of Mr W G Burrows and Mr H Smalley gave the wonderful news that the National Coal Board had accepted full responsibility for the structural damage to the church and a promise of compensation which would enable the construction of a new church building. One condition the National Coal Board did specify was that the church fellowship continued whilst the old building was demolished and a new one built. At this point, friends from Bolton Road Baptist Church very kindly offered the use of their premises on Sunday afternoon and at any time we wished for other meetings. There help over two years enabled the fellowship to continue whilst a new building was constructed on our current site.
On 31st March 1981, the new building was unveiled and opened by our eldest, and most loyal member, Mrs J Gill.