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Methodists in Linslade

 Old Road Primitive Methodist church around 1980 [Z1432/2/13/5/16]
Old Road Primitive Methodist church around 1980 [Z1432/2/13/5/16]

The Primitive Methodist chapel in Linslade formed part of the Leighton Buzzard Circuit. Bedfordshire and Luton Archives and Records Service has a good number of records relating to the Primitive Methodist circuit and to its Methodist successor after the Primitive and Wesleyan Methodists joined together to form the Methodist Church of Great Britain in 1932. However, the service does not have very much material relating to the chapel in Linslade.

Site of Primitive Methodist Chapel in Old Road October 2008
Site of Primitive Methodist Chapel in Old Road October 2008

The service does not even have records of registrations of the chapel, as it does with other nonconformist chapels from the 18th to the early 20th century, because at the time Linslade was in Buckinghamshire and registration would have occurred at the Buckinghamshire Quarter Sessions or with the Archdeaconry of Buckingham. It is possible that the Centre for Buckinghamshire Studies has records. There is a history of the chapel on a Clutch Club site put together in connection with Greenleas Lower School. The original site of the Primitive Methodist chapel was in Old Road as shown on the map above. It closed about 1940 and was demolished at the end of the century.

Dance hall plan 1927
Dance hall plan 1927 [MB268]

The service does have a file of correspondence from the 1950s [MB268] which tells the story of the new chapel in Mentmore Road. At the end of 1954 it was decided to investigate acquiring a new church in Linslade. Evidently Linslade Methodists went elsewhere to worship, it may be imagined that most would have gone to Leighton Buzzard. It was decided to "purchase a Hall which was built just before the war as a dance and concert hall and during the war was used as a factory". The building was renovated in 1955.

Dance hall front and rear elevations 1927
Dance hall front and rear elevations 1927 [MB268]

The file of correspondence has an article sent to the Methodist Recorder about the opening of the new chapel: "The Leighton Buzzard Circuit made history recently not only because a new church was opened, but the important news item is that the building was built just before the war as a dance and concert hall, this is the reverse of the usual trend".

Dance hall side elevation 1927
Dance hall side elevation 1927 [MB268]

"When a committee first met some 18 months ago in the building to consider its use, they were surrounded by thousands of snake, crocodile and lizard skins etc. for it has been used as a store etc. by a firm who processes them elsewhere in preparation to beautifying ladies' apparel and accoutrements".

Dance hall at the time of the first negotiations 1954
Dance hall at the time of the first negotiations 1954 [MB1597]

"The church is situated in Linslade which is in Buckinghamshire, twin town to Leighton Buzzard, itself in Beds, there was a Methodist Church in this town but it had to close at the beginning of the war and the building sold as it was in a very bad state of repair. The town has since developed particularly near the new Church and for just over 2 years a Sunday School has been meeting in the local Youth Club, this now numbers 40. An evening service has also been held in the Youth Club during the past year, this nucleus of almost unattatched people are now worshipping in the new church and there is already a great amount of interest in the district, it proves the point that it is sometimes good for an old church to die, to be reborn and revitalised at some later date around a new scheme and surroundings".

New chapel plan of front of building 1954
New chapel plan of front of building 1954 [MB268]

"The Door opening Ceremony on Saturday 17th March 1956 was very graciously performed by a very active lady worker in the Circuit, Mrs.H.M.Mallett, and the dedicatio nservice ws conducted by Rev.L.O.Brooker, Chairman of the District, who in his usual breezy and forthright style referred to the new church as Ninevah, who had been fostered and put on its feet by the mother church at Hockliffe St, supported by the whole Circuit, urging the necessity for Linslade to now play its full part in the Circuit life".

New chapel plan of rear of building 1954
New chapel plan of rear of building 1954 [MB268]

"The building has been divided by a sliding screen and the Church portion which has been very appropriately and thoughtfully designed by the architect Mr.H.A.Rolls normally seats about 100, but the opening was so well supported by the whole circuit that the screen had to be opened to allow another 150 in the school room section to take part in the service. A willing band of local ladies provided tea in the L.E.A. [Local Education Authority] Youth Club".

Design of communion table 1954
Design of communion table 1954 [MB268]

"The Chairman for the evening meeting was Mr.H.Guy Chester who in the stimulating manner which so characterized his year as Vice-President exhorted his hearers to link up with God in all things, Rev.L.O.Brooker also gave a challenging address and brought greetings from the district. Mr.J.J.Pilson, Chairman of the U.D.C. as a member of the Church of England welcomed the advent of another source of religious instruction in the town, greetings were also expressed by one of the Circuit Stewards Mr.T.Gadsden and Rev.Albert Cowell, Stewkley Circuit".

"The Circuit Minister Rev.H.G.Rolls, Superintendent, and Rev.F.Evison, also took part as did the Hockliffe Street Choir, the Treasurer Mr.R.Griffin, gave a very satisfactory report showing the total cost of the scheme as £4,400.0.0. and after indicating that the total received for the day was £138.0.0. making a total of approximately £1,000.0.0. in the town and district during the last 12 months £1,645.0.0. from investments with the Chapel Committee (Sale of Old Chapels) and £1,150.0.0. grants, he said the debt now stood at £556.0.0.".

"A feature of the whole scheme has been the willing co-operation of the whole circuit and particularly the loans amounting to £1,235.0.0., £860.0.0. of whichis free of interest, offered by 6 members in the circuit and 6 other trustees, this has saved a large amount of bank interest".

Committee in the dance hall 1954
Committee in the dance hall 1954 [MB1597]

The committee members in the photograph are as follows, left to right: Walter Ernest Thompson of Southcourt Avenue; Mrs.Joyce Dorothy Horwood of Chelsea Green; Rev.F.Evison; Ronald James Griffin of Grove Road, Leighton Buzzard; Mrs.Edith Daniel of New Road; Rev.H.G.Rolls; Claude Hitchens of Plantation Road, Leighton Buzzard; Jack Austen Griffin of Albany Road, Leighton Buzzard; Cyril William Dean of Mentmore Road and Walter Erenest Watson of The Old Thatched Cottage, Southcott. The pohtograph was taken by another member of the committee, Hubert George Griffin of Southcourt Avenue. Reginald Arhur Thompson of Southcourt Avenue was also on the committee. Other members of the trust were: Herbert Henry Darty of Mentmore Road; Florence Nellie Horwood of New Road; Denis Alfred Bignell of Clarence Road, Leighton Buzzard; Frank Ira John Bowerman of South Street, Leighton Buzzard; Isaac Theodore Elijah Gadsen of Grove Farm, Stoke Hammond; Annie Fyson of New Road; Geoffrey William Sibley of Billington Road, Leighton Buzzard; Peter Robert Venn of Overend Green Farm, Heath and Reach; Guy Cox of Hill View, Stoke Hammond; Stanley Archer George Bliss of Chapel Square, Stewkley; George Archer of Totternhoe Road, Eaton Bray; Stanley Webster of The Green; William Alfred Scott of Apesfield Farm, Woburn and Raymond Vivian Willis of Vandyke Road, Leighton Buzzard.

In 1956 the chapel donated a small harmonium to the chapel in Walkhampton [Devon] which was reopening after it had been gutted by fire. It is clear from correspondence that in 1957 and 1958 there were negotiations to allow Buckinghamshire County Council to rent the Sunday School portion of the chapel in order to ease the cramped conditions at Linslade County Junior School. Frustratingly, however, the file ends without a clear decision having been made.

Mentmore Road Methodist Chapel October 2008
Mentmore Road Methodist Chapel October 2008

At the time of writing [2013] the Methodist Chapel in Mentmore Road is part of the South Bedfordshire Methodist Circuit. The congregation is small and predominantly elderly. Worship is at 10.30am on Sundays where you will receive a warm welcome. The current Minister is Rev Nigel Wright. They have a Website which gives more information www.linslademethodist.org.uk.