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Park Town Primitive Methodist Church Luton

Park Town chapel [MB2444]
Park Town chapel [MB2444]

Park Town Primitive Methodist church was built in 1864 in Brache Street. The Bedfordshire Times reported on the foundation stone laying on 13th September as follows: “The ceremony of laying the foundation stone of a new place of worship was performed on Monday last by the Primitive Methodists of this town. The company assembled on the site of the new building, at the bottom of Park-street at three o’clock where, after a preliminary religious service had been gone through, and a few remarks made by the leading persons, appropriate to the occasion, the interesting ceremony of stone laying was performed by Messrs. Hunt, Hunter, Hopkins, Cox, Davis and Mrs. Hunter. The financial result of which was £35 15s., each person depositing his or her donation on the stone as it was laid. After singing the doxology the company proceeded to the large schoolroom of the chapel in High-town, where they partook of tea, and after tea, as a termination to the day’s proceedings, a public meeting was held in the chapel above mentioned. The audience, which was a large one, was addressed by the Revs. M. Wilson, T. Hands, J. R. Stevenson, Ashberry, Sharman and others. The speeches were of the usual interesting nature, relating more or less to the day’s proceeding. Upwards of £52 were collected during the day, including the amount laid on the different stones. The new building will cost £400, and is to accommodate between 300 and 400 people”.

Edwin Welch researched the history of registrations in Bedfordshire for Bedfordshire Historical Records Society Volume 75 Bedfordshire Chapels and Meeting Houses [published in 1996] found that the Primitive Methodist Chapel in Park Road, Park Street was registered on 28th November 1866 by Murray Wilson of Chapel House, High Town, minister. The chapel formed part of the Luton Primitive Circuit.

A detailed booklet was written for the chapel’s centenary in 1964 [MB2443]. A Sunday school room, costing £209, was opened in September 1876. In January 1877 the congregation formally adopted the name Park Town. In 1879 a new Primitive circuit – Luton II – was formed, based at Park Town. A manse was built next to the chapel in the early 1880s and in 1884 a gallery was added to the chapel.

Electric lighting was installed in 1927 [MB2443]. In 1928 two stained glass windows were installed. In 1930 the school room was renovated at a cost of £146. A Boys’ Brigade was formed in 1929 and a Girls’ Life Brigade in 1931.

In 1932 the Primitive Methodists came together with the Wesleyan and United Methodists to form The Methodist Church of Great Britain. The following year the five circuits in Luton (three Primitive, two Wesleyan) were reduced to two, Luton Circuit and the largely ex-Primitive High Town Circuit. Park town became part of the Luton Circuit. During World War Two the school room was commandeered by the Air Raid Precaution wardens and on 22nd November 1940 the buildings were damaged by German bombing. The damaged windows were not repaired until 1948 [MB2443].

The chapel was extended in 1958 at a cost of £2,000. The extra room was possible because of the gift of land at the rear of the chapel [MB2443]. Sadly the chapel did not have a long life left. In 1968 Mount Tabor church was sold and the congregation amalgamated with that of Park town.

At this time the houses in Brache Street, Wood Street, Bailey Street, Dorset Street and other streets in Park Town were being demolished and replaced by blocks of flats [MB2444]. A purpose-built community centre was planned on the corner of Strathmore Avenue and Kingsland Road to replace Park Town church which was compulsorily purchased by Luton Borough Council for demolition and in 1972 the church moved to that site.

Bedfordshire and Luton Archives and Records Service has the following records of Park Town:

  • MB1770: schedule of deeds: 1864-1965;
  • MB2439: conveyance to trustees: 1864;
  • MB732: Sunday School admission book and register: 1871-1874;
  • MB728: Trustees’ minute book: 1872-1893;
  • MB729: Leaders’ Meeting rough minute book: 1873-1902;
  • MB733: Sunday School admission book: 1875-1909;
  • MB2439: mortgage: 1876;
  • MB2439: appointment of new trustees: 1878;
  • MB735: Sunday School register: 1891-1893;
  • MB736: Sunday School register: 1893-1895;
  • MB2439: further advance on mortgage: 1894;
  • MB731: Sunday School cash book: 1894-1939;
  • MB737: Sunday School register: 1896-1903;
  • MB738: Sunday School attendance register: 1899;
  • MB2439: appointment of new trustees: 1899;
  • MB739: Sunday School attendance register: 1900;
  • MB740: Sunday School attendance register: 1901;
  • MB741: Sunday School attendance register: 1902;
  • MB742: Sunday School attendance register: 1903;
  • MB743: Sunday School attendance register: 1904;
  • MB744: Sunday School attendance register: 1904;
  • MB734: Sunday School admission book: 1904-1906;
  • MB730: Sunday School minute book: 1908-1961;
  • MB746: Band of Hope admission book: 1923-1930;
  • MB2439: appointment of new trustees: 1926;
  • MB745: Sunday School attendance register: 1928;
  • MB490: Trustees’ minute book: 1928-1972;
  • MB2438: baptism register: 1934-1971;
  • MB747: printed sheet: The Park Town Men: 1936;
  • MB2439: appointment of new trustees: 1937;
  • MB2439: adoption of new model deed: 1937;
  • MB3064: Trustees’ Treasurer’s account book: 1938-1973;
  • MB2439: appointment of new trustees: 1949;
  • MB2441: Guild minute book: 1949-1986;
  • MB2439: abstract of title to property in Kingsland Road: 1951;
  • MB2439: conveyance of property at the rear of 23-29 Kingsland Road: 1951;
  • MB2439: plan of proposed alterations to the church: 1956;
  • MB2440: Sunday School annual meeting minute book: 1962-1987;
  • MB2442: Centenary Committee minute book: 1962-1963;
  • MB2443: booklet: One Hundred Glorious Years 1864-1964: Park Town Methodist Church, Luton: 1964;
  • MB2439: appointment of new trustees: 1965;
  • MB2995: Leaders’ and Society Meetings minute book: 1965-1972;
  • MB2868: Methodist Trust schedule: 1966;
  • MB2869: enquiries to be made annually at Trustees’ meeting after audit: 1966;
  • MB3065: chapel accounts: 1966-1999;
  • MB491: newsletter regarding Park Town Redevelopment Scheme: 1967;
  • MB1770: compulsory purchase of the chapel in Park Town, erection of the new chapel in Strathmore Avenue and the organ: 1967-1974;
  • MB491: accounts: 1968;
  • MB491: newspaper cutting on closure of the church: c. 1968;
  • MB491: vote of Park Town and Mount Tabor to amalgamate: 1968
  • MB2439: sanction for sale of the old chapel premises: 1972;
  • MB1769 and 2444: booklet: On the Move – 1972 Souvenir, Park Town Methodist Church: 1972.