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Toddington Primitive Methodists

The former Primitive chapel March 2016
The former Primitive chapel March 2016

A Primitive Methodist society is recorded in Toddington from 1843 when it appears in the records of the Luton Primitive Circuit. The first Primitive Methodist chapel was built in Duck Lane (later renamed Gas Street and now Conger Lane) in 1846 and was registered by Samuel Wells, a trustee, in 1854. On Sunday 30th March 1851 a census of all churches, chapels and preaching-houses of every denomination was undertaken in England and Wales. The Bedfordshire returns were compiled by David W. Bushby and published in 1975 as Bedfordshire Historical Record Society Volume 54. The return for the Primitive Methodists at Toddington was provided by Samuel Wells as Steward. The chapel could accommodate 238 people, with 117 free seats, 83 other seats and room for 28 standing. On the day of the census the general congregation amounted to 120 at the afternoon service and 166 in the evening, with 80 Sunday Scholars in the afternoon and 46 Sunday Scholars in the evening, giving a total of 200 and 212 at each service. This number was about average, and a comment was made on the return that "our congregations are generally about equal".

In 1866 Toddington was moved from Luton Primitive Circuit to the new Dunstable Primitive Circuit, which continued as the Dunstable Victoria Street Circuit after the unification of Wesleyan and Primitive Methodists in 1932. The original chapel was replaced by a larger one in Leighton Road in 1893, on a site to the west of the present day village hall. Bedfordshire Archives does not hold any records for this church. The Leighton Road Methodist Church was still open in August 1951 when the Bedfordshire Times records a trip by Sunday School children to Wicksteed Park. It seems likely that it closed soon after this date. The original chapel in Conger Lane is now the Toddington Amateur Dramatic Society theatre. The later chapel in Leighton Road has been demolished; the site is now part of the playing field of St. George's Lower School.

The Primitive Methodist Church about 1925 [Z1130-126-30]
The Primitive Methodist Church about 1925 [Z1130/126/30]