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Harrogate

The town grew in the nineteenth century into a spa and fashionable residential town, attracting the affluent of such towns as Leeds and Bradford. This was reflected in its public buildings and church congregations. From the mid-1840s it began to be linked to the national railway network: its first County Alderman, Richard Ellis, a member ot Victoria Park UMFC, was instrumental in bringing the North Eastern Railway to the town in the 1860s.

As early as 1753 a class was formed at Pannal, three miles south. This became a centre for evangelizing the surrounding villages, including Harrogate itself, where services were held in a blacksmith's shop in Keighley Road until a chapel was opened at High Harrogate in 1796-97. This was replaced by North Parade (1824) by Lockwood & Mawson of Bradford, which in turn was replaced by the present Wesley, an imposing Italianate design, in 1862. In 2014 it was one of two Methodist chapels to receive grants from the National Churches Trust for repairs and improvements to the premises. Trinity (1878) on the Stray is a fine Gothic building by G. Woodhouse of Bolton; its stained glas windows include one by Clayton & Bell. Harrogate became a circuit in 1857. Close to Trinity is Berwick Grange MHA, opened in 1946, the gift of Sir G.W. Martin.

A small PM society was formed in 1835, belonging to the Ripon Circuit. After very tentative beginnings, a chapel was opened in Westmoreland Street in 1855, replaced by an Italianite one in Mount Parade in 1872, which was succeeded in turn by the gothic Dragon Parade (1900, now demolished), a gothic building, which had a memorial to John Flesher. Its ministers included Edward McLellan (1918-21), B.Aquila Barber (1921-31), J.G. Bowran (1931-35) and Alfred L. Wigley (1947-52). A PM orphanage opened in Harrogate in 1907, the first two houses being a gift fromWilliam P. Hartley. It became part of the National Children\'s Home in 1934, following Methodist Union, but is now closed.

Wesleyan Reformers began holding services in the Town Hall in 1851, opening Salem chapel later that year. It was in the Leeds UMFC Circuit and was succeeded by Victoria Park (1865), a gothic building by I.H. Hurst of Bristol. Until its closure and subsequent demolition in the 1950s, it had close links with Ashville College; its sale helped extensions at Woodlands, Wetherby Road. The Harrogate UMFC circuit, formed in 1865, to which Harlow Hill was added in 1903, attracted some of the connexion's leading ministers, including Richard Chew and Andrew Crombie. Leadiing laymen connected with Victoria Park included Joseph Hepworth, Henry T. Mawson and John P. Mackintosh.

Sources

  • J. Barstow, Jubilee of Wesley Church, Harrogate: historical sketch, 1862-1912 (Harrogate, 1912)
  • T.E. Dawson, Wesley Chapel, Harrogate, 1862-1962 (Harrogate, 1962)
  • T. Sunderland, United Methodist Church, Victoria Park, Harrogate, Jubilee, 1865-1915 (1915)
  • A.L. Wigley, Dragon Parade Methodist Church, 1900-1950: souvenir handbook of the jubilee (Harrogate, 1950)
  • H.S. Hitchen, T.E. Dawson, and Judith A. Yeats, Celebrating 150 Years: the history of Wesley Chapel, Harrogate, 1862-1962 (Harrogate, 2012)

Entry written by: DCD
Category: Place

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