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Southport, Lancs.

Methodism has been present since the beginning of the town's development. Beginning as a cottage meeting in 1806, WM built a succession of chapels culminating in Mornington Road (1861; closed 1966), said to have been the first WM chapel with a spire, and Leyland Road (1880).

Methodism benefited from the generosity of several notable figures who retired to the town. John Fernley moved there from Manchester in 1857 and financed Trinity, Duke Street in 1864 (since 1978 part of Lord Street West United Church (URC and Methodist). He also financed Trinity Hall girls' school in 1872 and showed particular concern for the town's fishermen. William Greenhalgh and Michael Gutteridge provided much of the capital for the establishment of Wesley House, Cambridge. Dr Peter Wood was the town's first mayor.

The Methodist New Connexion opened Sugar Hill Chapel, Churchtown in 1816 and Manchester Road Church in 1874 (closed in the 1940's).

Primitive Methodism was brought to the town possibly by Thomas Batty, a missionary from Hull, in the early 1820s. According to another account Batty held an open air service at Churchtown on an August evening in 1827. Another early PM preacher, James Kellett, is said to have taken 'the good news of the Kingdom' when he preached 'on a green near Knob Hall Lane' at Churchtown. Southport was on the PM plan by 1832 . It was strengthened in 1904 when Sir William P. Hartley moved there. In 1906 he was largely responsible for building Church Street PM chapel, designed by F.W. Dixon (an impressive Arts and Crafts style building, popularly known as 'the Jam Chapel' and renamed St Mark's in 1983) with its fine memorial windows to Mr and Mrs Hartley and A.S. Peake. His daughter Christiana was the first woman mayor of the town in 1921-22. The PM Conference met there in 1909 and 1928.

The Wesleyan Reformers had a cause by 1855 with a chapel in 1861 replaced by Duke Street UMFC in 1879. Silas Hocking had a popular ministry there, 1883-96. 

IM work dates from 1860, its 'Fishermen's Chapel in Hawkeshead Street being opened in 1862.

Since 1885 the town has been the venue for the annual Southport Holiness Convention.

Since Methodist Union in 1932, Conference has met there four times, most recently in 1999 and 2015.

Sources

  • F.P. Argall in UM Magazine, 1910 pp.247-53
  • E. Bland, Southport Methodism. A Centenary and Jubliee Souvenir (Southport, 1911)
  • Primitive Methodist Conference Handbook, 1928
  • Conference Handbooks, 1939, 1949, 1960, 1999
  • Methodist Recorder, 20 March 2015

Entry written by: EAR and EWD
Category: Place

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