The History of Romiley Methodist Church
To John Wesley, a great evangelist and the founder of the Methodist Church, the world was his parish. To visit his parishioners in Britain he travelled the country on horseback. He arrived in Bredbury Green, in rural Cheshire, in 1745 and returned to preach in Holehouse Fold, Romiley, in 1780. So great was his fervour and his message that groups of his followers started meeting in cottages throughout Romiley. The cause grew and by 1814 Miss Barlow, of Birchvale Hall, made available for the Wesleyans a room over the coach house (still standing in Roundcroft). The first regular services were held there and a Sunday School opened in which she was the teacher. The Wesleyans then moved to the Botanists room on Stockport Road (near the old Post Office). As there was no seating there, forms were carried from Stockport each weekend to remedy this.
The coming of the canal and industry to Romiley meant an increase in the population and in 1840 the Wesleyans opened their first church which still stands on Stockport Road opposite our present church. By 1866 the coming of the railways meant a further increase in the population and the Wesleyans needed a bigger church. They moved across the road and opened the first church on the present site.
The 1840 church was then used as a schoolroom. By 1882 the Wesleyans felt the need for a bigger schoolroom and laid the foundations for it behind the church. It was opened in 1883 and the 1840 church was taken over by the Parish church, opened 1865, to be used as a schoolroom. They renamed it St. Chad’s House.
Sadly a gas explosion caused the church and schoolroom to go up in flames in the early hours of10th December 1899. Within twelve hours of the fire, the Wesleyans were back worshipping at St. Chad’s House. There was a great determination on the part of the Wesleyans to keep the spirit of John Wesley alive in Romiley and so they decided to rebuild the church and the schoolroom. They built the schoolroom first and it opened in August 1901 with 186 scholars. It was built at a cost of £15,000 on newly acquired land and was a “commodious schoolroom to seat 350 with lecture and class rooms.” To meet the demands of the rapidly growing neighbourhood it was found necessary to build far in excess of the then present day requirements, and “with regard to the spirit of the age to erect a building in a finished and ornate style worthy of a place in a modernised village.” - how visionary, for the building still stands with comparative little improvement needed to be done.
By 1903 a new church had been built on the site of the 1866 church. This was a great tribute to the 72 members and the people of Romiley who wholeheartedly supported the rebuilding programme. Our church has always tried to serve the community and in the General Strike of 1923 a soup kitchen was held in the schoolroom.
In 1932, as a result of the Act of Union between the Wesleyans and the Primitive Methodists, the Methodist Church as we know it today was born. Romiley Methodist church still continued to work for the community and in the second World War a air raid shelter for general use was opened in the cellar, a food distribution centre was set up and part of the schoolroom was used as an extra classroom for the local school.
With the post war growth of the Cherry Tree estate, in 1957 Romiley Methodists opened an annex to their Sunday School to serve the estate. This was held in Springwood Hall and was such a success it was decided to build our own school in the area. A piece of land on Compstall Road was earmarked and enthusiastic fund raising took place. Unfortunately the post war price of land escalated to prohibitive levels and so the idea was abandoned. When Springwood Hall closed the children were bussed down to the Hill Street school. The increase in numbers there led to overcrowding culminating in building the Extension which was opened in 1964, the 150th anniversary of the opening of the first Sunday School.
In 1977 dry rot was discovered in the church which was immediately closed and worship took place in the schoolroom. It was again decided to rebuild and the foundations were laid in 1980. When the builders went bankrupt in the summer of 1980 the construction was exposed to the elements until new builders could be employed. They completed the project and our present church was officially opened on 27th March 1982 by Mrs. A. Beales our oldest member. Once again the support of the people of Romiley was most encouraging.
Around this time we were fortunate enough to have dedicated qualified workers with children and a Toddler Group was opened and later a registered Pre School which continues daily to this day.
1990 was a special year celebrating 150 years of the Methodist church in Romiley. A commemorative tapestry, depicting the history of the church, was worked by members of the church and now hangsto enrich our worship. John Wesley made a return visit to Romiley, on his horse, and there was a re-enactment of the first Sunday School with Miss Barlow.
To celebrate the Millennium a Church Festival, “Growing Spiritually” was held in the church and Schoolroom. When the church and schoolroom were being rebuilt in the early 1900’s and when the new church was opened in 1982, the support from the people of Romiley was heart warming. They supported us with money, encouragement and prayer .
The Methodist Church has always held a special place in the life of Romiley and so we felt that the Millennium Church Festival was an opportunity to show the people of Romiley what goes on in our church and to thank them for their loyalty and continuing support. It was a privilege and pleasure to welcome them and to share the life of the church with them.
At this time it was evident that Church congregations nationally were decreasing and traditional ideas of family life were changing and we needed to address these issues. Several working parties were set up to examine the best way forward to uphold our desire to share God’s love and message to all the community and to live by our church mission statement:
To share the love of God through our worship and our welcome.
To bless the community through our friendliness and our promises,
To make more disciples of Jesus Christ and be a good neighbour to those in need.
In time, some upgrading of our premises took place providing a more attractive and comfortable environment for everyone. This included refurbishment of the Annex, re-siting the Church office, developing a new toilet area in the schoolroom, introducing Sound and IT systems throughout and refurbishing the Church kitchen.
Through the commitment and energy of the church family, our outreach is widening and we welcome people from the community to many social functions such as films, concerts, exhibitions, sales, lunches / teas etc. The spiritual life continues through established study groups, charity work and pastoral care and weekly services.
Our desire to share God’s love and message to all the community is still our concern as we plan the way ahead and look forward to many more years of serving Christ in the community.