A History of the County of Stafford: Volume 17, Offlow Hundred (Part). Originally published by Victoria County History, London, 1976.
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Asseblies of God. The Assemblies of God registered premises in Stafford Street in 1943; the registration was cancelled in 1945. (fn. 1) They registered Glad Tidings Hall in Broadway North in 1944, and that registration too was cancelled in 1945. (fn. 2) They registered the Bible Pattern Church in Lower Hall Lane as Glad Tidings Hall in 1945 and replaced it with the newly built Glad Tidings Hall Pentecostal Church in Corporation Street West, which was registered in 1958. (fn. 3) In 1967 the Assemblies also reopened the former Bethel Gospel Church in Stokes Street, Bloxwich, as Bethel Pentecostal Church. (fn. 4) In 1970 the former Catholic Apostolic Church in Brace Street was being used by West Indian members of the Church of the Assemblies of God. (fn. 5)
There was a Baptist congregation at Walsall in 1651 when Robert Stotesbury and Thomas Cumberlidge signed on its behalf the letter addressed to Cromwell by Baptist groups in the Midlands. (fn. 6) Cumberlidge was a tinker who had served in Henry Stone's Parliamentarian troop during the Civil War and was a ring-leader in the anti-inclosure riots at Walsall in 1653. (fn. 7) There was at least one Anabaptist in the parish in 1663, (fn. 8) and the vicar reported one in 1773. (fn. 9)
The house in New Street registered by the occupier, Robert Benton, in 1826 (fn. 10) was presumably for Baptists since a room in Benton's house in New Street was used by a group of five for Particular Baptist preaching for a few Sundays in 1831. It was then replaced by the larger assembly room at the Black Boy inn in New Street. The group consisted at least in part of seceders from Bridge Street Congregational church who had long held Baptist views. There was a resident pastor from 1832, and a chapel with a school was built on the corner of Goodall and Freer Streets in 1833. (fn. 11) A branch Sunday school was started at Short Acre to the north of the town in 1836, and a schoolroom was built there in 1840; another was opened in Newhall Street about the same time. Both still existed in 1855. (fn. 12) The chapel was enlarged in 1849 and two schoolrooms were built. (fn. 13) On Census Sunday 1851 there was a congregation of 123 in the morning and 215 in the evening, numbers said to be unusually low. (fn. 14) There was also an attendance of 20 at an afternoon service that day at the Short Acre schoolroom. (fn. 15) Goodall Street was closed in 1918; the building was sold and has been demolished. The congregation worshipped at the Temperance Hall until 1919 when a new church was opened on the corner of the Crescent and Lumley Road. It is of wood and asbestos; a brick Sunday-school building was added at the rear in 1934. (fn. 16) In 1971 the church had 14 members. (fn. 17)
A small group of Particular Baptists, apparently seceders from Goodall Street, worshipped from 1840 in a room in the town and in 1845 acquired the former Primitive Methodist chapel on the corner of Lower Hall Lane and Newport Street. Attendance on Census Sunday 1851 was 45 in the morning, 22 in the afternoon, and 65 in the evening; there was no Sunday school. The chapel was replaced by the Strict Baptist chapel in Midland Road begun in 1909 and opened in 1910; it is of brick with terracotta dressings on the façade. (fn. 18)
In 1845 the minister of Goodall Street and several others separated from that church, worshipping first in the assembly-room attached to the Dragon and then in the club-room of the Black Boy and also in a room attached to the Green Man in Dudley Street. In 1846 they began work on Ebenezer, a brick chapel on the corner of Stafford Street and Littleton Street West; it was opened in 1847. (fn. 19) In 1851 it was described as a General Baptist church, and on Census Sunday it had a congregation of 55 in the morning and 150 in the evening. There was then a Sunday school. (fn. 20) A gallery was erected in 1859. In 1869 the building was enlarged and a classical façade added; the single-storey school at the rear was rebuilt with two storeys. (fn. 21) In 1971 there were 113 members and 104 children and young people. (fn. 22) Ebenezer was replaced by a new church in Green Lane in 1972; designed in a modern style by Charles Brown, it is built of dark brick and includes classrooms and ancillary facilities. (fn. 23) By 1973 the old church was occupied by the Church of God at Walsall.
Work was begun on a chapel in Vicarage Walk, Caldmore, in 1878 under the auspices of Ebenezer. It was opened in 1879, and the congregation became an independent church in 1881. (fn. 24) Designed in an Italian style by W. F. Markwick of Walsall, it is of brick with dressings of stone and moulded plaster. Initially it contained two schoolrooms; the adjoining schools were built in 1883-4. (fn. 25) In 1971 Vicarage Walk had a membership of 107 with 70 children and young people. (fn. 26) By the earlier 1880s Vicarage Walk was running the mission established in Dudley Street by Thomas Gameson c. 1872; his sons A. and C. H. Gameson continued to support it after his death in 1887, and it still existed c. 1916. (fn. 27)
A new Baptist congregation was worshipping in the Temperance Hall in 1867, (fn. 30) and there was a temporary Baptist church at the assembly-room of the Royal Oak in Ablewell Street in the early 1870s. (fn. 31)
Bethel Gospel Church.
The Bethel Gospel Church began to hold services in Bloxwich in 1930, using the drill hall and then various warehouses. A church was opened in Stokes Street in 1932 and continued in use until c. 1964. It was reopened by the Assemblies of God in 1967. (fn. 32)
Bible Pattern Church.
The Bible Pattern Church Fellowship registered the Tabernacle in Lower Hall Lane in January 1944. By October 1945 it had been taken over by the Assemblies of God. (fn. 33)
A building in Bridge Street was registered for Plymouth Brethren in 1863. (fn. 34) By 1871 they had moved to a meeting-room in Burrowes Street, still used in the later 1930s but closed by 1964. (fn. 35) Caldmore Gospel Hall in West Bromwich Street was registered for Brethren in 1921; (fn. 36) the building had been extended by 1973. A meeting-room off Wolverhampton Road was registered for Brethren in 1936; the registration was cancelled in 1939. (fn. 37) A meetingroom in Lower Hall Lane was registered for Brethren in 1955; it was replaced by a meeting-room in Sandymount Road, registered in 1967. (fn. 38) Stephenson Hall in Stephenson Square on the Beechdale estate was registered for Plymouth Brethren in 1957. (fn. 39)
The Delves Gospel Hall, a wooden building in Talke Road in the area added to Walsall in 1931, was registered for Brethren in 1955. A new brick hall in front of it was registered in 1958, but the old building continued to be used as a Sunday school. (fn. 40)
Catholic Apostolic Church.
A Catholic Apostolic Church on the corner of White and Brace Streets was consecrated in 1876. It ceased to be used as such c. 1928. (fn. 41) It was used by the congregation of St. Michael's, Caldmore, during the restoration of St. Michael's from 1964, (fn. 42) and in 1970 it was occupied by the Assemblies of God. (fn. 43) In 1973 it was used by Toc H.
The Christadelphians began to hold meetings at Walsall about the early 1880s, using the Temperance Hall and later the Athenaeum Buildings and the Central Hall. In 1910 they took over the chapel in Lower Hall Lane vacated by the Strict Baptists. (fn. 44) A room in Tudor House, Bridge Street, was registered as a Christadelphian meetingroom in 1936 and replaced by a hall in premises in Upper Bridge Street, registered in 1940. (fn. 45)
The Christian Scientists registered premises in Denmark Road (now Broadway North) in 1933. The society no longer existed in 1954. (fn. 46)
Congregationalists (Independents), later United Reformed Church.
In 1763 twenty-eight members of the Presbyterian meeting and the two deacons seceded because of the minister's Unitarianism and built an Independent meeting-house in Dudley Street, the first in Staffordshire. In time two side galleries were erected in addition to the existing one, and a vestry was built. Several of the ministers after 1783 belonged to the Countess of Huntingdon's Connexion. (fn. 47) A new and larger chapel was opened on the south side of Bridge Street in 1791, with Captain Jonathan Scott as one of those officiating at the opening service. The trust deed insisted on its Independent affiliation. (fn. 48) Meanwhile in 1787 a second and apparently rival meeting was started in the club-room of the Castle inn in what is now George Street by a former minister of Dudley Street. It lasted until 1795 when Thomas Grove became minister at Bridge Street and the seceders returned. (fn. 49) A Sunday school, the first in Walsall, was started in connexion with Dudley Street in 1789. It was at first held in a room in Freer's Yard, High Street, belonging to one of the deacons, but it soon moved to larger premises, a warehouse in the Square. It remained there until schools were built adjoining the Bridge Street chapel in 1818. (fn. 50) At the beginning of Grove's pastorate there were 57 members enrolled; by the end (1817) there were 285, with Bridge Street the leading Congregational church in Staffordshire and Grove the leading minister. (fn. 51) In 1850-1 the average Sunday morning congregation was 500. (fn. 52) New Sunday schools were built in 187980. (fn. 53) A new façade was added to the chapel in 1903 with statues of Richard Baxter and Isaac Watts. (fn. 54)
In 1857 there was a secession from Bridge Street after the minister had tried to investigate charges against one of the deacons, Jerome Clapp Jerome, father of the writer Jerome K. Jerome. The seceders worshipped first in the club-room at the New Inn, Park Street, and then in the assembly-rooms in Goodall Street. (fn. 55) In 1858 they began building a chapel, Ephratah, in Wednesbury Road which was opened in 1859. (fn. 56) It was enlarged in 1901 and partly rebuilt after bomb damage in 1916. (fn. 57) It was of brick with stone dressings and crocketed pinnacles; there were towers on the north-west and south-west and a projecting porch between them. Classrooms, a schoolroom, and a lecture room were attached. (fn. 58) It was designed by Jerome, who modelled it on the Congregational church at Bideford (Devon), having formerly been minister at the near-by Appledore. (fn. 59)
Both Bridge Street and Wednesbury Road congregations declined between the World Wars, and in 1945 they united. Wednesbury Road became the Walsall Congregational Church and Bridge Street was sold, although the building was used for a time as offices and survived until 1966. (fn. 60) By 1970 the Wednesbury Road church was in disrepair and the congregation—in 1971 52 members and 20 children —was no longer concentrated near by; the meetingrooms, however, were much used as a result of the church's local social work, notably among the many immigrants. In 1973 the building was demolished and work was started on the Glebe Centre on the same site, incorporating a sanctuary, meeting-rooms, a reading room, and a gymnasium. (fn. 61)
In 1819 Thomas Butteaux, the Independent minister at Cannock, registered a house in Bloxwich. He registered another house there in 1820. (fn. 62) The cause apparently did not flourish, and it was not until 1882 that another Congregational centre was founded in the northern part of the borough. The former Methodist Free church on the corner of Blakenall Lane and Booth Street was then opened as a Congregational church under the auspices of Bridge Street. A new church and schools on the corner of Chantry Avenue and Blakenall Lane were begun in 1933 and opened in 1936. The building, designed by F., A., and W. M. Smith, church members, is in a Gothic style. Of brick with stone dressings, it is faced with stucco and has a rusticated base; there is a loggia on the south side. The site includes a garden of rest and a manse. (fn. 63) In 1971 the church had 72 members and 36 children. (fn. 64) The former chapel became a feeding centre for schoolchildren in 1939. It was used by the Harden and District Community Association by the early 1950s and was taken over for commercial purposes in 1955. (fn. 65) It had been demolished by 1974.
By the later 1830s two members of Bridge Street were conducting Sunday services in a house at Ryecroft. In 1838 the Independent Sabbath School of Ryecroft and Birchills was formed under the auspices of Bridge Street, and its building, extended in 1857, was also used for Sunday services. In 1851, however, these were stated to be only occasional; the average congregation was 80. A church was erected on the corner of North and Mill Streets in 1860; designed by J. C. Jerome, it is of brick with stone dressings and has lancet windows. For some years it was a branch of Wednesbury Road. (fn. 66) By 1971 it shared a minister with Blakenall. There were then 37 members and 25 children. (fn. 67) By 1972 the building had become too decayed to be repaired and it was closed; services were transferred to members' homes. (fn. 68)
Broadway Congregational church on the corner of Broadway North and Gillity Avenue was begun in 1958 and opened in 1959. In 1971 it had 93 members and 90 children. (fn. 69)
Elim Foursquare Gospel Alliance.
Elim Hall in Caxton Chambers, Darwall Street, was registered in 1939. It was replaced by Elim Church of the Foursquare Gospel in Broadway North, registered in 1941; the registration was cancelled in 1944. (fn. 70)
Free Church of England.
St. Jude's Church in Bott Lane was opened in 1886 to meet the needs of Evangelical churchmen. It was replaced by a new church in Eldon Street, registered in 1897. In 1909 the congregation joined the Free Church of England. (fn. 71) Sunday schools were opened in Bott Lane in 1913, and in 1931 new schools were opened on a site in Eldon Street to the south of the church. (fn. 72)
In 1773 the vicar of Walsall reported one Quaker in the parish. (fn. 73) A meeting consisting of eighteen people from Walsall and district was started at a house in Leigh Road in 1932. It was recognized as a regular part of the Warwickshire Monthly Meeting in 1942. The Friends met in various places and by 1973 worshipped each Sunday at the Social Service Centre in Whittimere Street. There were then twenty members. (fn. 74)
The Witnesses had a meeting-room at no. 126 Lichfield Street by 1936 when it was registered for the International Bible Students' Association; it had ceased to be used by 1954. (fn. 75) The Kingdom Hall housed in the former Primitive Methodist church in Victor Street was registered in 1958. (fn. 76)
A Kingdom Hall at no. 79 High Street, Bloxwich, was registered in 1944 but had ceased to be used by 1954. (fn. 77) A hall was registered at no. 152 Lichfield Road, Bloxwich, in 1963 and was replaced by a hall at Sandbank, registered in 1973. (fn. 78)
In 1855 the Mormons registered a lecture room in Wisemore; it had ceased to be used by 1876. (fn. 79) A Walsall church was established in 1961. By 1968 it had 250 members and met at the Blind Institute in Hatherton Road, where it still met in 1974. (fn. 80)
In May 1743 Charles Wesley preached from the steps of Walsall market house to a crowd of 'fierce Ephesian beasts . . . who roared and shouted and threw stones incessantly'. The Walsall mob continued to play a part in the anti-Methodist outbreaks of the district which persisted into 1744. John Wesley himself was a victim in September 1743 when a mob, having taken him from Wednesbury to Bentley in an unsuccessful attempt to bring him before a magistrate, took him to Reynold's Hall in an equally unsuccessful attempt to bring him before William Persehouse. He was then seized by the Walsall mob and dragged into the town. There he managed to preach and was eventually escorted back to Wednesbury. (fn. 81)
Wesley came from Wednesbury to Walsall in 1764, and although trouble was expected he secured an attentive hearing. He preached in the open since the house where the Methodists met, apparently in New Street, was too small for the numbers on that occasion. (fn. 82) A room in Dudley Street was hired for meetings in 1770; in 1790 the loft over the stables at the Castle inn in what is now George Street became the meeting-place. (fn. 83) In 1773 the vicar reported a Methodist meeting-house, duly licensed; as with the Presbyterians the congregation, although including some 'substantial people', consisted mainly 'of those of the inferior class', and he thought that there had been no recent increase in numbers. (fn. 84)
In 1801 the Wesleyans built a chapel in Bedlam Court on the south side of High Street. (fn. 85) A Sunday school was started in 1807. (fn. 86) The chapel was replaced by one in Ablewell Street begun in 1828 and opened in 1829; it was designed in a Grecian style by John Fallows of Birmingham. There was a minister's house adjoining and a Sunday school under the chapel. A vestry was added in 1834 and a girls' schoolroom was later built behind the chapel. (fn. 87) The first chapel was converted into cottages which still stood in 1929. (fn. 88) In 1835 Ablewell Street became the head of the new Walsall circuit, formed out of Wednesbury circuit. (fn. 89) Attendances at the chapel on Census Sunday 1851 were 260 in the morning, 112 in the afternoon, and 358 in the evening. (fn. 90) A new chapel was built on an adjoining site in 1859; of red brick with Bath stone dressings, it was designed by William and Samuel Horton of Wednesbury. In 1887 it was described as the largest place of worship in the town. (fn. 91) The former chapel was converted into a day and Sunday school; new Sunday schools were built in 1910. (fn. 92) The cause declined in the early 20th century, and the Conference of 1928 created a Walsall mission. The chapel was reconstructed in 1929 and reopened in 1930 as the Central Hall. Membership rose from 176 in 1928 to 371 in 1932. (fn. 93) In 1972 further reconstruction began. The gallery level was filled in and in 1973 opened as the church; the well of the hall was then still being converted into a conference centre with other parts of the building as ancillary rooms. (fn. 94)
At Bloxwich in the late 18th century, possibly from 1781, Methodists were meeting in a flax oven on Bullock's Fold in Chapel field in the north-eastern part of the village. The building was leased as a chapel from 1795. (fn. 95) A new Wesleyan chapel was built to the south in what is now Park Road in 1832. (fn. 96) Its predecessor remained in use as a Sunday school but had been replaced before 1856 when a school at the back of the 1832 chapel was enlarged. (fn. 97) Attendances at the chapel on Census Sunday 1851 were 160 in the morning and 390 in the evening. (fn. 98) It was replaced in 1865 by a new chapel on the corner of High Street and what is now Victoria Avenue; designed by S. and J. Loxton of Wednesbury, it was in a Gothic style with a south-west tower and turret. The 1832 building then became the Sunday school and by 1877 was being used as a temperance hall; it later became a cinema, and by 1973 it was used by Midland Aeroquipment Ltd. A manse was built in Victoria Avenue behind the new chapel in 1874. New Sunday schools were built beside the manse in 1910. (fn. 99) The High Street chapel had been closed by 1963, (fn. 100) and the former Methodist Free church in New Street replaced it until 1966 when St. John's Methodist church was opened in Victoria Avenue to the east of the schools. It is a building of brick and concrete designed in a modern style by Hulme, Upright & Partners of Tunstall, Stoke-on-Trent. (fn. 101)
A Wesleyan meeting-place was established at Pleck in a cottage in Narrow Lane apparently c. 1827. (fn. 102) The society moved to a cottage in Wellington Street in 1830, and in 1840 a chapel was opened in Chapel Street (later St. Quentin Street and now obliterated) off Old Pleck Road. On Census Sunday 1851 there was a congregation of 13 in the afternoon and 37 in the evening, although average attendances were claimed of 30 and 45 respectively. (fn. 103) A new chapel was opened on the corner of Regent (later Caledon) and Oxford Streets in 1861; a Sunday school was opened opposite in 1865. A church was built on the corner of Bescot and Wednesbury Roads in 1899-1901. Designed in a Perpendicular style by C. W. D. Joynson of Joynson Bros., Darlaston, (fn. 104) it is of brick with terracotta dressings and consists of nave, transepts, and apsidal east end; there is a north-west tower with a spire, and at the south-west corner is a turret. The Caledon Street chapel was taken over by the Primitive Methodists. A Sunday school and church rooms were built in Bescot Road in 1914-15.
By 1837 a site for a Wesleyan chapel had been bought under the auspices of Ablewell Street. (fn. 105) It was presumably in Stafford Street where a Sunday school had been started by 1839 and where Centenary chapel was opened in 1840. A new Sunday school was built in 1841. Attendances at the chapel on Census Sunday 1851 were 121 in the morning, 151 in the afternoon, and 170 in the evening. (fn. 106) The school was enlarged in 1854 and 1858. The chapel was extended in 1860 and again in 1889 when a new façade with a balustraded portico was built. It became the head of a new circuit in 1863 when Walsall circuit was divided into Wesley and Centenary circuits. (fn. 107) The chapel had ceased to be used by the Methodists by 1940 when it was registered as Walsall Town Mission. (fn. 108)
The Wesleyans were holding afternoon services at Palfrey by 1857, apparently in the Millerchip family's house in Dale Street. (fn. 111) A chapel was opened in Dale Street, apparently in 1863, under the auspices of Ablewell Street, but with the opening of a chapel in Corporation Street in 1876 services at Dale Street were reduced. There was, however, a Sunday school by 1868, and a new school was built in 1887. Dale Street then had a membership of 24, which had risen to 55 by 1888. The chapel was rebuilt in 190910; of brick with stone dressings, it was designed in a Gothic style by Hickton & Farmer of Walsall. It was closed in 1974.
A Wesleyan chapel was built at Leamore on the west side of Broadstone (now Bloxwich Road) in 1862-3 to the design of Mr. Loxton of Wednesbury; an extension designed by S. and J. Loxton of Wednesbury was begun in 1864. There was then a flourishing Sunday school. The site was taken over by the corporation in 1963 and the building demolished. (fn. 112) A new church was opened on the corner of Bloxwich Road and Carl Street in 1965. (fn. 113) Designed by J. M. Warnock, (fn. 114) it is of brick with a central spire and includes a hall.
A school-chapel was opened in Queen Street under the auspices of Centenary chapel in 1864. A chapel was built on the corner of Bridgeman and Queen Streets in 1867 and was used until c. 1931. It then seems to have been taken over by the Bethel Evangelistic Society. (fn. 115)
There was a Wesleyan meeting-place in Corporation Street, Caldmore, by the beginning of 1876. (fn. 116) Trinity chapel in Corporation Street was begun later that year and opened in 1877. Designed in a Gothic style by Samuel Loxton of Walsall, it was of brick with Hollington stone dressings and consisted of nave and transepts with a north-west tower and spire. A Sunday school was built at the rear. (fn. 117) The spire was blown down in 1894. (fn. 118) New Sunday schools were begun in 1906. (fn. 119) The church (now Caldmore Methodist church) was rebuilt on the same site in 1957-8 to serve both the Trinity and Victor Street societies. (fn. 120) Designed in a modern style by C. C. Gray of Walsall, (fn. 121) it is of brick with stone and concrete dressings.
A Wesleyan chapel was opened on the corner of Butts and Lichfield Roads in 1883; Sunday schools were built on an adjoining site in 1887. (fn. 122) Mellish Road church on the same site was built in 1909-10; W. M. Lester was the principal subscriber. (fn. 123) Designed in a Perpendicular style by Hickton & Farmer of Walsall, (fn. 124) it is of brick and stone and consists of an aisled and clerestoried nave, transepts, and a south-east tower and spire; there is an extensive basement approached from Butts Road. The Sunday schools in Butts Road adjoining the church were built in 1935. (fn. 125)
A Wesleyan school-chapel, now Reedswood Methodist church, was opened in Edward Street in 1903. (fn. 126)
In 1973 there were nine Methodist churches in the area of the pre-1966 borough. (fn. 127) The Central Hall in Ablewell Street and Coal Pool made up Walsall Mission circuit, formed in 1928. Mellish Road, Bloxwich Road, Caldmore, and Dale Street were in Walsall Methodist circuit. St. John's and Reedswood were in Bloxwich circuit, formed out of Walsall Centenary circuit in 1932. Pleck was in Darlaston circuit, formed out of Wednesbury circuit in 1931.
New Connexion Methodists had taken a lease of land in Teddesley Street by 1858 as the site for a chapel. By 1860 they had built a schoolroom which was also used for services. It still existed in the early 1870s. (fn. 128)
The Primitive Methodists registered a room in George Street in 1830. (fn. 129) A chapel was built on the corner of Lower Hall Lane and Newport Street in 1832-3. (fn. 130) It was taken over by Particular Baptists in 1845, (fn. 131) and in 1850 the Primitive Methodists moved into the former Ragged School at Townend Bank. The average Sunday morning congregation was 50 by 1851, and there was also a Sunday school. (fn. 132) By 1876 the Primitive Methodists had built Mount Zion chapel on a site at the corner of Blue Lane West and Margaret Street, the building lease of which had been granted in 1871. (fn. 133) A Sun day school was opened behind in Margaret Street in 1877. (fn. 134) The registration of the chapel was cancelled in 1960, (fn. 135) and it had been demolished by 1973.
A Primitive Methodist chapel was built in High Street, Bloxwich, near the junction with Pinfold in 1842. The Sunday congregation in 1850-1 averaged 100 in the morning and 160 in the evening, and there was also a Sunday school. (fn. 136) The chapel was rebuilt in 1895-6, (fn. 137) and a new school was begun in 1902. (fn. 138) As Pinfold Methodist church it was sold with the school and the site in 1964, being one of the three Bloxwich Methodist churches which were replaced in 1966 by St. John's in Victoria Avenue. (fn. 139) By 1973 the buildings had been demolished and the site formed part of a garage.
A chapel was built in North Street, Ryecroft, in 1845. By 1850-1 there was an average Sunday congregation of 120 in the afternoon and 160 in the evening, and there was also a Sunday school. (fn. 140) It was replaced by a chapel and Sunday school built in Stafford Street in 1904-5. (fn. 141) The chapel, in a Gothic style, is of red brick with terracotta dressings and has a north-west tower and spire. It was closed c. 1965 (fn. 142) and was used as a warehouse by the early 1970s.
A Primitive Methodist chapel used also as a schoolroom was opened in 1850 in the street now called Old Birchills by a group that had met in a cottage at Bentley in St. Peter's, Wolverhampton. By 1851 the Sunday congregation averaged 30 afternoon and evening. Further work on the building was carried out c. 1880 and in 1897. In 1904 a new chapel was opened on the corner of Dalkeith Street and Old Birchills nearly opposite the old building, which remained in use as a Sunday school. (fn. 143) The 1904 chapel was burnt down in 1946 and the congregation joined Reedswood Methodist church. (fn. 144)
A Primitive Methodist chapel was built in Darlaston Road, Pleck, c. 1860. (fn. 145) In 1901 the congregation took over the vacated Wesleyan chapel in Caledon Street instead, retaining it until c. 1963. (fn. 146) It was subsequently demolished, but the Darlaston Road chapel, a Gothic building of red brick with whitebrick dressings, became a Sikh temple in 1965. (fn. 147) A chapel was built in Chapel Street, Blakenall Heath, c. 1866. It was converted into shops c. 1920 after standing empty for two years. (fn. 148) A chapel was built in Victor Street, Caldmore, in 1884. (fn. 149) By 1957 the congregation had united with that of Trinity, Corporation Street, and the Victor Street chapel was taken over by Jehovah's Witnesses. (fn. 150)
Methodist Free Church.
The Methodist Free Church opened a chapel in Whittimere Street in 1862. It was still in use in 1880 but closed soon afterwards. (fn. 151)
The Free Church built a chapel in Bloxwich in 1864-5 in what came to be called Revival Street. (fn. 152) It was replaced by a chapel in New Street begun in 1894. Schools and a club were opened in 1930. New Street was closed with the opening of St. John's Methodist church in Victoria Avenue in 1966. (fn. 153) A building of brick with stone dressings in a Gothic style, it was apparently used as a warehouse in the early 1970s.
The Free Church registered a preaching-room in Birchills Street in 1866. It had ceased to be used by 1896. (fn. 154)
The Free Church registered a school-chapel at Blakenall in 1868. (fn. 155) A chapel was built on the corner of Blakenall Lane and Booth Street in 1871. It was closed a few years later and in 1882 was taken over by the Congregationalists. (fn. 156)
Presbyterians, later United Reformed Church.
Presbyterianism was strong in Walsall in the later 17th century. Besides supporters among the clergy and members of the corporation, (fn. 157) Sir Thomas Wilbraham of Weston-under-Lizard, lord of Walsall manor and patron of the living, was thought in 1662-3 to be a Presbyterian, (fn. 158) while Edward Leigh of the near-by Rushall Hall was considered 'a dangerous Presbyterian'. (fn. 159) John Reynolds, minister at Wolverhampton 1658-60, was presented at the county quarter sessions with seven inhabitants of Walsall for holding a conventicle there in May 1663, (fn. 160) and in July four ejected ministers were reported to be living in Walsall. (fn. 161) In 1669 there were at least seven ejected ministers there, all Presbyterians; they preached at the houses of Mrs. Pearson, Mr. Fowler, and Mr. Eaves, and their followers were estimated at over 300. (fn. 162) In 1672 the houses of Edward Eaves, George Fowler, and Elizabeth Deakin were licensed for Presbyterian worship and Richard Bell, an ejected minister, was licensed as a Presbyterian teacher. (fn. 163) The number of nonconformists was given as 200 in 1676, (fn. 164) all or most of them presumably Presbyterians.
It was stated in 1681 that a meeting-house had been built where conventicles were kept, undisturbed by the mayors and frequented by most of the magistrates. (fn. 165) Richard Hilton, one of the Presbyterian ministers at Walsall in 1669, was maintaining a lecture there in 1690, but he received 'little assistance though many able men in the town'. (fn. 166) His house there was licensed for worship in 1693. (fn. 167) A 'great room' known as 'the chapel' and adjoining George Fowler's house was leased to Fowler by his father Simon, of Cheadle, in 1707, (fn. 168) and that was presumably the meeting-house in Bank (later Fox's and Cox's) Court on the north side of High Street that was burnt by a mob in 1715. (fn. 169)
The meeting-house was restored with financial help from the government, (fn. 170) and in 1717 there were 400 hearers. (fn. 171) In 1737 a house in Upper Rushall Street occupied by the minister was settled in trust by Thomas Walker and licensed as a meeting-house a few days later. (fn. 172) In 1773 the vicar reported a Presbyterian meeting-house supported, like that of the Methodists, by some 'substantial people' but mainly by 'those of the inferior class'; he thought that numbers had changed little in recent years. (fn. 173) In fact the meeting-house had by then passed under Unitarian influence. Hostility to such influence was probably the cause of a secession in 1751. A new meetinghouse was begun in that year at Hill Top, but the uncompleted structure was soon destroyed by a mob. (fn. 174) There was another secession in 1763 which resulted in the building of an Independent meetinghouse. (fn. 175)
Presbyterianism was revived in Walsall in 1876 when services were begun in the Exchange Rooms in High Street by a group of 23 seceders from Bridge Street Congregational chapel; a Sunday school was also started. The cause was recognized as a preaching station the same year and as a fully constituted congregation in 1877. In that year the services were transferred to the Temperance Hall in Freer Street. A church was built on the corner of Hatherton Road and Darwall Street in 1881-2. (fn. 176) Designed by Cotton & McConnal (fn. 177) in a Gothic style, it is of brick with stone dressings; there is a north-east tower, which originally had a spire but had lost it by the early 1970s. The schools at the rear were enlarged in 1904. (fn. 178) Since 1972 it has been Hatherton United Reformed Church.
The Walsall corps of the Salvation Army was formed in 1882 and opened a barracks at the skating rink in Hatherton Street in 1883. It had ceased to be used by 1896. (fn. 179) A barracks and schools in Green Lane were opened in 1902. (fn. 180) A Salvation Army hall in premises in West Bromwich Street was registered in 1934; the registration was cancelled in 1951. (fn. 181)
In 1863 William (later General) Booth was living with his wife and son at no. 5 Hatherton Street and ran a mission in the town, forming the Hallelujah Band of reformed reprobates. (fn. 182) The activities of the band in Bloxwich in 1865 led to the building of a hall in what came to be called Revival Street. (fn. 183) By 1898 the hall was known as the Revival Chapel and was used by the Salvation Army. (fn. 184) A barracks in Clarendon Street, Bloxwich, was registered in 1901, (fn. 185) and about that time the chapel was taken over by J. & J. Wiggin, who turned it into a factory. (fn. 186) The barracks was replaced by the Gospel Mission Hall in Pinfold, registered for the Salvation Army in 1907; it had ceased to be used by 1964. (fn. 187)
Advent Church in Stafford Street was registered in 1945. It had ceased to be used by 1954. (fn. 188)
Walsall Spiritualist Church was founded in 1877, (fn. 189) and a room in Exchange Buildings in High Street was registered for it in 1879. (fn. 190) The room was replaced by Central Hall in Bradford Street, begun in 1889 and opened in 1890. (fn. 191) This was in turn replaced by a church on the corner of Vicarage Place and Caldmore Road built in 1957. (fn. 192)
The meeting-house in Bank Court off High Street turned from Presbyterianism to Unitarianism in the later 18th century. (fn. 196) It was replaced in 1827 by Christ's Chapel in Stafford Street, (fn. 197) a small classical building of brick with a stuccoed façade. A Sunday school was established in the late 18th century. (fn. 198) In 1883 the Religious Reformer, the monthly paper of the Walsall Unitarian Free Church, noted that Unitarianism was making slow progress locally: 'Unitarianism in Walsall is like Protestantism in Spain, or Christianity in Turkey; . . . tradition, prejudice, popularity, interest, and fashion are all against it.' (fn. 199)
The Free Church registered a church in James Street (now Leckie Road), Ryecroft, in 1866. It had been closed by 1896. (fn. 200)
A Primitive Christian meeting-room in Freer Street was registered in 1866. It had been closed by 1896. (fn. 201)
The Town Mission Hall in North Street, Ryecroft, was registered in 1909. The mission moved to the former Wesleyan chapel on the corner of Stafford and John Streets, registered as Walsall Town Mission in 1940. (fn. 202) The building was no longer in use in 1973.
Services were being held in a meeting-room in Lower Hall Lane c. 1911 and continued until at least 1916. (fn. 203)
Bethel Temple in Queen Street was opened by the Bethel Evangelistic Society in 1932 but had become undenominational by 1933. (fn. 204) It evidently occupied the former Wesleyan chapel on the corner of Bridgeman Street. The building no longer stood in 1973.
Beulah Pentecostal Mission in premises in Wednesbury Road was registered in 1935 but was no longer in existence in 1954. (fn. 205)
Birchills Labour Church in premises in Hollyhedge Lane was registered in 1936 but was no longer in existence in 1954. (fn. 206)
The New Testament Church of God registered a building behind no. 88 Wednesbury Road in 1967. (fn. 207)
Bethany Church of God registered two rooms at no. 57 Wednesbury Road in 1972. (fn. 208) A board over the door in 1973 read: 'Bethany Church of God, "Zionist", kept by the Power of God.'