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The Township of Bacup, Rossendale
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The Methodists in Bacup

John Maden was born near Bacup on the 4th of December 1724. In his younger years Methodism was just beginning to make headway throughout the country, but was unknown in Rossendale. He was first introduced to it by attending a meeting in a barn at Gauxsholme near Todmorden, where William Darney was preaching. He was so impressed he joined a small group in Todmorden who were followers of John Wesley. He soon wanted to form a society in Rossendale; in 1744 he invited Mr Darney over, who preached for the first time in the district at Heap Barn, north west of Sharneyford on Todmorden Road. He later preached at Miller Barn in Wolfdenden Booth and this is where the society was formed with John Maden as leader.

At first his house was used for services, but as the congregation grew, the Baptist meeting house was used for a short time. John’s companions were John Earnshaw a woollen weaver and Nicholas Slater a “poor tailor”. Together they agreed to buy a piece of land to build a Chapel in Lanehead Lane. Maden also offered a hundred days work, Slater put his hand in his pocket and took out a crooked sixpence. He thus gave all he had, but promised more when he got it. The Chapel was built in 1761 and became Mount Pleasant. This was the second Methodist Chapel in Lancashire, the first being in Bolton.

When this became too small, it was demolished and a new chapel built in 1786 and again in 1839. John Wesley preached at Bacup in 1761, 1766 and 1779. John Maden died 21 April 1809 and was buried at Mount Pleasant Chapel.

Extract from “The Watchman” 22nd April 1839

BACUP. On Good Friday, April 17th, the Foundation Stone of a new Wesleyan Methodist Chapel was laid on Mount Pleasant, in the presence of a large concourse of spectators. The Rev. Benjamin Pearce opened the proceedings by singing and prayer, after which Mr John Dawson read a document, a transcript of which had been deposited in a bottle and placed in the corner stone. The Rev. Benjamin Pearce then, in the name of the Trustees, presented John Earnshaw, Esq., Justice of the Peace, with a new silver trowel, who delivered a very excellent and appropriate address, at he close of which he laid the Foundation Stone, in the name of the Glorious Trinity. Another appropriate hymn was sung. Edmund Dawson Esq., then gave an address, which, together with that of Mr. Earnshaw, was rendered particularly interesting, from the allusions made to old times, and also from the fact that the fathers of these gentlemen were among the first Methodists in Bacup. Messrs. James and Robert Heyworth, twin brothers and both local preachers, each delivered an impressive address. Mr James Maden, of Newhallhey, who had that morning presented £50 towards that edifice, was then called upon, and he urged the assembly not to despise the day of small things, inasmuch as the building of the first Methodist Chapel in Bacup was commenced by a poor man offering a crooked sixpence, at the same time promising more as soon as he had it. The congregation immediately sang the verses:-

“Saw ye not the cloud arise, Little as a human hand,
Now it spreads along the skies,
Hangs o’er all the thirsty land, etc.”

The Rev. Benjamin Pearce then addressed the assembly on the constitution of Wesleyan Methodism, on its doctrines and on the settlement of chapels according to the Methodist plan, correcting the errors that have been industriously circulated in the disparagement of that plan. “Praise God from whom all blessings flow,” etc., was sung; and this delightful and profitable service was concluded with prayer. The procession then moved off, head by music, through the town to the Schoolroom, from whence it originally proceeded, and where the Sunday Scholars were regaled with buns, etc. The teachers and friends afterwards sat down to tea, and interesting addresses were delivered by several speakers. The entire services were marked with primitive simplicity, and the day will long be remembered in Bacup. The Chapel measures 70 feet by 58. The estimated cost, exclusive of the ground, is about £2053 towards which nearly £1500 has already been subscribed.

Registers at Manchester Archives

Bacup - Wesley Place Wesleyan
Baptisms1786 - 1837MFPR 286
Burials1794 - 1837MFPR 286
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