Click here to return to the main site entry page
Click here to return to the previous page

Foundation Stone Laying

Rushden Echo, Friday, March 25, 1904, transcribed by Greville Watson

Park-road Wesleyan Church

On Easter Tuesday the foundation stones of the new Wesleyan Church in Park-road will be laid.  Mr.John Claridge, chairman of the Urban Council, is giving a public luncheon.  For details of the day’s proceedings see advertisement.


New Wesleyan Church, Park Road, Rushden

Foundation stone services, Easter Tuesday, April 5th.

11 a.m. Rev.C.H.Kelly, of London, will preach in the Park-road Wesleyan Church.
1 p.m. PUBLIC LUNCHEON in the Public Hall.
J.Claridge, Esq., C.C., J.P., chairman of the Urban Council, will preside. Tickets 2/6 each.
2 p.m. PROCESSION of the Sunday School children, headed by the Mission Silver Band.
Address by the Rev.W.H.Thompson, Chairman of the District.
5 p.m. PUBLIC TEA in the Queen-street Schools, kindly lent for the occasion. Tickets Sixpence Each.
6.30 p.m. PUBLIC MEETING in the Park-road Church.
Chairman: T.J.Morgan, Esq., of Wellingborough,
Speakers: Rev.C.H.Kelly & Rev.T.Wynne Jones, of London, supported by the Revs. W.F.Harris,
M.E.Parkin, and R.Shorten, and the Circuit ministers.

Collection at each Service for Building Fund

Article taken from Rushden Echo, Friday, 8 April 1904. Transcribed by Greville Watson.

Laying the Foundation Stones of the New Church

Nearly £1,300 raised

The utmost enthusiasm prevailed at the various gatherings on Easter Tuesday in connection with the laying of the memorial stones of the new church which is being erected in Rushden by the Wesleyan Methodists.  The site of the new church is the plot of land adjacent to the present school-chapel, and has frontages to Park Road and Griffith Street.  A description of the proposed new edifice has already appeared in the “Rushden Echo”, but we might mention that in addition to the spacious and ornate church, there will be a ladies’ parlour, an Adult Bible Class room, and various other rooms for social and religious work.  Mr.R. Marriott, of Rushden, is the contractor, and the architect is Mr.J.Jameson Green, of Liverpool.  The weather on Tuesday was delightful, and added greatly to the comfort and enjoyment of the proceedings.

Mr.Thomas Watson and Mr.Isaac Cunnington are the secretaries of the building scheme, and Mr.Thomas Cunnington is the treasurer.  These gentlemen, together with the trustees, the various committees of ladies and gentlemen, and in fact the whole of the members of the church and congregation had worked heroically to make the day a success, but the success actually attained before the close of the day exceeded the hopes of the most hopeful, over half the estimated cost of the edifice having now been secured.  At Tuesday’s gatherings the circuit ministers – the Revs.J.W.Eacott, R.B.Woodward, and D.Pughe – received the ready assistance of the ministers of the other denominations in Rushden – the Revs.M.E.Parkin, W.F.Harris, and R.Shorten.


Wesleyan Methodism was represented in Rushden early in the forties, services being held at that time in the house at the bottom of Griffith Street, afterwards occupied as a grocer’s shop by Mr.Butcher.  A little later on, preaching services were held in a room on the Green – now demolished – the cause being then, as now, part of the Higham Ferrers circuit.  The late Mr.Sykes, of Raunds, a prominent local preacher, in later days often referred to services he remembered conducting in 1847–9, prior to and at the time of the great Methodist secession of 1849.  At that secession, almost the whole of the members of the society allied themselves with the Reform party, and have since grown into the two strong Independent Wesleyan Churches.  The two or three members who remained attached to the Conference party associated themselves with the Wesleyan Church at Higham Ferrers.

For the next forty years Wesleyan Methodists had no home in Rushden, the Methodists who came to live in the town joining other churches or identifying themselves with the cause at Higham Ferrers.  In 1887–9, however, when the Rev.A.J.Pickworth was superintendent of the Higham circuit, it was felt that the time had come when Wesleyan Methodism should again be represented in Rushden, and services were held each Sunday in the Public Hall.  The first sermon was preached by the Rev.Charles H.Kelly in the afternoon when he was planned at Higham Ferrers in the morning.  A number of Higham Ferrers members came over every Sunday to assist in the services, and soon Rushden was duly placed upon the circuit plan in the usual way.  At first, week-night services were held in the Alfred Street Board Schools.  When the Sunday school was started, about 50 children were present on the first Sunday, but the number rapidly increased until now there are about 500 scholars.

When the old Temperance Hall at the junction of Newton Road and Park Road was evacuated by the Salvation Army who had built barracks in Queen Street, the hall was taken over by the Wesleyans, who had felt the disadvantage of holding the Sunday services in one place and the week-night services in another.  The occupancy of the Temperance Hall was not of long duration, as the premises were sold and the tenants received notice to quit, so they went back to the Public Hall for the Sunday services, and meantime proceeded as rapidly as possible with the erection of the present school-chapel in Park Road.  This edifice was opened in the Autumn of 1890.  The pastoral work was at first carried out by lay agents.  Then the Conference appointed the Rev.William Newby as the first minister stationed at Rushden.  He was succeeded by the Rev.A.L.Fillingham, after whom in turn came the Rev.C.F.Groom, the Rev.T.Edwards Thompson, and the present pastor, the Rev.R.B.Woodward.  It is interesting to note that Mr.Isaac Cunnington, one of the secretaries of the new building scheme, acted in a similar capacity at the erection of the school-chapel.  When the new church is completed, the present buildings will be utilised for Sunday school purposes.  The history of the cause, ever since its re‑introduction into Rushden, has been one of substantial progress, until the membership now is larger than at any other place in the circuit.

The Easter Tuesday of 1904 is not likely to be forgotten by local Methodists for a very long time, and the friends were fortunate in having secured the services of Mr.Kelly, who, as we have stated, preached the first sermon in the Public Hall and also preached at the opening of the chapel which is now to give place to the larger edifice.

Sermon by Mr.Kelly

The day’s proceedings opened with a public service in the chapel, at which the preacher was the Rev.Charles H.Kelly, an ex‑President of the Conference and ex‑President of the National Free Church Council.  There was a large congregation, most of the towns and villages in the neighbourhood being represented.  The choir, under the leadership of Mr.F.Betts, gave a spirited rendering of the chorus, “And the glory,” from Handel’s “Messiah.”  Mr.Kelly’s text was “God Himself is with us for our Captain” (2 Chron. xiii. 12).  In the course of an able sermon he said that Methodists owed a great debt of gratitude to God for the wealth He had enabled many of their business men to amass and for the liberality He had given to many of those who were wealthy, but the greatest gift God had given to any church was not gold or a grand structure, but men and women.  The hope of a church was the consecration of her people.  The fact that God was with them implied ultimate victory to the cause of Christianity.  It was very hard to realise this sometimes.  The path to victory was a very long one.  They were puzzled sometimes because God never seemed to be in a hurry.  They thought, for instance, they could relieve the Macedonians and avenge the Armenians and the Bulgarians.  They thought it would be so easy for God to give a shake to the throne of the Sultan and send him to that place where he would be welcome.  But, then, if God was never in a hurry, He was never idle, and never indifferent.  He was working out His purpose somewhere.  God was alive, and He was with His people.  They were not deserted.  “God Himself is with us for our Captain,” and that meant that the right and the true should be victorious and the vile and untrue should be destroyed.  Here was comfort for the churches.  How is it, they sometimes asked, that the Unspeakable Turk can live in luxury when by one breath of the Lord he could be displaced, and that the Macedonians should suffer when by one move of the Almighty it could be dispelled?  They knew that in God’s purpose all must come right, that the wicked should not flourish, that the sufferers should be avenged, and that the right should be advanced.  The hope of the church was in the presence and lead of God their Captain.  To the Methodist Church he would say that the Million Guineas they had just raised would be a great curse to them if that was all they had.  Good buildings would not be sufficient.  As a church they had magnificent machinery, but without the power of the Holy Spirit that machinery would be useless.

The Luncheon

Mr.John Claridge, JP, CC, chairman of the Rushden Urban Council, gave a luncheon in the Public Hall, at which about 170 guests were present.  Mr.Claridge presided, and he was supported by the Revs.M.E.Parkin (Congregationalist), W.F.Harris (Baptist), R.Shorten (Independent Wesleyan), C.H.Kelly, T.Wynne Jones, J.W.Eacott (superintendent of the circuit), R.B.Woodward, D.Pughe, and others.  The catering was done very efficiently by the Coffee Tavern Co, under the direction of Miss Wyldes, the manageress.

At the close of the luncheon, the Rev.C.H.Kelly moved a vote of thanks to Mr.Claridge for his hospitality, and said they very highly appreciated Mr.Claridge’s kindness.  He congratulated Rushden on having as chairman of the Council a gentleman who not only performed his duties so well but who set so good an example to the future mayors of Rushden when they became incorporated.  (Laughter and cheers.)

The Rev.J.W.Eacott seconded, and said they were all the more grateful to Mr.Claridge for the fact that he was not a member of their own church, and yet in a real sense was a member of their church for they all belonged to the Church of Christ.  (Hear, hear.)

The motion was carried amid applause.

Mr.Claridge, who was heartily cheered, acknowledged the vote, and said it had been a great pleasure to him to do what he had done in connection with that memorable day for the Wesleyan Church at Rushden.  As they knew, he was interested in the social, moral, and religious life of the town, and it was always a pleasure to him to do what he could to further that end.  He hoped that the Wesleyan Church at Rushden, which had made wonderful progress since it started, would, in the new building, enjoy even greater success.  They all recognised the good work that had been done by the Wesleyans in Rushden.  (Hear, hear.)

Mr.Eacott then paid a tribute to the caterers.


At 2pm a procession – comprising the scholars of the Sunday School and the members of the Adult Bible Class – started from the railway bridge, and, headed by the Wellingborough Road Mission Silver Band, marched along High Street and up Newton Road to the site of the new chapel.

The stone-laying ceremony commenced at 2.30, a large crowd of people having assembled.  The Mission Silver Band played the accompaniments to the hymns and gave several pleasing selections under the conductorship of Mr.Harry Sharpe.  The Rev.J.W.Eacott presided over the proceedings.  The Rev.W.F.Harris offered up prayer.

The Chairman of the Bedford and Northampton District (the Rev.W.H.Thompson), who was announced to give an address, was unable to attend through illness.

The Rev.T.Wynne Jones made a brief and appropriate speech.  He said that they were present that day as a section of the universal Church of Christ.  John Wesley said that the Methodists “were the friends of all and the enemies of none.”  They took their place with all the aggressive forces of Christ, and he hoped that Methodism would be true to its ancient history and would not lag behind in the great conflict in the future, but would ever be in the forefront on all great social and moral questions.  He was very glad to hear of the prosperity of Methodist work in Rushden and trusted that in the new building their prosperity would increase.  (Hear, hear.)

Stones were then laid and contributions placed thereon as under:–

Mr.G.H.Groome 20 0 0
Miss Dunham 5 5 0
Miss Shelford (Wellingborough) 5 5 0
Mr.John Shortland (Irthlingborough) 20 0 0
Mr.C.W.Horrell 20 0 0
Miss Lillie Shortland
(for Mr. William Shortland)
10 10 0
Mr.A.J.Potton 10 0 0
Sunday School stone, laid by Mr.A.Gadsby, superintendent, the little children marching past and placing on the stone their offerings which were received by Miss Scott and Mr.C.Wagstaff (of which the first class of girls raised £25). 60 9 7
Mr.A.O.Groome 10 0 0
Mrs.S.Michell 10 0 0
Mrs.Wallis (Long Eaton) 11 11 0
Mr.Isaac Cunnington 100 0 0
Mr.A.Porter 10 10 0
Mrs.A.Smith 10 0 0
Mr.C.Cross 5 10 0
Ladies' Sewing Meeting stone
(laid by Mrs.T.Cunnington)
81 0 0
Mothers' Meeting stone
(laid by Mrs.R.B.Woodward,
supported by Mrs.Dawes)
5 5 0
The Choir stone
(laid by Mr.F.Betts)
20 0 0
The Carol Singers' stone
(laid by Mrs.Perkins)
9 0 0
Adult Bible Class stone
(laid by Mr.S.Michell,
supported by Miss Deighton
and Mr.A.Short)
26 0 0
Mr.T.Cunnington 100 0 0
Mrs.W.G.Wilmott 10 0 0
Mrs.Wooding 5 5 0
Mr.Twigge 5 5 0
Mr.A.E.Bates 5 5 0
Mr.T.Watson 25 0 0
Miss S.Cunnington 20 0 0
Mr.W.J.Cure 5 5 0

Total 626 5 7

A copy of the new hymn book, with gold lettered inscription, will (when published) be sent to those who laid the stones.

The laying of memorial bricks was then proceeded with.

The Rev.R.B.Woodward proposed a vote of thanks to those who had laid the stones and bricks.

The Rev.D.Pughe seconded.  He said that in laying these foundation stones they were helping forward the cause of God and the cause of humanity.

The Rev.J.W.Eacott, in presenting the vote, said they were particularly thankful to have had the help of the little ones that day.

Tea was provided in the Queen Street schools, kindly lent by the Independent Wesleyan trustees.  About 600 people attended.  The tea committee comprised Messrs. A.Gadsby, A.Austin, C.Wagstaffe, J.W.Bright, William Capon, and A.E.Bates.

The ladies presiding at the trays were Mesdames Bragg (Irthlingborough), Gardiner (Irthlingborough), Garley, Horrell, Stanniland, Nattrass, Watson, Michell, C.Smith, Battersby, Dawes, Hensman, Baxter, Bates, Mason, Cure, Streeton, Dickens, Wooding, Capon, Gibbs, Ball, Marriott, Sharp, Osborne, Agutter, A.Smith, Woolley, Espin, E.Miller, Perkins, and W.G.Wilmott, and Misses Patenall (Higham), Scott, Wooding, Jones, Ball, Watson, Michell, Austin, Gibbs, Atkinson, Wilson, Underwood, Hankins, Stapleton, Auger, Shorley, L.Causebrook, and Houghton.

The following assisted as waiters:–  Messrs. F.Skeeles, A.Clarke, C.Wooding, H.Wooding, Craxton, Waring, A.Osborne, Marriott, sen., Marriott, jun., Lawman, Hensman, F.Noble, W.E.Capon, Coleman, E.Sugars, F.Lawrence, Streeton, F.Mason, J.Bennett, C.Pendered, T.Allen, E.Waite, E.Miller, C.Espin, G.Hankins, Battersby, L.Clarke, A.Waite, F.Barfoot, F.Page, J.Crouch, and W.L.Michell.

The arrangements were carried out admirably.

Public Meeting

In the evening the chapel was crowded to excess.  Mr.T.J.Morgan, of Wellingborough, presided.

Mr.T.Watson gave the financial statement.  He thought it was a very satisfactory one.  He said that those who laid the stones contributed £626.5s.7d., and from those who laid the bricks they received £43.6s., a total of £669.11s.7d.  They had received promises and donations – in sums varying from £150 to 5s. – amounting to £513.15s., including £10 from Mr.T.Walker, of Manchester, £10 10s. from Mr.James Shortland, and £5.5s. from Mr.John Start (Long Eaton).  The land had already been paid for, and the total cost of the building, including architect’s fees, contract, &c, was £5,055.18s.9d.  Their first effort, before launching on the scheme, produced £1,003.4s.10d.; from the Twentieth Century Fund they would get £600; as stated, the stone-laying that day produced £669.11s.7d. and the donations £513.15s.; the collection jat the morning service was £22.16s.5d.; collection at the stone-laying £17.0s.9½d.; proceeds from the luncheon, £21.10s.; from the tea, £13.18s.9d.; so that they now stood:–

Cost                         £5,055.18s.9d.

Already raised         £2,861.17s.4½d.

The actual sum raised and promised that day was £1,258.12s.6½d.  (Loud cheers.)  There was still the collection at that meeting to come.

The Chairman said he felt as if he had received a tonic in that financial statement.  It must be most encouraging to everyone associated with Methodism to find that the people of Rushden could accomplish what they had done.  It was no mean matter to raise such a sum.  It must have meant a tremendous effort on the part of the people to subscribe so much money – whether in large or small sums – and there was no doubt that many of the small sums had been contributed at a great sacrifice.  (Hear, hear.)  Considerable effort would still be needed before they could accomplish all they had set out to do, but he was sure the Rushden friends would not be lagging and would continue their efforts until they had raised the total cost of the new building and could declare it free of debt.  He had the honour of being present about 14 years ago, to lay a stone at the building of the present chapel, and at that time Rushden was not what it is to-day.  He remembered Rushden even earlier than that, when it was growing at such a rapid rate that it was more than the Local Board could do to look after the streets and pavements.  Those who came to Rushden had to provide themselves with a strong pair of boots.  (Laughter.)  Now, however, Rushden had got good streets, good pavements, and smart buildings, and in every way Rushden was not behind the other towns of Northamptonshire.  (Hear, hear.)  Years ago it as said that Rushden was growing at such a rate that Higham Ferrers would soon be left behind, which had now been done, and that they would soon have to speak of “Higham Ferrers, near Rushden.”  (Laughter.)  Rushden had now a good railway system, and, in fact, had advanced in every possible way.  Methodism in Rushden had not been lagging behind, or they would not have been able to tackle such a scheme as the one in which they were now engaged.  He was expecting to see Rushden reach a population of 20,000 before long, and then perhaps Methodism would have to provide another chapel.  (Cheers.)

The Rev.C.H.Kelly, in the course of a rousing speech, said he took part in the introduction of Methodism into Rushden and also attended the opening of the present chapel.  He was delighted to see that the enthusiasm of the Rushden people and the support of their friends was so well continued.  The Rushden Methodists had done well and wisely in taking this step.  Both as Methodists and as Christians – Mr.Kelly continued – we have to ask ourselves, “Shall we advance, or halt, or retreat?”  We have no difficulty in answering.  We cannot retreat – our bands have never learnt to play that march.  (Laughter.)  As to halting, we cannot do that.  Therefore we have to advance.  (Applause.)  And that had been the history of Methodism all along the line.  It is only six years ago next June that the oldest Methodist died – a man in his 116th year, who was seven years of age when John Wesley died and when Methodism numbered only 300,000 adherents, but that man lived to see Methodism grow into 20,000,000.  (Cheers).  It would be a sad thing if we Methodists alone were advancing.  All the Churches have advanced.  (Cheers.)  If people say that the world is going back into the dark ages, tell them it is not so.  Christ never had so many followers as He has to-day, and the boys and girls here, when they grow up, will see the day when Christ will have infinitely more followers still in this land and in the world.  We shall advance, and that advance means going on to victory.  One great proof that we mean to advance is to be found in the liberal contributions of our people to good causes.  Methodists are not such fools as to give without knowing what they are giving to.  When they give, they want to get good value.  The million guineas we raised as a Twentieth Century Fund does not mean merely that we have got the million guineas for various purposes – it means that we are advancing all round.  At the last meeting but one of the Connexional Chapel Committee we had an agenda the like of which neither man nor angel ever saw before – an agenda showing that the number of chapels soon to be built is no fewer than 500, and the cost will be 3½ millions of money.  (Applause.)  When people tell you that you belong to a decaying church, speak downright good English and tell them it is a lie.  (Laughter and cheers.)  Methodism will not die.  In the last 40 years an enormous amount of debt on Methodist chapels has been paid off, and we are now 12½ millions richer in church property than when I entered the ministry.  The increase in the number of Methodist chapels in that time has been enormous.  But there is something far more important than material prosperity, and that is the hearts and the lives of the people, and we have these.  I am struck with the number of young folks I see in the streets of Rushden and in your congregation here.  You have to face new conditions to-day.  You must recognise the demand the nation is making to-day upon the churches.  If new methods are effective, God’s blessing is upon them.  The church is now becoming institutional.  In additional to preaching services, prayer meetings, and class meetings, the church is becoming more than ever a great philanthropic institution.

We want to-day to bring the church to bear upon the life of every man in the community and upon the community as a whole.  A man will be all the better as a student, a citizen, a businessman as he knows more of the Bible and the Christian religion.  You in Rushden must feel that you have a great work for God to do here.  You must make yourselves responsible for the conversion of this town.  You must make yourselves responsible for the conversion and the blessing of the individuals with whom you come in contact.  Don’t make the mistake so many people are making, of leaving all the work of the church to be done by the few.  Some people regard the church as a waggon that has to be pulled uphill.  They get one man, a minister, and they put him in the shafts, and then they shout, “Off you go!”  But do they put their shoulder to the wheels?  Not they!  They just climb into the cart and sit down.  (Laughter.)  For a church to be successful, all the members must be at work.  (Hear, hear.)  Mr.Kelly’s speech was delivered with characteristic vigour and was brightened with many a humorous anecdote.

Under the leadership of Mr.F.Betts, the choir sang an anthem, “In the beginning was the Word.”  Mr.C.Wooding presided at the organ.

The Rev.T.Wynne Jones then gave a bright and interesting address.  He urged upon the older workers to allow the younger people to work in their own way, and caused a roar of laughter by the story of an old man who lamented that his church had now got into “theatre ways” because the minister arranged for amateur concerts.  The older people must not stand in the way of the younger folks.  To all the Christian workers he would say, Do your best, and then the Master will do His best with your work.

On the proposition of Mr.C.Cross, seconded by Mr.S.Michell, a vote of thanks was passed to the chairman, speakers, the Independent Wesleyan trustees for the loan of their school-room, the Mission Silver Band, &c.

The collection realized £20.16s.5½d., including £5 from the chairman.  Further promises of £2.2s. were received, making the day’s total £1,282.12s.

Click here to return to the main index of features
Click here to return to the Churches & Chapels index
Click here to e-mail us