long life of nearly 88 years, John Wesley, the founder of the Methodist Church,
was often in the district of Pendle. He first came to Burnley in 1784 and
this is how he records it in his Journal: "I went to Burnley, a place which had
been tried for many years but without effect. It seems the time was now
come. High and low, rich and poor, now flocked together from all quarters;
all were eager to hear except one man, who was the Town Crier. He began to
bowl again till his wife ran to him and literally stopped his noise. She
seized him with one hand and clapped the other upon his mouth, so that he could
not get out one word. God then began a work, which I am persuaded, will
not soon come to an end.
In 1786 John Wesley came to Burnley a second
time and among the converts in the crowd who gathered in front of the Thorn Inn
(which stood where Market Square shopping precinct now stands) were William
Hopwood and his bride. They had just been married at St Peter's and were
walking home after their wedding. They became Methodists and joined the
Burnley Society. William Hopwood died in 1838, but the firm of William
Hopwood & Son donated £400 towards the cost of the Hargreaves Street
Methodist Church (where Central Methodist Church now stands)
Methodist Society was very outward looking and other societies were formed that
were considered to be off-shoots of this Society. One of these was a
Society Class formed in 1807 at "New Laund" midway between Wheatley Lane and
Pendle Bottom. The leader of this class was Richard Dean, but by 1817
there is no mention of it in the Circuit records.
The next mention we hear of
a Society Class in this area is in 1822 when a class was started in Wheatley
Lane by Mr. William Anderton and Mr. Robert Proctor. Both these men were
connected with the Methodist Chapel at Higham, but lived in Wheatley Lane.
The Society Class usually met in Mr. Anderton's home in Tunstill Fold. It
started with 18 members then in 1823 it had 27 members and occasionally
preachers from Burnley were invited to meet the class. During the next
year things progressed so quickly that a small Chapel was built on the site we
now occupy. The land was purchased from Mr. James Hartley of Ightenhill
Park for £30 and the total cost of the building was £200 of which £45 was
trustees were: William Hopwood, (the man converted under John Wesley's
preaching) James Hartley, Edwin Pollard, William Moore, Thomas Parrer, Thomas
Whitfield, William Fishwick, John Hargreaves, Thomas Haworth and William Hopwood
(Jnr) all of whom came from the Burnley area, and Mr. John Robinson and Mr. John
Liversey of Higham and Robert Proctor and John Whalley of Wheatley Lane. The
Society now having a building of its own really began to thrive. In 1828
the Society had 4 classes meeting with a total of 89 members (an amazing number
for the size of the village). In 1836 Mr. Proctor led 3 classes with 23
members each, Mr. Anderton one class of 16 members and Mr. Moorhouse one class
of 9 members. Not only did the classes grow but on the Circuit Plan of
1837 the names of Messrs Robinson, Close, Smith, Emmett and Holgate from
Wheatley Lane appear as Local Preachers. Indeed, such was the success of
the Society that in 1853 the Chapel was enlarged
The School Building
In 1859 the foundation stone of the School Building was
laid by Miss Wilding of Montford Hall. In her speech she said "The memory
of this day will live after us and this school will prove to future generations
how deep and earnest was our desire that they too may know 'the truth which
makes them free' and be blessed with knowledge able to make them wise into
Although the School building only came in 1859, a Sunday School,
probably meeting in the Chapel had started as early as 1830, but with the new
building the Sunday School had room to expand and in 1879 we read that 68
children attended Morning School and 94 attended Afternoon School. Whilst
the Sunday School was growing the Church also grew and in 1867 it was again
enlarged, the choir stalls, organ loft and Minister's Vestry being added
Besides its services of Worship, its Class Meetings, its Sunday
School and Day School there was the attraction of Temperance Meetings on a
Saturday Night. It would seem that the major emphasis of the Church during
this period consisted of worship and education. Then after the turn of the
century a new factor appears. The Church becomes not only the worship and
the learning centre but also the social centre. We hear of Saturday
Socials and Concerts, Choir trips and Ladies Social Class Outings - Band of Hope
Temperance Meetings were relegated to week nights.
In 1924 the Centenary
Celebrations took place. To mark this occasion a new pulpit was installed
and electric lights were fitted throughout the building.
After the First
World War the Church still remained full, concerts and plays were constantly
being given and the class meetings still held their membership.
after the Second World War, church going decreased somewhat, even in Wheatley
Lane, and folk began to leave the village. The future began to look less
bright for the Church. Then in 1965 new property began to be built, people
started to move into the village and it grew in size. The Day School
needed expanding and in 1969 two new infant classrooms were added on. With
new people coming to live in the village, new people began to come into the
Was celebrated in 1974 with two weeks of special
services and activities, ending with a Flower Festival and Exhibition. On
the final Sunday when the preacher for the day was the then President of the
Conference, Rev. J. Russell Pope of Exeter, so many people attended that the
service had to be relayed to the overflow congregation in the school hall.
From the proceeds two more classrooms were added to the school and the Church
continued to grow.
In the Spring of 1984 disaster struck. Dry rot
was discovered on the ground floor of the Church. The downstairs pews had
to be removed and a completely new floor was installed. The new carpeting
and seating completely altered the appearance of the church. The cost of
well over £17,000 was raised by numerous efforts and generous contributions in
the surprisingly short time between April and September. The re-opening
services were held in December 1984, on Advent Sunday; the services during the
summer having been held in the school hall.
In 1986 further repairs to
the Church, which included re-pointing and exterior painting became necessary,
costing in the region of £5,000. At the same time extensive repairs to the
school roof were carried out at a cost to the Church of £2,500. Some of
the costs were met by the Day School Repair Fund raised by the parents and
teachers and by a Flower Festival. (August 1986).
Church 1986 - 06
In order to meet the continuing needs of our
congregation and preserve the Church into the 21st Century, further
plans were drawn up: one to alter the front of the Church to improve access and
another to consider maintenance and finance required over and above the general
work of the Church.
To assist in this a Flower Festival was held in August
1990 and the finance helped considerably to forward the above work.
this ensuing period an increasing number of young families, with young children
entering school kept their Roll around 200. Many parents came to Church
and some became Church Members. The Day School has a tremendously
enthusiastic Staff under the Headship of Mrs Barbara Hodkinson (formerly Deputy
Head of School). It also has a superb Parent Teacher Association
(P.T.A.). Its OFSTED Inspection Report was excellent and we are proud of
fact and that we are one of only two remaining Methodist (Aided)
Primary Schools in the whole country.
So it was in April 1997, after much
prayer and discussion, the Church Council met to consider the future of our
Methodist Church in Wheatley Lane. The result of the meeting was a a
commitment of faith to a vision and an agreement to a proposed
extension/alteration of the Church ·Demolish existing vestry walls and pantry areas to
create a large foyer.
·Eliminating the current problem of congestion.
·Build a single storey
extension on the rear of the church to create a new vestry/meeting room.
Complete with disabled toilet facilities and a Kitchen area.
·New doorway in the centre of
the existing rear wall of the church to provide access to the
·New central heating system.
·Refurbishing of existing window/frames and secondary
"Loop System" installed for the 'hard-of-hearing' members of the
·Decoration of whole.
The entrance has been made Open
Plan and a new Vestry come meeting room added to the back. As a result it is
distinctively more attractive welcoming and reverent.
The cost of the
improvements taxed the resources of the church and a sum of £10000 pounds had to
be raised. The week beginning September 26th 1999 was dedicated as a week of
prayer for this cause. Gifts to support the church would be gratefully received
and can be posted to the Church Treasurer W.L.M.C. Wheatley lane Road Fence
Burnley Lancs. U.K. The Week ended with a special day of music harvest harmony
on Oct 3rd.
Budget Cost: £48,030
Since that day in April
the vision continues to materialize with God's help and the work of the whole
congregation of our Church and many Parents and staff of the Day
We believe this is a place of beauty and usefulness, a place fit
to worship God in.
Our Flower Festival has enhanced its beauty and inspired
you to be part of our vision by responding as generously as you can.
know friends, as we look back over the years, we can see how the Methodist
Society at Wheatley Lane has been blessed with laymen and laywomen of vision and
initiative who through succeeding generations have dedicated their lives to God
through the service of His Church, and we praise and thank God for those of the
present generation who by their zeal and devotion are continuing God's work of
Mission to the whole community. Some years ago the Church took a tremendous act
of faith in taking on the long proposed building alterations.
It continues to
flourish with Marion Taylor