THE CENTENARY OF WOOTTON STATION ROAD METHODIST CHURCH
As Dr Woolcock indicated in his history, the chapel at Littletown was destroyed in a great storm that travelled through the Island in early 1897. The members of the Littletown Society were faced with a decision - to repair the chapel or to relocate to a site on the main road. The decision eventually came down in favour of the latter, although the members were very apprehensive about being able to realise the money that would be necessary to build from scratch. However, the Bible Christian circuit churches all pledged to donate collections from their Sunday services to Littletown, from time to time, to help them succeed with the project. The members therefore chose to build the church which is now celebrating its one hundred year birthday. The Isle of Wight County Press, the Island's weekly newspaper, covered the three main events and the following extracts from the relevant issues will help to paint the picture of the progress made.
COUNTY PRESS ISSUE - SATURDAY MARCH 6TH, 1897 THE GREAT STORM - Havoc in the Island
The gale which set in on Tuesday evening (2nd. March) continued throughout the night and Wednesday morning. It was accompanied by heavy rain and the wind blew with terrific force, its destructive effects being everywhere in evidence when daylight dawned on Wednesday. It is many years since the Island was visited by so fierce a storm. Trees, especially elms, have suffered to an extraordinary extent and the appearance of many of them shows how tremendous was the grip which embraced and uprooted them and how fearful was the force with which they were hurled down to the ground, huge limbs being completely pulverised.
The Bible Christian chapel at Littletown fared badly. The gable end, nearest to the entrance to the building, appears to have been carried away first, thus making an opening in the face of the storm. A portion of the roof was lifted into the air, where it divided, one half falling in the field below and the other on the upper side. Eventually, the gable at the further end was blown out, the debris falling on and smashing the roof of an outhouse. (This 'outhouse' was the Sunday School room).
COUNTY PRESS ISSUE - OCTOBER 23RD, 1897
New Bible Christian chapel at Wootton
Thursday last (21st October) will be marked as a red letter day in the annals of Bible Christians in Wootton, that being the day on which were laid memorial stones of their new chapel near the railway station. There was a large gathering at the ceremony, which was ably conducted by Mr R. Bullen, J. P., the treasurer of the Chapel Trustees.
Among the Wootton representatives were Mr E. Gallop, Mr I. March, Mr E. Gray, Mr and Mrs Rashley, Mr and Mrs Havelock, Mr G. Sprake, Mr Plumley, Miss Moody and others.
From Cowes, Rev. W.R.A.Budd, Mr H. Spencer, Mr G. Moody, Mr and Mrs Arnold, Mrs Wall, Miss Lovell and Miss Arnold.
From Rookley, Rev. F. Sparrow, Mr S. Hollis. Mr C. Stallard, Mr J. Nobbs, Mr W Sibbick, Mr W Linington.
From Arreton, Mr and Mrs J. Blake, Mr F. Moore, Mr G. Guttridge, and the Misses Guttridge (3).
From Newport, Rev. J. C. Sweet, Mr and Mrs R. Bullen, Mr and Mrs H. Greengrass, Mr and Mrs Fleming, Mr and Mrs Atkey, The Misses Morey(2), Mr and Mrs Newnham, Mr I Gale.
From Ryde, Rev. W H. May, Mr and Mrs Brading, Mr and Mrs Taylor, Mr and Mrs Dashwood.
The hymn, '0, Lord of Hosts' having been sung, a portion of scripture was read by the Rev. W H. May, prayer was offered by the Rev. W.R.A. Budd and the hymn 'This stone to thee in faith we lay' was sung. Before the stone-laying ceremony was proceeded with, the Rev. J.C. Sweet briefly referred to the circumstances which had led to this undertaking. They would remember that, during the fearful gale in March last, the chapel at Littletown was wrecked and the friends there, making up their minds to go forward, had entered upon the work of building a new chapel, for which the splendid site had been obtained. Though they were comparatively few in the district and were not over rich, they had the practical sympathy of many friends outside and they went forward with full hope that complete success would crown their efforts. Nine stones were laid, and details follow, the amounts in parentheses being the subscriptions in each case:-
This stone was laid by Miss C. Moody on behalf of Messrs William, George and M. Moody, in memory of their father (£10)
This stone was laid on October 21st, 1897 by Mrs R. Bullen, in memory of the late Rev. J. Way, former pastor of this circuit (£10.10s)
This stone was laid by the pastor, Rev J. C. Sweet, on behalf of various societies of this circuit (£30)
Mrs A. Tomkins (£5)
Mr and Mrs Greengrass (£2.2s)
Mrs F. Fleming (£5)
Mr J. Blake (£5.5s)
Mr J. Guttridge (£5.5s)
Laid by Mr E. Gallop on behalf of the teachers and scholars of the Sunday School (£1 with more to follow)
A handsome silver trowel and a polished mallet were used to lay the stones.
The Rev. A. Trengrove, President of the Bible Christian Conference, expressed the pleasure that it afforded him to be present on that occasion. He gave a brief history of the old chapel, which was built in 1846 and it had a good record in regard to its work. Whilst grateful for this, it was their hope and prayer that still better work would be done in the new building. Occupying a noble site, they were to have a beautiful chapel, schoolroom and vestry, and he hoped every part of the circuit would help in the funds of the Wootton chapel. Might God crown their efforts with abundant success. The afternoon's proceedings closed with the Benediction. The collection realised £6.9s.2d. A tea followed, spread in a barn at the Fatting-Park Farm, through the kindness of Mr E. Gallop. The building was nicely decorated with flowers and evergreens in various designs. After the tea, a meeting was held, presided over by Mr R. Bullen, Miss Alice Jacobs presiding at the organ. The chairman made the following financial statement.
- At the stone laying -£74. 2s. Od
- Collection -£ 6. 9s. 2d
- Collecting books and other sources at hand -£34. 18s. Od.
The Chairman said he has collected something like £25 and we should not forget their indebtedness to Mrs Chatfeild Clarke, who had allowed them the use of the room for their services and she had also sent them a cheque for £5.5s, while Mr Edgar Chatfeild Clarke had sent £2.2s. The Rev. A. Trengrove made an eloquent speech, after which Rev.J.C. Sweet proposed, the Rev.W.H. May seconded and the Rev. W.R.A. Budd supported a vote of thanks to Mr E. Gallop for the use of the barn, to the friends who had ably prepared the tea and decorated the place, to the donors for their liberality, and also to the President of Conference. The proposition was carried with acclamation. The Chairman, having been thanked for presiding, the proceedings terminated. The collection amounted to £5. 18s. 1d., making a total of £152. 9s. 3d. for the day. The new buildings will cost nearly £900, the contract price for the building being £885.00 Mr O. James of Ryde is the builder and Mr S. E. Tomkins is the architect. The structure will be of the best red brick, with Bath stone dressings and the fittings of pitch-pine with open timber roof and Portland stone corbels. The chapel will be 50 feet long and 25 feet in width and the schoolroom 20 feet by 16 feet. The windows will be of stained glass.
COUNTY PRESS ISSUE - SATURDAY MAY 7TH
1898 Opening of the new Bible Christian Chapel in Wootton.
The new Bible Christian chapel in Wootton, which has been erected near the railway station, in place of that which was destroyed in the gale of March 3rd last year, was opened on Thursday afternoon (May 5th) in the presence of a very large congregation, despite the unfavourable weather. The building is built of Bath stone and red brick in the geometrical Gothic style, from the designs of Mr S.E. Tomkins by Mr Oliver James of Ryde, the cost being some £875. The appearance of the chapel, both interior and exterior, is very pleasing and the interior is especially attractive, combining solidity and strength with finish. The chapel itself is some 45 feet long by 20 feet broad, 11 feet high to the plate and about 18 feet to the ceiling. The seating arrangements, which will accommodate some 120 people, are in pitch-pine as also is the rostrum. The aisles are rather wide, to enable hinged seats to be used at the sides when required. The walls are dadoed with pitch-pine and finished with lined stucco. The iron casements to the windows are filled with stained glass. The ventilation is effected by two exhaust ventilators in the roof, with inlets in the windows. A schoolroom in the rear, 18 feet by 22 feet will accommodate about 100 children. There are also a vestry and a boiler room. Iron railings on a dwarf wall with Bath stone coping, surround the building and the ground is laid out with shrubs. A stone is placed at the top front of the building, on which is recorded the date of and the reason for its erection. There are also several memorial stones. Mr R. Bullen, J.P. of Newport, has taken great interest in the building and has acted as Hon Clerk of Works. The opening service was conducted by Rev. Dr.Woolcock. The singing was led by the Newport choir, Mr W.J. Bailey presiding at the organ. The Rev. gentleman named, preached from St. John, chapter 7 verse. 46 - 'never man spake like this man', and in the course of his powerful discourse, contrasted the teaching of the ancient prophets, philosophers and religious teachers with our Lord. There was a largely attended tea served in the school room and in a marquee at the back of the building, and a public meeting took place in the evening. At the evening meeting, Mr R. Bullen J.P., presided and addresses were delivered by the Rev. Dr. Woolcock, J. C. Sweet, W.R.A. Budd and W.H. May. During the proceedings, the chairman was presented of a portrait of himself in recognition of his good work for the denomination in the Isle of Wight. The Rev. J. C. Sweet made the presentation. The collection and promises made during the day amounted to £61. Os. 2d.
Although the building had now been finished and pulpit and pews were now in place, there remained other elements of furniture to be installed. A chair for the preacher was donated by Mr E. Morris of Newport, the cushion on the reading desk by Mr and Mrs Flux of Briddlesford Lodge and the pulpit bible and hymn book were presented by Mrs Havelock and Mr George Moody in memory of their mother and father. The land at the side of the chapel had been trenched, levelled and planted with grass at the expense of Mr R. Bullen, J.P. of Newport.
So now, the society has successfully moved from Littletown to Station Road, which, according to the Ordnance Survey maps of the time, was known as Beech Road. The one hundred years which have passed since that opening service have seen many changes, some ups and downs but there has remained a strongly committed society and the membership is still around the average level of 25. 1 have tried to pick out items in the various minute books that will be of interest to those who are still connected to the chapel, and for those who will see the names and efforts of members of their families.
We find the first record, in 1911, of necessary maintenance to the building. It was re-painted, presumably on the outside, by Mr Please and Mr R. Gutteridge repeated the exercise in 1925. By that time, the debt on the building was down to £100 and also in that year, the church was licensed for weddings, although a Registrar had to be in attendance. (This latter requirement was only lifted in 1997). In 1925 also, we find the first recorded mention of leaks in the entrance porch. Some things neverchange! The debt on the building was finally eliminated in 1926. In September of that year, young members of the society asked to become full members of the church and in the next month, they were received into membership.
1932 was the year when all the Primative Methodists and the Wesleyan Methodists amalgamated with the United Methodists, to become the Methodist Church. The Bible Christian Connexion, the Methodist New Connexion and the United Methodist United Free Church had entered into a union in 1907 and was thereafter known as the United Methodist Church. The records suggest that this was not a happy time for members of Station Road or in many other Methodist societies. The minutes would appear to be very carefully worded so that, presumably, the least number of members would be upset. The membership of the society, which had been showing a pleasing growth, returned to the average 25 level. The impression one gets is that a divide had grown in the society as a result of impositions from the wider Methodist Church. There is also a suspicion that the reduction of three chapels to one originated at this time. The Primitive and Wesleyan Methodists had already merged their properties and I suspect that there was pressure for Station Road chapel to close. This objective still recurs from time to time, some 65 years later!
The oil lamps that hung from the roof timbers were changed for electric lights in 1935 and, in the following year, the text over the pulpit, 'Thy work, 0 God is in the Sanctuary', was commissioned by Mr George Moody, Jnr, who now owned Fatting-Park farm. In early 1939, the drive and car park area were purchased and in 1940, some 8 Sunday School members were approached to be put on trial for membership of the society. As this has now taken us up to the Second World War, there is no record of any meetings between 1940 and 1946. Pew rents were abolished in 1945. A Mamba reed organ was purchased and installed in 1946, but it would be the mid-50's before a rota of "willing lads" to pump the organ, was made and I am sure that these "lads" were delighted when an electric blower was added to it in 1961! At a church meeting in October 1948, hopes were expressed that the church and the schoolroom could be extended. Plans were drawn up and discussed at a meeting in March, 1956 and authority to go ahead with the extension was given later in that year and the work finished in 1957. The work included enlarging the schoolroom and vestry and providing a kitchen and toilets.
The Sunday School became known as the Junior Church in November 1957. A week-night activity would be held on Friday evenings at 6pm until 8.30pm. The Junior church had maintained a good average of 25 members with some fluctuations between 20 and 30. Seven teachers were available in most years, sometimes more. In the 1960's, the Junior church was run by Tony Lake and in 1973, Miss Jenny Baker ( now Gaches) took over. In 1969, Jenny had restarted the Youth Club and is still in charge of both these activities. In 1971, the Youth Club participated in a sponsored walk and raised £1 00 to fund the supply of some chairs for the schoolroom.
Changes were made to the communion area in the church by Mr R. Boyce, in 1963. Up to this time, the bread and wine was taken to the congregation seated in their pews. In order that people could take communion at a rail, the removal of the front pew was authorised and a kneeling platform and cushions were provided at the foot of the communion rail. Two copper vases were donated by Mrs Oliver for flowers at the organ. At the same time, infra-red heating elements were installed in the church. In 1955, a communion table was installed in memory of Mr and Mrs J.V. Wadham and in 1962, a pair of matching chairs were added to the communion area.
Membership in the 1950's had averaged out at about 40 but as the society moved in to the 1960's, there was a gradual decline to the level of 25 or 26. In 1965, matters came to head when a number of members transferred out or ceased to meet. There had again been vigorous moves to persuade the Station Road society to close down and amalgamate with High Street. Historically, the society had felt that it had been through many trials and tribulations and wished to see that the work that their forefathers had put in train, should be continued and, where possible, improved. Apart from the times that the Circuit Stewards wished to increase the assessment by large amounts in one go (in one case by approx 50%), the society had always been solvent and had paid its dues at the required times.
In July, 1974, authority was granted to purchase the electronic organ that we now see in the chapel. It would be February, 1975 before the organ was fully paid,although private loans had been needed to achieve this and these loans were repaid at a later date. In 1984, the rear pew was removed to allow access from side to side without the need to go into the porch. The siting of this passageway to its current position was changed in 1997 when the church walls were decorated, the schoolroom was redecorated, new curtains hung and new heaters and lights installed. In the latter years of the 70's, members saved all their newspapers which were sold for re-cycling. The proceeds of this activity, masterminded by Mr R. Boyce, allowed materials to be purchased for maintenance of the church and some other equipments, which would otherwise have had to be funded from church funds. 1981 was the point when the new Church Government system was installed at Station Road. Trustees were disbanded and the Church Council became the main governing body. All members of the church could choose to be members of the Church Council and all chose to be so. Friends and adherents could and can attend Council meetings but have no voting rights. In 1985, Mrs Win Jones was permitted to erect the lighted wooden cross which is mounted on the wall behind the pulpit, in memory of her mother, Mrs Davis.
Map showing the positions of the old and new buildings
MINISTERS RESPONSIBLE FOR WOOTTON STATION ROAD
- 1898 Rev. W.H.May
- 1913-1918 Rev. R.J.Harris
- 1918-1922 Rev. F.Husband
- 1922-1924 Rev. H.Hinchcliffe
- 1924-1928 Rev. J.K.Scholefield
- 1928-1930 Rev. G.Osborne
- 1930-1932 Rev. T,Trolley
- 1932-1934 Rev. T.Marlow
- 1934-1937 Rev. L.W.Juby
- 1937-1940 Rev. F.Ross
- 1940-1945 Rev. W.P.Jubb
- 1945-1949 Rev. J.H.Fisher
- 1949-1953 Rev. W.Trinder
- 1953-1957 Rev. A.Dawson
- 1957-1962 Rev. D.E.Henry
- 1962-1970 Rev. A.Triffitt
- 1970-1975 Rev. W.R.Forward
- 1975-1977 Rev I.C.Cockling
- 1977-1978 Rev. Mr. E.Lewis [Retired Salvation Army Officer]
- 1978-1980 Rev. Veronica Faulks
- 1980-1986 Rev. D.Jenkins
- 1986-1991 Rev. M.Lewis
- 1991-1999 Rev. L.Goulden
SOCIETY STEWARDS (Actual dates may be somewhat inaccurate)
- 1913-1936 Mr G. Attrill, Mr W.H. Cooke
- 1936-1940 Mr A. Oliver, Mr V. Wadham
- 1940-1963 Mr A. Oliver, Mr S. Barton
- 1955-1958 Mr A. Oliver, Mr S. Barton, Mr W.E. Matthews, Mr Collinson
- 1958-1963 Mr A. Oliver, Mr S. Barton, Mr A Reddick
- 1963-1973 ? Mr Barton, Mr A. Reddick
- 1973-199? Mr R. Barton, Mr R. Boyce, Mrs D. Collinson
- 1974-199? Mr R. Barton, Mr R. Boyce
- 1986-199? Mr R. Barton, Mr R. Boyce, Mrs G. Baker,Mrs S. Woodward
- 199?-present Mrs G. Baker, Mrs S. Woodward
- 1913-1936 Mr G. Attrill
- 1936-1939? Mr R. Gutteridge
- 1939?-1947 Mr J. Wadham
- 1947-1964 Mr W. E. Mattews
- 1964-1973 Mr R. Barton
- 1973-1980 Mrs D. Collinson
- 1980-1984 Mrs V. Hutchinson
- 1984-1992 Mr D. Boyce
- 1992-1995 Mrs J. Toms
- 1995-Present Mrs J. Lake
JUNIOR CHURCH SUPERINTENDENT
- 1947-19?? Mr.G.Creighton
- 19??-1956 Mr.J.Dodd
- 1956-1963 Mr.G.creighton
- 1963-1973 Mr.A.Lake
- 1973-Present Mrs.J.Gaches
- 1912-1929 Mrs J. Havelock
- 1929- Miss M. Ablitt
- Miss M. Maskell
- Mr J. V. Wadham
- Mrs E. Boyce
- Mrs D.Scadding
- Mrs J. Lake
- Mrs E.Ireland