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Brierley Methodist Church 2020

After fourteen  years of fund raising and planning we have now completed the renovation of our church which was formally opened on the 27th. May 2012.

We have a family service at 10-15 am, each Sunday  
All are welcome to attend.

Regular weekday activities. include

Monday                         Women’s Knit and Natter  2.00 p.m.  

                                        Slimming World 5.45  weekly


Wednesday               Bible Study   7 pm.                             


Thursdays                Pop-In morning,  9.15 to 11.15 a.m., come and enjoy a cup of tea/coffee

                                    and a chat.  Everybody welcome.   Proceeds for church funds        


One of our late members, Elizabeth A Deighton, successfully completed 50 years as a Methodist local preacher. To mark this very special occasion she was presented with a certificate by Rev. Inderjit Bhogal, president of the Methodist Conference. Margaret Watson

.'God Is With Us' an early history of our church

This booklet was written when we were working towards building a new church hall. The project was completed in 1972.
The  photographs in this booklet have not transferred to digital format 

Elizabeth Deighton & Edwin Hambleton 1965


I welcome the opportunity of writing a brief preface to this history so that I may pay a well deserved tribute to the industry, resourcefulness and patience of its two authors. In the course of their researches they have accomplished both "field work" and "arm-chair" study, travelling hundreds of miles and reading through thousands of words. Behind the present work lies a wealth of diligent and painstaking effort. Any attempt to gain a better understanding of our fore-fathers, their thoughts, aims and achievements, is not only rewarding for its own sake, but is of considerable value toward a better understanding of the present. We have here a series of pictures of the origin and development of Methodism in Brierley, and from each of them there is something to be learned. As we may look back with pride and thankfulness, so by the grace of God we may look forward with confidence and hope. It is the wish of each one of us that this little book may, in its own way, contribute to the well being of our beloved church.

Paul Dickinson.


Can you imagine the Brierley of 1810? It had no school, institute, or place of worship. Those who attended the Anglican Church had to walk to Felkirk. Most of the houses that now form our village had yet to be built, and there were still a hundred years to pass before the birth or our first council estate. Lindley House had overlooked Brierley Corner for eighty years, and most of the farms that we know would be here, but the road through the village - a rough track along which the local carrier's cart passed, visiting Barnsley and Wakefield on alternate days was bordered by tiny cottages long since pulled down and forgotten.

This was the place where our Brierley Methodist Society was born.

George Third was on the throne, Beethoven and Schubert were still living, Nelson had met his death at Trafalgar only five years previously and England was still at war with Napoleon when the Wesleyan Methodist Church was built in this village. The society of 'people called Methodists' had doubtless existed in the village for some time, meeting for prayer and fellowship in the village cottages, when they realised their first great ambition, a church building of their own.

In 1813, a plot of land called South Croft was bought from Mrs. Elizabeth Dymond, widow of James Dymond, an ancestor of the Dymonds of Burntwood Hall, for 5. The terms of the agreement were laboriously written on three huge sheets of parchment, and forbade Mrs Dymond to "erect any buildings, plant any trees. or do anything whatsoever within eighteen feet of the building." It was laid dawn for the Wesleyans themselves that in their building they must "preach no other doctrines, than those contained in the four volumes of sermons and Notes on the New Testament by the said John Wesley."

Built by the Wesleyans in 1813, our first Methodist building is now used for storing fruit and vegetables. Door and windows have been bricked up and the inside walls specially treated to render it suitable for this purpose.

We have the names of only four of the members of that first Brierley society. Three, Jonathan Kay, Joseph Longley and John Shaw appear on the list of trustees and we have no further mention of the last two, but Jonathan Kay is mentioned elsewhere as Class Leader along with a Mr. Parkinson. There were three well known people on that first trust. Mr. Timothy Sykes of Shafton was reputed to have heard Wesley, as a boy of nine, and to have decided on the spot that he too would become a Methodist preacher. He was twenty-five years old when he joined our trust, and he had been on the plan from the age of sixteen. He was to continue in that work until his death in 1864. Timothy was the first secretary of the Methodist movement at Shafton, and his memorial is to be found in the Methodist church there. The second was a Cudworth blacksmith and local preacher, William Smith, father of Rev. John Smith in whose memory the Cudworth Methodist church was named.

William Smith died outside the Wesleyan Church at Brierley when he was about to enter to conduct a service on Tuesday evening November 19th 1839. He outlived his more famous son by eight years.

The only trustee other than Timothy Sykes, who lived to have a place on the second trust, was the architect of our church, John Whitworth of Barnsley. Six years older than Timothy, he was one of the most active members of the Barnsley Wesleyan Circuit and served as trustee for many of its churches. He gave his services as architect entirely free in the building of many other churches besides Brierley, including some non Wesleyans, one of which was Blucher Street, Barnsley. John Whitworth was also joint founder of Pitt Sreet Sunday School, and was superintendent of the girl's department for many years. He died in 1863. Also on that first trust were; Benjamin Methley, of the well known Methleys of Shafton, Joseph Simpson, also or Shafton, John Tee and Joseph Haythorre of Hemsworth, Joseph Stocks and George Hirst of Barnsley, Joseph Button of Cudworth William Lawton of Stubbs Walling, and Joshua Wood.

The church was a modest little building, standing some yards back from what is now Church Street, with its back to the road and its windows overlooking the fields. Although small, it could accommodate a congregation of a hundred and sixty. Immediately to left inside the door were the choir stalls, with a partition round them high enough to permit a small child to hide away in there unseen except from the round fronted pulpit in the centre. On the far side of the pulpit were choir seats to accommodate seventeen singers. In the body of the church were six rows of forms, separated by a centre aisle. Two stone pillars supported a balcony that had five rows of pews, and was reached by a wooden staircase at the right of the door.

Pew rents in the little church, as recorded by John Whitworth were:- Gallery sittings 3s 6d, 3s 0d, 2s 0d & Is 6d, Cotton sittings Is 6d & Is 0d. Debt on the church was 74. 1 0. 0. in 1824. He also records some details of membership, which in 1823 was forty, but by 1832 had dropped to twenty-five. There must have been a substantial increase later however, for in 1846 pew rents totalled 7. 4. 2. which suggests a membership of at least fifty in that year.

Whatever their progress in other ways. the Wesleyans were not very quick in paying off the debt on their church, for when the new trust was formed in 1855, they inherited the old debt, "74. 10. 0, some time ago borrowed by the trustees and interest thereon, on the personal security of the trustees."

The new trust included three Brierley names, John Hounsfield, farmer; James Chappell, tailor; and George Wilson, saddler. The others were:- Thomas Cope, draper; Henry Richardson and John Geld ' linen manufacturers. and William Lawton, schoolmaster, all of Barnsley; John Twibell, coal and timber merchant, of Dodworth; William Jackson, miller of Grimethorpe; John Goody, farmer of Shafton; William Aked Hirst and Thomas Downs Hall, farmers of South Hiendley; and Thomas Bailey, joiner of Carlton.

We have record of one wealthy member of the society at this time. A Mr. Cooper Howard of Brierley Manor, possessor of a famous collection of pictures and valuable books. was said to be a "Wesleyan local preacher in great request at tea meetings and annual services." He appears to have been a person of little faith however, for when he lost all his money in the Leeds Bank which became insolvent in 1868, he lost the balance of his mind and his sister took him to reside in France.

One of the annual meetings instituted in the late 1800s was the Good Friday ham tea. People from all over the wide circuit attended, and some must have brought with them very healthy appetites, for after arriving at Cudworth station on the train from Barnsley, they would walk to Brierley across Ferrymoor Common, there being no further transport. The meeting would have a chairman and two speakers. When the addresses were over. it would develop into a free for all testimony meeting, as people leapt to their feet one after another to tell the crowded church what God had done for them.

The Good Friday tea appears to have been discontinued in 1900, for an item entitled "The Town Rats Visit the Country Rats" appeared in the May issue of the Wesleyan Magazine that year, and was a complaint from the young people of Pitt Street, who had been in the habit of visiting 'That city set on an hill which is Brierley," but had found that this year the friends at Brierley were "hiding their light under a bushel." They went on to describe how they had sought and found tea elsewhere. The Good Friday tea was resumed in 1903 and continued until after union, when after years of discussion it was felt that it was not fitting to celebrate so solemn a day in this way, and the custom was discontinued.

Another Wesleyan celebration was held on purchasing the New Wesleyan Hymn Book in 1905 The inevitable meat tea was followed by a musical evening, with Rev. G. H. Armstrong in the chair, and the combined choirs of Brierley, Shafton, Hemsworth and South Hiendley to sing a selection from the new book. The event raised over 6.

The greatest celebration held in the Wesleyan church was the centenary in 1910. A wonderful tea, with strawberries from the strawberry fields for which Brierley was famous in those days and fresh cream from the local farms, was served. Mr. J. Stothard, then a Brierley member and local preacher, had promised that if sufficient money was raised for renovation and redecoration, he would make the church a gift of stained glass windows. Mr. T. Salmon, a local preacher and member of our own society preached an inspiring sermon to a packed church that evening, and money from the tea and collection realised the magnificent sum for those days, of 60. The church was completely renovated, and Edwardian stained glass
windows were installed.
Edwardian window now in Brierley Joint Methodist church.
Edwardian Window now in Brierley Methodist Church

In the early days of the Wesleyan church, services were 10 a.m. and 6 p.m. Somewhere along the line an afternoon service was substituted for the morning one. A rota was devised for preacher's teas, and those with a double appointment would have tea with a member. There is a story of an occasion when this went wrong. A Mr. Cloak was preaching, but through an oversight no provision had been made for his tea. One by one the worshippers shook his hand and went home leaving him to wander around hungry until the time of the evening service. He drank some water from Frickley troughs and returned to his evening congregation without mentioning his tea less condition. The following quarter he was planned at Brierley again and entering the pulpit, he hung a bundle tied in a red handkerchief over the front. After the congregation had gazed curiously at it for some time, he explained to his stricken hearers that this was his tea, brought to eat with the water he would doubtless have to drink from Frickley troughs.

The Wesleyan church was evangelically minded. From time to time they held campaigns for bringing the village into the church. In 1920 Sister Ada Brown conducted a mission here, and there are members of our present society who made their decision for Christ during that mission.

Ten years later Brothers Manstone and Small of Cliff College were amongst us. Here is Roy Manstone's own account of that mission. "It was in April 1930 during the students vacation, when under the leadership of Rev. Norman G. Dunning, a tutor at the college, fifty students took part in a mission to the Barnsley Methodist circuits. Brother Angus Small and myself were at the Brierley Wesleyan church, and stayed in the home of Mr. and Mrs. Frank Perry of Clifton Villas. We had meetings each evening, and each morning we went into Barnsley to report and to attend a rally on May Day Green. We had services for the Brierley children, and marched through the village in procession with flags and banners, singing songs and choruses. There were twenty-seven converts daring the mission.

The campaign concluded with a united rally of the circuit churches in Barnsley. There was a great march of witness through the streets, and a final meeting in Pitt Street church, led by Rev. Norman Dunning.

It was the opening of Brierley colliery in 1912 that brought two families to the Wesleyan church, whose service and continued membership through the years have been invaluable, first to the Wesleyan, and later to the united society.

The coming of Mr. Joseph Shackleton filled a great need in the Sunday School. Mr. Charles Edward Kenyon and Mr. Tom Moore had been joint superintendents for many years, but Mr. Moore had left to live at Ryhill, and Mr. Kenyon was left to carry on alone. Mr. Shackleton, a younger man, not only made an able superintendent, and served the church in this capacity for many years, but considerably increased the size of the Sunday School by bringing along his own nine children. He also served as choir master over a long period.

Mr. Frank Perry became organist, and Mrs. Perry gave valuable service along with Mrs. Stenton Kenyon as junior class leader and later as society steward and trustee. Each of these families sent out a missionary. Jesse Shackleton went to Australia on January 18th. 1927, and Raymond Perry left for the same continent two years later.

Unfortunately Jesse Shackleton was to live and work in Australia for only two years before meeting a tragic death by drowning. At the time of the accident he had just entered college at Bristowe, after working at Mitchell and then Howard. On November 10th 1929 a memorial service was held for him in the Wesleyan church, when the little building was packed with his sorrowing friends and relatives. The preacher was Mr. W. H. Jackson of Barnsley who had known Jesse from childhood, and he preached on "A Vision of the Risen Christ."

Raymond Perry served God's work in Australia for ten years, and from there he went to Papua in 1939. On May 14th 1949 a united church met for a supper and social evening in honour of his return home on a short visit. The church made full use of his talents whilst he was amongst us, and it was regretfully that the congregation bade him goodbye when he preached his last sermon at Brierley on November 6th. Mr. Horace Shackleton was organist at the service. and the church was packed to capacity.

The Wesleyan Bright Hour was formed in 1923 with Mrs. J Shackleton as its first president, an office she was to hold until her death in 1950. Mrs. L Rowley was the first secretary, and still holds that office. After the 1930 mission the Wesleyan church increased in spiritual power and witness. Writing in the magazine for Oct. 1932 Mr. John Perry said, "Things are beginning to look up at Brierley. Congregations are better, and more interest seems to be taken in things. This is an opportune time (if I dare say it) of setting about a new chapel. Note that I say a new chapel, we are tired of saying our new chapel."

The Sunday School in particular was making great strides forward. In 1933 no less than 100 singers were on the platform for the Sunday School Anniversary, and it required five drays to take them on their Whit Monday parade of the village. In 1934. of the last Anniversary in the Wesleyan church, a report stated, "Our Anniversary gets bigger and better every year." The Wesleyan Sunday School certainly ended on a note of triumph and prosperity.

The Bright Hour was the department of the church that anticipated Methodist Union In 1931 the annual meeting recorded its gratitude to the speakers for the previous month who were all Primitives. A year later the two Bright Hours in the village combined, and the meetings were held in each church alternately. The 1933 Bright Hour anniversary services were held, in the afternoon in what the ladies now called "our Cliffe Lane branch," and in the evening in the ex-Wesleyan church.

The church was saddened in April 1934, so shortly before moving into the new building, by the death of Charles Edward Kenyon. He was 80 years of age, and had held every office possible, during his long service to the We31eyan cause at Brierley. In the same year Mr. J. Stackletcn retired from all the offices he held in the church, He had given continual service to the church and Sunday school from his appointment as Sunday school secretary at Eastmoor when he was eighteen years old. He had been superintendant at the Ryhill Wesleyan Sunday School for seventeen years, and at Brierley for twenty-two years At Brierley he had also held office as choirmaster, trust treasurer, trust secretary, chapel steward, organist and leader of the Band of Hope. The Sunday school teachers presented him with a copy of the New Methodist Hymn Book, and a long service certificate was presented to him by Mr. Lewis Rowley, whose own membership was the oldest in the society,

Mr. Rowley was born in the village and brought up in the Primitive Sunday School but transferred to the Weleyan in his late teens His membership continued until his death in 1961 at the age of 68. He served in the Sunday school and held office as society steward and trustee. It was on this same occasion that Mr. George Isaac Taylor, a local preacher and member of the society, received a certificate for thirty-nine years Sunday school service. Some time later he and his wife went to live at Loughborough.


In 1852, the Primitive Methodist church was built in Brierley. A plot of land named Cliffe Close, or Briers Butts, was bought from David Winterbottom of Stavely Works, and a chapel was built for the "use of Primitive Methodists." Its trustees were bidden in the deeds to "allow Primitive Methodist preachers, and such preachers as should be appointed by conference, to officiate freely and uninterruptedly." The first trust was composed completely of Brierley men, and numbered three labourers, George Thorpe, Thomas Gibson and John Bedford, three gardeners; George Kenyon, John Kenyon and Henry Kenyon; Thomas Dunhill; a farmer, John Dunhill; a farm servant, Thomas Rawlin; shoemaker, and Squire Hattersley, draper. The deeds stated that they must appoint a steward to receive all monies due and to pay all debts if the debts were paid, the surplus must be used to pay off debts on other churches. The trustees were equally liable for the church debts. and should one be compelled to pay. then the rest must pay their share.

Although we have little information concerning the first twenty years of the Cliffe Lane church, there seems to have been an active society there in the 1870s and 80s. Camp meetings at Brierley on August 17th. 1884, July 27th. 1890 and July 26th. 1891 were announced in the circuit plans of the period. We have no record of the events after they took place, but we may assume that they were successful since they were repeated. The first British camp meetings, organised by Hugh Bourne and his associates at Mow Cop in 1807, and repeated in subsequent years and in various places, were the events for which Wesleyan Conference eventually expelled Hugh Bourne, thus bringing about the birth of Primitive Methodism. A Camp meeting involved a series of services, preaching and prayer meetings, held in some open space and covering a day or more. The worshippers would, after a service together, break up into groups for prayer, returning to the preaching stand for periods later.

The Brierley Camp meetings were all held on Sundays and began at 10a.m. We can readily imagine the Brierley members, together with people who would come from different parts of the Primitive circuit, gathered in a field belonging to a farming family of the society probably the Wilsons to listen to a team of local preachers, led by one of the circuit ministers. It is interesting to note that a preacher at the 1890 & 91 camp meetings, was Mr. Herbert Fisher of Ryhill. His name appears on the second trust of the Brierley church. and five years after his death in 1929, his widow was to he the official opener of the new united church.

There are descendants of the Fishers in our present church, Mr. Fisher's great niece Mrs. Marjorie Newsome and his great nephew Mr. Cecil Kenyon. Mr. Kenyon has roots in both Wesleyan and Primitive societies, since his paternal grandfather was Mr. Charles Edward Kenyon, previously mentioned, and his mother was formerly Miss Lucy Fisher, organist of the Primitives, and for many years unpaid caretaker for that church.

Two of the early Brierley Primitives seem to have aspired to the office of local preacher. Mr. John Kenyon who lived at Red House Farm, was 'on trial' on the plan of 1879, and came on 'full plan' in 1880. His name appeared on only one plan for that year, on the two following plans a blank space appeared where his name had been, but on the next it was closed up. as though the circuit authorities had hoped to have him back. but the hope had finally faded. A Mr. C. Johnson of Brierley also appeared on the plan for one quarter in 1883. A little more consistent was the society steward. Mr. C. Hattersley, son of one of the first trustees, is known to have held that office for at least the twenty six years from 1870 to 1896. He probably served for much longer, but we have no record of the exact period.

On a document of 1897 a new list of trustees included only three Brierley names. John Kenyon who had obviously prospered since the first trust, for he was here described as a market gardener, George Fletcher, storekeeper and son-in-law of former trustee Squire Hattersley, and John Wilson, farmer. Of all names mentioned in connection with that early Primitive society, John Wilson's appears to be remembered with most affection. A man who loved his God and gave to his church freely throughout the whole of his life. He was remembered chiefly for his earnest and sincere praying. The remainder were:- Thomas Bragger, Themes Sanderson and Walter Hall, miners; Herbert Fisher, Colliery manager; William Carnelly Haigh, Colliery cashier; all of Ryhill, William Buffin a Cudworth miner, James Chivers of Barnsley, an insurance agent and a local preacher popular at the Brierley camp meetings; Mark Oldham, coal merchant; and John Rowney, insurance agent also of Barnsley, and James Upperdine a Mapplewell shopkeeper.

It is still told that the lighting in the Cliffe Lane church in those days was provided by members of the congregation, who used lanterns to light them through the streets and then places them, still lit, in the church to give light for the service. In the early twentieth century however, the light in the Primitive building must have been very dim, for its membership had dwindled to what hardly constituted a church. George Fletcher has gone to live at Rotherham, John Kenyon's name appears to have vanished from church affairs, whether by death or removal is not quite certain. The only known members of the church at that time were the Stanley Fishers and the Wilsons, and matters had almost reached a standstill.

The colliery opening, that brought the Shackletons and Perrys to the Wesleyans, brought new life to the Primitive society. From the flourishing Ryhill Mill Lane Church, came the Hibberts, Halls, Haighs, and Beaumonts. What a shock their new church must have been to them! Mrs G. H. Hall still remembers her first service there, and how depressed she was by the paraffin lamps and scanty congregation. On returning home she declared that she simply could not worship there. But they did. In the good old Primitive tradition they set to work to revive a dying cause. They had no congregations, no gas and no money. Accounts had not been kept, and not a penny of church money could be traced.

A society meeting was held on August 28th 1913. when Mr G. H. Hall was appointed class leader, to have charge of class tickets, and be responsible for getting in class money. and to arrange a weekly class meeting immediately. He was also appointed secretary. Mr. Stanley Fisher as the new treasurer was instructed to buy books for the correct keeping of accounts. The money was to be invested in the Yorkshire Penny Bank in the names of John Wilson, Stanley Fisher and Rev. J. H. Robertshaw. They also resolved to buy a dozen new hymn books at two shillings each. A new beginning had been made.

Five months later they had 8 in the bank and were looking into the cost of more comfortable seating for their church. In December 1914 they held a sale of work, and whilst we have no record of the proceeds, we know that they paid 22 into their banking account in January. By 1919 they had purchased a piano. pulpit bible, brushes etc. for the caretaker, and had accepted the gift of a pulpit hymnal from Mr. W. Heron, formerly of Cudworth, who on coming to live in Brierley had joined the society. In that year Mr John Wilson retired from the office of society steward, which he had held for many years The society presented him with a hymn book and placed on record their appreciation of his faithful service.

That year marked too the opening of the building fund. The members pledged themselves to raise their bank balance from 45 to 100 in the following twelve months. they adopted the envelope system of giving, the older members sold scent cards and satchets. whilst the Sunday School scholars sold bricks; an Easter sale of work was followed by a series of faith teas and lectures, and finally a Christmas bazaar.

At a special trustee's meeting a year later, it was decided to buy two freehold cottages from Mr. Wilson for 300, and in May 1921 only 100 of this was still owing. It was decided to repay the sum, and the meeting recorded its thanks to Messrs J. and T. Wilson for the loan of the money interest free for ten months. The cottages were bought with a view to the eventual building of a new church on the site, but when plans were submitted to the appropriate authority, permission to build was refused as the site, on Cross Hills, was too rear the main road. The trustees therefore decided to raise the rents to five shillings, and they continued as dwelling houses.

Very little success attended the cottage venture, for in 1921 the local council condemned the earth closets attached to them, and as they had not the money to provide water closets, the cottages could no longer be used as dwelling houses. They decided to advertise the cottages as lock up shops, and they were eventually let to Mr. J. Lawton, a trustee, and to a Mr. Toulson, at four shillings a week rent. Mr. G Porter of Barnsley sent a man to estimate the cost of repairing the cottages and making them into a chapel, but we have no record of his findings. The trustees had also applied for prices of army huts of suitable size for use as a church, but this proved too costly and the idea was abandoned. In 1922 they resolved to continue the cottages as lock up shops and to enquire into the cost of having the existing building renovated and cleared.

The idea of new premises still persisted and two years later they sent a deputation to Cpt. Addy of Brierley Hall, to ask if the Hodroyd Coal Company would render any assistance toward the erection of new Sunday School premises, and a year later they withdrew their money from the Yorkshire Penny Bank, and invested in the Primitive Methodist Chapels Aids Association. Meanwhile the normal work of the little church went on. The Bright Hour besides working for the building fund, supplied the church with a gas boiler, linoleum for the chapel floor and gallery, and many other necessities. Throughout these years they enjoyed a warm friendship with the Wesleyans, and when moves toward Methodist Union were made, both societies at Brierley were more than ready for it.

In 1931 the Primitives appointed four representatives to the newly formed Methodist Council. They were Mrs. Hibbert, Mr. W Beaumont and Mr. & Mrs G. H. Hall. In September of that year a joint meeting of the trustees of the Brierley Wesleyan and Primitive churches took place. Rev. W. A. R. Collins, superintendent of the Primitive circuit was in the chair, and others present were: Messrs W. C. Haigh. E. Lycett, C. A. Hall and C. Rowley, A. V. Mosley, C. H. Broomhall, L Rowley, J. Shackleton, and Mesdames G. H. Hall. A. Haigh. J. Shackleton, W. Beaumont, L. Rowley, C. Wilson and F. Perry.

At this momentous meeting it was cordially agreed that the trustees of the two churches should unite in a new building scheme, and a small committee of Messrs W. C. Haigh, C. H. Broomhall, R. J. Soper. J. Shackleton, G. H. Hall and the two superintendent ministers, Revs W. G. Thorn and W. A. R. Collins was appointed to inspect sites on which to build the new united church.At a meeting of that committee on November 23rd. 1932 it was stated that correspondence had passed between the manager of Barclays Bank at Hemsworth and Rev. Collins concerning the land and buildings of the Brierley working men's club, but as the site was not for sale they could proceed no further in the matter, and they went on to discuss other suitable plots. Eventually the club did become available, and despite much difference of opinion, was purchased by the united Methodist society for conversion to a church, at a cost of 1,200.


On October 11th. 1934 the new church was once a working men's club. which was converted to the cause of Christ  Brierley Methodist Church was opened by eighty six years old Mrs Herbert Fisher of Havercroft, an old friend of the Primitive society and relative of most of its members. The opening was preceded by two intensely moving services. The two societies met separately for the last time in the buildings in which they had worshipped for so many years.

Edwardian stained glass window from the old Wesleyan church

In the Wesleyan Church, the stained glass windows had been replaced with the plain windows from the club. The seats too had been removed to the new premises, and the members who crowded into the little room, had to stand for the short service which was conducted by Rev. Edward Penna. The service concluded with the singing of "God be with you till we meet again" and after a solemn benediction they moved silently out of the building, to walk in double file up the road to the new Methodist church.

At the Cliffe Lane church a similar scene was taking place with Rev. P. Tillotson in charge. His usually cheerful face solemn for this very solemn occasion. He too led his former congregation in their last service here together, before walking to meet that other congregation with whom they were to become one.

At the gate of their new church the two processions merged, a couple from each alternately passing in. Mr. W. Carnelly Haigh J. P. presiding over the opening said, "I believe there is a bright future for Methodism in Brierley, but it will mean more responsibility and more unity of purpose than ever before." Mr. Alva Wright of Hemsworth, the architect responsible for the conversion of the premises and a trustee, handed the key to Mrs. Fisher who opened the door and asked God's blessing on His new house. Rev. E. Penna presented Mrs, Fisher with a new Methodist Hymn Book and Silvia Osborne, then eight years old, presented a bouquet.

Then the Brierley Methodists went into their new church making Methodist Union an established fact in one little village. A terrific crowd had gathered for the opening and although the building could seat only one hundred and fifty, two hundred and fifty people managed to squeeze inside to hear Rev W. G. Thorn, now of Rotherham, preach on "God is a spirit, and they who worship Him must worship Him in spirit and in truth" Nearly all that huge crowd stayed to tea, and afterwards the church was packed again for an evening meeting at which Mr. R. J. Soper was in the chair, and the speakers were Rev. Thorn, and the new Pitt Street minister, Rev. George E. Johnson.

Rev. W. A. R. Collins, who had presided over the first meeting of the site finding committee, preached on the first Sunday. The building was packed once again for the evening service, and it is on record that over one hundred people stayed for an after service prayer meeting, when thirty six prayers were offered. During the last week of that memorable October, a mission was conducted by brothers Kee and Turner of Cliff College, and the new society met night after night to hear the gospel message anew. There were large week night congregations and on the Sundays it was difficult to accommodate all who came. Forty four decisions were made during that mission, and on the last Sunday at an after meeting, one hundred men and women renewed their consecration vows to God

When the working men's club became a Methodist church the society inherited with the building, one of its members, Mr. Tom Page. A number of the club members had agreed together that when the building, became a church they would continue to attend that church Mr. Page was the only one to keep the agreement. From the time of the opening until he left the village, he was a most faithful member, and was held in great affection by the young people, to whom his home was always open. In 1936 another mission was held, this time the missioners were brothers Starkie and Waterhouse. They came to consolidate the work done by Kee and Turner sixteen months earlier, and there was a great deepening of the spiritual life of the church. It was about this time that many of the young people began to join Pastor Belcher's open air meetings on Brierley Cornmon, and some had the courage to staid up and testify to the great things God was doing in the new church.

The new society was not as slow as either the Wesleyan or Primitive societies in paying off the debt on their premises. At the time of opening, only 250 of the 1,200 was still owing, and by Easter 1937 this too had been paid, and the church was free of debt. Every section of the church had made a special effort in the beginning of that year, to wipe off the remaining debt. Mr. Turvey of Barnsley had come along with a lantern lecture, there was arranged by Mrs. Draper and Mrs. E. Hall, the Guild held a birthday party, silver tree and concert. Mr. and Mrs. Perry were host and hostess at this event. and a huge birthday cake was cut and sold. On March 15th. the choir arranged a concert when the programme was provided by the Carlton Male Voice Choir. Easter weekend was the grand climax to all this effort. Two Inspiring services were followed by a silver tree service on Monday afternoon. Rev. W. E. G. Giddings was in the chair and the tree was stripped by Mrs G. H. Gall. After tea a public meeting was addressed by Mr. W. H. Smith and Mr. E. Reed. At the close of that evening, two and a half years after the opening, the church was free from debt.

Two years later the war came, and many of the younger members went away on war work. Mr. Joseph Shackleton came out of his retirement and resumed charge of the Sunday School, "The Gatherings" were commenced on Saturday evenings, providing an opportunity for people of church and village to meet for a Social hour and games, and the Methodists remaining in the village made a notable contribution to the war effort.
In 1950 Mr. and Mrs. J. Shackleton died within five weeks of each other. A shining cross, given in their memory by their sons and daughters still stands on the communion table, reminding the church of two of its most beloved members

In February 1964 the Methodist church at Brierley held yet another mission, conducted by Cliff evangelists David Cole and Alec Passmore The church seemed to burst into new and vigourous life. Young people knelt at the communion rail to make their decision for Christ, and Christians of long standing entered into a fuller and richer Christian experience. Early morning prayer meetings held in the home of Mrs. Hambleton were a feature of the mission that brought great blessing to all who attended them.The close of the campaign left a living, re-vitalised Methodist community at Brierley.

The seats brought into our present building from the Wesleyan church have been replaced with pews, and we have a new communion rail since those days, but we have still, many reminders of both the old societies. We take holy communion from a set bought by Phyllis Hibbert and Annie Haigh of the Primitives with 2.12.6 earned selling matches, our hymn board was bought by seventeen years old Wesleyan Hilda Mosley, and the communion chairs by Mr. Shackleton in memory of his sons Jesse and Cyril both of whom died tragically, before the union.

Our greatest reminder of our brethren of past years however, is our present living church; our thriving Sunday School; our Girls' Life Brigade and our enthusiastic youth fellowship eager to talk together about the things of Christ. The influence of their prayers in our lively Sunday morning prayer meetings, and our well attended Sunday services. From their place in the 'great cloud of witnesses' they must surely rejoice in our Sunday School anniversaries and special occasions, when the church is packed to capacity, and late corners can't get in, and in our steadily growing membership which shows an increase of thirty per cent over the last two years.

God is indeed with us, even as He was with them. Mr. Joseph Shackleon often concluded his prayers with the petition "May each one of us run and not be weary, walk and not faint and we'll give Thee all the glory for Christ's sake." Today we rejoice in an unwearying and unfainting Christian society and we give God the glory for those people who, over the past hundred and fifty years have built our heritage in His name and for His sake.

E. A. Deighton.




The job of contacting those of our past ministers who are still alive. and the Cliff evangelists who conducted our missions, we saw would be a big one as they are scattered all over the country. We should base to make two journeys, one northwards and one southwards. First in the northwards journey was.-

Mr. HARRY STARKIE. Cliff Campaign Feb. 1936.

We began seeking Mr. Starkie at an address in Brierfield Lancs. This proved to be a derelict shop. We made a dozen more calls and met a number of people named Starkie, before we final.. discovered him in a newsagents shop in Burnley. We talked for a while, reviving memories, and later the following message arrived by post: "How pleased one is to be remembered by the church at Brierley. It is a long time since one was privileged to share in a mission at your church.

"One is reminded of the words in Nehemiah 4. 14. They were building the wall round the City of Jerusalem, there were hard and discouraging experiences, but the call came :- Remember the Lord, recall His dealing with your fathers, His favours, His guidance, His providence, His protection. Let God be in your thoughts, build with Him. Remember the gifts of God are for you so accept His gifts, His spirit, and go forth extending your borders with Him."

Rev. ALBERT VICKERS. Primitive 1913-19.

We drove up the road three times before we found the Vickers' flat in Grange over Sands. He was very pleased to see us and remembered a few people from his ministry at Brierley. Unfortunately he was awaiting the arrival of an ambulance to take his wife to a convalescent home, so we were not able to stay long. We rejoice that she is home again and better for the rest.

Rev. Vickers' message to us is:- "I rejoice to hear of the prosperous cause at Brierley, and pray God's blessing on the years to be. He is our refuge and strength. The Lord of Hosts is with us"

Rev. HERBERT RUSHWORTH. Methodist 1958.62

Rev. & Mrs. Rushworth had been warned of our coming. They showed us their chapel at Richmond and told us of the Borstal boys who attend there regularly. They also took us to see the Methodist church at Catterick. After tea we took a photograph and he gave us this message:

"We shall always have very happy memories of Methodism in Brierley. Perhaps the outstanding thought will be the friendliness of the people. We are very happy to hear of the progress that has been made recently, and the deepening of the spiritual life of many people. May the building, which is sorelv needed, soon become no longer a dream but a reality."

Rev. B. PARKIN. Methodist 1953-58

Although, living at Wakefield Rev. Parkin is the nearest of our past ministers, he is a busy man, and it took three visits and a phone call to contact him, but eventually he sent us this message:-

"Brierley is full of happy memories for me. Guild, Sunday School, G. L B, Films, Fellowship and Women's meeting, all endeavouring to make an impact on the district. Also the progress toward a financial position that would allow of the building of premises suitable for modern activities. In coming together thirty years ago you were pioneers, many have followed since. Because of that courageous act you are equipped to meet the tasks of this modern age. Mrs. Parkin joins with me in sending heartiest congratulations and good wishes."

Rev. P. TILLOTSON. Primitive 1931-34.

After a false start (we called next door) we found Rev. & Mrs. Tillotson were in and glad to see us. We explained our mission over a cup of tea and later went into the garden to admire the roses and take a photograph. Rev. Tillotson says to us:

"in 1934 two societies united to strengthen Methodist witness in Brierley. The important things that I remember were, the unity of purpose and aim, the sharing of fellowship and service, the loyalty of the united society to the mission and message of Methodism, and the Sunday evening prayer meeting. I wish for the society now in its new venture, God's blessing, and am grateful for all that is past."

Rev. J WEBSTER. Wesleyan 1926 29

Rev. Webster spent thirty years of his ministry in China. It was between missionary journeys that he came to Brierley. We found him at 'The Martins' a Methodist home for old people, where we were shown to his room. His bookcases were full of Chinese books, and Matron told us later that he is still tran31ating Chinese classics into English. He is eighty two. Rev. Webster sends his good wishes in our venture, and though he did not at first remember many people at Brierley, his memory was some what revived when a few names had been mentioned. We look the photograph in his room.

Rev. E. W. G. RUDDICK Methodist 1950 - 1953

Rev. Ruddick was on holiday when we were near his home so we could not visit him. He sent us a photograph and the following message:

"Greetings from my wife and family, and of course myself. I am so glad to hear of the splendid work being maintained at Brierley. During my ministry there were many interior changes. I remember happy years of fellowship and service. The well attended services, often lively trustees meetings, and the grand number of young people, some of whom became junior church members. What a delight it will be when the new church is built, but remember, the true church is composed of people who are in Christ their purpose is to worship God, and to bring others into His Kingdom."

Mr. G. WATERHOUSE Cliff Campaign 1936.

Mr. Waterhouse arrived at his London home just as we were explaining to his wife what it was all about. A photograph was taken and later he wrote us the following message:

"Just as the Lord provided the present church when it was needed so He will provide this new building that His work may prosper.

Rev. W. T. CROXFORD Wesleyan 1923 - 26

We arrived in time to join Rev. & Mrs. Croxford watching the last half hour of the test match. Mrs. Croxford had a broken in plaster, so we were bidden to help ourselves to the second cup of tea. in his excitement about everything my companion put milk in the cups, and poured the tea into the cream jug. We took a

photograph, and apologised for the milk.

Here is Rev. Croxford's message: "It is joyous news, when an old minister hears that the church he served in his youth is still going strong. You at Brierley were amongst the first to amalgamate, and now you make fresh ventures in service May further progress and much blessing attend your work for our Lord."

Rev. J. SPOOR. Primitive 1919-21

To have visited Rev. Spoor would have added many miles to our journey, so we wrote to him instead, and received from him this message:

"Now abideth Faith, Hope and Love, these three, but the greatest of these is Love. Follow after Love."

ROY MANSTONE & ANGUS SMALL Cliff Campaign 1930

They live very near to each other in Hampshire. Mr. Manstone was out, so

we called on Mr. Small, or Angus as some knew him. He was busy with his nursery business and smallholding, but he greeted us with enthusiasm, and memories of Brierley were easy to revive. We couldn't take a photograph as Mr. Small felt that his gardening clothes were hardly a fit subject for the book, Unfortunately the photograph he sent was not clear enough for reproduction, but we received from them also this message:

"As we think of the far away days of 1930, we think of the kindness and fellowship of many who shared the mission at Brierley; some of them have joined the church triumphant, but their witness remains to those who are left.

St Paul said, "My ministry is to testify to the Gospel of the Grace of God."

Charles Wesley said, "His only righteousness I show. His saving grace proclaim, 'Tis all my business here below to cry Behold the Lamb." We too in 1965 must proclaim the message of the Cross. May we all seek with God's help, to make full proof of our ministry in this OUR day. We send our greetings to you at Brierley, and wish and pray for your success in witnessing for Him."

Rev. W. R. CHAPMAN. Primitive 1924 - 27

We found Rev. Chapman in his lovely bungalow. 'Forest Cottage, Densome Wood.' He has spent much time painting and we were taken round his studio to see the biblical scenes, places, portraits and objects that his brush has created.

Searching through his papers, Rev. Chapman showed us in his fixtures list the following details; 'The first two services in this area were at Brierley Primitive church The first on July 13th 1924. Text 2 Cor. 12 v 13. The second two days later, a midweek service when the subject was the life of George Fox the first Quaker.'

Rev. Chapman's message to us is: "The visit of Mr. Hick and Mr. Hambleton recalled happy memories of Brierley where I served as Primitive Methodist Minister and I look back with gratitude on those years. It is good to learn of a purposeful Methodist people intent on building a new Sunday School. I will pray for Divine Blessing on your venture, and on all associated with it."

DAVID COLE & ALEC PASSMORE Cliff Campaign 1964.

We arrived at David's home at 10 p.m. and stayed the night. Alec was away at the time. They sent messages as follows-From David.

"it was my joy to share in fellowship as a visiting evangelist, and to reap where others have sown so faithfully. It was a very happy mission. The people are alive in the Spirit and have a sincere desire to know God more fully. It is a church that God could bless with revival, and rely on to keep the flame ablaze. May God bless every member and use you to His honour

From Alec, "A wonderful desire has been born in the hearts of the people to take the name of Jesus into Brierley. This is the purpose for which the mission was held, the old building was built and to which the new building will bear witness. May all be done by the glory of God and to the salvation of souls."

Rev. E. PENNA. Wesleyan 1932-36

What a help Rev. and Mrs. Penna were to us. They knew all the best camping sites, they had been to Hemsworth recently were ready for us with message and cup of tea. It was over too quickly. but we called again to say goodbye on our return journey two days later.

The message is: "It was a wise and happy venture when the two chapels at Brierley united, and now it is a great pleasure to know that the work needs a larger and more suitable building. I pray that under Divine Guidance and Blessing you will succeed, and your work and witness for the Kingdom of God will increase in effectiveness."

Rev. A ROBERTSHAW. Primitive 1927 - 31.

We spent two days searching for Rev. Robertshaw, but we found him at last. He was living in a stable, a stable that had been converted into a beautiful flat. We talked of Methodist affairs, unity, Brierley people past and present and the best route home.

Rev. Robertshaw wrote to us: "I appreciate this opportunity of sending greetings to you, and good wishes for your new building project. The mists of time somewhat dim my memories of Brierley, but a few families I shall always remember as the salt of the earth. There must be tremendous changes there now for unity altered the face of Methodism. Are the hazards of travel still the same I wonder? I remember some hair raising journeys from Staincross to Brierley in fog, ice and snow. May God bless you in your work, and may the future be really bright for you all."

Rev. H. HOWELLS. Methodist 1945 - 50.

I talked to Rev. Howells when he came to Hemsworth, and later he sent us this message:

"A converted clubhouse! That was my first introduction to Brierley, and as time went on I realised how complete that conversion was. People still met there as friends, but friendship had deepened into fellowship and worship, and as they met each other they also met God. I also remember how hard men and women worked that the building should be the house of God. They gave gifts and used their skill, and a schoolroom and kitchen were born out of an old damp storeroom and a drab little back room. People found a joy which outlived these services, and a peace and power that sent them into the world better fitted to face temptations and accept responsibilities. This is the true essence of the church, it exists to the glory of God, a place where. pardon and power are found to enable us to live better lives."

It has been a joy to meet so many people who remembered the early days of our church. We have tried to contact many others without success. Bros. Kee and Turner, Sister Ada Brown. Rev. Eames, now Canon Eames of Birmingham. Many ministers who served us faithfully have passed over Jordan.

Our thanks are due to those who received us so well and helped us so much.

A final message comes to us from a minister whose association is not with our past but with our future.


Rev. Williams - Boote pointed out that his appointment to this circuit is still subject to the approval of Conference, but we are printing his message in the hope that we shall be welcoming him as our minister in September 1965. We wish him a fruitful and happy riinistry amongst us.

Here is his message:

"It is with great pleasure that I send greetings to the members and friends of the Brierley Methodist Church. Yours is a long history of Christian witness in the village and of faithful service in the Methodist Church. Such witness and service have characterised Methodism from its beginning, and one remembers with gratitude to God that village Methodism such as yours has contributed much to the spiritual life of the nation. I join with you in your thanksgiving for the past, and share with you your hopes for an equally glorious future in the service of our Lord."

E. Hambleton

Early plans show that at the time of our _first Wesleyan Church in Brierley, one minister was not exclusively responsible for one section of the then huge circuit. Listed below are the ministers of the circuit, who would in strict rotation, conduct the ministerial appointments in our little church.

                        1810 T .Preston, J. Everett, M. Day.

                        1811 J. Smith, I. Clayton, J. Everett.

1812 J. Townsend, E. Gibbons, T. Gee, D. Clark.

1814 J. Parkin, R. Emmett.

1815 J. Parkin, R. Harrison.

1816 J. Hickling, R. Harrison.

1817 J. Hickling. B. Pearce, L .G .Sykes.

1818 F. Derry, R. Pickering.

1820 I. Keeling, J. Beecham.

1821 P. Garrett, B.Hudson.

        1825 J. Sykes, W. Dalby.

        1827 J. Hanwell, J. A. Lomas.

        1829 W. Bacon, J .Wilson.

        1831 W. Carlton, A. Strachan.

        1833 G. Wilson, A. Strachan,

        1834 G. Wilson, H. Carter.

        1835 H. Carter, W. Allen.

        1836 W. Tranter, W. Allen.

        1838 J. R. Browne, J. T. Yeates.

        1840 J. R. Browne, J. Bolam.

        1841 J. Bolam, W. H . Taylor.

        1842 J. Entwistle, W. H. Taylor.

        1844 J. Entwistle, T. Capp

        1845 W. Woolsey, T. Capp, G. Wilson.

        1846 W. Woolsey, T. Capp, W. Farrar, B.A.

                        1847 J. Rayner. S. Simmons,

                        1870 W. F. Slater, T. S. Leale,

                                E. R. Talbot M.A. H. H. Vowles.


1847 R. R. Keeling, S Simmons

1850 R. R .Keeling, J. Osborne. H. H. Vowles.

1852 J. P. Sumner. J. Smart. 1873 T. Thompson M.A.

1854 R. M. Wilcox. B. Cregory. W. King. F. Hilton.

1857 J. Entwistle, H. Castle. 1875 P Fowler, W. King, S. B. Coley.

1860 H. Beech, C. Lawton. 1877 P. Fowler, W. Brewins,

1863 J. Eglinton, R. Posnett R. F. Broomfield.

1866 R. Bell, G. T. Taylor, 1879 W. Parsonson, W. W. Smith. J. S. Harris W. M. Kidman,

1867 J. Roberts, G. T. Taylor, 1881 F. C. Haime, W. M. KidmanW. H. Walker. J. S. Harris.

1869 J. Roberts, W. F. Slater, J. Kirk.

1872 T Thompson M.A.

We do not know when we first had a resident minister at Brierley, but Revs. W. J. Rogers and J. Bishop were the last of these, and lived at Clifton House by our present post office Rev. H. Field and his successors were resident at Cudworth until we became Part of the Hemsworth section in 1913.

W. J. Rogers 1882 - 85

J. Bishop 1885 - 88

H. Field 1887 - 91

F. Green 1891 - 94

C. W. Cook 1894 - 97

G. H. Armitage 1897 - 1900

J. Mofratt 1900 - 03

G. H. Armitage 1903 - 06

C. F. Atherton 1906 - 09 E. Penna 1932 - 34

G. P. Lester 1909 - 11

S. F. Pawson 1912

J. Newbould 1913 - 15

A. Eames 1915 - 17

A. J. Edmonds 1917 - 20

S. D. Robinson 1920 - 23

W. T. Croxford 1923 - 26

J. Webster 1926 - 29

H. R. Hackforth 1929 - 32

Records of circuit ministers appear to be available for all the early branches of the Methodist Church except the Primitive. We have been unable to compile a full list of our Primitive ministers but we do know that the minister at the lime of' opening was,

Rev. Robert Smith

The next information we have is taken from a series of plans dating from 1870 to 1892, and is as follows;

1870 A. McKechne, T. Mitchell 1881 A. McKechne, R. Brook.

1871 A. McKechne, J. P. Osborn 1884 R. Brook, L. E. Ellis.

1872 A. McKechne, J .Bennington. 1890 J. Shepherd, C. Thorpe.

1873 J. Maylard, S. Lloyd. 1891 J. Shepherd, W Dudley.

1874 J. Robinson, S. Lloyd. 1892 J. Shepherd, J Glover.

1879 C. Stockdale, T. Tanfield. 1896 J. Spensley, J. Bowness.

During this period the number of preachers on the plan rose from 33 to 62 and then fell again to 38. Here we have a further gap of 17 years in our knowledge oj' Primitive ministers, bringing us to 1910 and men, some of whom are alive to-day.

1910 - 13 Dobinson, Atkinson. 1924 - 27 W. R. Chapman, Vaughan

1913 - 19 A. Vickers, J H 1927 - 31 J. Roxby. A .Robertshaw.

Robertshaw. 1931 - 34 W. A. R. Collins,

1919 - 21 J. Brett, J. Spoor. P. Tillotson.

1921 - 24 D. J. Dando.

Ministers of the united church.

1934 - 36 E .Penna 1950 -

1936 - 39 W. E. Giddings

1939 - 46 R. L .Wildridge

1946 - 50 H. Howells

1950-53 E. W. G. Ruddick

1953 - 58 B. Parkin

1958 - 62 H. Rushworth

1962 - 65 Dr. P. Dickinson

  1. A. Williams-Boote

Our thanks are due to:

Rev. E. Penna for loan of photograph of opening of the new church.

Mr. 0. W. L. Porter for loan of old Primitive plans, books and lists of ministers

Rev J. Skidmore for access to documents from circuit safe, and old magazines.

Dr. P. Dickinson M. A. for assistance in tracing old ministers.

Mr. C. Newsome for loan of deeds of Wesleyan building.

Society members for memories, cuttings and photographs.

Mrs. Woffenden of Barnsley reference library.

SALE NOTE. On May 7th 1919 the plot of land on which our church stands was bought by Mr. W Sharpe, schoolmaster, for. 250 He sold it to the club trustees the following day for 490.


Since 1965 we have welcomed the following Ministers to our church

Rev. David Earl,

Rev. Alfred Baxter,

Rev. Gordon Unsworth,

Rev. Barry Morris,

Revs. Fran. & Piers Lane,

Revs. Gill & Leslie Newton.

Rev. Terry Keen

Deacon Janet Thomas