in Mere Brow
We celebrate a century of worship in the present chapel
at Mere Brow during November 2002, but the story of Methodism
in the village, goes back to about 1840. Information about
the early days is rather sketchy, but there are a number
of sources to show us that this is the case.
building commenced in 1902, Rev. James Dickinson who
was then the minister, circulated a letter appealing
for support, in which he states that there had been
a small society at Mere Brow for over sixty years.
are a number of old Circuit plans in existence, one
of which shows preachers planned at Mere Brow during
the early 1850s. At that time and for some years later
the society was known as Holmes, and was in the Preston
Saul Street Primitive Methodist Circuit.
of us have been told by parents and grandparents, of
services originally having been held in the cottage
which is now in Mr John Moss's garden next to our present
Sunday School building. The National Religious Census
of 1851 indicates that a cottage had been used as a
preaching house since 1840. ( The census was never repeated.
Some suggestions are that denominations could not agree
how accurate the figures were. )
Cottage used for services up until 1861
came into being following John Wesley's Aldersgate Street
experience of May 1738, although Wesley himself remained
a Minister of the Church of England for the whole of his
life. The denomination itself had several breakaway groups
which became separate churches, but eventually re-united
in 1932. Those who broke away included the Inghamites
who still remain as a small group around the Burnley area.
Among the others were the Bible Christians, who were mainly
in Cornwall, The Methodist New Connexion, and the United
Methodist Free Church. The original Church became known
as the Wesleyan Methodist Church, but the one which involves
Mere Brow was the Primitive Methodist Church, which was
founded in 1810 in the area around Mow Cop, on the borders
of Cheshire and Staffordshire. The two founders were Hugh
Bourne and William Clowes. They had organised two camp
meetings; open air services based on an idea from America.
The meetings were very successful, but were frowned upon
by the church officials. Wesley himself of course used
to preach outdoors, but Methodism had by now become "respectable".
The two were eventually put out, and Primitive Methodism
began officially in 1810. It spread to Hull on the other
side of the country, from where preachers were sent to
mission Preston in 1821, and a Society was formed at Hoole
(now Walmer Bridge) in 1824. Preachers from Hoole helped
to found the Society at Hesketh Bank in 1826, and, after
a series of attempts over a period of ten years, Banks
in 1836, who were able to open their first chapel that
same year. Marshside had also got enough members to enable
them to build theirs by 1832. In all probability, preachers
from one of these places came to Mere Brow, or Holmes
as it was then known. We cannot say which one, but by
1840, meetings were being held. The forebears of the present
day Holmes Methodists, had already founded their Society
in 1809, and built their first building on their present
site by 1832, but this was the parent denomination, later
to be known as the Wesleyan Methodists, from which the
"Prims" had broken away. Some of Mere Brow's
early members might have originally belonged to Holmes,
but there is no tradition of this having been the case.
Services must have been held in the old cottage for about
twenty years, but by December 1860, the lease on a plot
of land had been granted by Lord Lilford, to "John
Wright of Holmes within Tarleton " at "Mere
Brow within Tarleton", containing two hundred and
sixteen square yards. The lease was for twenty-one years,
at a yearly rent of ten shillings, and a "Building
Chapel or Meeting House according to the plan already
Approved" by Lord Lilford, was to be built on it
at the expense of "John Wright his Executors Administrators
and Assigns". The only signatories to the lease are
Robert Banks, Lord Lilford's land agent, and John Wright.
Just what the financial arrangement was between John Wright
and the church members we do not know, but the building
which we now use as our Sunday School was built, and used
for the next 40 years.
Trustees Minute Book has an entry for January 1882 which
mentions a new Deed being obtained, and another appoints
the minister, Rev. T. Smith, and Mr T Wright to see the
steward with a memorial to Lord Lilford about giving us
the Chapel property, and some on Rigby's side to erect
a school. If that was not forthcoming, then a ninety nine
year like the Wesleyans was to be asked for. That Memorial
or Petition is among the Lilford Estate Papers, written
in beautiful copperplate writing. In it the "Trustees
, Sunday School Teachers and Senior Scholars together
with other Members of the Congregation worshipping in
the Primitive Methodist Chapel at Holmes" state that
in an act of Parliament passed during the administration
of the recently deceased Earl of Beaconsfield, power was
given to estates to make grants of land for the erection
of schools or places of worship. They ask to be granted
the present site of land together with a further area
to build additional classrooms, and better sanitary arrangements.
They pointed out that most of the petitioners were either
Lord Lilford's tenants, or labourers employed by them,
also that there had been an improvement in the morality
and religious knowledge of the district, and that the
public well-being of the area would be improved if the
grant were made.
The gift must not have been forthcoming, because a lease
for a further twenty-one years at fifteen shillings a
year was signed by the Land agent and Thomas Wright in
January 1883. It may have been that members of the Wright
family acted as guarantors on behalf of the Society, because
shortly after that, there is a minute that a new trust
deed be made and enrolled.
The new deed was dated 28th May 1884, and was between
Thomas Wright Of Holmes within Tarleton, Farmer, and Thomas
Moss, Farmer; Richard Watkinson, Labourer; James Moss,
Labourer; Richard Yates, Labourer; Daniel Prescott, Labourer:
Richard Hart, Grocer; Thomas Wright, Labourer; Moses Moss,
Huckster; David Moss, Labourer; John Pownall, Labourer;
William Sutton, Labourer; Hugh Sutton, Shoemaker; and
Jehu Hunter, Labourer; all of Holmes.
It states that Thomas Wright had procured the lease from
Lord Lilford, so that it could be assigned to the Trustees
for the erection of a Chapel, Meeting House or School,
The Trustees were to ensure that the use the premises
conformed to the provisions of the Primitive Methodist
Deed-Poll, which set out the Doctrines of the Primitive
Methodist Church. No other Doctrines were to be allowed
to be preached.
The earlier lease procured by John Wright would have been
for the same purpose, and assigned to the previous Trustees.
It can be seen from their occupations, that the Trustees
would not have had the necessary influence to be granted
a lease themselves, but the Wright family were substantial
farmers, tenants of Lord Lilford, and were able to use
their position to enable the Chapel to be built.
A variety of activities continued, and various jobs of
maintenance. A minute for 1889 states that new windows
were to be put in, and that the glass be diamond glass.
Some of that glass is still in situ! In 1890 there is
an entry that Mr Whittle ( the Minister) be instructed
to see the land agent about a plot of land the same size
as that which the original chapel was built on, for a
school or chapel, and another in 1892 that he should write
about land for a school. It would seem then that the idea
of a second building had been in peoples minds for over
twenty years before it actually came to fruition.
As was stated earlier, Rev J Dickinson, circularised a
letter asking for support. we can let that document speak
have had a small Society at Mere Brow, a hamlet which
lies between Banks, Tarleton and Rufford, for over 60
years. Its population is about the same to-day as it
was half-a-century ago, viz. : 250 ; who are chiefly
of the agricultural labouring class. We have 68 Church
Members, 13 Sabbath School Teachers, and 127 Scholars
connected with us, and most of the other residents come
to our many Services. For some years we have been making
Annual Efforts towards a New Building Fund, as we find
it most inconvenient to worship in the old one-room
building where we must have on the Sabbath, a School
and a Society Class, and on the week-days any Tea Meeting,
Lecture, or any other meetings we desire.
We have in hand £150. We propose spending about
£500 or £600 on a building that will be
large enough to meet our requirements, for Mere Brow
is not an increasing neighbourhood. Many times we have
to regret our young men must leave us and go into larger
centres of population. We are anxious however, they
should carry with them the lessons taught by our faithful
workers, and many are the testimonies of the lasting
good received at this little Church, and we trust through
them good has been done to a larger community. It is
practically impossible to realise much more than £100
in the village itself, -which, I feel sure you will
agree with me, is a noble sum, seeing that most of the
men only earn from 10/-to 15/- per week, so we must
appeal to those who sympathise with this kind of work
to help us.
Lord Lilford has granted us land for 99 years, at 5/-
per year, and several of the Farmers around have promised
I shall be most happy to wait upon you with a plan and
specification at an early date, to see if you can lay
a Stone for us on June 21st.
Rev J Dickinson.
His efforts were successful, and an estimate of £550.00
from Wm. Blundell of Banks who was the Circuit Steward
at that time, was accepted. The estimate is dated 30th
April, and by 14th June everything was ready for the stone-laying
ceremony. Mere Brow along with Banks, Hesketh Bank and
Hesketh Moss, (Hesketh Lane was only built in 1909) had
been formed into the Southport Third Circuit 1895, and
ministers from the First and Second Circuits were present.
The Reverend James Dickinson
Southport Visiter had a full report. It was a day of glorious
weather. The Marshside Teetotal Brass Band was in attendance,
and accompanied the singing. The proceeding opened with
the singing of the hymn "And will the great Eternal
God". Rev James Dickinson reiterated what he had
said in his letter, and hoped that everyone would support
the collection very well, for they were beginning to feel
that there was the possibility of declaring the chapel
free from debt after the opening ceremony.
Rev W. R. Bird Of the Derby Rd. Church gave an address.
He stated that this was his first visit to the neighbourhood,
and he never looked at one of those picturesque white
cottages without thinking of "the happy homes of
England". The new building would be a very pleasing
addition to the architecture of the district, but that
was not the primary object of the building. It was to
be a Christian Church. The church really meant a gathering
place for Christian people, a place for Christian people
to cultivate their spiritual life. But it would not simply
be for Christian people. The building when completed would
be open to every man and woman in the district. He hoped
it would never be closed even to the worst. If any man
wanted to discover the pathway into spiritual life, if
any man wanted to be forgiven, and how to have a grand
new life, he hoped that the doors would always be open
to him. He hoped moreover that no one would ever come
within who would pass outside without knowing how to be
saved, and have his name written in the roll of Life.
He then went on to state that this was to be a "Free
Church", he made no wilful reflection on any other
Christian Communion. He thought there was good in all,
from the Roman Catholics on the one hand, to the Christian
Scientists on the other, but he then went on to extol
the virtues of being a Free church, with Jesus Christ
as its head, in contrast with the Anglican Church which
had King Edward VII as its head. He also quoted membership
figures to show how the various Free Churches were prospering,
while Anglican numbers were falling.
( There seems to have been a controversy at the time about
the passing of an Education Bill which favoured Anglican
rather than Free Church day schools, and the figures he
had quoted were challenged a few days later in the columns
of the Southport Visiter.) Be that as it may, the report
states that his address was greeted with applause.
Stones were then laid by the following, who wished success
to the undertaking:- Mrs. R. Hart, Mrs. R. Wareing, Mrs.
W. Rimmer, Mr. R. Houldsworth, Mr. John Ball, Mr. C Moss,
and Mr R Fell. Mr James Taylor laid a stone on behalf
of the Trustees, several of whom had contributed handsomely
by donation. Each stone-layer was presented with a mallet.
A vote of thanks was accorded to Mr Bird, the stone-layers,
and the band, on the proposition of Rev. J. Dickinson.
Afterwards, a public tea was held, at which 250 people
In the evening, a meeting was held over which Mr. R Wareing
presided. The speakers included Rev. J. Dickinson, Rev.
J. H. Hughes of Marshside Chapel, and Rev. J. Roxby of
Cemetery Rd. Chapel. High Park Primitive Methodist choir
Rev J Dickinson presented a financial statement which
was received with great enthusiasm. He said that up to
date the cash received had been £114. 7s. 6d., that
there were promises of £44. 12s. 6d., £1 bricks
amounted to £18, by collecting-books £58.
7s. had been raised; the young people's effort had realised
so far, £9. 3s. 4d.; that of the married folk £13.
12s. 5d. £6. 10s. was collected at the stone laying,
£3. 14s. 1½d at night. The chairman gave
a donation of 3 guineas, a total of £271. 9s. 10½d.
The tea was estimated to produce £5. £144.
was invested with Chapel Aid, giving an aggregate total
of £420. 9s. 10½d. They hoped to raise the
full cost of the building by the opening service. The
subscribers were Mrs. R. Banks £20; Mrs. J. Taylor
£10; Mrs. R. Hart £10; Mr James Taylor £4;
Mrs. Wareing Glazebury £5. 5s.; Mrs. William Rimmer
£5; Mr. Robert Houldsworth £5; Mr. Castor
Moss £5; Mr. Rd. Fell £5; Mr. Thomas Abram
£5; Mr J. Ball £7. 10s.; Mr. T Wright Blackgate
Lane £2; Mr. W Wareing Banks £1; Mr Southworth
£2; Mr Thomas Wright £2; "From a Friend"
£3; Mrs. Sutton Southport £2; Mr Franklin
Hilton£5; Mr. Henry Johnson Glazebury £1;
Mr Thomas Banks £2; Councillor Rimmer 5s.; Mr. John
Wright Churchtown £2; Mr Thomas Jones Southport
per Mr. Robt. Cooper £1; Dr. Kenworthy 10s.; Dr.
H. Robson£1.1s.; Mr. Bamber Longton 2s.6d.; Mr.
J. J. Muxlow Southport £2.2s.; Mr Maden Southport
£2."s.; Mr Johnson £1; Mr. Radcliffe
10s.; Mr James Blundell Blackburn £2.
Promises had been received as follows :- Mrs. J Wright,
Miss M. Wright, and the late Mr. J. Wright, £20;
Mr Richard Banks £5; Mr Thomas Moss £5; Mr
Hugh Sutton £5; Mrs. Weld Cambridge Road £1.1s.;
Miss Carver Albert Road £5; Mr John ball Crossens
£2; Mr Gaskell 10s. 6d. Mr Rimmer £1.1s.
The collecting-books were announced as follows:- Castor
Moss£10. 2s.6d.; Miss Minnie Taylor £16. 5s.
Mrs. Hunter £1.11s.; James Wright £5; Hugh
Taylor £5; Mrs Johnson £3. 3s.; Mr. Hart £6.
6s.6d.; Mr Hugh Sutton jun. £1. 2s. 6d.; Richard
Sutton £1. 4s.; William Taylor £4. 5s. 6d.
The £1 bricks have been given by:- Jane Watkinson,
Ruth Watkinson, Mrs Ellen Sharrock, Henry Harrison, Henry
Dandy, Maggie Hart, Chris Sutton, James Coulton, R Prescott,
James Wright, Richard Sutton, John Ashcroft, Thomas Ashcroft,
May Hart, Mary Abram, Alice Taylor, Alice Hamilton, and
Mary Wright Blackgate Lane.
Work continued, and on Tuesday November 4th 1902 The Southport
Visiter contained this report.
opening ceremony in connection with the new Primitive
Methodist Chapel at Mere Brow particulars of which have
appeared in these columns, took place on Saturday afternoon.
The Rev. J. Dickinson at the request of the congregation,
performed the opening ceremony in the presence of a large
gathering. Amongst those in attendance being, messrs.
Wm. Blundell sen. and jun., Mr Martin, Mr R. Ball (Banks),
Mr Thomas Moss, and Mr. J. Moss.
The sermon in the Chapel which was crowded, was preached
by Rev. R. Bird of Southport, at the close of which he
paid a high tribute to the architect and builder. He thought
that everything had been done and finished in a most creditable
manner. They had his best wishes for the future.
After the service an excellent tea was held at which between
250 and 300 sat down.
A public meeting was held in the evening, when the chapel
was again crowded to the door, some not being able to
gain admittance. Mr. R. Lund (Lydiate) presided, and others
on the platform were the Rev. J. Dickinson. the Rev. T.
Fletcher, Mr Buckley, and Mr. Stazicker (Croston).
The Rev. J. Dickinson said that before he introduced the
chairman, he had to give them a financial report. They
would understand it could not be a complete report. They
would not be able to do that till the end of the month.
The report was a very favourable one, and showed that
before the end of the special opening services, their
chapel would be free from all financial responsibility.
It would be nice to sing the doxology on November 23rd,
when they would know that every item had been wiped out.
Mr. Dickinson then called on Mr. Lund to preside over
Mr. Lund, who was received with applause, said that he
congratulated them at Mere Brow on the very nice little
chapel they had got. Proceeding, he said that it was right
as Mr Dickinson said, he was born and bred a Primitive
Methodist. (Applause) His father was the assistant class
leader at Hesketh Bank for a number of years, and his
mother was a member of that society for forty years. (Applause)
Mr Stazicker, who was also received with applause, said
that he was not a Primitive Methodist - (Laughter) - he
was a Wesleyan Methodist born and bred. He had every reason
to be proud of the associations that he had with Wesleyan
Methodists. He had been a member of that church for 18
years. He was not the oldest local preacher in Croston
as regards age, but he was as regarded church membership.
But he was glad on such occasions as these they could
forget church distinctions, and meet on the common platform.
When he received the invitation to take part in that day's
proceedings, his answer was "Yes" he felt delighted
and glad to go amongst people when they were going in
for good times. The memories of previous gatherings there
live with him. Then. in proceeding he said that God is
"our refuge and strength, and a very present help
in trouble". God had proved himself a refuge to them
in more ways than one. When one place got too small and
insufficient in its accommodation, for their wants and
requirements, He had provided for them in a liberal way
with a larger place where they could be sheltered from
the storm, and meet in comfort and delight. In that sense,
He was a refuge to them. (Applause)
Mr. J. Buckley of Southport, said he was always pleased
to hear of the development of Methodism. (Hear, hear)
He was pleased that the chairman was a Methodist, and
he hoped that God would spare his life for many years
to come, and would make him abundantly useful to his fellow
men and to the church. He was also very pleased with the
singing. Someone had said that their choir came from a
Wesleyan Chapel, but it was Primitive Methodist singing.
(Laughter) He was also very pleased with the chapel. The
chairman had called it a little chapel. It was a sensible
chapel, and he would very much like to congratulate the
trustees. He thought their chapel was the right size.
he very much liked its appearance, clean and tidy. No
one would say that they had been extravagant in the expenditure,
yet the chapel was neat in its arrangement. If he had
the money, he would have the sanctuary second to no other
place. (Loud applause) He would have the house in which
he publicly worshipped God as convenient and nice in every
way as the best room in his house. He therefore said that
they had no reason to be afraid of asking their friends
when they came to see them, to go with them to the chapel.
He was always glad to hear of progress being made, and
he was glad that God had so earnestly blessed their labours
in the old chapel as to make it necessary they should
have a new one. Let him say there were always difficulties
as they knew. There were difficulties in chapel-building,
and one of the greatest difficulties was to keep united.
He was glad to hear that they had kept united, and that
the undertaking had been brought to so successful a close.
But he did not want them to imagine that the time had
come for a rest. They might have had difficulties, but
there were still difficulties before them. It was difficult
to build a chapel and to pay for it, as he understood
they had done, but his experience was that it was more
difficult to fill it. He hoped that they would be successful
at Mere Brow, and that they would very soon have that
chapel filled. They had reason to be thankful for their
past history. God had done great things for them, and
he prayed that God would continue to abundantly bless
their labours. Might he appeal to every member in that
congregation that night to labour for still further success,
for without labour they would not have success, and he
would like to appeal to them to labour more abundantly
in the future than they had done in the past. He not only
wanted them to labour, but he also wanted them to give
their substance, for they could not carry on these material
houses without assistance and without support. It was
as much part of a Christian's duty to give as it was to
pray. Therefore he appealed to them to give as God had
blessed them. He did not think they would be any the poorer
for giving. He was very pleased that they had overcome
all their difficulties, and trusted that God would bless
their efforts in the future. (Applause)
Other speakers also took part in the meeting.
During the evening the Holmeswood Wesleyan Methodist Choir
gave several anthems, and they also led the singing at
the afternoon service.
reports appeared in the "Visiter" for the Opening
Services held on the four following Sundays, but details
are as follows :-
2.30pm. Marshside Primitive Methodist Choir gave a Service
of Song "The rose of Lambeth" Reader Mr R. Houldsworth,
Chairman Mr R Latham
6.30pm. Preacher Rev. J. E. Hughes
2.30pm. High park Primitive Methodist Choir gave a Service
of Song "The Narrow way" Reader Miss C Gore,
Hesketh Bank, Chairman Mr A Pye, High Park.
6.30pm. Preacher Alderman W Vaughan
2.30pm. Tarleton Wesleyan Methodist Choir gave a Service
of Song "The River Singers" Reader Miss Lizzie
Wareing, High Park. Chairman Mr J Lund, Tarleton
6.30pm Preacher Mr John Wright.
2.30pm. Banks Primitive Methodist Choir gave a Service
of Song "Never Forsaken" Reader Miss J Blundell,
Hesketh Bank. Chairman Mr Wm. Blundell (John's),Banks.
6.30pm. preacher Rev J Dickinson
The choirs were also to sing at the evening services,
and a tea at a nominal charge of 6d. provided for visitors.
Saturday November15th 7pm. Lecture " The Bible its
Conflicts and Triumphs" given by Mr. John Wright
of Glazebury. Chairman Mr. Robert Wareing Glazebury.
The visiting choirs, apart from Holmeswood, were brought
to Mere Brow in Robert Baybutt's Waggonette, at a total
cost of £2.17s. 6d. (Four of the choirs will take
part in the Centenary Celebrations. High Park Chapel is
no longer in existence.)Several families from around here
had moved to Glazebury and the surrounding areas when
some of the mossland was being brought under cultivation,
and came back to take part in the opening. Thus the New
Chapel was opened, and the work went on.
A typical Sunday timetable would be 9.30am Sunday School.
1.20pm. Sunday School. 2.30pm Afternoon Service. Children
expected to go into the service but were allowed to leave
after the "Children's Address". 6.30pm Evening
Service, which was followed by a Prayer-Meeting. Quite
a full day, and in addition there was sometimes a choir
practice before the evening service.
Christmas Day too was a busy time. The first mention of
having a "Christmas Tree" was in the 1880s.
The whole effort seemed to be called a "Christmas
Tree" The local newspapers advertised events with
that title in other villages during that period. In 1888
the minute-book gives this time-table.
The articles for the tree were to be received from 5 -
9pm the previous night (But no doubt some would only be
brought the following morning). Sermon at 2pm. Sandwich
Tea price adults 9d. Children 6d. on the tables at 4pm.
Public meeting at 6.30pm. addressed by Rd. Hart, H. Sutton,
& E. Vaughan. Chairman Rd. Watkinson. At the end of
that meeting Tree Tickets would be sold, and the articles
distributed. Prices of tickets were 1s. and 6d., and everyone's
duties for the day are recorded in meticulous detail.
The "Christmas Tree" continued to be held on
Christmas Day into the 1950s. Originally the organisation
was done by the trustees, but it has been part of the
Sunday-School's responsibilities for many years. Selections
from Handel's Messiah were sung during it on one or two
occasions after W.W.II. The event continues today, in
an abbreviated form, usually held earlier in December.
One feature of Christmas was the singing of "The
Mere Brow Anthem", "Behold a Virgin shall conceive".
It is a fairly unsophisticated piece of music, not to
be confused with the one in Handel's Messiah, and may
have originally been sung accompanied by the string band,
(see below) but more recently, it was sung un-accompanied.
Only manuscript copies are known to exist, the oldest
in a book dated 1859, and despite several attempts down
the years, no one has been able to trace its origins.
A Sunday school probably began not long after the Society
itself was founded. By 1873 books were being bought as
Sunday School prizes. Many faithful teachers have taught
both children and adults there down the years. The Sunday
School Anniversary, or "Sermons" as it was then
known, and also the Tea party, go at least as far back
as 1869. It may well be that the Procession was also in
being by then. £2.5s. was paid for a new banner
in 1881, and 4s. was paid for repairing it in 1883. For
a time, the fairground attended the Tea Party. When that
began and ended is unknown, but it did return on one occasion
in the 1960s.
Besides the Sunday School Anniversary, the Harvest Festival
was the main "Special" of the year. This is
first mentioned in 1890, and was planned to take place
on the second and third Sundays in October. It may well
have been something new about that time, and of course
the choir would have played an important part in it.
Another "Special" in the past was the "Infirmary
Sunday", when the collections went towards the upkeep
of the local infirmary, in those pre National Health days.
A volunteer string band would accompany the singing on
that day, and possibly on others besides.
Choir Sundays, Ladies Sundays, and Men's Sundays were
among the others. Mr Henry Bond Senior worked hard for
many years, training choir members who in many cases,
were not very accomplished musicians. Mrs. Maggie Porter
was in charge of the Ladies Choir for a long period. It
was revived with Mrs. Mollie Taylor as accompanist around
1980. This followed the disbanding of the James Mason
Singers of Wigan, who came each year from the late 1940s.
Besides visiting Mere Brow, they also took services at
many other chapels. Congregations flocked to hear them.
Among the organists down the years have been R. Fell,
R. Hart, H. Moss, T. Taylor, and H. Bond jun.
There were yearly payments to the Trust Fund of 10s by
the Rechabite "tent", as their groups were called.
This was a temperance Friendly Society, which collected
small subscriptions each week, and was able to make small
grants if people were sick, and a lump sum when they reached
retirement age. The Rechabites still exist, without local
groups, and with more emphasis on insurance.
From the earliest days Class Meetings were held to nurture
the spiritual life of members. We still have class tickets,
and group our members into "classes", with class
leaders or Pastoral visitors as they are now known, but
the class meeting itself no longer functions.
The Circuit Minister took a weeknight service every other
week, and for some years, the alternate weeks, speakers
on a variety of subjects were arranged. This has now been
revived, first as a monthly Ladies Fellowship, but more
recently open to all.
A Christian Endeavour meeting was held regularly for a
number of years, but had ended before the war. There was
also a Young People's League which flourished for a time,
but ended in the early 1950s.
The Over Sixties Party, or Old Folks Treat, began in 1891.
Then as now, everyone over sixty in the village was invited,
and also widows of any age. Money was raised by carol-singing
round the village. This took place after the evening service,
which started earlier than normal. Singing was to begin
at 7pm.and end at midnight! Those who smoked were to be
given a present of tobacco, with tea for the ladies.
A Circuit plan of 1904 lists seventeen Local Preachers.
Seven came from Mere Brow. They were:- H. Sutton, R. Yates,
J. Taylor, H. Sutton jun., W. Taylor, C. Moss, and W.
Moss. More recently, some of the others have been J. W.
Sutton, T. Taylor, J.T. Sutton who came into the Circuit
from Woodplumpton, R. Sutton, and J.W. Taylor. Mr. John
Taylor from Bank Farm, who was society Steward along with
Mr Chris Sutton, for many years, was known to have told
preachers, " We want a good sing, a good sermon,
and out in an hour, unless there's something doing",
evidently long winded preachers were not to be suffered
A plan of 1853 shows us to be in the Preston Circuit,
which went as far as Fleetwood, Caldervale, Freckleton,
Leyland, and Churchtown, besides some closer at hand.
By 1864 Southport had become a separate circuit Holmes
(Mere Brow), and Banks were included in that, but Hesketh
Bank remained in the Preston Circuit till 1880. As was
stated earlier, the Circuit as we know it today was formed
from the Southport First Circuit in 1895. The only change
being the building of Hesketh Lane in 1909.
Ministers since 1890 have been:- Revs. J. Dickinson, W.
Overton. J Hopkins, J. Dickinson 2nd term. T. Sowerby,
A. J. Wigley, W. R. Reed, L. J. Jackson, W. B. Barton,
B. Oliver, J. W. Jenkinson, S. L. Lane, J. W. Chapman,
L. D. Brenton, H. Lister, A. E. Fisher, H. V. Briggs,
R Davison, C Denney, and K. F. Jarvis. Memories are fading
of the earlier names, but all have contributed along with
our own members, to make the Circuit what it is today.
Plate from the 1910 celebrations of
the Primitive Methodism Centenary
Readers have been patient to have stayed with the story
so far. The reports from the "Southport Visiter"
have been quoted at length to give an atmosphere of the
age, and because so many names are included, we are thus
able to see just how involved many of our families were
in the efforts. Primitive Methodism was looked on as a
working class denomination and that would certainly be
true of Mere Brow, members being mostly farm workers,
or small farmers. The chapel would be one of the finest
and best furnished buildings in the village. Most of the
cottages were still built of thatch and daub. Inside "those
picturesque white cottages" mentioned by Rev W. R.
Bird at the stone-laying, lived many large families. The
earth or flag floors would still be sprinkled with sand,
both in some of the farm-houses, and the cottages. In
the words of one of my aunts, who would not yet have been
a centenarian, "When you could afford a piece of
coconut matting, you were somebody". Wages like those
quoted in Mr. Dickinson's letter, could not have left
anything over for luxury items, but people were generous
according to their means, and very generous with their
During this year the Chapel has been re-decorated at a
cost five or six times the original cost of the building,
and a new venture has been the presentation to full houses,
of the Roger Jones Musical "Greater Than Gold"
at the village hall. Our forebears had very little in
the way of material wealth. Compared to them we have a
great deal. Their faithfulness and enthusiasm for their
Lord and their Church, come as a challenge to us, to follow
in their footsteps with as much vigour, and to make the
faith which they had, our own vital living faith for today.