Prior to 1830 there was no Methodism in Blackpool until John Roskell, an old soldier of the Napoleonic Wars, came to live at Little Carleton. He and Robert Bird established a Methodist Class Meeting at Bonny’s Bathing House on the South Beach. When that accommodation became too small a large room at Robert Bird’s bazaar (where the Tower now stands) was requisitioned.
There was no minister or local preacher on the spot, but a monthly service on Sunday evenings was started by local preachers from Garstang. In 1835 a Chapel was built to accommodate 250 to 300 worshippers. It fronted into Adelaide Street and stood a little further back than the present Chapel and was how Adelaide Street Chapel got its name. In 1852 more school accommodation was required and a much larger school was erected facing into Bank Hey. Records of this building no longer exist.
With the phenomenal growth of Blackpool and with it the Methodist Church it became necessary to enlarge and rebuild. The foundation stones of a new building were laid on November 1st 1861 and the Central Methodist Chapel was opened on the 4th July 1862. In 1962 that church building celebrated its centenary. (PHOTO ABOVE))
In the early 1970’s it was felt the existing church needed bringing up to date. It was decided to demolish it at the same time as the old Queens Theatre next door, and re-develop the whole site. As a result of two years negotiations between the Church Trustees and Brycourt Developments (part of C.& A. Group), who were given a long lease, the present building was built at no cost to the church. The new premises, which are contained mainly on a first floor above the shops, were opened on Saturday 15th March 1975 by Miss. Charlotte Briggs, the oldest member of the Society at that time and dedicated by the then Chairman of the District, the Rev. G. Herbert Raynor.
The church continues to serve the local community and in 1997, as a result of Chapel Street Methodist Church leasing their premises to the North Manchester Methodist Housing Association for the building to become part of the “Foyer” scheme, the Society at Chapel Street joined with the Central Church which was re-named “New Central Methodist Church”. Not much of a change perhaps with the addition of the word "NEW”; however this signified a new start for the society with a much stronger membership and it was gratifying to see the whole of two churches becoming as one. The culmination of this integration was the awarding in 2009 of their Marque of Excellence, by the North West Multi Faith Tourism Association to the first religious community in Blackpool as “an outstanding example of a sacred site that exists to serve not only its own congregation but reaches out to welcome the whole community”.
There is a heritage room leading off the Coffee Lounge where various items of memorabilia about the two churches can be viewed. In addition there are prints of the two previous churches on the wall in the coffee lounge showing the original worship centre layouts. At the back of the church we have an illuminated window commemorating six men from Chapel Street church who lost their lives in the Second World War. We have only recently put up a plaque of eight men from the Old Victoria Congregational Church who made the supreme sacrifice during World War 1.
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