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Memories of Darlington 3. from the book

(Topic created on: 17-06-2024 02:33 PM)
Helping Hand
Bondgate's Methodists 
AT THE beginning of the 19th Century, Darlington's population was 
Struggling to reach the 6,000 mark, and yet the Methodists were planning an enormous chapel to house a quarter off those 6,000 at one sitting. It was ambitious for Darlington, and indeed for the whole of the country for when the Bondgate Methodist Church was officially opened on July 4, 1813 (the stone above the door is actually dated I812), it was one of the largest in Britain with seats for 1,400. 
The land for the chapel was bought from the Duke of Cleveland and the whole construction cost £4,000. A London architect called Jenkins designed the building in a deliberately Italiamate fashion to match his other chapels at Southwark, Lambeth and Canterbury. 
The scale of the Methodists' achievement in building and financing such a large chapel is even more immense when it is considered that the religion was still in its early stages. Founder John Wesley had been to Darlington in 1743 and 1745 and the first Methodist service was held in Clay Row in 1753. Just 60 years later they successfully opened the chapel and since those spectacular beginnings progress has been steady: the arrival of gas in 1834; the building of a £320 organ (1840) and a large scale renovation in 1885


Same photo re edited Google photos

hall in memory of those lost in World War One was commenced beside the chapel on the site of two ministers homes, costing £1 1,000. One of the fundamental principles of Wesley's beliefs was the need for proper teaching. Indeed, the motto of the Bondgate Wesleyans was "Christianity and Education So they spent £1,620 buying up 1,800 square yards of land and houses in Wesley Terrace (as the west side of Salt Yard was called) beside and behind the Bondgate Chapel. Then they spent a further £2,400 building Bondgate School. It was meant to be a Sunday school and day school with religious inclinations, but from June 26, 1857, when John Hardcastle Bowman laid the foundation stone it was effectively non-denominational. In his speech, Bowman said all children would be welcome "utterly regardless of their political or sectional distinctions or differences" For the second half of the 19th Century the open-plan Bondgate school positively teemed with children. Their education was paid for by subscriptions from the great and good of the town, plus their own contributions through the Children's Pence - a fairly mandatory donation by the pupils' parents By the end of the century, though, the school was struggling financially. The 1870 Education Act had effectively reduced the governmental grant paid to such independent schools, and increased costs squeezed the trustees until they were faced with a £1,700 overdraft As 90 per cent of the pupils were non-Methodists it was decided to ask the Darlington Board of Education to take over the running of the school, Due to complexities in the 1857 Trust Deed negotiations were long and complex, but in November 1908 the local Education Committee agreed to take control and pay £50 a year rent to the Methodists. By freeing themselves from the debilitating expense of running a school, the Methodists were able to save their pennies 

Matt Hays
Was there any minutes taken? It would be interesting to see how they viewed society with a working class system and such a bold vision given much more advertisement and industry was needed to draw in the country folk which I believe tied into the industrial revolution. Think I read something in Marx Theory few years ago but that wasn't written until a few years later.

I see why they made minuite books now as it was much more simpler with things in one place along with a conversation.