Here is a link to a video of some church activities in the 1990's. Just click here to see it.
The Recent History of the Church
Substantial alterations were made in 1970, when the gallery and pews were removed, and a false ceiling was installed to conserve heat.
The church of today, whilst not as strong in numbers as in those heady days of the late 19th century, is still an active witness to God’s love, with morning and evening worship (and Afternoon Tea services during winter months), a weekly Coffee Morning for Shoppers, Jubilate Singers’ rehearsals and Parent and Toddler Group on Mondays, Bible Study Group on alternate Tuesdays, a Craft Group on Thursdays, Friendship Lunches on alternate Saturdays, a monthly Friday afternoon Fellowship Group and a Bring and Share Lunch following morning worship on the 1st Sunday.
The present Methodist church, at the top of the High Street, was built on a plot of land purchased from Powys Estates for £470 in 1863. Thomas Hazelhurst of Runcorn, a notable Cheshire businessman and generous benefactor to Methodist Chapels and schools, laid the foundation stone, and the church was officially opened on 2nd December 1864. The cost of the chapel, with its imposing stone frontage and spire, and designed by the eminent Victorian architect George Bidlake of Wolverhampton, was £2,300. It seated 600 people, and soon Methodism became the leading denomination in the town. Although not a listed building, it is situated in what is now a Conservation Area.
The premises are also well used by some 20 local groups and organisations, and the church itself is the venue for regular prestigious classical music concerts arranged by Welshpool Music Club.
In 2016, the church completed a £200,000 redevelopment scheme, updating and refurbishing its premises to better serve the needs of both church and community in the 21st century. The installation of a lift now serves a refurbished 1st floor multi-use room to accommodate 40 people for worship, meetings, conferences, exercise classes and other events, and externally, a designated parking bay and drop-off area, with ramped access into the rear of the premises, has been created. The kitchen has been extended and re-fitted with new units and appliances to comply with Environmental Health requirements for food safety, and all the toilet facilities have been upgraded. In the worship area, the pulpit has been removed, new carpet fitted and the chairs replaced, opening up the church space for multi-purpose use. Some improvements and enhancements to the High Street frontage include new handrails and notice boards, and planning permission is awaited for replacement doors with glazed units.
These refurbished and upgraded premises should serve both church and community users well into the foreseeable future as High Street Methodists continue to “Celebrate and Share God’s Love” with all.
Welshpool Sunday Schools Flower Services
Notes on its history and decline
By: John Roberts (Welshpool Methodist Church)
The eventual collapse of the Flower Service which had been becoming less popular for some years took place in 1998 when there was no procession of witness through the Town but just a Youth Service in the Baptist Church, prompted me to write these notes so that its memory should not be lost.
When I came to Welshpool first in 1937 the Annual Flower Services wer well established and had been going on for many years. This was evident because the banner carried by the Methodist Sunday School had had the name “Wesleyan” cut out and replaced “Methodist”. (The union having taken place in 1932).
For how long these processions through the Town followed by the Services had been taken place and when they started would be interesting to find out.
In those early years were two distinct Flower Service processions, held on separate days. One by the Church in Wales comprising St. Mary’s, Christ Church and Belan. The other being all the Free Church Sunday Schools: Baptist, Methodist, Presbyterian, Welsh and English Congregational (Which later became United Reform), Salvation Army and Bethel Assemblies of God.
The children carried bunches of flowers or basket of fruit, butter or eggs for distribution to the Hospital, sick, ill or poor people. The services taking place in either St. Mary’s or the Methodist Church. Children from each Sunday School taking a part in either a reading, solo or group item.
Each procession was headed by a band. In the early days this was either Newtown Silver Band or Porthywaen Band but when these became too expensive the Free Churches had the Shrewsbury Salvation Army Band. They would arrive at midday and each church would arrange for its members to take two bandsmen to diner ready for the afternoon service. Later on when the processions took place in the mornings, Mr Jary of the Baptist Church would head the march with amplified hymn music or we had the girls band from Newtown playing on glockenspiels but their repertory was limited and once included the tune “What shall we do with the drunken sailor” which caused a bit of consternation.
In the early days the procession, in the case of the Church in Wales was headed by the choir carrying the cross. The Free Churches were proceeded by their ministers (in 1937 we had four ministers).
I became closely connected with the Flower Service when, as Superintendent of the Methodist Sunday School, I was rung up one Sunday morning to say that Mr Lewis Owen of the Baptist Church had died and would I take over that afternoon, the marshalling of the procession etc.. That would have been in the early 1950’s.
In those days the Church in Wales had their separate march and service with bands and passed the Methodist Church just as our Sunday School was about to begin. This meant that our children wanted to see them pass, so the stood on the pavement or climbed on the low wall at the railings which at the time was in front of the church.
The Free Church Sunday Schools held themselves quite aloof from its parent body, the Free Church Council, and had no minute book that I ever saw. They were called together by Mr Harry Gardner, the Sunday School Secretary, to arrange each successive service.
This involved choosing the band, the Chairman and Speaker, the hymns and arranging what part each school would take in the service, reading, solos, items etc.. At one time we had little paper hymn books for the hymns but then later had them duplicated.
When the Church in Wales could no longer muster sufficient numbers to make their own separate procession worthwhile we invited them to join with us and agreed to hold the services once in St. Mary’s then twice at the Methodist Church or another Free Church, like New Street, the Congregational or the Presbyterian Church.
Great consternation was reached when a proposal was made to invite the Roman Catholic Church to join in with us; two schools being strongly against; but as the years went by unity was achieved. However, the Catholics did not have a Sunday School so never joined in but they did attend meeting and services and we went to their church.
Looking back over the years we had some good turn outs and excellent services with packed churches; many excellent items by the various Sunday Schools. Things I can remember in the address, one Mr Nelson Jones, Headmaster of the Senior School, saying “It is a sin tom steal a pin, much more to take a greater thing” and one speaker cutting bits off his ties until its lining showed; to illustrate how sins mount up and little ones grow into the really serious ones.
The decline in the numbers of children attending our Sunday School took place slowly until the numbers fell dramatically. In the case of Welshpool Methodists there were 100 to 110 on the books prior to 1914 dropping to 70 by 1960-70 and from then on fell quickly until just a handful remain; some schools disappeared altogether.
At first we blamed the car and family outings; so we turned from afternoons to mornings, then sports; with morning football for boys and the TV, general apathy. Whatever the cause, it is a serious business both for the church and the nation, for among other things it involves basic as the ten commandments and morals and it loss shows.
We got our numbers first from the Passages then Bron y Buckley  with a few from Erw Wen but hardly any from Oldford.
As the Flower Services took place in June the weather was very kind to us, only twice in the thirty or forty years I have been connected with them have we been rained off; once when it was planned to have an open air service in the Rec! plus a few times when most of us carried our macs but did not need to use them. Wind often made the carrying of the banner hard work.
The loss of the Flower Services is another landmark gone and unfortunately not likely to come back.
One thing I shall always remember is selecting and taking a well scented bunch of flowers to a blind lady after each annual service.
I must add that the Police were very helpful on all occasions and never raised any objections traffic-wise.
Written by John Roberts (circa 1998)
Sunday School Superintendent
 The Passages refer to numerous rows of house behind High Street in Welshpool accessed by passages from the street. Demolished in the 1950’s and 1960’s to be replaced by what is there today.
A SOUVENIR - Produced July, 1930
The Story of Methodism in Welshpool
It has occurred to us that it would be fitting to have on the record the history of our Church; how interesting to know the beginning of Methodism in Welshpool! Hence the Souvenir.
At the close of five very happy years in your midst; we look back with joy and gratitude in our hearts to the Great Master, for what He has enabled us to do.
We are greatly indebted to a friend, who wishes to ' remain anonymous, for the splendid help he has given in the preparation of this Souvenir.
We shall carry away with us some very happy memories of our sojourn among you, and pray that the blessing of God may continue to rest upon the Church, so that the future may be even richer and more fruitful than the past.- "The best is yet to be."
Wesley Manse, W. O. LUKE.
Welshpool. July, 1930.
The Story of Methodism in Welshpool.
It was on August 9th, 1769, when John Wesley arrived at Welshpool. He was on his way back from Ireland via Llanidloes to South Wales. Arrangements had been made for him to preach in the Town Hall. One of the bailiffs, who were the responsible officials in those days, had given his consent, but the other bailiff objected to the Town Hall been used, so the permission already given was withdrawn, and the great preacher simply passed through the Town and preached at Newtown. This incident reveals that there were some God-fearing people who were anxious to hear John Wesley. The company of earnest and seriously-minded people was apparently very small in numbers, and not wielding much influence in the Town, there was no one of any personal weight to get the Veto removed; further it does not appear that any effort was made, in the face of the hostile feeling that was evident. There was no opportunity again offered to receive the preaching of Mr. Wesley. The spirit which then prompted the refusal is akin to that which prevailed for so many years,-in the looking askance at Evangelical Religion.
This was the last journey that John Wesley made through Montgomeryshire.
It was the call that Mr. Wesley had received from Ireland and the Evangelical work that was going on there, that caused his journeys through the south-western part of the County, and the calling at Llanidloes. From the year 1747, when the first journey was made, to 1769, when the last journey was made, on his way back from Ireland, there were about eight occasions, until Mr. Wesley adopted another route by way of Chester. In the majority of his journeys Mr Wesley preached at Llanidloes, and also at Newtown. The influence from these services permeated the surrounding district for many miles.
In the year 1770, Brecon was made the head of a circuit, which extended to Montgomeryshire. We read of preachers coming as far as Pentre Llivior, between Bettws and Berriew, and the first Methodist Class being formed in 1778 in the house of one named John Evans, who had come under the influence of the Divine Spirit through inviting the preachers into his house, and that in spite of opposition of his friends. It was here, at Pentre Llivior, that the first Wesleyan Methodist Chapel was built. The site was given by one, Evan Nock, a farmer, and whose descendants are faithful members of the Society there, to this day. It is interesting to note that the work at Pentre Llivior is well maintained by the faithful people who worship there, and that the Structure is kept in splendid condition, notwithstanding its great age.
Pentre Llivior Chapel has the honour and privilege of being the first Nonconformist place of worship in the County. There seems to be no doubt that this is the avenue by which Wesleyan Methodism worked its way to Welshpool. The preachers visiting Pentre Llivior would extend their journeys on to Welshpool, to minister to the members of the little company of believers, preaching, and encouraging them to hold fast in the faith, and influencing others.
In 1799, Brecon Circuit was divided, and Welshpool was made the head of a circuit which embraced the whole of Montgomeryshire.
Up to this time, the services were held in the house of one, John Taylor, in the Sun Yard, Berriew Street. Very often the preacher had to stand upon a chair outside the house, the hearers being too many for Service indoors. The preacher at this time was Mr. Jennings, who lived somewhere near Welshpool. When he was holding his last service, previous to leaving Welshpool, much disturbance took place by the unruly mob outside; and bad treatment meted out to the preacher and the congregation as they were dispersing.
The next minister was the Rev. John Hughes,-a very able Welsh Scholar. The Services were now removed to a place in Mount Street, situate at corner of the bye-street which now leads up to Christ Church.
Preaching services and prayer meetings were still held occasionally in the house of Mr. Taylor, in the Sun Yard, until such time as Mrs. Taylor objected to them.
About the year 1800, the Rev. John Hughes was removed by the Conference to the North Wales District for Special Mission work in connexion with Welsh Methodism. He was succeeded at Welshpool by a young man, Rev. Stephen Games, a native of Builth.
In 1803, Welshpool was included in the North Wales District, instead of the Southern District, to which it had hitherto been attached. In 1805, a Welsh Missioner was placed in Welshpool, to prosecute the work among the Welsh of the Town with more efficiency. In 1808, another change took place by separating the English portion of the Society, and attaching it to the Shrewsbury District along with Newtown. The cause up to that time at Welshpool seems to have been a mixed one, and the Services in English and Welsh alternately.
This change to the Shrewsbury District, placed Newtown at the head ,of the Circuit, being the larger Society. There had been a revival at Newtown and Llanidloes, and the Local preachers from the Welshpool Circuit were wonderfully blessed and guided by the Great Master in that remarkable awakening. Eventually the Newtown-Welshpool Circuit came under the Liverpool District, which arrangement exists to the present day, so far as concerns Welshpool.
The Society not being able to carry on in their Meeting place in Mount Street, through lack of funds, they secured a small and dingy room, down an entry between the shops now occupied by Mr. S. C. Rogers and Mr. Bond in Broad Street. This room was used in the week for measuring flannel. This was between 1806 and 1810.
Feeble and weak as we may consider the state of the little Society at this time, the look out was changing for the better. Success and prosperity were beginning to loom in sight.
Before the year 1816, about one hundred people attended the Services, and many were crowded out, the place being too small.
Steps had now to be taken for the erection of a suitable place of worship. Land was purchased in the Back Road from Mr. John Wall: grandfather of the late Mr. David Wall, Tailor, Broad Street.
Building commenced forthwith, and the Chapel was opened in 1818. The event was widely spoken of, and much blessing attended the work. In the course of about 12 years a gallery had to be erected to accommodate the increasing congregation, and in 1840 a Sunday School was added.
A heavy debt now seems to have been incurred, and as the Society had already lost a number of members, in 1835 owing to some unhappy division in the Church in that year, much discouragement began to be felt. It was not long, however, before a brighter day began to dawn. About the year 1844, the Welsh Society, which had held their Services in a room in Mount Street, opposite where the Presbyterian Church stands, decided to combine with the English Society. Joint efforts were put forth towards clearing the debt, and after a few years-a considerable reduction was the result. The clouds of depression had cleared away, and such progress followed that the Schoolroom had to be added to the Chapel accommodation.
In the year 1849, during the ministry of the Rev. James Findlay, a great revival took place, and by the year 1859, the remaining balance of Trust debt was paid.
In 1861, when the Rev. Richard Harding was Minister, there was a crying necessity for a larger chapel, the congregation having outgrown the accommodation which was afforded by the enlargement. It happened that, at this time, some lots of property belonging to the Earl of Powis were offered for Sale by Auction, and among them,-the Site upon which the present Chapel stands. This was bought by the Trustees for £470. The Architect selected for the Chapel and Schoolroom was Mr. Bidlake of Wolverhampton, and the contract for erection was let to Mr. John Potter of Welshpool, at a cost of £1,800.
Much energy and effort was spent by the Trustees in securing over £600 in subscriptions; exclusive of the proceeds from Tea Meetings, Lectures, Concerts, etc.
The foundation stone was laid on October 22nd, 1863, by T. Hazlehurst, Esq., of Runcorn. The event was regarded by the Town with the highest degree of interest. It was calculated to evoke a more special interest than was usual, for the reason that the Anglican Church had always retained the ascendancy in religious matters, and the various Nonconformist bodies had not made much headway because of this; and the further fact, that hitherto Nonconformist places of worship, stood in unattractive positions in the Town, and the aspiration to occupy a more eligible and dignified Site, had undoubtedly caused the event to be regarded with unusual favour and interest. A large number of friends arrived in the town from the surrounding countryside, also by railway from Newtown and Llanidloes. A procession was marshalled at the Town Hall, and proceeded via Union Street, Church Street, Broad Street and High Street. After singing and prayer, Mr. W. Humphreys, of Tyn Llwyn, Senior Trustee, introduced Mr. Hazlehurst, who "well and truly" laid the stone, and afterwards, standing upon it, delivered a most inspiring and inspiriting address, which must have made a deep impression upon the large company of people assembled. At the close of that ceremony, a sum of £80 was realized towards the Building Fund. That day a Public Tea was held in the Town Hall, followed by a Public Meeting in the evening. The total proceeds for the day amounted to £130.
The erection and completion was so energetically pursued that the opening of the Chapel for Divine Service was fixed for December 2nd, 1864. The Dedication Service at 11 a.m. was conducted by the Rev. W. Brailsford, Chairman of the Liverpool District, services being held in the afternoon and evening by the Revs. Marmaduke Osborn and F. Llewellyn; there were crowded congregations at each service.
Tea was provided at the Town Hall, when over 500 people sat down at the tables. The proceeds from the Services and Tea amounted to nearly £100.
The Opening Services were continued for the two following Sundays, when the President of the conference, Rev. W. M. Thornton, M.A. and the Rev. Richard Harding the previous circuit minister, Rev. Thomas Aubrey and Rev. J. Dickinson of Preston officiated. The collections for these two Sundays ,were over £90., making a Total for the opening services of nearly £200.
In 1866, Welshpool became again the head of a Circuit, the places appearing on the plan as at the present time, and the Rev. F. Pickworth was appointed Superintendent Minister, and he has been followed by a succession of good and spiritual men, who have been the instruments of many being turned to righteousness.
Unhappily towards the close of the century circumstances became difficult. The declining condition of agriculture and village industries, caused the ebbing away of the countryside populations to larger centres, and the depletion of the Societies in some of the country places became a matter of much anxiety, so it was decided to amalgamate two or three of such circuits which were affected by these circumstances, for the purpose of reciprocal strength and support.
This brought about in the year 1902 the formation of the Severn Valley Mission, comprising the Circuits of Newtown, Welshpool and Oswestry; the following Ministers and Stewards being appointed by the Conference of that year :
Rev. J. Whitehead Clegg, Oswestry.
Rev. John V. Sutton, Welshpool.
Rev. J. Bicknor Edwards, Newtown.
Rev. Ernest Jones, Montgomery.
Mr. W. Norwell, Caersws.
Mr. C. S. Denniss Oswestry.
Mr. W. C. Black, Welshpool.
Mr. Richard Lloyd, J.P., Newtown.
In the year 1910, Newtown appealed to withdraw from the Mission, this was conceded, and Newtown became a Circuit connected with the First North Wales District.
In the year 1911, Newtown separated, and the Ministers appointed at the year's Conference, were as follows;
Rev. W. Beales, Oswestry.
Rev. C. A. Sheppard, Welshpool.
Rev. S. Forrest (Supernumerary).
Mr. Joseph Wardle, Montgomery.
Mr. J. W. Davies, Oswestry, and
Mr. J. H. Hilditch, Welshpool.
The combined Oswestry and Welshpool Circuits have worked together very happily for 28 years, and though we may not be able to report very great growth in numbers, the arrangement has united the two Circuits in a greater degree of general interest in the work, and the interchange of preachers has broadened love and sympathy, as opposed to a feeling-of isolation.
Want of space will not permit of our enumerating in detail the various improvements, which have been carried out during the last 30 years, in both the Chapel and the Schoolroom. Much has been accomplished, and the cost has been great.
The willing and devoted members, especially the Ladies of the Sewing Committee, have worked assiduously and in all earnestness, and with the liberal help of many friends in Town and Country, liabilities have been met as incurred; and the Chapel Trust has been kept free from Financial burden.
The present Chapel Trustees are as follows :-
Mr. F. G. Howorth, J.P., C.C. Mr. Pryce Bebb
Mr J. R. Boffey. Mr Gomer Roberts.
Mr R. Grindley. Mr Walter Dodd.
Mr Thomas Pryce. Mr Walter Davies.
Mr J. E. Davies. Mr M. Berwick.
Mr A. Carter. Mr Tom Price.
Mr J. R. Twist. Mr C. Harrison, B.Sc.
Mr Owen Lloyd (deceased, July, 1930).
We cannot pass on without a reference to Mr. J. E. Davies, who has acted for many years as Chapel Steward and Trustees' Treasurer. We appreciate greatly the business-like and efficient way in which he has carried out his duties.
We rejoice in the fact that our Sunday School is about the most prosperous in the Town. There are nearly 160 Teachers and Scholars, whose names are on the books, with an average attendance of 140. No Sunday School has ever been served by a better staff of Officers and Teachers. Mr. W. Dodd has served the School as Secretary for many years, and has proved himself to be an ideal Secretary.
We are also proud of our choir, which, under the able leadership of Mr. Owen Lloyd as conductor, and Miss Edith Wynne as organist, has served our church splendidly. It was a great loss to the choir and to the church when Mr. Owen Lloyd was called to a higher service. But the battle is the Lord's, and we are confident that the Great Master will call someone to take up the work.
In the winter months we have a flourishing Band of Hope of about 90 members, the children are keenly interested in the work.
The Wesley Guild also is very successful, splendid meetings are held weekly during the winter months, greatly encouraging to the members. A young men's Guild also meets on Friday evenings for fellowship and recreation, from which we anticipate good results.
Further we have the great Joy of recording, that of the Local preachers whose names are on the circuit plan, two have received the Connexional Long Service Certificate, having preached for more than 50 years. These are Mr. R. Grindley and Mr. E. Poole.
As we look back upon the years that have passed, we acknowledge God's mercy in the gracious help He has vouchsafed to all who have been,-and to all in the present who are,-actively engaged in the cause, and for the many branches of our Church work, with the splendid results which have followed; and in connection with this, we would especially refer to the successful ministry of the Rev. W. O. Luke who will shortly have spent five years in the Welshpool Section of the Mission. It has been a very happy period, both to the various places in the Country as well as to the Welshpool Society. He and Mrs. Luke have been most devoted to, and untiring in the work. He,-in looking up the flock in Town and Country, leaving no one unvisited, and in a forceful and spiritual manner presenting the Gospel, and frequently affording his Welsh friends a sermon in their own tongue; She,-as a member of our choir, and giving her services unstintingly ill the Sunday School, Band of Hope, Wesley Guild, and the Ladies Sewing Committee, together with a kind response to many calls by her delightful vocal gifts, in the furtherance of all good causes in Town and Country.
In bringing this Souvenir to a close, we pray that the future may be as prosperous as in times gone by, and remembering what this church has achieved, trust that it will be led to further success and prosperity to the Glory of His Name.