The History of Methodism in Fairfield from 1844 to 1994.
Based on the research and documents created by Mr N.E. (Norman) Brittain.
Our later history can be found by following the link here
In the Autumn of 1783 John Wesley preached in St Peters Church, Fairfield and church records state that "it was thoroughly filled with serious and attentive hearers". Tradition says that he also preached from a window at the back of Hawthorn Farm. For over fifty years Methodist meetings were held in various cottages in the local area, Joshua Cotterill led his class at his own home, Cherry Tree Farm, Fairfield.
The First Church
As the numbers of members grew, so did the desire to build a chapel, and when Mr. Samuel Birch, though not a Member of Society, left £50 for the purpose, the building was commenced on the site on Waterswallows Road, occupied for many years by the Scout Headquarters.Costing about £150, this chapel was opened in 1844. Mr. Samuel Barker, of Brook House Farm, who had helped in various ways and especially with his team of horses, was allotted a pew on the left of the pulpit. On the other side sat the singers and violinists. As so many of the older people could not read, the hymns were given out two lines at a time, and the last two lines were always repeated.
The Second Church 1868
A Second Chapel was built on the same site and the Secretary of the Building Fund was Mr. John Lomas, whose portrait hung in the vestry for many years. This Chapel was opened in 1868 but was soon too small for the rapidly increasing population, and, unable to extend those premises, the trustees undertook the building of a new Chapel on Fairfield Road
The Third Church 1886-1983
1887 saw a triumphal procession from the old to the new, for the opening by the Rev. Charles Garrett, whose text was "Let the beauty of the Lord our God be upon us, and establish Thou the work of our hands upon us; yea the work of our hands establish Thou it."
By 1897 it was recorded in the local newspaper that at the Anniversary Services conducted by the Rev. H. Colwell, of New York, the Chapel was crowded and many had to be accommodated in the adjoining schoolroom. The Superintendent said that the Wesleyans were unable to take in any more children because of the scarcity of room. The proceeds of the Sunday School Anniversary Services in 1904 were £50.7s.
The work of enlarging the premises was greatly helped by members of the Sunday School, who gave £50 for the Foundation Stone, laid by Mr. Matthew Thorpe, and a further sum of £35 for Schoolroom furniture --- the children foregoing their treat to make the gifts possible. The following year, £60 was given to the building fund. It was thought fitting that the new schoolroom should be opened by the children themselves.
The enlarged Chapel was re-opened by Mrs. Chambers, and the new organ by Miss Mollie Wright. Mr. George Slater, the organist, was also the generous treasurer of the Church and the Sunday School. During all this time, the tea meeting contributed greatly to the support of the growing Church, under the capable leadership of Mrs. Martin. The President of the Conference (Rev. Robert Bond, D.D.) preached at the opening services of the memorable Golden Jubilee celebrations in 1937.
In 1939 many young people left to join the armed forces, and although depleting the church of it's younger members, it provided a challenge to those who remained at home to work and provide comforts for the troops stationed at home and abroad. Several young people were drafted into the town to do Government work and some of those became members and were a great help in the work of the church. 1947 saw the Diamond Jubilee of the Fairfield Road Church and was celebrated with a week of special Services and Activities.The preachers and speakers for that week were the Rev. J. Bernard Sheldon, Rev. Francis J. Gould, Rev. Granville S. Smith, Rev.William Wallace and the Rev. G. Robinson Myers, and the Souvenir Programme cost 6 pence.
1947 also saw many young people return from the forces, and there was a concentration on Youth Work. The Sunday School was strong with Beginners, Primary, Junior and Senior Departments, all being well staffed. During the week there were the Girls' Brigade, Life Boys, Boys' Brigade, Youth Club and the Wesley Guild. Church and Sunday School members together numbered over 200. The Women's Fellowship (Sisterhood) was strong, and well attended at their weekly Wednesday Meetings. A Young Wives Group was formed and became very active.
There were Church concerts, Ladies concerts, Men's concerts, Children's concerts and Pantomimes. The church building was altered to accommodate all the activities. The November Chapel Anniversaries were celebrated each year with many well known preachers and speakers.
The picture is of the Primitive Methodist Church which was on Queens Road affectionately known as the "Tin Chapel"
The start of Fairfield Methodist Church.
In 1962 the Queens Road society who had previously worshipped as Primitive Methodists joined with the Fairfield Road society and the two became known as Fairfield Methodist Church. This uniting of the societies proved to be a success. But gradually in the late '60's a number of the younger members moved away because of their employment and as the older members died the membership decreased. In addition to this decrease the building was getting older and more costly to keep in repair. Each quarter a Budget was prepared of the costs for the next quarter, and all efforts were put into fund raising, just to keep the building usable. The church heating was inadequate, although in the early fifties an oil fired boiler had replaced the veteran coke fired unit. Each Sunday it cost more to "heat" the church than was received in collections. One Friday in 1980, because of snow the regular supply of fuel oil did not arrive, the fuel ran out, the boiler stopped during the night, and that night there was a very severe frost which resulted in many of the church central heating pipes being cracked. An estimate of the damage was £4,000, but thanks to Mr. Harold Lomas (the Property Steward), and his helpers a condensed system was soon operating.
After this it was accepted that the building was too big for the needs of the day, and was in need of much repair. In 1983 it was decided to go for a new building, and after consultations with the District and the "Johnnie" Johnson Housing Trust an agreement was made for the Housing Trust to build a block of flats for sheltered accommodation for the elderly on the site of the church provided they built a suitable building for a modern church. During the building of the new church which took about eighteen months, morning services were held in St. Peters Anglican Church, the church John Wesley had originally preached in in 1783.This provided an opportunity for the members of both churches to get to know one another, and resulted in closer links between the Methodists and the Anglicans. Evening services were held in members homes and were a great success in keeping the congregation together.
Our present Church
The new church was opened on the 15th. May 1985 by Mrs. Agnes Goodwin and Mr. John Meddins, who were the two oldest members of the Society. The dedication service was conducted by the Rev. Ronald Hoar, the Chairman of the Manchester and Stockport District, and assisted by the Fairfield based minister, the Rev. Peter Baiden. Much credit for this and researching the story of Fairfield Methodism must go to Mr N.E.Brittain who is still in March 2016 the Church Treasurer.
With the new church came a new lease of life to the Society, congregations improved and a week night "Sunday School" was started, and for four years was very popular. The Women's Fellowship and Tuesday Club (previously known as the Young Wives Group) continued. A Mother and Toddlers Group was formed and ran until 2003. A monthly meeting for everyone was started in 1989 called the Pilgrim Group this at January 2016 continues to provide a variety of topics and is still well attended.
In 1990 Circuit finances were in a poor state and unable to support two full time ministers and the circuit agreed to become a one minister circuit, and the Fairfield based minister was not replaced. This was a great loss to the Fairfield Church, and also to the circuit. There was also a shortage of Local Preachers and services were in danger of being cut, so the members of Fairfield offered to arrange their own evening services every other week, these services were called Praise and Fellowship and included Bible Studies; Talks; Concerts with Fairfield Band; Songs of Praise, in fact any way in which people could praise God and have fellowship with Him, and with one another.
One hundred and fifty years of Methodism in Fairfield
The Sesquicentennial Year began with a Special Anniversary Weekend in May 1993, with Special Services conducted by the Rev. Ronald Hoar and special services with a former minister, the Rev. Peter Brant. In July we held our first Flower Festival; in August a Sankey Songs of Praise with Fairfield Band; in September special Harvest Festival Services and a superb concert by the Dalesmen Male Voice Choir. October brought special services to remember the old November Tea Days. For the rest of the year there were special services and events ending the year of celebration with a Special Anniversary Service, conducted by the Rev. Dr. John Taylor, later president of the Methodist Conference but also a past member of the Sunday School. These services closed the Sesquicentennial Year and 150 years of Methodism in the Fairfield area.
Unfortunately like many Churches our membership has declined over the last few years and we have lost many members through death. They were all active members in our society and are greatly missed
Fairfield Methodist Church, Fairfield Road, Buxton SK17 7DU in the Buxton Circuit and Manchester & Stockport District of the Methodist Church of GB.