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Stanks Methodist Church

From the Barwicker Nos. 93 &94
March & June 2009

The earliest information concerning Methodism in Stanks that we have found so far is a certificate of registration dated 22 December 1860, stating that
“a certain building or dwelling house occupied by Daniel Wilby situated at Stanks, near Seacroft, is intended to be used and will accordingly be forthwith used as a Place of Meeting for Religious Worship by a Congregation or Assembly of persons calling themselves Primitive Methodists”.
The Primitive Methodists were an offshoot of the main (Wesleyan) Connexion. They wished to be free to experiment in forms of worship such as outdoor ‘camp meetings’. The nickname ‘ranters’ comes from their habit of singing in the streets. They placed great emphasis on the role of lay people, women as well as men. A higher proportion of Primitives tended to be drawn from the lower social groupings than were the Wesleyans.

The 1861 census returns for Stanks allow us to draw a picture of the settlement at this time and compare it to the present day. Stanks was then part of the (civil) parish of Barwick-in-Elmet and in the ecclesiastical district of Manston. There are 21 houses listed, including the toll house, with 40 males and 44 female inhabitants. Of the 21 heads of families only four were born in Stanks, most of the rest coming from other parts of Yorkshire. Under occupations, the men are made up of coal miners (9), labourers (colliery) (2), agricultural labourers (5), brick makers (4), and one each of brewers’ labourer, blacksmith, toll keeper, shepherd, farrier, auctioneer, and proprietor of houses. The occupations of two of the women are given: bonnet maker and dressmaker. There is no shopkeeper or innkeeper.

Daniel Wilby, whose house was used for worship, was aged 70 at this time, a brick maker born in Hunslet. He lived with his wife and three children in their twenties: an unmarried daughter and two unmarried twin sons. Peter Lumb was then 51 and is described a proprietor of houses, what we would call a landlord, who is described in other documents as a farmer or yeoman. The census shows that Stanks was a small but growing community with families moving into the area. Most people were employed in the coal mines or in agriculture. The presence of four brick makers indicates that there was suitable clay in the area.

On 1 October, 1866, Peter Lumb purchased from the Manor of Barwick-in-Elmet for £2.2s.0d the freehold of a piece of land which he already held as copyhold. This land occupied 160 square yards on the south side of Barwick Road in Stanks. On 6 November 1866, the land was sold by Peter Lumb to a board of trustees acting for the Primitive Methodist Church. These were:

George Backhouse Marshall of Cross Gates, builder,
Peter Lumb of Stanks, farmer
William Siberry of Seacroft, tailor.
Joseph Atkinson of Seacroft, pointsman.
George Stephens of Seacroft, coal miner
Charles Curtis of Seacroft, brickmaker
John Hutchinson of Seacroft, grocer
Robert Thompson of Stanks, banksman
William Pullan of Barwick in Elmet, farmer
John Thorp of Leeds, coal miner
Thomas Brooks of Leeds, brush maker
William Fawcett of Leeds, ironfounder
Amos Field of Leeds, joiner
James Paul of Leeds, upholsterer
Peter Haigh of Leeds, mechanic
John Simpson of Leeds, shepherd
William Jackson of Leeds, Superintendent Minister

George Backhouse Marshall was responsible for the building of the ‘Marshalls’ in Cross Gates. He lived at Sycamore House on Church Lane. William Pullan is later described as a lime burner so it is likely that he is related to the Pullans who owned the woodworking business on Potterton Road, Barwick, where once there were lime-kilns.

On the land purchased there was to be built “a School to be used as a Chapel or House of Religious Worship . . . .for the use of the people called Primitive Methodists.” Only two of these trustees lived in Stanks, indicating that the chapel was to be built for use by people from other areas, especially parts of Leeds. The price paid for the land was £10.0s.0d. This group of workers, craftsmen and small businessmen is probably typical in social and economic status of most Primitive Methodists of the time.

The chapel, which later became the schoolroom, was built and opened on 23 February 1869. Sabbath services were at 2.30pm and 6.00pm and weekday evening services at 6.45pm. We have no photograph of the building at this stage but one taken after the present chapel was built onto the east wall shows what the old chapel was like. It was a simple structure built of brick, about 30 ft in length (running east/west) and 27 ft. in breadth (north/south). It had a steeply ridged roof with a gable at both ends. It had three large windows at the front with round arches with brickwork decoration. There is one similar window at the western end of the back wall; whether there were two more, as at the front, we do not know as the kitchen has been built onto it. Entrance was by a wood and glass porch in the middle of the west wall. The chapel would have occupied most of the land purchased and more would be needed for any expansion.

On 15 June, 1875, Peter Lumb’s land was sold by auction following his death in the previous December. The remainder of the plot of land on which the Primitive Methodist chapel stood was purchased by the trustees of the chapel for £10.0s.0d. It occupied 245 square yards.

The larger site allowed the trustees to extend the building by erecting the present chapel onto the eastern wall of the old chapel, which became the schoolroom. The foundation stones for the new chapel were laid on 28 January, 1882, by W H Conyers and Richard Bowman of Leeds. The new building was opened in April, 1882. Our earliest photograph, probably taken during the next decade or two after its construction, shows that the new building had a high, steeply pitched roof and gables to the north and south. On the north wall there was a small porch with a pitched roof and wooden door to the north in keeping with the rest of the design.

There were two high narrow windows with round arches at each side of the porch. These were matched by a similar pair of windows on the opposite (southern) wall. High in the gable was a circular decorated feature with three vertical holes which could have formed a window or a ventilator. The rest of the gable was made up of attractive decorated brickwork. A domed ventilator crowned the ridge of the roof. The west porch and door were still present. It was very attractive building at that time. We have no knowledge of the interior until a later date.

A new Board of Trustees was appointed, with the approval of Reverend. George Bell, the Superintendent of the Primitive Methodist circuit and were:

George Backhouse Marshall, Cross Gates, builder
William Siberry, Seacroft, tailor
Thomas Brook, Leeds, brush maker
John Simpson, Leeds, shepherd
Barnett Risefield, Leeds, dealer
William Pickles, Stanks, ‘out of business’
Isaac Adams, Stanks, joiner
William Curtis, Stanks, miner
Eli Hall , Manston, miner
Samuel Hall , Leeds, currier
James Scarf, Stanks, miner
Daniel Wilby, Whinmoor, brick maker
John Broadbent , Stanks
John Blades, Stanks, farmer
Benjamin Muscroft, Cross Gates, gardener

For men who were far from affluent, these appointments represent acts of some courage as they might have found themselves responsible for any debts incurred in the construction of the chapel. In the Leeds City Archives are records of the quarterly meetings of the Leeds North Primitive Methodist circuit which included Stanks. There are very few references to Stanks and none to the period before the building of the chapel. From time to time mention was made of open-air and camp meetings occasionally at Stanks. It would appear that the trustees had some difficulties in paying the bills for the constructing the new chapel. The circuit was kept informed and special fund-raising activities were carried out.

We have copies of two photographs published, probably about the same time, as post cards by JWH, (John Wilson Hague, who kept a newsagent's shop in Station Road, Cross Gates). The suggested date for one is 1907 and it shows a view of Barwick Road, Stanks, looking west past the old toll bar to the chapel in the distance. The other is of the chapel looking east. The most obvious difference from the earlier photograph is a flat roofed porch protruding perhaps three yards from the front of the chapel. It has a window at the end and a door on the west side. This had probably been put in to cut down the draught. Showing above the roof of the schoolroom at the back is a tall chimney. This comes probably from a boiler used to heat the building.


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