A creation of the water-powered textile industry and close to John Bennet's base at Chinley, this small industrial town early became a Methodist stronghold. A chapel was opened in 1766 which, as John Wesley noted in 1776, was the only place of worship in the town. (Its pulpit is now at Abbot Hall Guest House, Cumbria.) Wesley paid eight visits between 1768 and 1788. It became a separate circuit (fromStockport) in 1808 and a larger chapel was opened in 1810.
The PMs built a chapel in 1828 and the WMA built nearby in 1838, each becoming the head of a circuit in due course.
John Wesley's Journal:
March 1768: 'I rode to a little town called New Mills, in the High Peak of Derbyshire. I preached at noon in their large new chapel, which (in consideration that preaching-houses have need of air) has a casement in every window, three inches square! That is the custom of the country!
April 1772: 'Notwithstanding all the rain the house was well filled, for nothing can hinder this lively, earnest people.'
April 1774: 'About noon I preached at New Mills to an earnest, artless, loving people…'
April 1776: 'The people here are quite earnest and artless, there being no public worship in the town but at our chapel, so that they go straightforward, knowing nothing of various opinions, and minding nothing but to be Bible Christians.'
April 1779: 'A commodious preaching-house, lately built, has proved a blessing to the whole country. They flock together from every quarter, and are thankful both to God and man.'
April 1782: 'About ten I preached at New Mills to as simple a people as those at Chapel[-en-le-Frith]. Perceiving they had suffered much by not having the doctrine of Perfection explained and strongly pressed upon them, I preached expressly on the head, and spoke to the same effect in meeting the society. The spirits of many greatly revived, and they are now "going on unto perfection".'
April 1788: '…with a deal of difficulty [I] got to New Mills, the roads over the mountains being scarcely passable; but the earnestness of the congregation made amends for the difficulty of the journey. They are all athirst for God.'