Hanley is now part of Stoke-on-Trent. The first chapel, in Chapel Fields, was opened in 1783 and John Wesley preached there in 1784. In 1797 John Ridgway and others led a revolt against a trust dominated by 'high church' Burslem potters and the society was almost extinguished by defection to the MNC. The MNC society met at first in an old coach-house in Albion Street, on the site of which Bethesda MNC chapel was opened at Michaelmas 1799. Its members dominated the commercial and political as well as the religious life of the town as it developed into the commercial heart of the Potteries. By 1840 one tenth of the MNC's membership was in the Hanley and Longton Circuits. The MNC Book Room was in Hanley from 1808 to 1832. Bethesda hosted nine MNC and two UM Conferences.
WM recovered sufficiently to build a large chapel in Old Hall Street (1819). PM, established in Hanley by 1819, proved comparatively weak. Their first chapels (1824 and 1835) both failed; a third, in Marsh Street (1857) was the first of the town centre churches to close (c.1940). With the closure of Bethesda in 1985 the only remaining Methodist presence in the town centre is the Methodist Book Centre on the site of the PM Sunday School.
John Wesley's Journal:
March 1784: 'I preached in the new preaching-house at Hanley Green, but this was far too small to hold the congregation. Indeed, this country is all on fire, and the flame is still spreading from village to village.'
Entry written by: JHA
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