John Wesley regularly passed through the town which was, as now, on a major north-south route. A chapel was registered by 1777. A MNC society was formed in September 1797 with a chapel, Ebenezer (1799) which is now part of the Sunday School building. Joseph Barker, was stationed in the Newcastle MNC Circuit in 1831-32 and appears to have mediated in settling the potteries strike of 1836-37. In the 1840s the Unitarian Meeting House was linked with Barker's Christian Brethren. A secession from the WM society to Wesleyan Reform some time between 1849 and 1851 led to a UMFC circuit based on the Lower Street chapel (1799; purchased in 1863 after the WM had moved to a new chapel, Brunswick, in 1861). A cotton mill at Cross Heath appears on the first PM printed plan in 1812 and a PM chapel was built at Higherland in 1823. From time to time in the nineteenth century the southern Potteries were in the Newcastle WM and PM circuits.
John Wesley's Journal:
March 1768: '… one of the prettiest towns in England. Many here already know themselves: not a few know Christ. The largeness of the congregation constrained me, though it was very cold, to preach in the open air… I scarce ever saw a more attentive or better behaved congregation.'
March 1774: '… I was invited by the mayor, a serious, sensible man, to lodge at his house. I was desired (our room being but small) to preach in the market-place. Abundance of people were soon gathered together… Many of them had admirable voices, and tolerable skill. I know not when I have heard so agreeable a sound; it was indeed the voice of melody. But we had one jarring string: a drunken gentleman was a little noisy, till he was carried away.'
March 1775: 'In the evening, though it was cold, I was obliged to preach abroad at Newcastle-under-Lyme. All were quiet now, the gentleman who made a disturbance when I was here last having been soon after called to his account.'
March 1778: 'I preached in the shell of the new house.'
March 1784: 'The preaching-house … just held the congregation, many being kept away by the election, especially the gentry. But still, the poor heard the gospel preached, and received it with all readiness of mind.'
March 1790: 'I preached in the evening to a sensible and wellbehaved congregation at Newcastle-under-Lyme.'