Wesley visited the town only once, at the end of his life. The chapel built in 1788 for a society dating from 1783 was replaced by Wesley Place in 1835.
PM, which originated at nearby Mow Cop, built its first chapel in Tunstall in 1811 and the name 'Society of Primitive Methodists' was adopted at a meeting there on 12 February 1812. Tunstall remained the stronghold of PM in the Potteries. A new chapel (1821, extended 1834) was rebuilt as Jubilee Chapel for the Jubilee Conference of 1860 and became revered as the 'mother church' of the connexion. Eight PM Conferences met there.
A MNC society existed by 1821 and opened Mount Tabor chapel (1823; replaced 1857) on a site secured by John Ridgway at the top of the new Market Square. The society was seriously disrupted by Joseph Barker and his supporters in the 1840s. A UMFC chapel was opened in Bank Street in the 1860s. Following post-war closures and amalgamations, Queens Avenue church opened in 1975.
John Wesley's Journal:
March 1790: 'At nine [a.m.] I preached in the new chapel at Tunstall; the most elegant I have seen since I left Bath. My text was, "Let us go on unto perfection"; and the people seemed to devour the word.'
'Joseph Bradford, his travelling companion, was with him. His voice was weak and feeble, but his expression was clear and distinct. He wore no glasses. He could easily have gone through the whole service without either Bible or Hymn Book. His memory occasionally failed, and then his companion supplied the first word of the missing sentence. This enabled him to proceed without embarrassment, though with increasing feebleness.'
Methodist Recorder, 3 January1901