18th century Slough was a small community on the Great West Road, with coaching inns on the present High Street. John Wesley must have passed through many times on his way to and from the West Country. But no society was formed until 1844, when Wesleyans from Windsor began meetings in Brunswick Place in the High Street. A chapel seating 120 and costing £400 was opened in Herschel Street in 1847. New pews, seating 200, were installed in 1875. By 1884 membership had reached 41, but the appointment of a local preacher from Windsor as a lay agent led to no substantial increase.

In 1904 the site for a new chapel was purchased for £1,100 in Chandos Street, but only an iron building, for use for the Sunday School and other meetings, was put up on the site. Eventually, in 1913,the Herschel Street chapel was altered to accommodate rising attendances. In 1917 Grove Lodge at the junction of The Grove and High Street, was purchased as the site for a new church, but this was let until 1929. Chandos Street was then sold to the Slough Labour and Trade Unions, and became known as the Labour Hall. It continued to be rented for Sunday worship while the Central Hall was being built.

The Primitive Methodists established a society in 1877 as an offshoot of the one in Chalvey. A corrugated iron chapel in William Street became the home of a flourishing congregation and Sunday School, with a Band of Hope and later a Christian Endeavour. Plans to replace it by a more attractive church were delayed by the outbreak of war in 1914 and it was eventually sold to the Salvation Army, who used it until it was compulsorily purchased and demolished in 1968.

With proposals for Methodist Union already well advanced, Wesleyans and Primitive Methodists in Slough were in discussion as early as 1927 over a joint building scheme for a Central Hall to replace both Herschel Street and William Street. With grants, including one from the Joseph Rank Foundation, building began in October 1931 on the Wesleyans' Grove/High Street site and the new premises were opened by the then Duchess of York (later Queen Elizabeth the Queen Mother) on 9 November 1932, with seating for 1,000 and Sunday School accommodation for 750 scholars. The early years, under the ministry of the Rev. Reginald Brighton (1932-1937), were very successful, with large congregations, a Sunday School of 200 children and many other activities. There was also a wartime Forces' Canteen.

In 1944 the Central Hall became a separate Mission Circuit, but after the War congregations dwindled and use of the premises decreased. In 1962 there was an opportunity to sell, with a new site provided further down The Grove. St. Andrew's Church was opened there in December 1966. Over the years its congregations have reflected the changes in the ethnic mix of the town's population, with services for Asian worshippers in Urdu and for Zimbabwians in Shona. Weeknight activities include Boys' Brigade, Rainbows, Brownies and Guides. Outside activities meeting on the premises cater for such groups as the disabled and the unemployed.

  • Norman P. Nickless, The Introduction of Primitive Methodism into Windsor, Maidenhead and Slough
  • Colin Shepherdson, Is it only 25 Years? A History of Methodism in Central Slough (1991)

Entry written by: IH
Category: Place
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