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Camborne, like Redruth and the adjoining district, was a flourishing centre of tin mining when the Wesleys first visited West Cornwall in 1743. Between then and 1789 John Wesley paid ten visits to Camborne, where he was welcomed between 1743 and 1757 by the Harris family at what is now Lower Roswarne and formed a friendship with Richard Trevithick senior.

In the 1830s Trevithick's new pumping engine resulted in a new era of prosperity for the Cornish mining industry and a substantial growth of population in Camborne. Mark Guy Pearse was born there in 1842, into a prominent local Methodist family. (His 'Daniel Quorm' was a fictional character based on a local class leader Dick Rowe, noted for his pithy sayings.) Wesley Chapel (1828, modelled on Wesley's Chapel, London) hosted four WM Conferences between 1862 and 1903. Prominent figures associated with the chapel include the family of Charles Thomas (1798-1868) of Killivose, founder of the fortunes of the important Dolcoath Mine, and the historians J.W. Etheridge and George Smith, at whose home Trevu House many WM events were held. Redbrooke School, opened in 1879 further up the hill, was renamed Redbrooke College when it became a Methodist secondary school for girls in 1887, but was sold to the local authority in 1906, following the Education Act of 1902.

Centenary Chapel at the top of Trelowarren Street (built in 1839; enlarged 1854 and 1860, with a gallery 1861, and further altered in 1890, 1910 and 1939) became one of the few Methodist New Connexion causes in Cornwall. Under the leadership of Samuel Dunn, a leading Wesleyan Reformer and a native of Camborne who had been Superintendent of the Camborne Circuit in 1838-1841, the Centenary society broke away from the Camborne Reform Circuit and was for a time an independent Methodist church. When it joined the MNC, Dunn left for the USA. The first BC chapel was at Wheal Gerry. The second, in Vyvyan Street (1829) was extended 1850; rebuilt 1871 and altered in 1883. There had been a UMFC chapel at North Parade. The later Trelowarren Street 'New Chapel' on the corner of New Connexion Street was built in 1909 for the United Methodist Church. The PM chapel (1851) was in Trevenson Street.


John Wesley's Journal:

July 1747: 'I preached in the evening at Camborne to an equally serious congregation [as at Brea]. I looked about for John Rogers, the champion, who had so often sworn I should never more preach in that parish. But it seems he had given up the cause, saying, "One may as well blow against the wind." '

August 1750: 'I preached in Camborne at noon to the largest congregation I had ever seen there.'

September 1757: 'I went on to Camborne, and rejoiced to hear that the gentleman who "pressed" Mr.Maxfield no longer persecutes the Methodists, nor will suffer anyone else to do it; and in the late dearth he relieved great numbers of the poor and saved many families from perishing. I preached at six on "I will heal their backsliding", and God applied His word. Several who had left the society for some years came after sermon and desired to be readmitted. Oh how should our bowels yearn over all that did once run well! This is the very thing we want, or how many souls might we yet pluck out of the jaws of the lion!'

  • Joseph F. Odgers, Early Methodism in Camborne: Wesley Chapel 1828-1958