Old Thurlstone Views

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Wesleyan Chapel, 1889
The Wesleyan Methodist Chapel, on the main Manchester Road, Thurlstone was built during 1888 and opened on 24th July, 1889. It continued for the greater part of a century until its last service on 26th May 1985. After it closed, the building stood in a state of great dilapidation for many years until it was converted into a dwelling. It was nicely tidied up and sand-blasted and the gateposts lost their pointy tops.


Not Clickable

Built 1888 AD


Here is a picture of the congregation in their Sunday best, just six years after the chapel was built. The uniform of the chap top-left is not known to me. The posters advertise 'Thurlstone Wesleyan Sunday School' and an adult Bible class with the date May 14th 1894. An amazingly sharp picture from the nineteenth century. There is a small error on the top arch in the old picture as I accidentaly left something on the scanner plate. One of my relatives is on the old picture but I've no idea which one. My great uncle Alfred Briggs used to be a lay preacher at this chapel. There is also a Primitive Methodist Chapel in Thurlstone near Top o t' Town. Methodism always had a strong following in our area.

Thurlstone Sunday School, 1907
The date stone says 1786 and it was a Sunday School until the 1930s. It is now known as 'Thurlstone First School'. It is likely that its hall was used for community activities. The proper school for infants and older was a large building with a small bell-tower at 'Town End', near the main road. The first picture here is of the 1907 Sunday School class in the schoolyard. The little ruffians don't look much different from modern bairns except for the clothes, and perhaps their pained expressions. They were probably told to look serious.

See how little the building changed over nearly a century. The middle-left view (not 'clickable') is how the yard looked in 2001 but it changed considerably in 2011 after a lot of improvements were implemented and it looks as though doors have been blocked up and windows put in. It seems unlikely that the date stone was moved but its position does not quite look the same as in 2001. The view on the right is a 'stitched' composite of two pictures taken in March 2011.

1907 classNot Clickable - 2001Date stone2011 View

Looking at 1907, I don't have a class list but think that John Briggs (about 7, 'Uncle Jack') and his sister Ruth Briggs (about 6) would be in the picture. Brenda Thewlis has added Ellen Marie Beever (about 6) to the list. It's quite poignant to see the empty yard, as most of the children will now have grown old and died. As a point of interest, I used to attend an exercise class in the same school hall in 2001 and, on our last day there, I left a good quality scan of the 1907 class in the hall. In 2011, I re-discovered that same picture in a school 'Memory Lane' event and ihad been properly framed. I was pleased to hear the Head teacher Mrs Charlotte Gibbins say that it had pride of place on a wall above her desk.

Whitsuntide 1933
Churches had a much greater attendance in those days and everybody would turn out for the big Whitsuntide parade from Millhouse Green to Penistone, which I suspect is the fore-runner of Penistone's annual Parade. Bottom-right is a close-up of the posters on the adjacent picture. Some of my relatives will have been there but I don't recognise any. I suspect that the chap in the bowler hat by the posters is my 'Uncle Jack', John Briggs. He would have been 33 years old.

Whitsun Parade in Thurlstone 2003 Whitsun 1970s Parade
Whitsun Signs 1970s Parade

The two colour pictures above-right were from some time in the 1970s. The banner reads: 'Primitive Methodist Sunday School' and a word below which is indistinct but probably 'Thurlstone'. It was clearly not in the same league as the great Whitsuntide Walks but it was still in the same tradition. My thanks to Lynn Dean (nee Harley) for these two pictures.

A Personal History
Alfred BriggsA house on Matthew Gap was the home of my father Frank, uncle John, great-uncle Alfred, grandmother Emily and my grandfather John Thomas Briggs. Inscribed above the door to what was '7 Woodland View, Matthew Gap', is a stone with something like Old Jack's, referring to my uncle John who lived there all his life (and after whom I was named). The house had no electric in those days, a valve radio ran from batteries and lighting was a gas mantle hanging from the beamed ceiling.

A black-enamelled cooking range provided hot water for general washing and the zinc bathtub. The stone sink in the kitchen had only a cold water tap and a bar of red carbolic soap. A pot hot water 'bottle' provided some heat at bedtime. The cold stone floor had only a rug or two for comfort and the only toilet was outside, across the yard and supplied with torn pieces of newspaper.

Uncle Alf (right) was a man of dignity and great character, an employee of Durran's blacking works and someone who always stood his ground. He was a Methodist lay-preacher and a man of good learning, as he used to borrow books from a local schoolmaster. Very old visitors to my website might remember this picture and Alf's wily ways. It was taken in the 'Blue Ball' pub, which later became Thurlstone British Legion. A framed copy of this same picture was in there until it closed. After being derelict for many years, the building was converted into flats in the 1980s by a New Zealander and renamed 'Skyliner'. That was also his CB-radio handle. After he died in strange circumstances, his relatives were not traced.

See the Old Inns page and modern views of Thurlstone.

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