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WHITEHILL YESTERYEAR CHURCHES/CHAPELS

A booklet has come to light which endeavours to present a concise history of the growth of Methodism in connection with Balls Bank Church (Whitehill Methodist Community Church) from the founding of the first Primitive Methodist Society in 1862 to 1962.  It is based on the fullest information available, derived to a large extent from existing records.  There is no copyright associated with the booklet and the following are extracts from it:

"In 1862 the first Primitive Methodist Society was founded, Whitehill Road and Whitehill Terrace were unknown, and the known road was narrow and fenced with high hedges.  A gypsy caravan was sited near to the site of the present church, but on the opposite side of the road, now occupied by bungalows, at that time Brewhouse Bank was known as Brewers Bank.

The date on which the first society was founded is uncertain.  From records we find the first church was opened on 2 January, 1870.  It is interesting to note that the collection on this occasion was £6.2s.  Before this, however, the Society met regularly in a nearby cottage, and we can only assume that the meeting house became so crowded it was necessary to fine a more commodious building. 

From a memorial tablet in brass, now in our church, one Edward Leese is remembered for his devoted service.  He was a founder-member.  He died in 1917, and had been a member for 55 years.  This takes us back to 1862.  Of what happened before this we have no record.

Again from records, we find that a house was purchased in 1869 from a Mr William Mellor, of Dales Green, for £30, fitted out and furnished as a church, and a licence obtained to use the building as a place of worship. 

1870-1895

During the next 25 years, the Society had out-grown the small church, and the need for a larger church was apparent.  Moneys had been invested in the Chapel Aid Association for this purpose and in February 1895 a second-hand Mission church was purchased from our Anglican friends in Alsager for the sum of £150.  This church was lovingly called by the locals the "Tin Tabernacle".  The Mission Church was erected on the site of the present church.

1910-1962

In 1910 a building fund was started by a donation of £1 by the late Jethro Leese and in 1912 plans of the present church were submitted which were accepted with the reservation that the cost would not exceed £750.  During the transitionary period from the Mission church to our present church, services were held in a marquee and in the front room of the late Mr and Mrs Gibson of Whitehill Farm.  In 1913 £300 was borrowed from the Chapel Aid Association to effect payment to the architects and builders.  The Society was still in debt in 1918, but in the will of the late Edward Leese, money had been left to completely clear the outstanding debt, and an additional £20 towards a new organ and the cost of structural alterations to the vestry.

During World Ward II period no structural alterations to the church could be undertaken.  We have no records of the happenings between 1939 and 1953, but in 1953 an ambitious scheme was launched to provide better accommodation in the Sunday School and to include toilets and kitchen accommodation.  A plot of land for this purpose was given to the Trustees by the late Edward Archer of Whitehill Farm.

"We have now reached 1962, the centenary of our Society and the Golden Jubilee of the present church."