By Stanley Merridew
Readers of both the Wharfedale and Keighley journals may recall my previous articles regarding the Primitive Methodist movement in both Addingham and Eastburn. In both I referred to “Silsden Primitve Methodists” by WJ Robson published in 1910. This gives a detailed history of the churches and chapels within the former Silsden Primitive Methodist Circuit.
Farnhill was also part of the Silsden Circuit with evidence of a chapel from the early part of the nineteenth century, although it may have spent sometime in the Keighley Circuit. This is apparent from the Keighley PM Circuit Roll Book dated 1833 which shows the following as being members at Farnhill:
John Todd (leader), Mary Todd William & Rachel Law, Henry, Elizabeth¸ Ann, Martha, Hannah, Peter & Holdgate Green, Jane Dinsdale, Jane Wilson, Martha Hewett, James & Henry Harrison, George Laycock¸ Robert & Sarah Lightfoot, Ann, Margaret & Isabella Wilson, Isaac & Mary Overend, Elizabeth Bannister, Jacob & Thomas Lilley, William, Margaret & Thomas Spencer, Hannah Day, Judith Parkinson, John Hill, William Shuttleworth, Lambert Smith, John Sutton, Peter Pedley.
A later entry in the same book for 1839, shows the congregation considerably reduced:
John Todd, James Harrison, Judith Parkinson, Mary Overend, Jacob Lilley, William Spencer, Thomas Spencer, Edmund Tempest, Margaret Todd & Robert Townsend.
The reason for the downturn is not apparent but could have been due to a reduction in employment in the village. These early services would, according to the 1851 Census of Religious Worship, taken place preaching room was erected in Starkey Lane about 1830. (I understand this was next door to the Wesleyan Chapel.) This was enlarged on a number of occasions before being replaced c1899 by the building shown below on Main Street, backing onto the Leeds/Liverpool Canal. This was still in use until very recently. However a planning application for conversion into apartments is currently under consideration.
According to WJ Robson the superintendents of the Sunday School up to 1910 had included John Hill, Isaac Overend, Smith Laycock, Heaton Mosley, John Green Mosley, Anthony Spencer, Robert Mosley and Jabez Birtwhistle. He gives some biographical detail and photographs of those involved with the chapel for example:
John Todd, born at Lotherdale, died 2 May 1854
Judith (wife of the above) died 17 October 1829 aged 39
Matthew John Barron, local preacher, founder of the Sunday school at Farnhill, died aged 80, 23 December 1898 at the home of his daughter, Mrs Cooper of Ash Street, Crosshills.
Jacob Lilley, local preacher for 39 years.
West Yorkshire Archives at Bradford hold many records concerning Farnhill chapel. The following may be of most help to family historians:
Seat Rents 1864-1957, Sunday School Record Books 1926-1941, Attendance Registers 1936-1971, Roll Books 1939-1945, Choir Attendance Register 1923-24