Opening Primitive Methodist Church, 1905

The Methodist Church was opened by the Primitive Methodist Congregation on the evening of Thursday 23rd November 1905.

Despite the very inclement weather, a good attendance turned up, many travelling from far afield. This is the Church which would later become the Bethany Hall. Situated on Glasgow Road adjacent to Joanna Terrace the Church has an attractive frontage with Gothic traceised windows and immediately was a pleasant landmark in the area. It was erected to architectural plans by Mr. H Campbell of Glasgow and seated 450 worshippers, besides having to the rear, a hall, vestry and retiring rooms.

Surrounding and in front of the pulpit was a neat ornamental handrail which enclosed the space for the choir. The pulpit itself was a platform with bound gothic wooden panels in front. The lighting was supplied by 5 Corona pendants, fitted with incandescent burners. The roof is of bound Gothic timber which was suitably decorated.

By 1905, the Methodist congregation had already been in Blantyre for 12 years, having formed in 1893 and during that whole period had made marked progress and an impact on the people of Blantyre. This was certainly due to the ministry of the pastor who also oversaw the construction of the church, Rev James Gorton.

In March 1904, he took the idea and meetings forward and the following month in April 1904, oversaw the laying of the first foundation stone of the church on a previously unbuilt upon spot.

On the opening night, a large gathering assembled outside the front entrance and Miss Thomas of High Blantyre was presented with a gold key which she used to open the large door, then inviting the crowd into the church for the first time. A short thanksgiving service took place with Mr Hirst presiding. Some singing and prayer took place after which miss Thomas said a few sentences giving thanks for the wonderful opening of the building. Rev John McNeill then took over with a resounding sermon.

The first public services were supposed to take place the following day, but on account of the continued bad weather was moved forward a few days.  

The first public services took place on 26th November 1905. With three services during that day, each were well attended. Services were conducted by Mr Hansly, who focused on temperance in his opening addresses. It was described upon opening as confomrtable, tidy and well arranged if not as commodious as other ecclesiastical buildings in Blantyre. It was also described as bright with the interior as pleasing as the exterior. The Methodist church goers were congratulated on their accomplishments in establishing such a church, which from that month saw an end to them meeting in their previous venue at Dixon’s Hall on Stonefield Road.

(c) Narrative from the book “Blantyre Explained” by Paul Veverka

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