Ilkley Road Methodist Church at Riddlesden
Ilkley Road Methodist Church             at Riddlesden

The Primitve Methodist Church


In the early decades of the 19th century there was a growing body of opinion among the Wesleyans that their Connexion was moving in directions which were a distortion of, not to say a betrayal of, what John Wesley had brought to birth in the 18th century. It was seen to originate in an All Day of Prayer held in the area of The Potteries at Mow Cop, Staffordshire on 31 May 1807.

Eventually a Methodist preacher called Hugh Bourne, became the catalyst for a breakaway, to form the Primitive Methodists - the original, or primitive, form of Methodism.
He supported Camp Meetings -
day-long, open air meetings involving public praying, preaching and Love Feasts ( before you get over excited, the term Agape or Love feast was used of certain religious meals among early Christians that were closely related to Holy Communion. In modern times it is used to refer to a Christian ritual meal distinct from Holy Communion – I hope you’re not too disappointed.)
He also aligned himself with the more charismatic and evangelical revivalist movements in the United States, all at a time when the United Kingdom was at almost continuous war with France since 1793 and all dissenters from the established state religion of the Church of England were regarded as dangerous.
The French Revolution and subsequent Republican Government encouraged a fear of rebellion in Britain. It is not perhaps surprising that the Wesleyan Conference sought to distance themselves from its more outspoken and extreme followers.
The Primitive Methodists focused attention on: -

  • the role of lay people.
  • simplicity in their chapels and their worship.
  • the rural poor.
  • the political implications of their Christian discipleship

    The first Primitive Methodists came to Morton Banks in 1821. The Morton Banks of 1821 bears little resemblance to the Riddlesden of today. The railways had not yet reached Keighley and the chief means of transport was still the stage coach. Morton Banks was a hamlet without an Anglican Church comprising of High Banks and Low Banks described as West Morton in the parish of Bingley. The inhabitants were, farm-workers, canal boatman or cottage weavers. There was
    also a colliery on the lower side of the canal opposite Scott Lane. The industrial revolution was in its infancy and mechanisation did not affect daily life.
    Between 1821 and 1843 the society had no special building for worship and met in the home of Samuel Emmott, a cottage in Low Banks (this has now disappeared) which served as place of worship and Sunday School. Sam was born in Netherton near Huddersfield in 1803 and became a founder member of the cause in this area. Ilkley Road Chapel was built in 1843 – where the large house, Barley Cote Hall is now.
    There was little money for the building and the whole of the structural work was done by the members. The foundation stone was laid in 1843 and the official opening took place in 1844. The premises were enlarged in 1896 and a bottle was placed at the south east corner containing the following items:
  • a list of existing trustees
  • the names of the contractors
  • A circuit plan for 1896
  • A circular for the days proceedings
  • A copy of ‘The Primitive Methodist
  • A ‘Keighley News’
  • Several small coins

Many members of the Wesleyan Chapel down the Road – known as Riddlesden Wesleyan Methodists
attended the opening ceremony and the tea following the opening ceremony was held in the Wesleyan Chapel School room.

In 1924 a new organ was installed, together with electrical lighting.

In 1932 each of the sections of the Methodist Church, Wesleyan, Primitive and United, held their own separate conferences and decided to unite under the banner of The Methodist Church – it was a burial of past differences to the greater glory of the cause motivating all Methodists to make
a ‘new way’. 

The centenary of the opening of the original chapel took place during the 2nd World war on the 16th and 17th of October 1943 and was attended by many former members including Richard Fletcher the grand old man of Silsden Methodism and Arthur Taylor of Steeton who held special services on the
Sunday. The Primitive Methodist Chapel continued in existence until 1955 when it merged with Riddlesden Wesleyans to form Ilkley Road Methodist Chapel on its present site.

The original building continued to serve as Sunday School until in 1973 it was, with great reluctance, sold.

About Us

Ilkly Road Methodist Church has been on its present site since 1853 and combines the worship communitees of the Primitive Methodist Church at Barleycote Lane and the Wesleyan Methodists of Ilkley Road.

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© Patricia Henny