Following the storm on Saturday afternoon, the weather, fortunately, remained fine for the stone laying proceedings in connection with the new Sunday Schools of this Church, Railway Street, and a large gathering participated in the interesting function.
The new building, which is being erected from the plans of Mr. W.H. Dinsley, architect, Chorley is on land adjoining the Church on the north side. The present basement is being utilised for class rooms, cloak rooms etc. the floor area having been filled up and a concrete bed laid to receive wood flooring. The complete scheme includes an assemble hall, with an end gallery, providing total accommodation for about 450 persons, eight classrooms of various sizes, kitchen, cloak room, lavatories, spacious cellar for heating, coal and coke. The present entrance to the church is being discarded, and a new vestibule formed across the complete frontage giving a connection with the new assembly hall. This vestibule will have a total length of 46 feet, and from it, not only the church and assembly hall can be approached, but also the rooms in the basement. The main elevations are being faced with best plastic bricks from Accrington and the dressings are of grey terracotta. The roof of the assembly hall will be partially open, ceiled at collar beam, with visible timbers wrought and varnished, walls and ceilings plastered, and the windows principally glazed with leaded lights. Messrs. H. and C. Triffitt of Chorley, have the contract for excavator's and bricklayer's work. Mr.L. Fairclough of Adlington, a sub-contract for mason's work; Mr. T.W. Hall, of Chorley, joinery, plastering etc; and Mr. A. Openshaw of Adlington, for painting and plumbing.
The Pastor, (the Rev. W.S. Micklewaite) presided, and was supported by Mr. T.H. Roberts, J.P. Farrington: Mrs. N. Hood, Radcliffe: The Revs. E.D.Cornish, Connexional Secretary (Manchester), J. Pedlar (Congregational), A Shipham (Weslyan), and Pastor W. S. Fay (Church of Christ).
After the opening hymn "Christ is the Foundation" prayer by the Rev. Pedlar and Scritpture Reading by the Rev. T. Bushrod. The Pastor made a brief statement as to the cost of the building, and what they were proposing to do. He remarked that including the site of the land on which they stood, their new schools scheme was to cost something like £2800. The friends there had been working for years, and doubtless some people had been wondering and asking when they were starting on the new schools which they had been talking about so long. He was glad to say that they had now commenced. The site cost from £460 to £500 and the new schools to be erected would cost about £2300. They were not a wealthy church, and sometimes he felt thankful that they were not. Outside people had been extremely kind, and they were always kind in Lancashire where a Sunday School was concerned. Where they wanted money for a Sunday School, in Lancashire, they could get it and their friends in Chorley and surrounding districts had been extremely kind in helping to raise funds for the new schools. They hoped to raise a handsome sum at the close of that day's proceedings. That afternoon a number of stones were to be laid, but with regard to the memorial bricks, unfortunately they had not arrived, and they would have to dispense
with that part of the ceremony. At some early future date they might have another ceremony, and would then be glad to see them.
The Rev. E.D. Cornish, Connexional Secretary, Manchester, in a brief address, said the United Methodist Church had long held a position in Chorley. The purposes of a Sunday school were not strictly denominational. It might be associated with a denomination, but it would have a far wider purpose that could be contained in any denominational ideal. Such a school existed that at the very earliest stage of life the mind and heart of the children of their district might be possessed with a knowledge of the great Gospel of Christ, which had been revealed to them. They must all recognise that at was important that those truths should enter into a child's life at an early age. That day they laid memorial stones, upon which the whole structure was afterwards to be raised. The whole structure of life depended upon the character which was formed in early life, for it was exhibited in later years. Upon the truth taught in childhood depended the whole structure, and, whatever might be their own individual opinions, they had to recognise - and it was even recognised by those who were indifferent to religion - that childhood must be brought into relation with Jesus Christ. It was His command that made child-life so sacred. He prayed God's richest blessing would rest upon those proceedings, and that in those schools childhood would learn of the great Father and his love. (Applause).
The hymn “These stones to Thee in faith we lay” was followed by the collection, the Chairman remarking that the Rev. R.R. Simmonds was unable to be present, but, like a good Methodist, he had sent his contribution.
The chief memorial stones were then laid by Mr.Roberts and Mrs. Hood, and to the former was presented a souvenir mallet bearing the inscription - U.M.C. New Schools, Chorley, stone laying ceremony, June 17th 1911, presented to T.H.Roberts, Esq., J.P.
A similar mallet was presented to Mrs. Hood, and memorial stones were also laid by the following: Mr. H. Ashton, Mr. T. Ashton, Mr. R. Balshaw, Mrs. G. Baxendale, Miss Baxendale, Miss E. Baxendale, Mr. J. Billington. Mrs. Bromley, Mr. J. Bromiley, Mr. T. Bromiley, Mrs. Collinson, Mrs. J. Dickinson, Mr. A. Dickinson, Miss Dinsley, Mrs. Garstang, Mrs. R. Haworth, Mr. C.B. Haworth, Mr. Thomas Haworth, Mr.J. Holmes, Mr. W. Hopkins, Mr. R. Mather, Mr. J. Morrison, Miss Smith, Mr. Joseph Threfall, Mr. H. Dinsley,on behalf of the Sunday School, and the Rev. W. S. Micklewaite, on behalf of absent friends.
Mr. H. Ashton mentioned that he remembered the foundation stone of the church being laid forty five years ago, and the interest he took in it. They were only able at that time to raise the laying of one stone, but now there were twenty eight, while a large army of young children, numbering sixty or more, would have laid bricks if they had been there. That showed that they were making progress.
Subsequently a public tea was provided, and largely attended at St. George's Street School.
THE EVENING MEETING.
There was a fair attendance at the evening meeting. Alderman G.T.Brown J.P. presided, and he was supported by the Revs. E.D. Cornish, H.C. Renshaw (of Darwen), W. Kelly, A. Shipham, and W.T.Bushrod; the Pastor (the Rev. W.S. Micklewaite) and Pastor Fay.
The Chairman was introduced by the Pastor, who said the congregation ought to know the extreme generosity of Alderman Brown. They knew his liberality to their church in days past. When he was asked to lay a stone he said he would put £20 upon it, but if they would let him off he would give £50, and so they let him off. (Laughter).
The Chairman who was received with much applause, remarked that on that day of rejoicing he was glad to be rejoicing with them. He had always looked upon the Railway Street congregation as one of those who helped themselves, and, therefore, he thought they were deserving of help. He had thoroughly inspected the sanitary arrangements and the foundations of the new building, and he could tell them that they would have a Sunday school and Chapel worthy, so far as sanitation was concerned, of any congregation.
In a thoughtful address the Rev. E.D.Cornish gave an interesting comparison of present day education and that of fifty years ago. He first referred, however, to the satisfactory financial result of the day, and imparted the information that the Chapel Committee of the Connexion had decided to grant a loan of £300 without interest, repayable in ten years (Applause). The present was the day of enlightenment, and the accommodation that satisfied in the early days of education would not satisfy now, because, the whole requirements of life had been enlarged. The term education, he considered, was used in a very hazy fashion in relation to religious education. It divided itself into instruction and education, and the higher importance should be attached to education. Notwithstanding the great amount of talk about religious education, he was afraid that there was not such a real religious instruction as there was fifty years ago. The children knew less of Scripture, and he considered that a lack of the present age. A grip of the Old Testament helped a great deal towards the understanding of New Testament teaching, and New Testament mystery, for the history of the past was revealed in the light of the present, and the solution of problems often lay in the grip we had of past history. No one was well instructed in civic life unless he knew the history of the district and country in which he lived. But today there was a better understanding of the child nature than formerly. They were awakening to the fact that their own instruction was somewhat faulty. The old form of instruction would not do today. They now had their primary intermediate, and advanced departments in their Sunday schools. Then they must equip their schools in different fashion now-a-days. The furnishing of the working man's home today approximated to that of the merchant of former days, the standard of living was higher, and in their Sunday schools the bare hall, the mere bench, the dull looking surroundings would not satisfy the child of today. Instruction in the “Old Book” was, after all, the most necessary thing, and if it was wise to give secular instruction it was still wiser to give religious instruction. The aim of the Sunday school was the formation of character, and that was only to be accomplished by the play of personality upon personality. There was a great deal in religious atmosphere that they were apt to overlook and to discount. Teachers must let the children feel that they were exhibiting to them characters of the highest and noblest, for only the hand that had been touched by God would lead children to Christ. (Applause).
The Rev. H.C. Renshaw said he believed in the Sunday school as the great centre of light and influence for good amongst young people, for in it they had the privilege to mould the raw material of youth into the fashion of noblest manhood and womanhood. There were awakenings of energy in the time of youth that became the greatest possibility of moral risk and danger. Out of 26,000 criminals in one year in Paris, 16,000 were under 20 years of age. He was not speaking pessimism, but parents and teachers should recognise that in every young fellow and every young girl was the possible criminal. But on the other hand, that period afforded the glorious possibilities, when the intensified spirit of the mind would respond to the heroic. It was the age of moral idealism. Teachers should prepare themselves as well as possible. They had to bring out not the criminal, but the possible saint, and they should see in their pupils what the sculptor saw in the rough block of stone - the Angel they intended to reproduce. In conclusion the rev. gentleman emphasised the importance of personality, and urged that every teacher should be a firm member of the Church itself, and every class, from the infants upwards, a step towards membership with the Church.
The Rev. W. Kelly and the Rev. A.Shipham also added their quota of congratulation.
The proceeds for the day amounted to £261.7s.2d, in addition to the promise of £50 which had been received, while other monies will be realised in connection with the children's brick laying.
Taken from the Chorley Guardian Archives, at the Chorley Central Library. Dated June 1911