69. Methodism in the Late 1950s

Bourne Methodist Chapel

Mum, dad and grandma remained actively involved in Bourne Methodist chapel during this period. However, the nature of mum and dad’s involvement changed over time to reflect that they were now married and had started a family. At the start of 1955, in addition to attending Sunday School and chapel on Sunday, mum was going to Seekers on Monday (although this may not have been held every week), Choir Practice on Tuesday and Preparation Class and Rainbow Follies practice on Friday. There were often other activities, particularly in the run-up to Sunday School anniversaries. Commonly, after Preparation Class and Rainbow Follies on a Friday, mum would go to Edna Bust’s house. The young people were also meeting as a youth fellowship after chapel on Sundays.

Bourne Methodist Chapel in Kirkby


Mum only recorded Seekers’ activities until March 1955. After that time, it is not clear if the activities stopped or mum just stopped attending. She noted that there were often speakers at Seekers. Sometimes, they had a religious theme, e.g. Captain Kirkup, speaking on the work of the Church Army, and the Methodist chaplain from Nottingham prison. Sometimes they did not, for example. dad talking about insurance. Mum often rated the speakers. For example, Rev Kirkup, dad and the prison chaplain merited “VG” while Mr Purvis achieved “QG”. In March 1955, Mr E Ashley of Skegby spoke at Seekers and mum rated it “VVG”. His topic was “Ghosts I have known”!

Captain George Kirkup

George Brookes Kirkup was a Church Army Evangelist. He was born in Newcastle upon Tyne in 1916 and he died in Walsall in 1985. Some details of him talking about his work during the Battle of Monte Cassino are available on the Diocese of Derby’s website.  

The Church Army

The Church Army is an evangelistic organisation and mission community founded in 1882 in association with the Church of England. In her book(let) “I Remember” (p17), Edith Searson recalled a visit to Clopton by the Church Army before the first world war.  

Church Army badges

Youth Club

It does appear that the chapel youth club continued although I did wonder if it had been replaced by Seekers. Mum noted going there three times in January 1957. On two of those occasions, they had Beetle Drives. She also attended in February and March that year. This period of attendance coincided with the time that dad was away on a course in Norwich. Perhaps this explains why she went then. However, it seems she continued to attend even when he had returned from Norwich. Her attendance continued into June 1957. One of the sessions in April she called “record request”, presumably where people could request music to play and, in May, there was another Beetle Drive.

Example of a card for a Beetle Drive © TheRehn and licensed for reuse under this and other Creative Commons Licences
Beetle Drive game set
Rules for Beetle Drive (above and below)
Beetle Drive score sheet

Dad also sometimes attended these sessions. At the end of May, dad went to one session while mum stayed in. However, it seems that mum and dad did not resume attending later in 1957 after any summer break that youth club had. Regardless, mum must have been involved in some youth activities as, in February 1958, she went to a Youth Council meeting at New Cross (see Chapter 54). In October 1958, mum noted that grandma had attended a Youth Council meeting at Bourne.

Youth Fellowship

Something similar, that is a reduction in attendance, appears to have happened around the same time in terms of youth fellowship meetings after chapel on a Sunday, although mum noted that the young people came to their house after chapel in December 1955.

Activities for Women

Perhaps unsurprisingly, in place of youth activities, mum started to record activities for women, such as “Bright Hour” which appears to have been held on a Tuesday afternoon. She and grandma went there on 1 January 1957 and they took the reel-to-reel tape recorder. Following that, mum went most weeks. The sessions often included a speaker. Dad spoke there at least twice and, in September 1957, mum spoke about John Williams.

John Williams

I am not sure which John Williams mum spoke about at the women’s meeting! I imagine it would have been more likely to have been one of the clergy than say one of the criminals! Possible candidates include John Williams, a Welsh non-conformist preacher in the 17th century who figured in a history of the Methodist revival in Wales published in 1820. Another possibility was the missionary to the South Pacific who was killed and eaten by cannibals. Personally, I think the missionary is most likely!

Other Speakers

Other speakers included Rev Wright, Captain Beecham and Mrs Hartley.

Rev Wright

Rev Ewart Burton Wright is mentioned in Edith Searson’s book(let) (p33) as someone who was a scholar in Bourne Sunday School and who went on to be a Methodist Minister and missionary to China. He was born in Kirkby on 2 July 1919. According to the 1939 Register, he was a student at Richmond Methodist Training College. In 1940, he entered the Methodist Ministry and went to China as a missionary on 23 March 1942. He died in Falmouth on 6 July 1995. He had a collection of Chinese objects which he donated to the Royal Cornwall Museum. According to Edith Searson, his wife was called Edith but I have not found any details of their wedding. He wrote in mum’s autograph book when he visited Bourne in 1948 (see Chapter 36).

Captain Beecham

Captain Beecham was a A Salvation Army missionary in Africa.

Mrs Hartley

I think this was Edith Hartley, the mother of Winifred Howells who, in turn, was the wife of Rev William Edwards Howells, the Minister at Bourne from 1953 to 1959.

Mum’s Other Contributions to Women’s Meetings

Mum contributed to sessions in other ways, including reading lessons and short stories and playing the piano. Mum sometimes took Tricia and, on one occasion noted that she left Tricia sleeping outside the chapel. On other occasions, grandma looked after Tricia, including sometimes taking her out during the address.  

The Practice of Leaving Babies Outside

This was a common practice in the fifties and sixties and is still common in Nordic countries.

Prams outside a butcher in Newcastle – a photograph by Newcastle Libraries and made available in the public domain

Bright Hour Assistant Secretary

In September 1959, mum was elected as Bright Hour Assistant Secretary.

Rallies and Jumble Sales

Mum was also involved in other ladies’ activities at chapel including rallies and jumble sales.

British Women’s Total Abstinence Union

In June 1959, mum went to a meeting of the British Women’s Total Abstinence Union at chapel. This is now the White Ribbon Association. The Canvey Island.org website has a photograph of a women’s temperance group meeting in the 1930s.The 1969 Kirkby Directory has details of a group in Kirkby (p29).

Leaflet produced by the Women’s Total Abstinence Union decrying the use of alcohol in medicines
White ribbon badge of the National British Women’s Temperance Association

Family Circle

In October 1959, mum went to something called “Family Circle”. Whatever it was, she attended again twice in December 1959.


Mum and dad remained involved in choir during this period although mum’s involvement reduced after Tricia was born.

Examples of What the Choir Sang

Mum sometimes recorded when the choir sang and what they sang. For example, at the end of January 1955, the Sutton Choral Society came to afternoon service and mum noted that the Bourne choir sang “O How Amiable” at night. In October 1957, the choir sang “Send out Thy Light”. In April 1958, at a family service, the choir sang “Bells across the Meadow”. This also appears as the final anthem in the hymn sheet for the Sunday School Anniversary in 1959.

The anthem “Bells across the Meadows” taken from the Sunday School Anniversary programme for 1959

Choir AGMs

The choir held their general meetings in January during this period. They were held on a Saturday night, combined with a supper and social. In 1955, mum noted that the supper was at Adams chip shop (see Chapter 54). In 1957, the choir annual meeting was followed by supper and a Beetle Drive. Apparently, dad won first prize! In 1958, at the annual choir supper, there was a choice of pork pie or ham! Dad and Ron Rowe acted as masters of ceremony. There was also a choir social in October that year. Mum went but only from around 8.30. In October 1959, as part of the choir effort, there was a Beetle Drive on the Saturday with a supper of sausage, mash and peas.

Preparation Class

Mum continued to record going to Preparation Class (PC) until the end of December 1955 but then only mentioned it again in August 1956. It is not clear if this had stopped, if mum had stopped attending it or she just didn’t record it. She did note it weekly from then. From August 1957, it seemed to switch to a Tuesday night, so she went to this after choir practice. This seemed to continue in 1958 although there was one week in January when it was held on a Friday night instead. Her last note of attending Preparation Class was in March 1958, two months before Tricia was born.

Bible Class

From August 1956, mum started attending a bible class on a Monday night. The first of these was held at Rev Howells’ but they were then held approximately monthly at various houses including K Marsh in Newton, Joan Storer, John Melanaphy, Miss E Denis (or Dennis) in Skegby, Barrie Smith[5] and mum and dad’s.

K(en) Marsh in Newton

I worked out that they were probably a Methodist local preacher. Grandad refers to hosting a local preacher by this name in June 1958. Based on the list in Barrie Smith’s book, “A Brief Record of the Ashfield Circuit”, it turns out that this was Ken Marsh who became a local preacher in the Ashfield circuit in 1961 having previously been a local preacher in the Sutton and Kirkby circuit. Newton is quite some distance from Kirkby (18 miles) so perhaps this was a circuit or district event.

John Melanaphy

I struggled to identify him as the surname looks like Millanijig or something like that! I asked about this on the Kirkby Living Memory Facebook Group. John Green thought the name might be Millanify which he recognised as Melanaphy. I then found John Melanaphy in Barrie Smith’s book, “A Brief Record of the Ashfield Circuit”. It turns out that he became a local preacher in the Ashfield Circuit in 1959 having previously been a local preacher in the Sutton and Kirkby Circuit. He left the district in 1964.

Mum’s diary entries for 2-9 February 1957

Barrie Smith

In addition to hosting bible study classes, he spoke at the Sunday School Teachers’ weekend in February 1958. He was also best man for Graham Hardy and Joan Storer – see Chapter 62. He has written a number of books about Methodism in the Kirkby area.

From Preparation Class to Bible Class?

It is tempting to think that mum moved from Preparation Class to these bible classes but this seems unlikely as, for much of 1956 and 1957, she attended both. Her last note of attending the bible classes was also in March 1958.

Anniversary Practices

A lot of time and effort was put into anniversary practices which started in February or March each year and ran until the anniversaries in May and June. These practices seemed to take place on a Tuesday before choir practice and/or on a Thursday. As the days of the anniversaries approached, there might be two practices per week including separate practices for boys and girls. In addition, if mum was playing the piano, she would have separate practices with whoever was playing the organ, usually Hazel Munns.

Rainbow Follies

Rainbow Follies continued to give concerts throughout this period but dad gave the concert party up in June 1958. There was less about Rainbow Follies after that point although mum did report a concert at Bourne in December 1958. Rainbow Follies practiced most Fridays and held concerts in a wide range of places in addition to Bourne. For some of these concerts, mum did not say explicitly that these were Rainbow Follies concerts but I have assumed that they were. In a few cases, these could have been concerts she attended rather than ones that Rainbow Follies gave.


In November 1955, Rainbow Follies gave a concert in Alfreton although mum does not specify where. I doubt it was at Watchorn Memorial church as I think she might have said this specifically if it was. It seems more likely that it was at Alfreton Wesley Methodist Church. The church website has a detailed history section. The first Wesleyan church in Alfreton was built in 1809 in Chapel Street. But, the church moved to new premises in 1885 in High Street. Both these buildings have since been demolished. The current building was opened in 1983. However, it is also possible that the concert was held in what was the Pensioners’ Hall and is now the community hall


Rainbow Follies gave concerts in Annesley both in the Methodist chapels (see Chapter 54) and at the miners’ welfare (see Chapter 59). During this period Rainbow Follies gave concerts in Annesley in February and December 1955 and in December 1956.  Previously, the Youth Club from Bourne gave concerts at Annesley Welfare in November 1947 and in December 1954. Rainbow Follies gave concerts at Annesley Main Street chapel in February 1948 and at Annesley Sherwood Street chapel in March 1948 (see Chapter 38) and again in January 1953.  Rainbow Follies also went to Annesley in January 1949 and in February 1954.


In February 1955, Rainbow Follies gave a concert to Bentinck ladies. Mum mentioned another concert at Bentinck in November 1956 for national savings.  

Bentinck United Methodist Chapel

Initially, I was not able to find out many details of the Bentinck chapel but it was a United Methodist chapel originally. It is recalled as a tin chapel in Gerald Lee’s book “Kirkby-in-Ashfield: Yesterday Remembered” (p106). It is mentioned as one of ten Methodist chapels in Kirkby at the time of Methodist Union in 1932 in Bill Clay-Dove’s book “Kirkby-in-Ashfield: An Interesting Township” (p59). The book provides further details in a brief chapter on the church (p57) which explains that the church building opened in 1901 and closed in 1966 when the building was sold and later demolished with the remaining members joining The Hill Methodist Church.

The Chapel Sunday School Banner

National Archive records confirm that the church operated from 1901 to around 1967. While I have not found a photograph of the building, I have found a picture of their Sunday School banner. 

Location of Bentinck Chapel

While Bill Clay-Dove does not explicitly state where the church was, it appears, from a 1969 map, that there was a chapel on Princess Street in Kirkby Bentinck opposite where the station was. This location was confirmed by John Ringrose and Elizabeth Smith in a discussion about this chapel on Kirkby Living Memory Facebook Group.

Location of the Bentinck Methodist chapel – map source: Kirkby-in-Ashfield Directory 1969

Bentinck Chapel in the Diaries

There are not many mentions of this chapel in mum’s and grandad’s diaries. In April 1949, mum and grandma went with Joan Storer to the youth club at Bentinck (see Chapter 38). The next year, in March 1950, the Bentinck players performed at the Bourne youth club (see Chapter 54).

Edith Searson on Bentinck Chapel

In her book(let) “I Remember”, Edith Searson mentions Bentinck church (p42). She says, “Ben used to like to visit Bentinck Church because it had been his first Sunday School, I used to like to go too. The members were a happy and hardworking band, and I remember the splendid concerts they gave. The Anniversaries too, were well attended…

Brook Street (Sutton)

See Chapter 54. In October 1955, Rainbow Follies gave a concert for old age pensioners at Brook Street Hall in Sutton.

Butler’s Hill (Hucknall)

Mum noted giving a concert here in December 1955. There is an excellent local history website which includes details of former and current Methodist churches in Hucknall. Butler’s Hill refers to an area of Hucknall to the south and east of the town centre. Two former Methodist churches were located there as is one of the current churches. Bethesda in Bestwood Road was a Methodist New Connexion church. The foundations were laid in 1875 and the chapel opened in 1876. The Primitive Methodists held meetings in Butler’s Hill Boys’ Schoolroom from 1878 to 1879 but a chapel was then opened in Cavendish Street. These two churches merged in 1963. A new church was constructed in Bestwood Road and it is known as Hucknall East Side.

Codnor Park

Rainbow Follies gave concerts in Codnor Park in June 1955 and specifically for the old age pensioner Christmas party in December 1955. Mum does not give more specific detail of where these concerts were.

Codnor Park is a village close to Ironville that also developed around an ironworks. I have not found any details of a Methodist church or chapel in Codnor Park. There were several in Codnor but the diaries specifically say Codnor Park.

Diamond Avenue

This relates to the Methodist church in Diamond Avenue, Kirkby that was originally Wesleyan and became Trinity following the merger with Bourne in 1959. Mum refers giving a concert for “old folks” there in June 1955.

Forest Side

See Chapter 54. In April 1956, mum went to a concert at Forest Side. Prior to this period, mum went to Forest Side with Rainbow Follies in October 1948.

Hill Methodist

See Chapter 54. Mum referred to giving a concert there in April 1957.


See Chapter 54. In May 1955 and December 1956, mum referred to giving concerts to “old folks”/”OAP” in Huthwaite but she does not give more detail of where these concerts were. Many of the photos of Rainbow Follies in this chapter are from the 1956 concert in Huthwaite.

Rainbow Follies performance to old age pensioners in Huthwaite December 1956 –  Jack Bond, dad, Arthur Cross, Ken Roome, John Overfield, Robert Ollerenshaw (back row); Pearl Hodges, mum, Ken Hodges, Margaret Varnam, Joan Storer, Margaret Bostock (front row)
Rainbow Follies performance to old age pensioners in Huthwaite December 1956. Above and below – “There’s nothing much wrong with the army” – it is hard to identify people but I think Ken Hodges is at the piano and Ken Roome doing press ups. In the picture above, I think the others may be Arthur Cross, Joan Storer, mum, Margaret Bostock, dad, Margaret Varnam, unknown
Rainbow Follies performance to old age pensioners in Huthwaite December 1956. Above and below – a sketch. I think the people in the picture above are mum, Joan Storer, Margaret Varnam, John Overfield and Arthur Cross.


Mum refers to giving a concert at Nuncargate in October 1957. She did not give more details of where it was. The Methodist church in Nuncargate appears to have been a United Methodist Church (rather than Primitive Methodist or Wesleyan), The first chapel seems to have been built in 1878 with a new chapel in 1905. 


Mum noted that Rainbow Follies went to Selston to give a concert in February 1958. Mum had previously been involved in giving concerts there in February and December 1954 – see Chapter 54.

Stanton Hill

See Chapter 54. In December 1955, mum noted giving a concert in Stanton Hill. In April 1957, mum noted going to Stanton Hill to give a concert at the Albert Street chapel.


Mum mentioned giving concerts in Swanwick in April and November 1955. There should have been a concert in January 1955 but this was cancelled because of fog. Mum did not say where these concerts were specifically.

There is a Methodist church in Swanwick and its website has a history page. There was a Primitive Methodist society in Swanwick from as early as 1820. A chapel was built in 1880 on Pentrich Road but this closed in 1965. The building remains and is used as a pre-school.  I suspect this is where Rainbow Follies performed.

Former Primitive Methodist Chapel in Swanwick. This closed in 1965 and the building is currently used as a pre-school © Dave Bevis and licensed for reuse under this Creative Commons Licence

However, there was also a Wesleyan chapel from as early as 1835 and a permanent building was constructed on the High Street in 1846 which remains the main worship area of the current church although the main frontage of the church is on Derby Road. However, in 1850, the chapel left the Wesleyans and joined the United Methodist Free Church. As, in the 1950s, both of these chapels were Methodist churches, Rainbow Follies might have performed at either one or both of these.

Swanwick Methodist Church – note this is view from Derby Road and the original building is the reddish building at the back and to the right © David Hillas and licensed for reuse under this Creative Commons Licence

Rainbow Follies Audiences

They performed to groups of ladies, old age pensioners and, on one occasion, to the National Union of Mineworkers at the Festival Hall in Kirkby. For details of the Festival Hall see Chapter 59. They sometimes promoted particular causes, e.g. the Red Cross (see also Chapter 107), National Savings or the International House.[18]

The International House

This was mentioned by mum in relation to a concert in December 1956. I am not sure entirely what it refers to. It seems it might refer to the network of international houses established in 1924.

Practical Arrangements for Rainbow Follies

Mum was involved in practical arrangements for Rainbow Follies and other productions. For example, in March 1956, she pressed clothes for the concert party and, in October that year, she made costumes for herself and dad. In November 1959, she bought “net etc.” for the pantomime and, between Christmas and New Year did some sewing for it.

A Solo with Rainbow Follies

In March 1956, mum noted that she sang a solo “Japanese teapot” although I am not sure what song this was.

Rainbow Follies’ Meetings

Mum noted that Rainbow Follies annual meetings were held, in 1955 and 1956, at Ken and Pearl Hodges’ house. In March 1957, a meeting about Rainbow Follies was held at mum and dad’s. I am not sure what this was about.

Withdrawing from Rainbow Follies

I am also not sure why mum and dad withdrew from Rainbow Follies. It could be that it was because they had recently had a baby and no longer had time for such activities. However, they continued to be involved in plays and productions of different types so this might not be the explanation. Perhaps they were dissatisfied. In October 1957, mum noted that the Rainbow Follies concert at Bourne was “not as good as usual”. Then, in January 1958, a concert in Swanwick was cancelled because of fog. The next month, in February 1958, dad went for a practice but no-one else came. So, the next week, he didn’t go although he did resume attending practices from the following week when there was also a Rainbow Follies meeting. Might this meeting conceivably have been to discuss the poor attendance?

Practicing for Another Play

After ceasing to be involved with Rainbow Follies, in January 1959, mum noted that dad went to a play practice at chapel.

The Last Circuit Concert

A few days after that, mum went to chapel for a concert for the manse fund. Grandma sat with Tricia so both mum and dad could go. Dad and the stewards did “Bold Gendarmes” and Rev Howells and Ben Searson did “Bill and Ben the flowerpot men”.

Edith Searson notes in her book(let) “I Remember” (p73), “The last Circuit Concert was given at Bourne. One item on the programme caused considerable interest. It was given by the Rev Bill [Howells] and Ben [Searson] who, in full regalia, sang the song “Bill and Ben the flowerpot men”.  At that time this song was popular on TV and so it proved with all at the concert…

Bill and Ben were popular characters on the TV show “Watch with Mother” in the 1950s © BBC and licensed for reuse under this Creative Commons Licence

Mum referred to this concert as raising funds for the manse while Edith Searson refers to this as the last Circuit Concert. This, I believe, refers to the formation of a new Ashfield Circuit from a number of other circuits, including Sutton and Kirkby, which is the circuit that Edith Searson is referring to.

A Play: Jesus Rex

At the beginning of February, dad was involved in play practice and men’s practice on a Sunday afternoon. He also attended play practice on a Thursday. I presume this was preparation for the play “Jesus Rex” given by the Sunday School teachers as part of a teachers’ weekend. However, I have not found any details of this play.

Pantomime Practice

In October, mum noted going to ladies’ practices at chapel. I think these were for a pantomime held in early 1960. Mum also referred to pantomime practices at this time. Some of these were at Diamond Avenue church.

Christmas Tableau

There was also a practice for Christmas tableau taking place at the same time. This was presented in the Festival Hall on 20 December 1959.


While I am not sure of the details, mum referred frequently to a group called Canorum which was somehow connected to Rainbow Follies. It seems it was some form of singing or performing group, perhaps the former, given that “canorum” is Latin for melodiousness although from my O level Latin I thought it was something to do with dogs!

It seemed more overtly religious than Rainbow Follies which was more focused on entertaining and giving concerts. Activities carried out by Canorum during this period included participating in services at Bourne and other Methodist chapels.


For chapel details, see Chapter 54. In October 1955, Canorum gave a service in Annesley in the afternoon.

Brook Street

For chapel details, see Chapter 54. In November 1956, Canorum went to Brook Street in the afternoon.

Forest Side

For chapel details, see Chapter 54. In September 1956, mum went with Canorum to Forest Side’s harvest festival.


For chapel details, see Chapter 54. In March 1956 and April 1957, mum went with Canorum to Newstead at night.

Churches of Other Denominations

They also occasionally went to churches of other denominations, e.g. Stanton Hill Baptist (see Chapter 52) in 1958.

Contributing to Other “Efforts

Canorum often contributed to particular “efforts”, e.g. by the choir, ladies or Sunday School teachers.

What Did Canorum Sing?

Mum did not often note what they sang but, on one trip to Newstead in 1957, they sang St Johns’ Passion by Bach.

Canorum Chairlady

In December 1958, mum noted being the chairlady in the afternoon for Canorum but I am not sure if this was a service/concert or a meeting.

It is interesting that mum described herself as “chairlady” as I remember her arguing that the term “chairman” could be applied to either a man or a woman. She was not a fan of the term chairperson!

Saturday Night Events at Chapel

There were also events at chapel on a Saturday night. In 1955, these appeared to be monthly, on the last Saturday of the month, at least for the first few months. In January, a service and concert were held to mark the chapel’s reopening following decoration. Then, in February, there was a Rainbow Follies guest night at chapel. This included a dancing school from Newark and a male voice quartet. Mum rated the evening “NB” (not bad). In March, there was a ladies’ social which mum considered “very nice”. In early April, the chapel anniversary was held on a Saturday night with Rev A W Hall as the speaker. He had been Minister at Bourne from 1946 to 1950, see Chapter 54.

Annual Ladies’ Effort Social

It appears that the ladies’ effort social may have been an annual event as there was also one in March 1956.

Table Tennis Club Social

In April 1956, mum noted going to the table tennis club’s social.

Other Annual Social Events

There were other recurring annual social events including the choir social and supper in October. The standard supper for the choir seemed to be stewed steak, peas and potatoes.

Other Socials

Other socials occurred at different times, e.g. as part of Sunday School teacher weekends and men’s effort. Beetle Drives seemed particularly popular. Mum was often involved in catering, sometimes with others, e.g. Margaret Roome (nee Varnam). Dad often acted as master of ceremonies (MC). Other MCs included Ron Rowe, Ken Roome, John Smith and John Overfield.

Brains Trust

In January 1957, on a Tuesday night, mum attended something at chapel called “Brains Trust”. This appears to be referring to a radio and TV programme of that name that was popular in the 1940s and 50s.

Bero Film Show

The following year, in 1958. also on a Tuesday in January, mum attended a Bero film show, see also Chapter 54.


Parties continued to be held at chapel during this period. In March 1955, a silver wedding anniversary party was held there for grandma and grandad. 21st birthday parties held during this period included for Robert Ollerenshaw, Hazel Munns and John Overfield (see Chapter 66).


There were a number of weddings at chapel during this period including mum and dad’s in June 1956. Other weddings included those of Joan Storer and Graham Hardy; Margaret Varnam and Ken Roome; Joy Munns and Alan Jones; Maureen Hobbs and John Smith; and Hazel Munns and Richard Ward (see Chapter 62). In April 1958, the chapel invited everyone who had been married there to attend a family service.


In April 1957, Ron and Barbara Rowe asked mum and dad to be godparents to their daughter Sharon. The ceremony for this, presumably her christening, took place in May of that year. On 3 August 1958, Tricia was christened by Rev Howells. In January 1959, mum noted sending both Tricia’s and Sharon Rowe’s names to the Methodist Recorder.

Trips and Outings

There were a lot of trips and outings organised from the chapel and mum, dad and grandma frequently went on them.


Wicksteed Park

In May 1955, mum noted going to Margaret Bostock’s to collect details of the Sunday School trip. This took place in June 1955 to Wicksteed Park (see Chapter 51). Mum noted that she and dad organised it and that they went in Trumans buses from Shirebrook. Mum rated it “v. nice” and commented that the weather had been cool but fairly fine.

Sunday School trip to Wicksteed Park June 1955: Edna Bust and dad. I have no idea what dad is doing in this photo or the one below.
A Sunday School trip to Wicksteed Park June 1955: Dad and Hazel Munns with Celia Bradbury and Christine Greensmith looking on (somewhat bewildered!)
Sunday School trip to Wicksteed Park June 1955: Water splash

Trumans Buses

They were a private bus company in Shirebrook that operated from 1919 to 1956 and later became part of East Midland Transport. 

Example of Truman’s Bus

Cliff College

Also in May 1955, grandma and grandad went to Cliff College (see Chapter 63) with Rev Howells. Grandad also noted that Ben Searson went with them on that particular trip.

Theatre in Nottingham

In June 1955, mum noted going on a Rainbow Follies outing to Nottingham. They went to the Theatre Royal (see Chapter 31) to see “White Horse Inn” on ice. Mum rated this “VG”. They had tea at the Odeon (see Chapter 52) beforehand.


In October 1955, mum was collecting money for a chapel trip to Blackpool for the weekend. The trip happened a few days later. A group of 30 went. They travelled by Evans bus. I have not found details of this company but I think Arthur Evans operated one or more buses.

They left Kirkby on a Friday evening at 6.50pm and arrived in Blackpool around 11.45pm. They stayed with Mrs Clarke at 29 Lord Street (see Chapter 53). On the Saturday, they went round the shops, in the morning, and mum bought some sheepskin mitts. In the afternoon, they went to the tower for ballroom dancing and, in the evening, they went to the Opera House to see “Wedding in Paris” (see Chapter 66). On the Sunday, they went to Central Methodist (see Chapter 52) in the morning and to Stanley Park in the afternoon. They left Blackpool at 5.30 arriving in Kirkby at 10pm. Mum noted that they had had “lovely time all weekend – best yet”.

Fountain in Stanley Park, Blackpool in 2011 © Michael Beckwith and licensed for reuse under this Creative Commons Licence


Eastwood Grange

In February 1956, mum and dad went for a Sunday School teachers’ weekend to Eastwood Grange (see Chapter 54) in Ashover. They went with Joan Storer and Steve. I am not sure who Steve was. Mum noted that she was in Room 9, sharing with a Mrs Oakley who had been Miss Pickbourne. Mum commented that it was “very very nice time, the best yet.”

Theatre in Nottingham (Again)

In March 1956, mum and dad went to Nottingham for a Rainbow Follies outing. This involved tea at the Odeon (see Chapter 52)  and then to the Theatre Royal (see Chapter 31) to see Michael Denison in “Love Affair”, a play written by Dulcie Gray, Michael Denison’s wife, in 1956. It had a successful tour that year but was not a hit in London.

Drayton Manor Park

In May 1956, the Sunday School outing went to Drayton Manor Park. This is in Tamworth, very near to where our son Stephen and his partner Hannah lived before they bought their current house. However, mum’s diary is not completely clear as to whether she and dad went that year.

Unposted postcard from Drayton Manor Park circa 1950s


Eastwood Grange (Again)

In 1957, mum and dad once again went for the Sunday School teachers’ conference in Ashover. Others who went included John Overfield, Marion Slater and Brenda Scothern. Mum commented that it was “very nice”.

Theatre in Nottingham (Again)

In June 1957, there was another Rainbow Follies outing to Nottingham. They had dinner at the Flying Horse then they went to see “Alibi” at the Theatre Royal (see Chapter 31) . This was a play based on an Agatha Christie novel.

The Flying Horse

This pub closed in 1989. The name lives on in the Flying Horse Walk arcade.

Unposted postcard of the Flying Horse, Nottingham
Former Flying Horse pub circa 2015 © Chris Whippet and licensed for reuse under this Creative Commons Licence
Print of Flying Horse pub. Nottingham, circa 1916
Wills cigarette card showing the Flying Horse pub in Nottingham


In June 1957, grandma went to Cleethorpes with the ladies from chapel.

Wicksteed Park (Again)

In August 1957, the Sunday School outing went, once again, to Wicksteed Park in Kettering. This year, as Lynne and Anne Evans were staying with them, they went too.

Sunday School trip to Wicksteed Park August 1957: Sylvia Bust, Lynne Evans, Anne Evans
A Sunday School trip to Wicksteed Park August 1957: Maureen Martin, Susan Price, Anne Evans, Lynne Evans, Sylvia Bust
Sunday School trip to Wicksteed Park August 1957: Sylvia Bust, dad and Anne Evans


Trentham Gardens

In June 1958, grandma went with Renie to Trentham Gardens with a ladies’ outing from chapel.

Billing Aquadrome

That same month, the Sunday School outing was to Billing Aquadrome near Northampton. This flooded badly in 2020. –

Postcard of Billing Aquadrome posted in 1967
Badge from Billing Aquadrome


Willersley Castle

In April 1959, the ladies from Bourne chapel went by bus for a missionary meeting to Willersley Castle near Cromford. Mum, grandma, Tricia, Auntie Bertha and Edna Bust went also but by car.

This 18th century mansion in Cromford operated as a Methodist Guild Holiday Centre from 1927. It became a maternity hospital during the second world war and then returned to being a hotel, initially under Methodist Guild and then Christian Guild. Mum went there regularly in later years including for Gilbert and Sullivan activities. When she died, she left Willersley Castle a legacy of £4,500. The hotel closed in 2020 during the COVID-19 lockdown and, in July 2020, the owners announced it would not re-open but would be sold. It appears that it has been sold to Manor Adventure who intend to operate it as an outdoor pursuits centre focused on schools.

This postcard of Willersley Castle was in one of mum’s photo albums and annotated on the back “went to a Missionary Meeting here on April 15th 1959

Tissington Well Dressings

In May 1959, mum, dad, grandma and Tricia went on a trip with the ladies to Tissington Well Dressings.

Bourne ladies’ trip to Tissington May 1959: Group photo = red circles show left to right – dad, Tricia, grandma, mum (possibly)
Above and below – Tissington well dressings

Wicksteed Park (Again)

In June 1959, grandma went on the Bourne Sunday School outing to Wicksteed Park.


In August 1959, grandma went, with Carole Holland, to Bridlington with Bourne ladies.


In November 1959, mum went with a ladies’ trip to Cambridge. Grandma did not go as she had a cold and had lost her voice. Tricia stayed with grandma and grandad. Mum noted that the trip was to the Chivers factory in Histon.

Chivers Factory

Chivers is an Irish brand of preserves and jams. The business was sold to Schweppes in 1959 and the brand was temporarily retired in 2004 before being relaunched by the Boyne Valley Group.

Cycle path near former Chivers factory in Histon © John Sutton and licensed for reuse under this Creative Commons Licence
1950s advert for Chivers marmalade
Model vehicles bearing the Chivers and Sons Ltd livery. The one on the left is Days Gone DG43 by Lledo and was made in England. I think this means it was made sometime between 1983 and 1999. The one on the right is part of the Matchbox Models of Yesteryear series. It appears to have been made in 1973 and is based on a 1927 Talbot van

Chapel Sports Events


There were also sometimes sports events organised by chapel. For example, at the end of July 1955, mum went to watch a cricket match between Bourne and Huthwaite. For details of Methodist chapels in Huthwaite, see Chapter 54. She noted that Huthwaite won.

In July 1956, dad took part in a cricket match on the park involving Bourne, Diamond Avenue (the Wesleyan chapel that merged with Bourne to form Trinity Methodist church) and Hill (see Chapter 54) churches. It was organised as married against singles.


In November 1959, dad watched a youth club football match in the morning.

Sunday School

Mum, dad and grandma remained involved in Sunday School throughout this period.

Three girls from mum’s Sunday School class 1954/5 – Maureen Dawn, Alison Freeman and Glenda Gregg

Sunday School Junior Leader

In January 1958, mum noted that she stepped down as Sunday School Junior Leader. She noted that Marion Slater was trying it.

Mum Remained Involved

However, mum was still clearly involved. In February, she noted hosting a committee meeting regarding a Sunday School quiz.

Bible Quiz Committee

The same time the following year, she noted that dad attended a meeting of the Bible Quiz Committee at the manse. Dad also attended a Bible Quiz meeting at the manse in December 1959. However, I do not know if these quizzes relate to the Sunday School specifically.

Registrar for the Juniors

In January 1959, on one Sunday, mum noted that she went to primary in the morning and juniors in the afternoon. On one Sunday in February, she went to senior school in the morning and juniors in the afternoon. That month, mum noted that she was to be registrar for the junior department and she also noted delivering Sunday School “telegrams”.

Sunday School “Telegrams

I am not entirely sure what these were. I am also not sure what the role of Sunday School registrar involved. It seems that the “telegrams” might have been something sent to scholars who did not attend to try to boost attendance.

Sunday School Visiting

Later that month, in January 1959, mum noted doing some Sunday School visiting in the afternoon. She noted doing further Sunday School visits in September 1959.

Sunday School Council

In February 1955, mum noted that she went to a Sunday School council meeting at Ken and Pearl Hodges’ house.

Sunday School Teachers’ Meetings

Annual Sunday School teachers’ meetings were held in September or October most years. Mum and dad also attended multiple other teachers’ meetings and it seems these were held every couple of months. In September 1958, dad went to a meeting at Joan and Graham Hardy’s about Sunday School classes but mum did not note what the meeting was about. The next year, in March 1959, grandma attended the teachers’ meeting and gave a report of mum’s visits. In May 1959, mum went to a Sunday School committee meeting at night at Graham Hardy’s house. In July, there was a further meeting, also at Graham’s house and mum noted that this one was about amalgamation of Bourne and Diamond Avenue chapels. Later that month, mum went to a joint meeting of Sunday School teachers at Diamond Avenue.

Sunday School Teachers’ Weekends

Sunday School teachers also organised chapel events at least once per year in a teachers’ weekend. In April 1957, mum noted that they had a Beetle Drive and buffet supper, which mum, Margaret Varnam and Margaret Bostock organised. Mum commented that it was “very nice”. As part of that weekend, teachers sang in the Sunday evening service.

Sunday School Christmas Cards

In December 1959, Christmas cards were given to all the children who attended Sunday School.

Chapel Refurbishment

At the end of 1954, the chapel underwent some redecoration and refurbishment. A re-opening service was held on Saturday 29 January 1955. The speaker was Rev Kenneth Law Waights and a concert was held at night. It is not clear from mum’s diary if the chapel had been closed in the earlier part of January or if this service and concert was a more formal opening whereas the practical opening had occurred earlier. Whatever, mum prepared for this event by polishing seats at chapel on at least two occasions.

Rev Kenneth Waights

Kenneth Waights was originally a Wesleyan Minister. He was born in Bournemouth on 15 May 1909 and was ordained as a Minister in 1931. He became President of the Methodist Conference in 1971 He died on 10 June 1984 in Shaftesbury, Dorset.

Three Times on Sunday

During this period, mum attended chapel three times most Sundays. Dad also attended frequently, although sometimes, e.g. in March 1955, he only went once when he was studying for his insurance exams.


Sometimes, mum noted when they had communion (“sacrament”), but it seems likely that she did not always note this. Details of which services had the sacrament were marked “S” on the Ashfield circuit plan in 1959.

Other Special Services

Mumdid note other special events at chapel including civic services; services devoted to favourite hymns; visits by choirs, such as the Eastwood Collieries Male Voice Choir (see Chapter 54) and the Welbeck Colliery Male Voice Choir; or particular speakers, such as Harrison Slater (see Chapter 38), Rev Victor E Vowles (a fromer minister at Bourne – see list in Chapter 54), Arthur Lofthouse (see Chapter 31 and list of ministers at Bourne in Chapter 54),  Barrie Smith and G Cresswell (see Chapter 17).

Mum also noted when Canorum or the Bourne choir sang, when particular plays were performed and when there were particular efforts, e.g. by the ladies, men or Sunday School teachers. She also noted when her friends, e.g. Joan Hardy (nee Storer), Margaret Roome (nee Varnam), John Overfield and Ron Rowe took services.

Society Meetings

Mum continued to attend annual Society meetings (see Chapter 54) at chapel. These were usually held in January or February. In 1958, mum noted that dad and Ron Rowe went and she went to sit with Barbara. In 1959, grandma went and took Mr Marshall and Mr Deakin. She brought them and Mrs Deakin home. Dad also attended. In August 1959, a joint Society meeting was held between Bourne and Diamond Avenue. Dad went but mum did not because she had unexpected visitors, Marion Slater and Ray(mond) Stephens. Mum did note (with disappointment) that there were only 27 people at the meeting.

Involved in Leadership

Mum was involved in some form of leadership within the chapel during this period, for example, attending leaders’ meetings. Dad also attended such meetings. Mum did not state if these meetings were specific for Sunday School or the chapel more broadly.

Methodist Conference Nottingham 1957

In July 1957, Mum went to a conference meeting at chapel. She noted it was “VVG” and that the speaker had been Rev Greet. That month, the Methodist conference was held in Nottingham. Grandma, mum, dad and Renie went into Nottingham to the old Market Place to hear speakers from conference.

Rev Kenneth Greet

I think the speaker mum noted was probably Rev Kenneth Greet. However, there was also a Methodist Minister called Brian A Greet. I think they were brothers. Kenneth Greet was President of the Methodist Conference in 1980. His full name was Kenneth Gerald Greet. He was born in Bristol in 1918 and entered the ministry in 1943. He died in Rustington, Sussex in 2014. 

Kenneth Greet’s memoirs published in 1997

Where Were Methodist Conferences Held?

Somewhat surprisingly perhaps, it is not easy to get an online list of where Methodist conferences have been held. So, I compiled one for the period from 1932 and it is at the bottom of this page.

The Primitive Methodist conference was held in Nottingham in 1916 and it was the sixth time the conference had been held in the city.

I am not sure how and why particular towns and cities were chosen to host conference but it appears that the intention was for conference to visit different parts of the connexion with delegates hosted by different members in the host district(s). From 2004, conference has become fully residential with a central venue and centrally-organised accommodation.

From online records, it appears that conference was held in Nottingham in 1972 and 2018 as well as in 1957 as noted by mum. Edith Searson noted in her book(let) “I Remember” that Conference was held in Nottingham in 1947 and she recorded how she hosted a delegate. Details of this are included at the end of this chapter after the list of conference locations. However, it appears that she may have been referring to 1945 when the conference was held in Nottingham. In 1947, the conference appears to have been held in Newcastle-upon-Tyne.


It seems that, at some point during this period, dad became a steward and he began to attend stewards’ meetings. In Edith Searson’s book(let) “I Remember” (p72), she lists a number of stewards including dad (Roy D) and Ron Rowe (Ron R). She describes them as “all faithful”.

Mum and Dad Sometimes Took Services

Mum and dad also sometimes took services during this period. In the Methodist circuit system, different Ministers and local preachers take services at different churches and this is organised and scheduled through the circuit plan.

Part of the Ashfield Circuit plan for 1959 covering the period July to October. It shows the churches in the circuit at that time, including showing that Bourne and Diamond Avenue were operating as one church at that time. It also shows the Ministers and Local Preachers that were taking particular services. I am grateful to Barrie Smith for permission to include this graphic which comes from his book “A Brief Record of the Ashfield Circuit (22/13) 1959-2010″

In particular, they took services with Margaret Varnam and Ken Roome. Chapels they visited included Bourne, Kirkby Park (see Chapter 17), Annesley (see Chapter 54), Newstead (see Chapter 54), Huthwaite (see Chapter 54), New Cross (see Chapter 54) and Newton.


There is an existing Methodist church in Newton. They have a Facebook page but the last entry dates from 2018. Originally, it seems this may have been a Primitive Methodist chapel.  Edith Searson describes a trip to Newton when her husband Ben was preaching there in her book(let) “I Remember” (pp56-57).

Newton Methodist Chapel © Dave Bevis and licensed for reuse under this Creative Commons Licence

Mum and Dad Also Sometimes Took Services on Their Own

Mum and dad also sometimes took services on their own. Well, they may not have taken the service on their own but others involved may not have been mentioned in the diaries. For example, on 11 October 1959, mum noted that dad went to Nuncargate in the morning. According to the Ashfield circuit plan for 1959, Derrick Leach was taking that service so dad may well have gone with Derrick.

They took services at Bourne and in Huthwaite (see Chapter 54), Newton, New Cross (see Chapter 54), Kirkby Park (see Chapter 17), Stanton Hill (see Chapter 54), Annesley (see Chapter 54), Kirklands and Nuncargate.


This was a care home in Kirkby that closed in 2016 and was demolished in 2020. It was located in Fairhaven and the site is now relatively new housing. There are some photographs of Kirklands in the book “Kirkby-in-Ashfield: A Pictorial View 1889/1989” produced by Nottinghamshire County Council (#18-20). Edith Searson refers to this home in her book(let) “I Remember” (p55).

Dad Sometimes Went on His Own

Sometimes, dad went without mum if she was playing piano at Bourne.

They Also Did Services With Other People

Other people they sometimes did services with included Gillian Dulson, Joan Storer, Marion Slater, Graham Hardy and Mary Leach. On one occasion when dad was taking a service at New Cross (see Chapter 54), Dorothy Lofthouse was visiting so she went with him. On another occasion, dad took a service for Graham Hardy at Annesley Woodhouse (see Chapter 54). Mum commented that there were only four there and no pianist or organist! On another occasion, Ron Rowe came round to ask dad to take a service on Sunday as the person who was due to do it was sick.

Mum’s Contribution

Mum contributed in various ways to the services they took including children’s addresses and playing the piano. In December 1956, mum and Joan Storer took the service at Bourne, in the morning, as part of the ladies’ effort. Mum said she took the sermon and spoke on Ruth 1.16. As far as I know, this was the first sermon mum preached. She would have been 22 years old.

Ruth 1.16: But Ruth replied, “Don’t urge me to leave you or to turn back from you. Where you go I will go, and where you stay I will stay. Your people will be my people and your God my God.

People Often Visited Grandma and Grandad on a Sunday

People often came to the Parkins house for dinner and/or tea on a Sunday. Mum and dad often went there after they were married and had moved out. Other people who came included Ken and Pearl Hodges; Bert and Doris (when they were visiting from Hastings); Bert, Edie, Marilyn and Jennifer (when visiting from Driffield); Eva (when visiting from Grantham); Auntie Bertha and Uncle Frank; Jim and Renie; and Joan and Graham Hardy.

Hosting Speakers

On occasions, the Parkins would host a visiting speaker. For example, in March 1956, grandad noted that a local preacher came for the day – Mr Maule from Orston near Bingham. Mum noted that it was part of LPMA Sunday. He came again in September 1956 but only came for tea. He should have come for dinner also but mum, dad and grandma went to Nottingham Eye Infirmary about mum’s eye so he went to Mrs Deakin instead.

Similarly, in June 1958, grandad noted that a local preacher, Mr K Marsh, came for dinner.

Friends Visited After Chapel

In January 1957, mum noted that Barbara and Ron Rowe came back to theirs after chapel and, in April 1957, John Overfield did the same.

Going to Others for Sunday Tea

Sometimes, particularly if they were going somewhere else for chapel, mum, dad and grandma would go to someone else’s for tea on a Sunday. For example, they went to Auntie Bertha’s in November 1955 when they were going to hear the Messiah at the Baptist church in Mansfield (see Chapter 54) and again, in December 1956, when they went to hear Rev William Edwin Sangster speak at Bridge Street (see Chapter 54). In April 1957, mum noted going to John Overfield’s after chapel.

Rev W E Sangster

Rev Sangster was a well-known Methodist preacher and speaker. He was born in 1900 and died in 1959. Edith Searson, in her book(let) “I Remember” recalls going to hear Dr Sangster speak at a circuit rally in 1950. It could be that there were two separate visits but that would mean that neither grandad nor mum noted the earlier visit. The other explanation is perhaps some mis-remembering of dates.    

Biography of W E Sangster by Andrew Cheatle

Chapel While on Holiday

It was mum and dad’s practice to attend chapel when on holiday.

Bolingey Cornwall

So, in 1955, when on holiday in Cornwall, they went to chapel in Bolingey (see Chapter 66).

Central Methodist Church Blackpool

When they were on a chapel weekend in Blackpool, they went to the Central Methodist Church there (see Chapter 52).

Armistice Service in Hastings

In November 1955, while they were in Hastings, for Peter Cirket’s wedding, mum noted attending an armistice service there.

Chapel in Torquay

In June 1956, while on honeymoon in Torquay, they attended chapel, presumably in Torquay itself.

While Visiting Dorothy Lofthouse

In January 1957, when mum was visiting Dorothy, she not only went to chapel with her but also went to a youth club party at Carlton. In June 1959, when they visited Dorothy and Alf Taylor, mum went to chapel with Dorothy in the afternoon and dad went with Alf in the evening.

Central Hall in Yarmouth

That same month, when she visited dad in Norwich, they attended chapel at Central Hall in Yarmouth (see Chapter 52).  Presumably, they chose to go there as they had been there before when on holiday in a previous year.

Ebenezer Methodist Chapel, Guernsey

In July 1957, when they were in Guernsey, mum and dad attended the Ebenezer Methodist chapel (see Chapter 66). 

Scripture Exams

Mum noted that the Scripture exams took place in March between 1955 and 1960. However, it was not clear what role she had, if any, in these. I don’t think she was taking them any longer but she might have been involved in some way. In September 1957, mum went into Nottingham for the Scripture prizes.

Regular Chapel Calendar

The chapel had a regular annual calendar for certain events, many of which related to the Sunday School.

Sunday School Christmas Parties

Sunday School Christmas parties were held either at the end of the year or very early in January the following year.

In 1955, the Christmas parties for junior and intermediate Sunday School (for 1954) were held on New Year’s Day.

The next year, in 1956, the senior Sunday School party was held on 2 January with other parties on the 5th and 7th.

In 1957, junior and intermediate Sunday School parties were held between Christmas and New Year.

In both 1957 and 1958, the senior party was held on New Year’s Eve but, in 1958, the other Sunday School parties were held very early, in November. Mum did the catering for the senior party in 1958. 

In 1959, all the Sunday School parties were held on 12 December. A combined primary and junior party was held from 3.30pm to 6pm and a combined inters and senior party was held from 7pm to 9.30pm. Dad and Ron Rowe were masters of ceremony for these. Grandma helped out by bringing Tricia home and putting her to bed.

Sunday School Prizegivings

Sunday School prizegivings usually took place in early January each year. Mum was sometimes involved before these in obtaining prizes and sticking labels in.  The earliest that grandma went to get prizes for prizegiving was in October in 1959.

Mothering Sunday

Mum noted when Mothering Sunday was in 1959 but this did not seem to merit major activities at chapel.


Similarly with Easter, but the week before Easter in 1959, mum noted that there was an Easter Egg Festival at chapel.

Sunday School Anniversaries

Sunday School anniversaries remained an annual highlight, perhaps the annual highlight although that honour perhaps fell to the Whit procession. The main anniversary was held over two weekends in April/May with the primary anniversary taking place later, in June.

Preparing for the Anniversaries

There were intense and prolonged preparations. In 1956, mum noted that Arthur Cross provided the music for the anniversary in January and, in the same month, in 1959, he brought printing for the anniversary. Practices started from February.

Anniversary Speakers

There were various speakers at the anniversaries over this period including Rev B White (see Chapter 54), Jim, Rev Vowles, Mrs Else and Rev Verrinder.

Rev Vowles

He was one of the ministers in the circuit during this period – see Chapter 54.

Mrs Else

She was from Riddings. She spoke at the anniversary in May 1957.

Rev Verrinder

I think this was Rev Wilfred John Verrinder. He spoke at the primary anniversary in 1959 and also in 1960.

Playing the Piano

Mum often played the piano during these events, sometimes sharing this responsibility with Joy Munns.

Anniversaries as Fundraising Events

Anniversaries were a key fundraising event with both mum and grandad noting how much money was raised. Over this period, around £100 was raised by each annual anniversary. 

Family Members Attended

The anniversaries also provided opportunity for family members to attend. Grandad sometimes did so. Other family members who came to the anniversaries included Uncle Frank, Auntie Bertha, Jim, Renie, Eva, Olive, Alf and Carole.

The Anniversary in 1959

Among mum’s papers was a hymn sheet for the anniversary in 1959.

Hymn Sheet for 1959 Bourne Sunday School Anniversary

On the Saturday before the anniversary started, mum and grandma went to chapel to put flowers in. On the first Sunday of the anniversary, the speaker was Rev Ewart Wright. Grandad attended in the afternoon. Mum attended three times and dad twice. Marion Slater took Tricia for a walk in the afternoon and, in the evening, grandma took Tricia to chapel. She went to sleep. On the second Sunday of the anniversary, mum noted that the preacher was Ben Searson and that he was good at night. Mum noted that Kath, Lynne, Anne and Mrs Kemp all came to chapel at night.

Bourne Sunday School Anniversary April/May 1959 – the person holding the baton is Arthur Cross. Dad and mum are circled in red.

Whit Procession

Another highlight was the annual Whit procession or “walking round”. In both 1956 and 1957, grandad watched the procession from home. In May 1958, mum did not participate in the Whit parade as it was only ten days after Tricia had been born. Jim went. Mum noted that she watched though. In 1959, mum and grandma joined in the procession and Tricia went part of the way in her pushchair.

Walking round 1955
Above and below – Whit parade in 1957. Mum in photo below.
Above and below – Whit parade 1958 – these photos were taken by mum from the window of 41 Diamond Avenue and show the corner of Diamond Avenue and Crocus Street

Harvest Festival

Harvest Festival was another major event that took place in September or early October. It is shown as “HF” on the Ashfield circuit plan for 1959. It took place, in the circuit, over four weeks between 13 September and 4 October. Most churches had harvest festival on either 27 or 20 September (nine and six respectively) while two churches had it on 13 September and two on 4 October. Bourne/Diamond Avenue held their Harvest Festival on 20 September that year.

Gifts were brought and the chapel decorated prior to Sunday services. On the Monday, there was often a social event and harvest supper, of something like pie, peas and potatoes, with gifts being later distributed.  In both 1955 and 1956, mum, dad, Pearl and Ken Hodges, and grandma took fruit etc. to Mansfield General Hospital (see Chapter 50).

In 1957, Harvest Festival fell on mum’s birthday. The day before, mum went to decorate the church ready for harvest. I cannot be certain but I think this is the first time mum described Bourne as church and not as chapel. That year, the gifts were donated to “the sick and aged” and this was done by mum and dad, Ron Rowe, John Overfield, Hazel Munns and Rev Howells.


In some years, Bourne held a bazaar in November. It could have been held all years with mum only noting it in some. Edith Searson described her experiences of bazaars in the later 1950s in her book(let) “I Remember” (pp57-58).

In 1955, as early as January, Rainbow Follies started selling sweets and chocolate to raise funds for the bazaar. However, mum and dad missed the bazaar that year as they were away at Peter Cirket’s wedding. In 1957, mum attended several planning meetings for the bazaar with the first in April. Mum decorated and ran the Sunday School stand which raised more than £25. Overall, the bazaar raised more than £250.

Missionary Sunday

Also, in November, there were sometimes missionary events around Missionary Sunday. Different events included missionary teas and jumble sales.


Of course, there were special events around Christmas including carol services and carol singing. In 1955, the senior Sunday School gave a play in the service a week before Christmas. That day, there was a carol service in the afternoon and children brought gifts for the National Children’s Home and Orphanage (NCHO) (see Chapter 54). Three days after the service, mum, grandma and Hazel Munns took those gifts to the National Children’s Home in Nottingham.

National Children’s Home Nottingham

This operated two properties, Springfield, a hostel branch, opened in 1936, and Southbank, which opened in 1947. Springfield is now private accommodation and Southbank housed a family support agency although, in August 2021, there was a notice outside saying it had been acquired for development.   

Springfield Children’s Home Nottingham © NCH Nottingham and licensed for reuse under this Creative Commons Licence

New Year

On New Year’s Eve, there was usually a watchnight service. Before that, in 1957 and 1958, the senior Sunday School had a party. Instead of this, in 1959, there was a family party which mum was quite involved in organising. She did the catering with a Mrs Robinson.

Mrs Robinson

I am not entirely sure who this is. I thought it might be Minnie and Albert’s mother, Mary Robinson, but she died in Mansfield in 1954. It could have been the wife of the minister Peter Robinson but I think he was at Bourne from 1950 to 1952 so was not here at this time. There were other Robinsons, e.g. the local dentist and someone called Freda Robinson. Perhaps she was one of those.

Other Methodist Chapels

As well as involvement in Bourne, mum also had involvement in other Methodist chapels.

Newstead Anniversary

Mum and others from Bourne supported the Sunday School anniversary at Newstead (see Chapter 54) which happened shortly after their own.

Other Anniversaries

Mum and dad also sometimes attended other anniversaries including Kirkby Park (see Chapter 17) in June and Diamond Avenue in July.

Quarter Day Meetings

Mum, dad and grandma also attended quarter day meetings which were held at various chapels including Bourne, New Cross (see Chapter 54), Newstead (see Chapter 54), Forest Side (see Chapter 54) and Huthwaite (see Chapter 54). In September 1958, the first united quarterly meeting was held at Outram Street in Sutton in Ashfield.

Outram Street Chapel

This was a Wesleyan chapel and it opened in 1883. It closed in 1975 to make way for a shopping centre. It appears that it was on the corner of Welbeck Street and, based on StreetView, it looks like there are new buildings there now. There was a picture of the exterior of the chapel on the Ashfield Community Pages website but when I last checked this was not accessible. There was also an Anglican church on Outram Street but this closed in 2003 and was merged with New Cross Methodist Church to form New Cross Community Church.

Images of Outram Street Methodist Church showing the outside before alterations. This photo is from Barrie Smith’s book “A Brief Record of the Ashfield Circuit (22/13) 1959-2010” and is used with his permission.
Outram Street Methodist Church showing the outside after alterations. This photo is from Barrie Smith’s book “A Brief Record of the Ashfield Circuit (22/13) 1959-2010” and is used with his permission.
Outram Street Methodist Church showing the interior. This photo is from Barrie Smith’s book “A Brief Record of the Ashfield Circuit (22/13) 1959-2010” and is used with his permission.

Circuit Rally at Brook Street

In October 1955, mum, grandma and John Smith went to a circuit rally at Brook Street (see Chapter 54) to hear Kenneth Waights (see also Chapter 54) speak. Mum rated it “VG”.

Mission Band at Stanton Hill

In November 1955, mum, dad, Margaret Varnam and Ken Roome went to Stanton Hill (see Chapter 54) for something mum called “Mission Band”.

Three One-Act Plays at Brook Street

In November 1956, mum went one Wednesday night to see three one act plays at Brook Street (see Chapter 54). She rated it “VG”.

President of the Methodist Conference at Bridge Street

In February 1957, grandad noted that grandma and mum went to Bridge Street (see Chapter 54) in Mansfield to hear the President of the Methodist conference. Although he is not named, I think this might have been Harold Roberts.

Service at the Hill and Bible Quiz at New Cross

In April 1958, mum went to a service at Hill Chapel (see Chapter 54) and dad and grandma went to a Bible Quiz at New Cross (see Chapter 54). It seems to have been a competition among chapels which Newton won.

Rev Donald Soper at Outram Street

In November 1958, mum, grandma, grandad and Tricia went to Outram Street Methodist in Sutton to hear Rev Donald Soper speak.

Biography of Donald Soper by Mark Peel published in 2008

A Sutton and Kirkby Circuit Engagement

Grandad noted that, although it was held at Outram Street, this meeting addressed by Donald Soper was a Sutton and Kirkby circuit engagement.

I was not entirely sure of the point grandad was making here. He could have been saying that it was not an individual church event but for the wider circuit. However, in his book “A Brief Record of the Ashfield Circuit (22/13) 1959-2010”, Barrie Smith points out that it was a long time after the Methodist Union of 1932 that any changes were made to circuits in the Kirkby area.

Understanding the Methodist Circuits in the Area

This meant that the four original circuits continued to operate as before. These were (1) the Mansfield Bridge Street (formerly Wesleyan) circuit, (2) the Mansfield West and (3) Ripley (formerly United Methodist) circuits and (4) the Sutton and Kirkby (formerly Primitive Methodist) circuit. This meant that circuits overlapped and these were organised not on a geographical basis but on former denominational affiliation. Making changes was difficult and a number of schemes were put forward, discussed and rejected. It was only in 1959, 27 years after Methodist Union, that a new Ashfield circuit was formed. So, the point grandad was making, I think, was that this event was a Sutton and Kirkby circuit event even though it was held in a church not in that circuit. Outram Street, a former Wesleyan chapel, was in the Mansfield Bridge Street circuit.

Ladies’ Day of Prayer at the Hill

In February 1959, grandma and Mrs Howells went to Hill Methodist (see Chapter 54) ladies’ day of prayer.

Bible Quiz in Sutton

In April 1959, mum went to a Bible Quiz at Sutton, presumably at Brook Street (see Chapter 54). 

Circuit Rally with President of the Conference

A few days later, in April 1959, there was a circuit rally at which Norman Smith, the then President of the Conference spoke. Mum went to the service in the afternoon as Edna Bust had Tricia. Dad went at night. Grandma took Auntie Bertha. Mum noted that it was “very good”.

However, there was a tea between the services and mum took Tricia. Apparently, Norman Smith said to Tricia “Oh what a poor baby, doesn’t she look hungry”. I can only imagine what mum made of that!

Grandma Spoke at Brook Street Ladies’ Meeting

In May 1959, grandma spoke at Brook Street ladies’ meeting. Tricia and mum went with her and played in a nearby park.

Service at Kirklands

At the end of September 1959, mum noted going to a service at Kirklands at night. Mum noted going there again in November.

Merry Market” in Heanor

Also, in November, mum went to “Merry Market” at Edna Bust’s chapel in Heanor.

Methodist Chapels in Heanor

I have found mention of at least four Methodist chapels in Heanor. There was a Free Methodist chapel in Mount Street, a Methodist chapel in Tagg Hill, a Primitive Methodist chapel in Park Street and a Wesleyan chapel. The Mount Street chapel was founded in 1890 but closed in 1974. It has been demolished and replaced with a car park. The Tagg Hill chapel was the earliest Primitive Methodist chapel in Heanor dating from 1849. The Park Street chapel operated from at least 1929 to 1968. In fact, it dates back to 1887 and it seems it did close in 1968. It was demolished and replaced with a(nother) car park.

There is currently a Methodist Church in Market Street. Although this looks to be a modern building, it dates from 1839 but the front has been masked with a newer building dating from 1974. It appears to have originally been the Wesleyan chapel. It seems at least three of these chapels were still operating in 1959 so I don’t know which one Edna Bust attended.

Missionary Meetings

Grandma also attended missionary meetings at various Methodist chapels including Annesley Woodhouse (see Chapter 54), Sutton(presumably Brook Street – see Chapter 54), Newstead (see Chapter 54) and Forest Side (see Chapter 54).  On at least some occasions, other people went with her, including mum, Tricia, Edna Bust and Mrs Deakin.

In May 1959, mum went to a missionary meeting in Kirkby Park (see Chapter 17). She played the organ for that meeting. In October, mum noted going to a missionary meeting and not needing to take Tricia out at all. In December, she attended a missionary meeting at Brook Street (see Chapter 54) in the afternoon and, in the evening, went to a missionary meeting at Trinity which included a film show.

Looking Round Diamond Avenue Church

In September 1957, a group from Bourne went to look round Diamond Avenue church. I am not entirely sure of the reason. It could have been part of discussions about a planned merger. It does not seem that they were visiting to see refurbishment work that had been done as that was not done until 1959 or later. Whatever the reason, those who went were mum, dad, grandma, Ron Rowe, John Overfield, Joan Hardy (nee Storer) and Rev Howells.


It does seem likely that the visit to Diamond Avenue church was part of the preparation for a possible merger. Less than two weeks later, a meeting was held to discuss amalgamating. According to grandad, grandma went to a meeting to discuss forming a Methodist circuit for Kirkby, Sutton etc. But, mum noted that she attended the meeting and that it was a Society meeting to discuss (chapel) amalgamation. She noted that they decided to amalgamate with Diamond Avenue and, if necessary, close Bourne. Mum does not explain why this decision was taken.

According to Bill Clay-Dove’s book “Kirkby-in-Ashfield: An Interesting Township”, the first step was to unify circuits and that took until 1959 Once that was agreed and there was an Ashfield circuit, the union of Bourne and the Diamond Avenue chapel was envisaged (p60). Perhaps the clearest and most detailed account is in Barrie Smith’s book “A Brief Record of the Ashfield Circuit (22/13) 1959-2010. He noted that it was not straightforward merging three circuits – Mansfield Bridge Street which had been Wesleyan, Ripley, which had been United Methodist and Sutton and Kirkby, which had been Primitive Methodist.


In February 1959, a joint service was held at Bourne with Diamond Avenue. In April, mum noted that dad had had a look at plans for altering Diamond Avenue church and, in July, mum attended a Sunday School committee meeting to discuss amalgamation. According to a newspaper article at the time, which is included later in this chapter, the amalgamation of the two Sunday Schools created the biggest headache.

Later that month, there was a joint Sunday School teachers’ meeting at Diamond Avenue. In August, there was a combined Sunday School activity in the afternoon at Bourne. That same month, the Howells, Mrs Hartley and Ben Searson went to grandma and grandad’s to write invitations for a united family service that was held at the end of August. In September 1959, all those attending Sunday School were given a hymn book to commemorate the amalgamation of the two Sunday Schools. In October, grandad first referred to the church as “Trinity” and noted that Arthur Lofthouse preached there morning and evening

Diamond Avenue Methodist Church in 1959
Trinity as it looked from 1962 to 2000. This photo is reproduced with permission from Barrie Smith’s book “A Brief Record of the Ashfield Circuit (22/13) 1959-2010“. There is also a photo from circa 1980 in the book “Kirkby & District: A Second Selection” by Frank Ashley, Sylvia Sinfield and Gerald Lee (p110).

Postcard view of Diamond Avenue with Wesleyan chapel on left. The writer says that the “x” marks where they are going to school. This photograph is also included in the book “Kirkby & District from Old Photographs” by Frank Ashley, Sylvia Sinfield and Gerald Lee, p43.
View of remodelled Trinity church and centre circa 2015 © Dave Bevis and licensed for reuse under this Creative Commons Licence

Operating as One Chapel

Following the formation of the unified Ashfield circuit and the decision to merge Bourne and Diamond Avenue chapels, the two chapels operated as one unified society under the Trinity name. In practice, from 1959 to 1961, meetings were held at Bourne while the Diamond Avenue chapel was renovated.

Some Confusing Accounts

I found some of the accounts of this period a little difficult to follow and potentially contradictory. What is summarised here is essentially the description given in Bill Clay-Dove’s book “Kirkby-in-Ashfield: An Interesting Township”.

According to grandad, the last service at Bourne took place on 29 January 1961. However, according to Edith Searson (p58 and p62), Bourne closed in September 1959. It seems that they are talking about slightly different things. She appears to be referring to when Bourne merged with the Diamond Avenue chapel to form Trinity, and ceased to exist as a separate entity, rather than the last time the building was used for services which is what grandad is referring to.

Interestingly, Edith Searson transferred to “the Park church” rather than joining Trinity. It was only when Kirkby Park too closed in 1975 that she joined Trinity.

According to Barry Smith’s book “A Brief Record of the Ashfield Circuit (22/13) 1959-2010”, Bourne and Diamond Avenue churches amalgamated to form Trinity in 1960 but the Ashfield circuit plan in the same book shows Bourne and Diamond Avenue churches together from 1959. I thought he might be referring to when they became known as Trinity but grandad used that name as early as October 1959.

Services Move to Diamond Avenue

Services moved from Bourne back to Diamond Avenue in February 1961 although, for a period, the Sunday School hall had to be used while the renovations were completed. An opening ceremony was held on 26 May 1962 and there was a newspaper cutting and the order of service among mum’s papers. However, this date is not mentioned on the Trinity website at all.

Order of service for opening and dedication of Trinity Methodist Church in Kirkby in May 1962

Opening and Dedication Service

From the order of service, it is apparent that the opening and dedication service was held on a Saturday afternoon with a tea and then an evening rally. The opening was carried out by Mrs Bower of Mansfield with the service of dedication conducted by Rev Swarbrick who was Chairman of Nottingham and Derby District at the time. The preacher was Herbert Simpson. Mrs Richard Ward (formerly Hazel Munns) was the organist and the choirmaster was Arthur Cross. It is clear from the notices at the end that Derrick Leach was still the Minister.

We Were Living in Norwich at This Point

By this time, we were living in Norwich and mum’s diary does not mention this service at all.

But Grandma Attended the Opening

However, grandad notes the basic facts as captured in the order of service and that grandma was there all day. Grandad also noted that grandma, Jim, Renie and Vera went to the evening service the next day. The newspaper article below mentioned that that service was packed with additional chairs having to be placed in the aisles. Presumably, grandma kept the order of service and either gave it to mum or it passed to mum when grandma died

News cutting from Notts Free Press dated 1 June 1962 concerning Kirkby’s “new” Trinity Church. The photograph shows (left to right) Rev Herbert Simpson, Rev JV Dibben (circuit minister), Rev J W Swarbrick, Mrs Bower and Rev Derrick Leach.

A Contrast with the Opening of Coventry Cathedral

The newspaper article in the Notts Free Press contrasts the opening with the pomp and ceremony of the opening of Coventry Cathedral (see Chapter 79), which had taken place the previous day.

Structural Changes

The article noted some of the structural changes including installation of modern windows and a vestibule entrance, covering of the front of the church with grey-green cement and removal of the front wall. There were significant changes inside including bringing in the old pulpit from Bourne (see Chapter 79) and the organ from Diamond Avenue.

Driving Forces Behind the Changes

Apparently, the driving force behind the changes was the minister, Derrick Leach and, according to Bill Clay-Dove, Mr J Hibbert.

Dignitaries Attended

The article also notes that dignitaries and leaders from other churches attended, including the Chairman and Clerk of Kirkby Council and Pastor Pinchbeck, who had recorded mum’s wedding for grandad so he could hear it.

Another Later News Article

Mum also had, among her papers, other newspaper cuttings from the Notts Free Press including one from August 1973. This was documenting the final demolition of Bourne chapel. This article noted that the church closed around ten years previously and had been used since then by a firm called Meridian for sewing and make-up work.

News cutting from Notts Free Press dated 17 August 1973 documenting the final demolition of Bourne chapel.


This firm was established by James Blount Lewis in Nottingham in 1815 but it only adopted the name Meridian in 1951 when it became a public company. It was known for its underwear and knitwear and operated from sites in Nottingham, Clowne, Calverton, Ilkeston and Kirkby. In 1963, Courtaulds acquired a stake in Meridian and gradually took it over.  There are some memories and recollections of Meridian on the Kirkby Living Memory Facebook Group. According to grandad, Meridian paid the church £5,750 for the building.

Mum’s Annotation

The article is annotated by mum to say that she was married there and that Tricia, Alan and I were all christened by Derrick Leach there. This is doubtful on a number of counts. First, while Tricia was christened at Bourne, this was in August 1958, a year before Derrick and Mary came to Kirkby. Mum noted in her diary that she was christened by the previous minister Rev Howells. Second, Alan was only christened on 5 August 1962 which is well over a year after grandad noted the last service at Bourne. While it is possible that the ceremony was conducted at Bourne, it seems more likely that it was in the Diamond Avenue chapel.

Explaining the Merger and Closure

The 1973 article gives some idea as to why the merger took place and why Bourne closed. Essentially, numbers declined both before and after the merger. While the numbers present in the 1950s seem large by today’s standards, they were much lower than the hundreds who attended in the early part of the 20th century.

Another Earlier Article

However, there was also an earlier cutting among mum’s papers, from November 1958. This emphasised that the church and its mineral rights were for sale. It also noted that Bourne was Kirkby’s oldest Methodist church, having been built in 1876. It also states that the “new” Sunday School building was added in 1907. This may explain why photos of the side/back of the chapel that were among mum’s photos have a building at the back which is labelled Centenary 1907 Schools. The centenary referred to appears to be the founding of the Primitive Methodist Church in 1807.

The article noted that Rev Howells was still the Minister but he was leaving. He justified the decision “from the economic point of view and in the best interests of Methodism in the district”. He also commented that the merger with the Diamond Avenue church would result in a “more virile and powerful church”. In that article, the merger of the two Sunday Schools was described as the “greatest headache” facing the amalgamation of the two churches.

News cutting from Notts Free Press in November 1958 explaining that Bourne chapel was for sale

Other Denominations

Mum also had some engagement with chapels and churches of other denominations.

Baptist Chapel in Mansfield

The most frequent of these was with the Baptist chapel in Mansfield (see Chapter 54) which Jim and Renie were attending at this time. Mum visited to go to their Sunday School anniversary, their Harvest Festival and also attended for other special events, e.g. performance of parts of the Messiah in 1955, and to hear Jim preach. Grandma and Auntie Bertha also sometimes visited the Baptist chapel with Jim and Renie.

St Wilfrid’s

Very occasionally, mum went to one of the Anglican churches in Kirkby. In February 1957, mum went to St Wilfrid’s for her grandfather’s funeral (see Chapter 62). She went with Cyril and Eva but, as far as I know, grandad did not go.

In July 1958, grandma helped Mrs Deakin cater for a wedding at St Wilfrid’s.

Church of Christ, Mutton Hill

At the end of September 1959, mum, grandma and Tricia went to the Church of Christ, Mutton Hill. According to grandad, grandma spoke and, according to mum, grandma was chairlady. Grandma took Tricia home on the bus as apparently, according to grandad, Tricia wanted a ride on the bus!

I don’t know much about this chapel. I have found reference to a Christian meeting house on Shoulder-of-Mutton Hill, erected in 1894. There is also a discussion thread and photo on the Kirkby Living Memory Facebook Group. It appears that it was on the corner with Nuncargate Road but it is not there now.  It is also mentioned in the book “Kirkby & District: A Second Selection” by Frank Ashley, Sylvia Sinfield and Gerald Lee (p101).

Events at Festival Hall

Sometimes, mum and/or grandma went to Christian events at the Festival Hall. In February 1958, mum attended a “do” for National Children’s Home and Orphanage (NCHO) at Festival Hall. She considered it “v good”. In November 1958, grandma attended a remembrance service at the Festival Hall. In December 1959, mum was involved in presenting a Christmas tableau at Festival Hall.

Grandad and Chapel

Grandad continued to have some relatively peripheral involvement in chapel. He sometimes helped with practical maintenance and repairs. For example, in January 1955, he and grandma went to repair a desk.

In July 1959, he and grandma went to Bains’ for the framed wall map for Bourne. I don’t know exactly what this was, perhaps a memento of the chapel. Bains were, I believe, a firm of builders – see, for example, Chapter 70.

Grandad sometimes attended Sunday School anniversaries. In August 1958, he attended Tricia’s christening and, in August 1959, he attended the united family service which was Rev Howells’ last service. According to the 1959 circuit plan, Rev Howells was taking that service but grandad noted that G Cresswell was the speaker.

Rev Howells

While I thought that Rev Howells might have been replaced as Minister at Bourne in late 1954, this was not the case and he continued until August 1959. For a list of Ministers at Bourne, see Chapter 54. He was a friend to both grandma and grandad but not perhaps as close as the Lofthouses or as the Leaches would become. He did go with grandma and grandad to Cliff College in 1955 and, in August 1958, he christened Tricia.

Derrick and Mary Leach

The Howells were replaced by Rev Derrick and Mary Leach. His first services were in September 1959 and he is noted as taking both services at Bourne/Diamond Avenue on 6 September according to the Ashfield circuit plan.

I remember Derrick and Mary, as a child, as they were firm family friends. Over the past few years, I have been in touch with their daughter, now Kate Thompson. Sadly, Derrick died in August 2018 from a brain tumour and it then became apparent that Mary was suffering from (vascular) dementia. She went to live in a care home and died in May 2020.

Mum noted that she went to a welcome service for them in September 1959 at Outram Street church in Sutton in Ashfield. She also noted that that night they came to visit mum and dad from 9-11pm. The following day, Derrick preached both morning and evening. Grandma went with Cyril in the morning and with Minnie in the evening. The Leaches came round to mum and dad’s again after chapel that day. On the Tuesday, the Leaches met the ladies of the church over a cup of tea after Bright Hour. From that point on, the Leaches frequently visited mum and dad, for example, after the Harvest Festival services in September, after the choir effort in October and after going to the Festival Hall in December but they also often visited after other services and on many occasions,

List of Methodist Conference Locations

YearLocationEvidence Source
1932Royal Albert Hall, London26
2013Westminster Central Hall, London10
2016Westminster Central Hall, London7
2020Online (scheduled for Telford)3 4

The Methodist Conference

The Conference meets, usually in late June or early July, and traditionally this was in different parts of the connexion each year, with the representatives being offered hospitality in the homes of members in the host District(s). Latterly, for reasons of practicality and availability, many representatives began to use hotel accommodation. In 2004 the Conference met for the first time fully residentially, at Loughborough University, and in 2006 met for the first time in Scotland although the Primitive Methodist Conference had met in Edinburgh in 1895. Recent practice is to choose a venue with appropriate conference facilities and to use centrally organized accommodation. Circulation around the connexion and links with host Districts have thus been significantly reduced.

Edith Searson and the Methodist Conference in Nottingham in the 1940s

In her book(let) “I Remember” (p55), Edith Searson recalled that the 1947 Methodist Conference was held in Nottingham. “In 1947 the Methodist Conference was held at Nottingham. We were privileged to entertain a delegate, the Rev. D. [perhaps Dr] Edward Langton, from Nantwich, Cheshire. He had to go to the Albert Hall each day, involving either a bus or train journey.

What I remember about Rev. Langton was his great concern about his son who was a prisoner of war in Japan. He told me something of the terrible conditions his son was living under. Shortly after Rev. Langton had returned home after the conference had ended he wrote to tell me that his son had died, as did many prisoners of war in Japan, from lack of food and disease. It must have been difficult for him to attend the conference knowing his son was suffering in this way. My admiration for two heroes.

Was This Really 1947?

Given this story, I had some doubts that the conference she was describing was in 1947 as I don’t think there were still Allied prisoners in Japan then. I checked and it seems she may have been mistaken about dates and may have been referring to the 1945 conference which was held in Nottingham.

Programme for Festival of Praise held in the Albert Hall Nottingham in 1945 at the time of the Methodist Conference

James Willis Langton

It turns out that Edward Langton’s son was called James Willis Langton. Willis was the maiden name of his mother, Helen Mary. He had been born in 1922 and was a gunner with the Royal Artillery. The Japanese took him prisoner in 1942 and he died in June 1945. He is buried in Yokohama War Cemetery