Paignton (Palace Avenue) Methodist Church

Palace Avenue, Paignton, Devon, United Kingdom

On the move

1850 - A time to uproot

The 1850 edition of White's Directory informs the reader that there were three chapels in the parish, belonging to the Independents, the Baptists and the Wesleyans.

Soon after the earliest days in Winner Street, the Wesleyans were invited to hold their services in neighbouring Weston House. The occupier was Mr Jenkins, a cabinet maker and lifelong Methodist This gentleman's son became the Venerable Dr Ebenezer E Jenkins, General Secretary of the Wesleyan Missionary Society and President of the Conference in 1880.

After the death of Mr Jenkins, the society had no established home, and worshipped at various other churches in the town. It was the Revd Nehemiah Curnock who, in about 1857, helped to secure another room. This house, Weston Town (between New Street and West End) was the home of Mr Alexander Fletcher. He was born in Ipplepen, which at that time fielded the second largest chapel in the Circuit. Mr Fletcher, followed by his son, ran an academy for boys. The school was later endowed by that generous local benefaction, the Belfield Trust.

The arrangement lasted only a short while before a new worship centre was needed. A Presbyterian, Mr James McIntyre of Fernham offered the use of a room. Grateful as the people must have been, it would have presented some hardship. There were few habitations beyond Well Street. No street lights, no pavements, only dirt roads existed. Faith was being put to the test.

It was not only in Wesleyan circles that people were on the move. Public transport had been established. By 1856, omnibuses ran from Dartmouth and Brixham to Torquay, calling en route to pick up passengers at the Crown and Anchor. Winner Street now boasted pavements, and a water cart helped to lay the summer dust.

Although the railway served Torquay from 1848, Paington had to wait until 1859 before the Dartmouth and Torbay Railway Company put Paignton on the map. It is said by some (and denied by others) that the official adoption of the spelling PAIGNTON came about because it was thus misspelt on one of the platform signboards. It was the thirtieth and last variation, and appeared from that time on in the Minute book of the Local Board. Railway communication brought commercial growth and had more influence on the development of the town than any other event in its history.

Meanwhile, the devoted band of worshippers choked in the dust or squelched through the mud as they made their way to Fernham. On the way, they passed a couple of orchards and one or two dwellings. The land, Inner and Outer Oldway, belonged to Mr William Pillar. At a place called Ramshorn, stood a barn. It was empty. All it needed was a bit of attention and it would make a fine meeting house.

The Wesleyans had longed for a preaching place of their own. Their goals were set.

Quarterly meeting 1866

Includes consideration of building a new chapel in Paignton

Copyright © Sylvia Tancock 1990 (Reproduced here with the permission of the Author)
If you wish to use any of the material please contact us first to obtain permission.

Something To Sing About

The Story of Methodism in Paignton in the Wesleyan Tradition

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