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The Need for a Church
"The Church was built in 1833 and has undergone many vicissitudes". That, quoted from memory, is how Rev. George Eayrs begins his note on the Church is his book "Wesley and Kingswood and its Free Churches", published in 1911. It probably sums up the whole history of the Church in one sentence.
In 1833 there was a small village in the vicinity, partly due to the industry at Warmley Tower. The area between Cadbury Heath and Kingswood was a maze of narrow lanes between high hedges, and even the road to Warmley was a lane with tall trees on either side. Many lanes were just hard ground, beaten down by use. The 'Avon and Gloucestershire Light Railway', known to most people as 'The Dram Road' had been built in 1832, but was only used for Coal Trucks pulled by horses. The local railway line was not built until 1864. The Carriers Cart was the transport of the day, for those who couldn’t walk.
There was a Methodist Church at Kingswood, near the present Training School, possibly a Schoolroom at Cock Road, the small Church on the Common at Bridgeyate, and, as far as can be discovered no other Methodist Church between there and Bath, and the need for another building for the Denomination was clear.
Twelve local men were found to act as Trustees, and the site of Wesley was bought from John Ashley for £18. John lived in the house adjoining the Church, and now rests in the Churchyard in front of his old house.
Building began, local people doing the work themselves – family traditions say that one 12 year old girl carried stone to the workers. They hadn’t got far, (up to the lower windows) when money ran out, and some services were held inside the shell. Something had to be done, and the Trustees borrowed £200 at 5% interest from Robert Lewis of Downend so that the work of building could be completed.
At the opening, one girl, left at home to baby-sit, told as an old lady that she sneaked up the road during the service, to stand outside and listen to the singing. She was my Great Grandmother. As was not uncommon in those days, they had no organ or piano, but singing was accompanied on the Bass Viol.
An 1882 map showing the location of the church at the top of Hole Lane (now Mill Lane)