Burnley Road United Methodist Free Church, Bacup
The Church must have been in existence for quite some considerable time before this, as a Church census taken on 30th March 1851 shows a total of 1045 worshippers for the morning, afternoon and evening services. By the time of a later census on 29th January 1887, attendance seems to have dropped greatly, as only 291 people are recorded as having attended the morning and evening services (the afternoon service appears to have been dropped).
So my mother removed to Bacup In March the following year 1843. I was then seven years old lacking one month I remember well the day we removed from Rawtenstall to Bacup the man that removed us had only one arm and as soon as he got all our things on the cart then he found me a place to ride in amongst the furniture I was too little to walk that distance it being four miles from Rawtenstall to Bacup as soon as we got settled then my mother said I should attend Sunday School.
I commenced to attend Waterside Methodist Association Sunday School at this time I was only one class moved from the alphabet I was strict attender at this Sunday School at this time school commenced at 9 o'clock and held until half past 10 then church commenced morning teaching was reading and spelling the Sunday School commenced again at one o'clock after noon the teaching was to learn to write and spell. It held until half past two o'clock. Then church commenced again and held until about four o'clock and held until half past seven o'clock I attended this Sunday School until I was coming to a young man I got advanced from class to class until I got to the last class as we termed it in those day some termed it the Moniters class if a teacher was absent from this Sunday class. Then the supretendant of the Sunday School would come and pick one of us out this class to go and take the absent one's place. I have and do sincerely thank this Sunday School and its teachers for my learning they learnt me to read and write and spell.
My word another privalaze and a good one was at this School if you was in your class on time in the morning a man stood at the door as your went in he gave each scholar a ticket a verse out the testament or bible was printed on its face in the afternoon if you was on time you got another one so a good attender got two of these tickets each Sunday for so many of these tickets the Superintendant of the school would give and make you a present of a Sunday School Hymnal by keeping and saveing our tickets we first got a Sunday School Hymnal then a church hymnal and then a bible so you understand in those times there was many privileges for poor children to get learning and there church books as presents for good attendance and good conduct.
I remember one sad and fatal calamity that happened at this church when I was a scholar there it happened one Sunday evening service it had been given out for a week previous that a lady was going to preach on the following Sunday evening and the consequences was it drew a large congregation which crowded the church to over flowing every inch of room was taken up this happened in the year 1847. I was there and another boy with me one of my aquaintances this Sunday evening when me and my boy friend went to the church and got there I could see there was going to a large congregation so I said to my friend let us go to the north end of the church there seemed to be more room there mind you at this north end. There was a door which admitted you out of the church to the vestry so we stood close by the door until service commenced. The Resident ministers name was Newton at the time appointed for service to commence Mr. Newton made his appearance in the pulpit and his lady friend with him who was pronounced to preach Mr. Newton made prayer and after prayer led off the first hymn in the Weslean Hymn book for a thousand tongues to sing my great redeemers praise as soon as they commenced to sing this hymn there was a crash at the south end of the church. There was a stove to heat the church in cold weather In the church was a gallery and under the gallery at the south end of the church run the stove pipe the crowd was so packed the pushed the stove out of its place and hacked down the stove pipe as soon as this happened then there was an alarm that the church was falling this caused a terrible sight all rushing for the doors Mr. Newton the minister called aloud to the frightened restless people and told them there was no danger.
Finally he got them quieted down a short time then some one kicked a window light out on the east side of the church and called out to the people inside the church and if the want to save themselves they had better get out as soon as possible for the church walls was cracking and the church was going to fall this caused a fresh out break such yelling and screaming I never heard before and I think not since. It seemed every boddy rushed for the doors and quite a number jumped out of the gallery on the heads of the people below a great many people was badly hurt by this foolish act but the most accident happened in the church hall and gallery stairs the Main hall of the church was where the people from both sides of the gallery met also the people from bottom of the chapel came out through this hall so you see there was three wild excited crowds met in this main hall they knocked each other down and trampled over them as if they was nothing but sad I cannot describe the sights the eye met in this hall and out in the yard fronting the church from the gallery stairs out to the chapel yard people was down four or five deep and could not get up for the wild rushing crowds trampling over them there was three killed and many had there arms and legs broken bruises and cuts a large number after all the people had got out of the church it was a terrible sight to look in on the bottom of the church mens silk hats crushed in every shape the bottom of the church was covered with mens hats mens coats and mens vests and neck ware and womens hats and bonnets and shawls and skirts. It was a terrible sight most of these wearing apparel was soaked with blood from the wounds of the people that got hurt all these articles were kept in the church until the rightfull owner went to claim them as I have said before I was at the church this evening with a boy friend we was near the vestry door at the north end of the church I was well aquainted with this vestry door knowing it would leade us through the vestry into the street so when the second alarm was given saying the church was falling such yelling such screaming Mr. Newton tried to quiet them but without avail to he commenced to pray at this time I said to my boy friend follow me so I took him through the vestry there was no rush at this end of the church most of the people not being aquainted with this way out of the as soon as we got to the street we went around to the South end of the church what a sight some men that had got more nerve than the rest was working hard to rescue them that was down and being trampled to death I saw three pulled out that was killed when this sad affair happened I was a boy about eleven years old and it made an impression on my mind if I should every get into a crowded building any time afterwards to look for an easy way to get out if any thing should occur like what I have just described.
From Kathy Pentecost's Great-Great grandfather's Memories of Lancashire.
In 1907 the United Methodist Free Church merged with the Methodist New Connexion and the Bible Christians to form the United Methodist Church.
In 1932 the United Methodists joined with the Wesleyan Methodists and the Primitive Methodists to form the Methodist Church of Great Britain.
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