A History of Woodside Methodist Church, Horsforth




Woodside Methodist Church, Outwood Lane, Horsforth, Leeds

by Richard Thomson

The present church on Outwood Lane was erected in 1895, but the history of the church starts in the early 19th century, when informal meetings took place in a room of the Wright's in Cornmill Fold, off Low Lane in Horsforth. The church was originally known as Woodside Wesleyan, changing to Woodside Methodist in 1932.

A plot of land was made available in 1822 by the landlords of the Headingley Estate for "the erection of a school for the educating of the labouring classes and a chapel or place of religious worship". This plot was part of a row of houses which used to exist on Tanhouse Hill, near the present church.

The foundation of the church dates from 1840, when the trustees were named as Joseph Gill (bleacher), Jonas Watson (farmer), Jonathan Clark (farmer), James Wright (cornmiller), James Watson (butcher), William Stables (cloth manufacturer), John Lawson (gardener), Jonathan Barrett of Kirkstall (mechanic) and William Ingham of Cookridge (farmer).

The Whitaker family moved into Cornmill Fold in the 1850's. The first was Benjamin Whitaker, who came from Wigan in Lancashire, described as a "master Stone Merchant". He had four sons Samuel, Benjamin, Thomas & Matthew, who were all involved in the family business of stone quarrying, stone merchants and contractors. (Horsforth has a long history of stone quarrying - Horsforth stone was used in the building of Kirkstall Abbey in the 12th century). The Whitaker brothers can be found on the 1881 census living in 4 houses on Outwood Lane, and their father in the village of Pool.

The Whitakers gave land in 1895, on Outwood Lane, for the building of the new church. In 1895 the trustees were
John Hartley Blackburn (accountant),
William John Blencowe (dyer),
William Braithwaite (plumber),
Alfred Pearson Briggs (Provision merchant),
John George Clough (woollen merchant),
Edwin Craven (gentleman),
James Cumming (stone mason),
Samuel Davies (quarry foreman),
Robert Smith Dower (iron merchant),
Jonathan Rodwell Dunn (quarryman),
William Gill (bleacher)
Andrew Hamilton (draper),
John Powell (gardener),
Andrew Ripley (fish merchant),
William Taylor (foreman),
William Walker (accountant)
The 4 Whitaker brothers

Some local people were engaged to construct the church - Tom Lawrence (stone mason), James Cumming (stone mason and trustee) and Ben Child (joiner). A contemporary photograph shows at least 20 workmen lined up in front of the partly built church.

The foundation stone was laid on Sat 23rd June 1894, in a ceremony carried out by: Mrs Craven
Miss Elizabeth A Whitaker
Miss E Gertrude Whitaker
Miss Maria E Whitaker
Mrs Wood

The first baptism in the new Church was that of Ernest, son of Joseph & Annie Eliza Taylor, and the first wedding that of George Smith & Florence Barker. The first wedding after the church was granted power of registration was on June 30th 1903, when Dr Carlton Oldfield married Miss Emma Gertrude Whitaker

The first entry in the register of Baptisms is of Esther, daughter of Thomas & Martha Speight, 12 June 1857.

Written by Richard Thomson
Using information mainly taken from "The Building of a Horsforth Community - 150 Years of
Methodism in Woodside (1839-1989)" by Christopher Townley (copy in Horsforth Library).