History - The building to the present day

The style of the Chapel is Early English Gothic, built to a rectangular floor plan, 63 ft. by 37 ft. (19.4m x 11.4m). In the original-arrangement (still evident in the gallery at the west end), one aisle on each side divided the seating into three blocks of open pews, with inclined backs and book-rests. 

The chapel was originally designed to accommodate a congregation of up to 450. The chapel's front approach now comprises an open, raised area, one step below chapel-floor level, accessed by both steps and a ramp. At one time the front was separated from the road by a stone wall topped by a dwarf iron railing. The latter was commandeered for munitions during the 1939-45 war.

In June 1914, the month of the Chapel's Jubilee celebrations, a severe thunderstorm damaged the steeple. It was repaired at a cost then of £50. However, in 1948 the steeple was found to be in a dangerous condition, and the 70 ft spire had to be demolished. This took away something of the attraction of the building.

 

At the end of the 1960's the Sunday School premises and vestries were demolished, and the present ancillary buildings erected to facilitate the increased activities of the church, both on Sundays and during the week. The associated rooms and hall are also regularly hired for general use. In 1989 a major refurbishment of the church was completed, with the pews (apart from those in the gallery) being replaced by chairs. 

The fixed central pulpit at the east end of the church (not the original, which had been replaced in 1945 by the one pictured - a gift from Mr L W Taylor, of the Princess Street shoe shop, who had acquired it from a closed Methodist church in Oldham) was replaced by a modular, portable platform. This was designed to accommodate, as required, the communion table, the font, communion rails and the pulpit. The whole arrangement was designed to create space and flexibility, readily adaptable to different forms of service and use. 

At the same time, the vestibule at the entrance to the church was enlarged to create a comfortable and convenient welcoming area for those attending the church services. Also, the incorporation of a glass screen between the vestibule and the main church facilitated a much more open aspect to the church from street level. The gallery, backed by a handsome, tracery-pattern window, in fact originally housed the organ (1865 - 1898), and was also used by the school children. There have been three organs prior to the present one, the last having been installed in 1898 at a cost of approximately £450 (estimated value in 1965 was in the region of £15,000). An electric blower was added in 1944. Previously the organ had been hand-blown for 1s. per week. In 1954 the celebrated BBC (British Broadcasting Corporation) organist, Sandy Macpherson, gave two recitals (a children's and an adult's) in the church. This venerable organ was finally retired in 2006 during extensive alterations to expand the sanctuary area. The balcony was extended down one side of the church, and the space left by the organ pipes created much needed extra seating. The new organ, a Phoenix Digital Organ, was installed in November 2006 and has enjoyed recitals from the BBC's Nigel Ogden, and Liverpool Catherdral's Prof. Ian Tracey. There are no substantial ground-level windows in the church, most of the light coming from a clerestory comprising 30 windows on each side of roof level. The provided lighting is now, of course, electric (since about 1928) but when the chapel was first built it was lit by gas from the roof.

ROSE WINDOW The upper part of the east wall of the church carries a large round window (11 ft. diameter), incorporating an intricate stained-glass (Edmondsons quarry glass) design of intersecting circles. It is popularly known as the 'rose window', no doubt inspired by its shape, colours and notional impression perhaps of overlapping petals. However, for those pondering its form, the geometric play on three-in-one suggests that it was the symbolisation of the Trinity which the window's designer perhaps had most in mind.

 

History

Articles for the history archive of the website