Bilston Methodist Church and Community Centre
|Extract from journal of John Wesley November 9th 1745“It was exceedingly dark when we rode through Bilstone,. However we did not stick fast until we came to Wednesbury town-end. Several coming with candles, I got out of the quagmire: and, leaving them to disengage my horse, walked to Francis Wards and preached from: “Fear not ye, for I know that ye seek him that was crucified”This was the first recorded visit by John Wesley inspired by the message of the founder of Methodism, groups began to meet in houses in Bilston and the society grew under the influence of Ann Loxdale, Peggy Taylor, Samuel Ferriday and Stephen Hipkiss and others. In 1794 a chapel was built in Temple Street on land given by Miss Loxdale. The society grew over the next 25 years and eventually transferred to Swan Bank.
Swan Bank (Bilston Wesley)
There has been a chapel on the ‘Swan Bank site since 1823 built on land bought from the Loxdale family. It was the first building in Bilston to be lit by gas. This was extended in 1840 and again in 1890 to a large church able to seat 1,000 people.
Bilston “Wesley” is remembered for its musical excellence. The church choir won national competitions, held choir festivals and performed oratorios with well known soloists, accompanied by the glorious tones of the great Binn’s pipe-organ.When, in 1955, the Wesleyan and Primitive Circuits were amalgamated, talks began between Wesley and High Street churches to find the best form of the Methodist presence in Bilston. In 1963 the societies amalgamated in the Swan Bank premises to form the Bilston MethodistChurch. In 1969 the old church building was demolished and a new purpose-built church was opened in July 1970, linked to the Lewis Street School buildings.
Bilston Methodist Church
The present building on part of the former site of Swan Bank was opened in July 1970 when Rev. Brian S.O’Gorman, President of the Methodist Conference preached. The society, however, was formed seven years earlier on 6th January 1963 with the amalgamation of High Street Methodist Church (formerly Primitive Methodist) and Swan Bank (formerly Bilston Wesley).
Since then the societies of Bunkers Hill (Cold Lanes) Temple Street Mission , and Ladymoor joined this Bilston Methodist Church.Further information can be found in “Bilston Wesleyan Methodism” by John Freeman in 1924 and in the booklet “Methodism in and around Bilston” produced in 1994. Also in 2005 ‘The story of Bilston Wesley’ was written by Iris A. Dale, this tells the history of the Church from 1823 until 1963 and a copy can be found in Wolverhampton Archives.