Petre Street Primitive Methodist Chapel

Petre Street Primitive Methodist Chapel, Sheffield (1977)

In 1977 I made a point of photographing the demolition of the magnificent All Saints’ Church, Ellesmere Road, Sheffield (1869) and, incidentally, took one image of the nearby Petre Street Primitive Methodist Chapel (1869).

I knew nothing of its history;  I simply thought it looked attractive, surrounded by boarded-up terraced houses that were clearly going to disappear.

Petre Street was the largest Primitive Methodist chapel in Sheffield:  its main hall seated 1,250 and its site on a steep slope provided room for a schoolroom, institute and classrooms in addition.

It had a troubled inception.

Sited on what was then the outskirts of Sheffield, it stood on a bleak hilltop overlooking the burgeoning steelworks in the Lower Don Valley below.

During construction a storm blew away the roof in November 1867, and the contractor repaired the several hundred pounds’ worth of damage.  This was completed on Friday February 7th 1868, when the beginning of another storm obliged the workmen lash themselves to the scaffolding to avoid being blown off.

This second storm over two days and nights caused considerable damage over a wide area, including two fatalities in the centre of Sheffield.

Overnight a section of the gable end of the partly-constructed chapel fell away, and at three o’clock the following afternoon the side wall collapsed, bringing with it the roof and its timbers, filling the interior with debris and weakening the remaining side wall so that it too collapsed. 

This time the repair bill, estimated at £1,200, was the direct responsibility of the trustees, who immediately set about fundraising. 

The church was opened at an eventual cost of £5,000, with a remaining debt of £2,400, on Friday March 27th 1869.

As a community, the Petre Street Methodists lost no time.  Newspaper reports in 1869 show a relentless programme of events in addition to services – Band of Hope meetings, a sale of work, a bazaar, the oratorio Babylon and, immediately after Christmas, a tea for a thousand in two sittings, for which eight hundred tickets were sold.

The trustees’ courage and determination in surviving not one but two storms at the outset is remarkable.

At the start of the twentieth century this congregation was described by the Primitive Methodist Magazine as leading one of the most “aggressive and prosperous” Primitive Methodist circuits in Sheffield.

For a century, the two congregations, Anglicans at All Saints’ and Primitive Methodists at Petre Street, came and went each Sunday within sight of each other.

As the houses were cleared in the mid-1970s both congregations diminished.  All Saints’ had gone by the middle of 1977, and the Petre Street chapel was closed and quickly demolished in 1980, when the two churches moved together into a new building, St Peter’s, designed by the G D Frankish Partnership.

It’s an attractive design, though it lacks the impact of All Saints’ or the quieter dignity of the Petre Street chapel.

St Peter’s Church, Ellesmere, Sheffield

4 thoughts on “Petre Street Primitive Methodist Chapel

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  2. Jonathan Tansley

    I have just found this photo.

    My Great-Grandparents lived in Petre St, Sheffield at least from 1895 until certainly beyond 1904 although I have no idea what number they lived at. He was ‘Gearge Sealy Lane’ a Stoker, later a Fireman and then a Train Driver and she was Eleanora Jane Lane (nee Chivers).

    They had several children although only my Grandmother survived infancy. She was Violet Evelyn Lane (until she married William Tomblin in 1930) and was born in November 1904. I do not remember the name of her elder brother . He died before she was born and, as was the practice in those days for people too poor to afford a propper burial he was simply ‘put into’ the grave of another due to be buried that day with no grave marker. Her Younger brother was called ‘Laurence Lane’ and sadly also died in childhood. My Great-Grandparents were by that time able to buy a grave plot for him although it must have ‘creased them’ financially. My Great-Grandfather died in 1944 and my Great-Grandmother in 1960. They are both buried with Laurence . I do not recall the name of the cemetery but I remember that it is close to Scott Road.

    Certainly, The Primitive Methodist Chapel would have been well known to my Great-Grandparents and Grandmother and it’s very possible my Great-grandmother worshipped there.

  3. Mark Whitham

    My great great grandfather, Alfred Allott laid the cornerstone for this chapel. We still have the engraved silver trowel that was presented to him. If you know of any body/organisation who would be interested in the trowel we would be quite happy to pass it on.


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