Prior to the building of the South Street Chapel, John Cartwright gives us a little information about Wesleyan ministers in Ilkeston.
Dr. Benjamin Gregory
In his letter to the Ilkeston Pioneer, dated May 31 1893, John starts by referencing the circuit life in Ilkeston of Dr. Benjamin Gregory over 50 years previous, as outlined in old copies of the Wesleyan Methodist Magazine.
(Dr Gregory) entered upon his duties as junior preacher in August (of 1841), under Mr. Thos. Skelton, then Superintendent of the Ilkeston Circuit. Although at that time I was attending the Wesleyan Chapel and Schools, and must have listened to the two preachers, I have no recollection of either, but do well remember the Rev. Robert Dyson, who was a general favourite, being especially popular with the fair sex, and who married Miss (Mary) Skelton, the eldest of the superintendent’s three daughters.
The Rev. Thos. Padman, who preceded Mr. Skelton, and who was the father of Miss Padman, who still resides in your town. I remember Mr. Padman only by name, but knew his daughter well…
George Haywood and John Baron
Adeline writes … “The First resident minister for South Street Chapel was the Rev. George Haywood. He, with his wife, daughter Sarah, and sister in law, Miss Bennett, lived in the first cottage in Pleasant Place, South Street.
“On leaving South Street, the Rev. G. Haywood went to Bacup Circuit.
“His successor was the Rev. John Barron (sic), who with his wife and two sons, George and John, lived in the new house at the rear of the chapel. He was a very popular minister, but unfortunately, his career was cut short by severe illness. He was buried at Long Eaton, and a special train was chartered for members and friends to attend the funeral.
Both his sons became clever telegraphists.”
In 1861 and accompanied by Adeline’s father, the Rev. John Baron went to Samuel Carrier’s lace factory to urge the working girls there to shun the coming ungodly floral fete at Shipley Hall and go instead to a party fete at Dale Abbey with their ministers. The Pioneer, strong supporter of the Established Church, was scornful of these Wesleyan attempts to purify these lasses and gleefully reported that Mr. Carrier, although a prominent member of the Rev. Baron’s congregation, had been an exhibitor at the Shipley fete where he had won several prizes.
John Baron, minister of the United Methodist Free Church in the Ilkeston Circuit, died one Sunday morning in February 1862, aged 34, having arrived at the town only 18 months before. The Ilkeston Leader (February 15th 1862) printed and extensive obituary …
“As a preacher he made no claim to the profound or to the startling, much less to the serio-comic style of some modern preachers. His aim was thoroughly practical: he sought to benefot his hearers — not please them. And that aim was a high, excellent, and exemplary one, results amply testify.
After a brief illness he died at about three o’clock, on Sunday morning last.
“To many of our readers, it may be interesting to know, that Mr. Baron not only lived a life that others might imitate, but died a death that others might desire. With the prospect of a speedy dissolution before him, he betrayed no fear, but was perfectly resigned. He was willing to live and labour on in his master’s service, if that was the divine will; but ready to die if that was God’s appointment.”
On the following Tuesday a funeral service was held at the South Street Chapel and then his coffin was taken through town to the railway station, followed by his family and many friends, and past many shops closed for the occasion. In accordance with his wishes to be buried at the United Methodist Chapel at Long Eaton, a special train took his body from Ilkeston to Toton station in Long Eaton where factories had closed, church bells were tolling and a large crowd had gathered.
It was reported that 800 people were at the burial site. “It was a scene the like of which had never before been witnessed in Long Eaton, and one which will never be forgotten by those who beheld it.
‘His sun has gone down while it was not yet day’.
A new organ
In July 1882 the first public sounds from the new organ at the United Free Methodist’s Free Church Chapel were heard.
Supplied and built by Mr. A. Nobel of Birmingham, it was described as “a two manual and pedal organ of full compass. There are six stops on the great organ, five on the swell, three couplers, and bourdon 16ft. It is enclosed in a pitch pine case with decorated pipes in front, and has been place in a good position in the chapel. Its tone and richness of expression appeared to give every satisfaction to the large number of persons who were present at the recital in the afternoon. The cost of the organ and the necessary alterations to the chapel amounts to nearly £200, the greater part of which has been already obtained or promised”. (NG)
The South Street Church closed for worship in 1957 and was demolished in 1968.
(Unfortunately the early history of South Street Methodist Church has largely been lost. Minute books and records were accidentally destroyed some years ago and there is no official history of it.)
And now we walk on to the Toll Bar.