Dark Lane Chapel
Research Contributors: Mike Houlston and Melville Rogers
In 1855 a Primitive Methodist Sabbath School was inaugurated. Meetings took place in Dark Lane Village cottages or outdoors, weather permitting. The Dark Lane Chapel was built in 1865 and anniversaries took place yearly in memory of the Sabbath School. The celebrations continued until the last one on 21 June 1970.
The hymn number board (in the image) held a lasting legacy to the new Hollinswood community. In the 1980s a resident with knowledge of Dark Lane Village was employed to work on utility cables in the area. A man housed in one of Hollinswood homes came out of his house and shouted to the utility worker:
“Are you from around here and did you know the area from before?”
The utility worker replied “yes and why?”
“Well, do you know if there was church here before?”
The utility worker replied, “Well, the church would not have been exactly at this spot but a distance down the road. Why do you ask?”
“Well”, replied the Hollinswood resident “I was digging up my garden and found buried a church hymn number board”.
In the book ‘Dark Lane Forgotten Village’, Dennis. J. Rogers writes:-
“ I suspect that few residents who live in the area around the north leg of Dale Acre Way (Hollinswood)……. know they are living on the grave of Dark Lane. The village was demolished and buried under 25 feet of pit mound waste to make way for the new town (Telford) …….” (Dennis. J. Rogers and, Melville Rogers (2002) Dark Lane the Forgotten Village of Telford, p.4)
History of Dark Lane Chapel
William Withington and Thomas Tart were leading members of the faith and led the Primitive Methodist services throughout the village. Their services included prayers that one day they would have a chapel in the village.
Their prayers were answered when the landowner offered land to the community in 1863. It is believed that they took it upon themselves to dig the foundations and that they borrowed an old cart to take away soil and fetch stone for the foundations.
Raymond Gough built the pulpit for the Chapel. It was saved before the demolition of the Chapel and the pulpit is now situated at Morton Coppice Chapel, Horsehay. Following the deaths of William Whithington (1902) and Thomas Tart (1893) their work was recognised by plaques erected in the Dark Lane Chapel. It is believed that plaques and other memorabilia from the Chapel may now be stored away in someone’s attic.
The chapel was not only a place of worship but also the centre of the community and on the 17 April 1954, a village hall was opened next to the chapel which was used for social occasions; anniversary teas, wedding receptions, the occasional dance and the well-attended Christmas party for the children.
Social events associated with the Christian calendar were also held at Christmas, Good Friday, Harvest Festival and anniversaries. There was an adult and children’s choir and a special platform would be erected for the children to sing from for the anniversaries.
In the 1920s and 1930s, the adult choir would put on a play/opera called Joseph and his Brethren which was so popular that they were invited to perform at many other chapels in the area.
The chapel held its last anniversary service on 21 June 1970. The morning and evening services were taken by the residing minister, Rev Norman Owen from Shifnal. Lifelong member Bill Hollyhead conducted the singing in the absence of Len Houlston who became organist in 1929 and started conducting in 1942. He had suffered a heart attack and was unable to risk conducting the last service.
The chapel closed in March 1971 and was demolished, not long after, to make way for Telford Town Centre and Hollinswood housing. It is believed that plaques and other memorabilia from the Chapel are now stored in someone’s attic whilst other historical features of Dark Lane Village are buried under the Hollinswood community.
- Rogers, D and Rogers, M (2002) Dark Lane: the Forgotten Village of Telford
- The Heritage Lottery Funded Miner’s Walk Memory Recording Events (Greenways Farm St Georges November 2017 and Turnpike Court St Georges January 2018)
- Shropshire Archives
- Conversations with Ken Lewis (Ketley History Group)
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