OLD DEVONPORT . UK
www.olddevonport.uk
 

  Brian Moseley, Plymouth
Webpage created: February 20, 2016.
Webpage updated: February 20, 2016

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BELMONT WESLEYAN METHODIST CHAPEL

Belmont Wesleyan Methodist Chapel was situated in Belmont Place, Tavistock Road, Stoke, and was erected to replace the smaller and inadequate Stoke Wesleyan Methodist Chapel, in Tavistock Road, Stoke. 

The foundation stone was laid by Mr J H Puleston, MP, on Tuesday, March 30th 1875, using a silver trowel inscribed: 'Presented to J. H. Puleston, Esq., M.P., on his laying the corner stone of the Wesleyan Chapel, Stoke, Devonport.  Easter Tuesday, March 30th, 1875'.   A bottle containing coins of the realm, and copies of the Methodist Recorder and Western Daily Mercury was placed beneath the stone.  A second corner stone was then laid by Mrs Rolston, the wife of Doctor G T Rolston.  A large number of purses were then laid upon stones by school children and the ceremony was followed by a public luncheon in the school room of Stoke Board School.

In the autumn of 1875 the top-stone was laid by Mr Alex. Hubbard and corner stones were laid by Miss Rolston and Miss Williams.

Belmont was opened by the Minister, the Reverend J L Posnett, on Friday May 5th 1876.   It had cost 3,282 to build.  Built in the Early Gothic style, it consisted  of a nave 86 feet in length by 30 feet and two transepts 20 feet by 12, with vestries on the north side.  Provision was made for a large gallery at the end opposite the pulpit and an organ gallery over the vestries but this work was to be carried out later.  The main fabric was of dark blue limestone, with windows and dressings of grey limestone and Bath stone.  The fact that it was built on the side of a hill meant that a school-room could be constructed underneath, with its entrance from a lower level.  It would accommodate 500 worshippers plus another 250 when the galleries are finished.

The new Chapel was designed by Mr H J Snell, late of the partnership of Messrs Ambrose and Snell, of Plymouth.  It was  built by Messrs Hubbard & Bevan of Plymouth, with carpet and matting supplied by Mr Graves and gas fittings by Messrs Murch & Son.

The scholars were presented with purses as a memento of the occasion.  An organ was installed in 1893 and the first organist was 16-years-old Miss Pethick, who later became Mrs Graham Kendall.  She became an Associate of the Royal College of Organists and continued in the post for forty years, retiring when an electric blower was installed.  She was succeeded by her pupil, Miss Hare, who became Mrs Harris.  The Chapel was damaged during the Second World War and Sunday services were held in the school hall, which was also used by Devonport High School for Boys during the week.  At that time Belmont also became the spiritual home of other bombed-out congregations from Haddington Road, Albert Road, Gloucester Street, Herbert Street and Saint Levan in Stuart Road.

On Wednesday February 21st 1917, during the Great War, the Belmont Chapel Sunday School was taken over by the pupils displaced from Paradise Road Elementary School, while their premises were being used as a temporary military hospital.

In 1925, when the congregation celebrated its Fiftieth Anniversary, the old premises in Tavistock Road, Stoke, had become the Gaytime Club.  To the rear of it, in Wesley Place, was a four-roomed cottage that used to be the Sunday School.  The rooms on the upper floor were the classrooms.  The cottage was occupied by an old pupil of the Sunday School, a Mrs Tarren, who told the visitors that the old Sunday School banner bore the date of 1812.

In 1966 the Chapel was made smaller by the erection of a screen across the back to form classrooms.