A Kempston Class of the St Paul’s Methodist Church in nearby Bedford is recorded, but the first Wesleyan Methodist Chapel to be built in Kempston was in 1839. The Chapel was built backing onto Water Lane with an entrance off Church Walk in Kempston Bell End. However, the Chapel remained unregistered for worship until being made on 9 February 1854 and not cancelled until 31 October 1904.
Mr FW Brittain recalled that his father started the singing using a ‘tuning box to sound the notes F.A.C.E.’ before ‘he learned to play the clarionette and played to the singing’.
The 1851 Religious Census return was made by John Brown, Steward of Kimbolton Road,Bedford. This noted that the Chapel had 180 Free Sittings and 70 Other. The congregations that day, 30 March were:
The average congregations for the preceding 12 months were:
The success of this Chapel can be measured by the decision in September 1843 to provide a new gallery. However, by 1858, it was clear that the chapel in Bell End was inadequate and the decision made to erect a new chapel. This Chapel was situated more prominently in the High Street and opened in 1860. The Bell End Chapel was closed and is now converted into a house.
Sources and References:
Bedfordshire Chapels and Meeting Houses: Official Registration 1672-1901 Volume 75 Bedfordshire Historical Record Society – Edited by Edwin Welch
Methodism in Kempston – Rev Frederick Pilkington
8000 Years A Kempston History edited by HA Carnell, T Booth and HG Tibbutt
The Ecclesiastical Census, Bedfordshire, March 1851 Volume 54 Bedfordshire Historical Record Society – Edited by DW Bushby
Kempston Rating Survey Map 1848