Branksome, Ashley Road

Branksome, Ashley Road chapel in 2022, now home to a Gateway Church.

Dorset History Centre has records at NM-3/S/1. The summary says – The society was established in 1840. The first church was built in 1842 in Victoria Road. In 1877 a new site was built almost opposite the old church. In 1902 the present church was opened in Ashley Road. The former church was purchased by another denomination.

I have used the name from the 1940 buildings list although this chapel has had several names. This chapel was in the Poole Wesleyan Circuit. The Primitive Chapel in Branksome was listed as Branksome, Poole Road and was in the Bournemouth Primitive Circuit. The two chapels were about a mile apart. Ashley Road  / Poole Road runs west to east between Poole and Bournemouth and changes its name as it crosses the boundary between the two towns (which before boundary changes was also the county boundary between Dorset and Hampshire).

Most of what follows is compiled from ‘Methodism in Upper Parkstone’ a booklet published In 2002 for the centenary of the current building.

This chapel was at one stage known as Constitution Hill Church.

The story starts in 1840, when this area was mostly heath with fields and small farms north of Ashley Road and the land there was known as Heatherlands (another chapel called Heatherlands was opened further west in 1880 in Pine Road – now Argyll Road). Jim Ballett and his wife came from Poole in 1840 and set up home in Victoria Road between where Gladstone Road and Peel Close now are. Mrs Ballett held class meetings and the first chapel was built on part of their garden in 1842 with mud walls and costing £100. It was used later as a technical school for local boys.

John Taylor lived nearby and in 1877 a new and larger chapel was built in his field opposite the original one. This too was built by the members using local materials. It became known as Branksome Chapel and later Parkstone Chapel. For many years in the 20c it was home to a Spiritualist congregation and early in 21c was replaced by a house (17 Victoria Road).

In March 1902 the congregation moved just round the corner to the newly built chapel in Ashley Road. It is recorded that on 28th January 1955 the name of the Branksome Methodist Church in the Poole Circuit be changed to Ashley Road Methodist Church.

Early in 21c it ceased to be a Methodist church and was sold to the Gateway Church.

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