Bethnal Green Wesleyan chapel, Approach Road

Bethnal Green Wesleyan chapel and schools
Wesleyan Chapel Committee, 1868

This chapel, originally known as Victoria Park Wesleyan Church, was built in 1867-68, opening on Good Friday, 10th April, 1868.

With the main entrance on Bonner Road, the church was built in classical style with pediment and massive Corinthian pillars, seating 1,000 and the largest Methodist church in Bethnal Green. A day school for “boys, girls and infants” opened in January 1869 and stood to the north (covering the site of the present manse) until at least 1914. The cost of the whole building was £8,000

Built to seat 989, at the time of the 1940 Statistical Returns, it could seat 560. Attendance in 1886 was said to be around 500 morning and evening. The church became closely associated with the adjacent Children’s Home  in Bonner Road, whose founder, the Rev Thomas Bowman Stephenson, came to be minister at Approach Road in 1871 and, from 1893, was superintendent of the Victoria Park Circuit (which had replaced the Bethnal Green circuit). The church was said to have declined after the Children’s Home moved in 1913, and the Approach Road church was temporarily closed in 1928 but reopened in 1929 as the revamped Bethnal Green Central Hall, part of the East End Mission circuit. In 1941 the Approach Road church was badly damaged and had to be demolished.

The present Bethnal Green Methodist Church was built on the same site in 1959, and there are current plans to redevelop the church in order to continue its mission.

Grid Ref: TQ353833

Reference: The fourteenth annual report of the Wesleyan Chapel Committee, 1868 page 125

Returns of accommodation … 1873. London: Wesleyan Conference Office, 1875

Statistical returns … as at July 1st 1940. Manchester: Methodist Church, Department of Chapel Affairs, 1947

“Past, Present, Future: Bethnal Green Methodist Church, 1868-2018,” in Bethnal Green Congregation, accessed December 19, 2019, https://www.mcth.org.uk/bethnalgreencongregation.htm

 

 

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