Birchmoor

Primitive Methodism around Tamworth 5

By Michael Green

One of the first acts of the newly formed Tamworth Circuit was to put on the plan Birchmoor, a mining village some 4 miles to the east of Tamworth but within 2 years the society was in difficulties and was taken off the plan at the 1872 September Quarterly Meeting as it was not “pulling its weight”. Despite the inauspicious start, it was looked at again and in the late 1870s a preaching room was found. There was growth and the search started in earnest to find a suitable site for a chapel. Instead, two adjoining cottages in New Street were found and one was used for services and the other for the Sunday school. As growth continued so did the need for more space and the dividing wall between the cottages was removed to provide this. However, by the end of the century even this proved inadequate and land nearby was found and nine trustees (7 of whom were miners) were appointed.

The fifth chapel to be erected was almost unique in the sense that it was second hand. It was a disused iron church (often referred to as a “tin tabernacle) on the site of the House of Rest in Southend which was to be transported from there to Birchmoor and re-erected on a brick base some two feet high. The laying of the memorial stones took place on 7th November 1900 in unsettled weather followed by the usual tea attended by about 100 in the old chapel and then the public meeting in Polesworth Baptist church which had been lent for the occasion. The total cost of the building, furniture, fencing, transport and incidentals was about £320.00.

The new church suffered the bane that beset many Primitive Methodist churches including all the Tamworth ones apart from Alvecote. The trustees were not businessmen and chapel debt continued to be a heavy burden. By 1927, it stood at £250. For some reason, no effort had been made to reduce this by selling the former chapel. In fact, it was not sold until around this time. It is probable that the building never attracted the numbers hoped for. The conclusion of the Second World War found only 5 loyal members with all the offices being shared between them. However, by 1949, the society had struggled to increase the number of members to 7 and, by 1950, to 10 full members. By the 1950s and 60s works of repair and renewal were needed. By the late 1960s there was an altogether too familiar scenario presenting itself – tired premises and a worn out few who had kept the church going for many years. \The inevitable happened. At a special meeting of the trustees held on 26th January 1968, it was reported that the chapel was on the verge of closing down., At a later meeting it was decided that there should be a final effort to revive interest in the cause in Birchmoor but the effort came to naught and, on 2nd may 1969, the reluctant decision was taken to close. The premises were finally sold in 1971 for £500. The iron church was demolished and a detached private home now occupies the site.

Sadly, it has been impossible to locate any photographs of the building.

This page was added by Jill Barber on 05/03/2014.

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