Our History

Methodism in Thornton began about two centuries ago.

Since January 1809, Nanny Greenwood had held Methodist class meetings and prayer meetings in her humble thatched cottage, which stood next to Thornton's landmark windmill.
By the Summer of 1811 there were 17 Methodists in Thornton, and they had clearly outgrown Nanny Greenwood's cottage. So a piece of land was bought for the erection of a simple preaching house. The chapel was erected in 1812, on what was then called Ramper Road (now Victoria Road East). This was the first Methodist chapel on the Fylde and cost £150 to build.
For 80 years, this humble, whitewashed chapel served the Wesleyan Methodists. For most of this early period there were certainly no musical instruments available, so Methodist hymn singing was unaccompanied. Furthermore, in winter, members of the congregation took lanterns with them because the roads were so treacherous.
 In 1878 the foundation stones were laid for a further chapel in Thornton for the Primitive Methodists, at a cost of £250. There were now two chapels in Thornton and the day’s celebrations concluded with a tea and meeting in the Wesleyan Chapel. It was stated that the Primitive Methodists were not opposed to the established church or the Wesleyans and indeed the use of the Wesleyan premises now showed the friendship which existed between the two societies.
The Primitive Methodist Chapel, Fleetwood Road, opened at 2.30 p.m. on Good Friday (11th April, 1879). The building could comfortably seat 150 persons.
At the turn of the century the need for further expansion for the Wesleyans was evident, the population having increased considerably. So, in 1903 a plot of land was secured for £387. It was about this time that Mrs. Janet Wignall, of Fleetwood, offered to build a church as a memorial to her late husband, the late Mr. John Wignall, J.P. The outcome of this gracious offer was that in May, 1905, Wignall Memorial Church was opened for worship.
Similarly the Primitive Methodists too began to flourish with increased congregations, and a larger number of Sunday School Scholars. In 1904 they built a new chapel at a cost of £1,000.
In September 1932 the three main branches of British Methodism (Wesleyan, Primitive and United) joined to form The Methodist Church of Great Britain. As a result, the ex-Wesleyans of Wignall Memorial and the ex-Primitives of Fleetwood Road were united and became part of a new Fleetwood Circuit with one minister generally having charge of both chapels, although this has not always been the case. The chapels continued to function independently of each other with separate church councils until 2007 when the two joined forces to form Thornton Methodist Church, “one-church-with-two-chapels” and began working together towards sharing a single place of worship.
July 2008 saw the two congregations commence worshiping together and plans were made for the century-old Wignall Memorial Chapel to be redeveloped. On Sunday March 15th 2009 the final service at Fleetwood Road Chapel took place prior to the site being sold. Twelve months later the builders moved in to both chapels; Fleetwood Road Chapel being converted into offices whilst the interior of Wignall Memorial was adapted and improved to make it an accessible, modern, flexible, multi-purpose building which best serves both the wider community and the Church in the 21st Century.
The pictures in the gallery to the right were taken at our re-opening in January 2011.


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