|Memories of Fazeley, written by Joseph T. Hunter in August 2008 when he was 88 years old.
Fazeley Methodist ChurchIt is said that in the early days of Methodism, people in the village of Fazeley held services and worshipped in each others homes. Eventually a small chapel was built in Mill Lane but by 1886 a much larger chapel of red brick and slate construction was built alongside the Fazeley to Birmingham canal fronting on to the Watling Street. Of awkward elevation, one had to go down steps to the schoolroom and up steps to the main church. We had large congregations filled to overflowing, so we had to place chairs in the aisles at times. A large Sunday School with classes morning and afternoon also existed until recently.
At times, services for the Sunday School Anniversary were held at Fazeley Parish Hall to cater for more worshippers.
The annual 'Sunday School Treats' were always grand affairs. Samuel Barlow, the Glascote boat builder and coal vendor, a staunch Methodist preacher, would hire out his horse drawn narrow boats to us and convey about 150 parents. We would go to either Fisherwick Farm or Tamhorn Farm, where we would have races, tea and a scramble for sweets. I could never remember it raining on these occasions, the weather always seeming to be warm. In later years the boat trips ended and we went by coach to the seaside. Clothes baskets were packed with food for tea, which was set up in the Methodist church of the chosen destination.
One of the foundation stones for the Chapel was laid by Joseph Dent who lived in Lichfield Street. He was the founder of the 'Band of Hope', a temperance group, which paraded through the streets of Tamworth every Whit Tuesday.
Each Methodist church in the area entered tableaux, mostly horse drawn and the elder children walked alongside. Men who had signed the temperance pledge carried the banners and the procession would wind its way through the town and end up with a sports day in the Castle Grounds.
The schoolroom had two temporary uses that I remember. During the 1926 General Strike and with most of the male population being miners by profession, the schoolroom was opened as a soup kitchen. Also in the early days of the 1939-45 war it was commandeered by the Army and soldiers were billeted there. All the services had to be held upstairs and a few of the soldiers would attend the services and some associations were formed.
In my early days the organ was central and manually operated and we boys would vie with each other to do the pumping.