Methodists & Methodism Washburn Valley – Castley to Norwood Bottom

By Stanley Merridew

The lower part of the valley was part of the Otley Circuit whose records are housed at Leeds Archives.


Isaac Atkinson is credited with starting Methodism in Castley around 1820, although a record of a chapel can only be gleaned from the name Chapel Hill Lane.  He was a tenant of Castley Hall farm and Castley Manor Farm.   I understand Chapel Hill Lane was diverted when the railway came, so possibly the chapel was pulled down at the time.  In 1851 the chapel census was signed by John Adamson.

From the Wesleyan Roll we can deduce the society was very active at this time judging by the number of names shown comprising the Dickinson, Hannam, Hutton, Mundell, Newby, Parker, Pickard & Rodgers families.


The village appears in the Keighley circuit records as early as 1760.  However, it is not until 1776 that the house of Joseph Mawson was licensed for preaching.  The applicants were Lee, Harrison, Brown, White and Rayner.    Later in 1799 the home of Robert Walker was licensed.  On this occasion the applicants were Potts, Brown, Stead, Richie and Armistead.  The chapel was erected in 1826.  The land was bought from John Stead and the cost was met by loans over many years from J Taylor of Weeton, W Clapham, T Renton and William Rodgers

At the time of the religious census in 1851 the steward was Joseph Kendall.   The following signed the Wesleyan Roll: Job Gill, Grace A Morrell, Joseph Kendall, Robert Kendall and several members of the Fearnside family who are shown as “of York, lately of Leathley.


The village is mentioned in the circuit records as early as 1785 although the chapel was not built until 1836, Licensed in the name of John Gill.  He appears in the Wesleyan Roll as “In memoriam – a faithful Methodist of the old school.”  Also listed is John Morrell, “In memoriam – One of the most earnest & devout Christians the Circuit has ever known,” plus Alfred Ingle and members of the Hutton & Wood families, including William Wood, shown as steward & leader.  The Religious census of 1851 was completed by Samuel Roundell.  The chapel records 1836 to 1975 are held at Leeds Archives.


There appears to be no record of a chapel at Lindley.  However, James Myers, “Eventide Review of Primitive Methodism in the Otley Circuit”, published 1920, mentions regular services held originally in the home of Rupert & Hannah Young at Lindley Wood and later in the farmhouse of the Davies family.


The hamlet appears in the early records but it was not until 1903 that a chapel was erected.   George & Ada Carver, James & Christopher Crabtree, William Dale & Mary Halliday appear in the Wesleyan Roll as of “Clifton.”   Mary Halliday is noted as having saved her guinea in threepenny bits.  Northallerton hold the marriage register for 1982-1983 only.

Norwood Bottom

The chapel opened on 1920 and is still in use today.  However the Methodist cause was evident for many years previously.  W F Seals, “Methodism in the Otley Circuit” 1974, mentions services held at the home of Mrs Davy from 1856.  This could be George & Jane Davy who were living at Brass Castle in 1851 but had moved to Leas Bank Hall by 1861.  By the turn of the century the Wesleyans were using the old banqueting hall at Norwood Hall, the home of the Smith and Shepherd families.

The Primitive Methodists held open air meetings at Sword Point in the middle of the nineteenth century and also at Bride Cross House above Dob Park Bridge. The Wesleyan Roll shows – Robert Smith of Norwood Bottom, “Steward, leader, upwards of 40 years ministers & local preachers have been welcomed in his house.   Norwood would be poor indeed without this family.”  Other members of his family are also listed along with Jesse & Ann Wall.


The building was erected in 1835 as a school but shortly afterwards the Robinson Library opened and the school moved there allowing the Primitive Methodists and later the Wesleyans to takeover.   Susannah Holmes paid her guinea for the 20th Century Fund.

Timble Methodist Sunday School Outing 1928

Rear: Alec Wray (driver)

Back row: Billy Ward, Andrew Dickinson, Herbert Proter, Edith Dickinson, Alice Proctor, John Ward, Lily Wise, Willy Dolpin, Thomas Gill, Agnes & Mark Bradley with son Harry

Middle row: not known, Mary Dickinson, Sally Dickinson, Doris Ward, Mary Dickinson with grandson Geoffrey Ellison, Emma Dolphin

Front row: Alice Gill, Harold Beecroft, Rhoda Ellison, Alec Ellison, Nancy Ellison. 

Washburn Valley takes at last to Football

Yorkshire Post 13th Nov 1948

For as long as anyone can recall most of the young men from the Washburn Valley have spent their Saturday afternoons visiting shops and cinemas in Harrogate and Otley.  Tomorrow eleven of them will come together to play in a football match – probably the first ever staged in this valley of the reservoirs.

They will wear black and white jerseys because some of the team thought they were the colour of Arsenal.  After the match they will drink tea made on a stove in the Parochial Hall with water carried two hundred yards from the Post Office.

There are 24 men and boys in the football club but there were fewer than 24 names on the list that were sent to the selectors.  That was because there is a ploughing match at Kettlesing tomorrow.  Some of those hoping to play football will be ploughing instead.   The ploughing match will go on for five Saturdays.  The football team wonder how long they will be able to carry on if ploughing continues to attract players away.

This is the team for the first match against Pool Reserves:

B Newbould (joiner) A Armitage (joiner) L Spence (farmer) C Lancaster (reservoir worker) J H Noble (head forester & captain) F Beecroft (farmer) R M—? (ex German POW & farm worker) E Spence (mason’s labourer) W Ellison (schoolboy) J Marsland (driver) K Boyce (electrician).

Wilson Ellison is the youngest player – 15 and Jock Noble is the eldest – “into his thirties.”  Mr Armitage, husband of the Postmistress, said “I played rugby for 10 years when I lived at Horsforth but the last time I played football was two years ago in Burma.”  Twenty five year old Eric Spence said, “Apart from the war, I have always in the valley.  I was 18 when I went into the Army.  Up to then I had never played in a football match and never seen one.  I had heard a few broadcasts.”  The Vicar of Fewston, Rev. H Clegg, started the club, has received a letter from P.C. John W Heley of Halifax Borough Police who was formerly Fewston’s policeman, he sent them this message: “It is an amazing achievement.  Aston Villa were formed under a street lamp, anything can happen.”

No one can estimate what size the crowd will be.  If everyone in Fewston, Timble, Blubberhouses and Norwood (which covers 43 sq miles) came along the re could only be 470 spectators.