Pool in Wharfedale
The first mention of the village in Methodist records is 1794 when the village was included in the Otley Circuit. However, the first licensed preaching place was granted in 1796 in a dwelling of James Thompson. The Thompson surname occurs within the history of the chapel for several decades. The application was signed by Thomas Cooper, James Davison, William Pilling, Joseph Nicholls and Ambrose Heath. It is believed the property was in Chapel Row.
By 1814 Robert Thornber was the leader of a small group. In 1839 land in Chapel Row was sold by Michael Nicholson, papermaker of Pool Mills, to 15 trustees who included three local men, namely: Thomas Hallis, papermaker, Thomas Pullein, labourer and William Thompson, cordwainer. The latter was still involved in 1851 when he signed the Census of Religious Worship. The present chapel was built in 1909 on land given by the Atkinson family.
Joseph Rhodes Dunwell , born at Pool, became a Wesleyan Minister in 1834 and was one of the early missionaries posted to Ghana , where he died of malaria the following year. His James Dunwell (1781-1856), was a local carrier and the family lived at Pool Farm Cottage. Joseph is buried in Poole St Wilfrid’s churchyard and a plaque to his memory is displayed in the Methodist chapel.
When the Wesleyan Historic Role was taken between 1899 and 1909 the following names appear with addresses as Pool: Hebden, Myers, Pullein, Roundell, Studson, Whiteley.
A Sunday School register dated 1891-1903 is held at Leeds Archives.
The village appears on the Leeds circuit Plan for 1777 and by 1794 was in the Otley Circuit. The first licensed preaching was the schoolhouse of John Popplewell. The application for the licence was signed by John Walker, John Popplewell and John Driver.
The cause was possibly active before this date as Beatrice Robinson of Bramhope Mill married John Ritchie of Otley who was very prominent in the Methodist movement. Their daughter Elizabeth Ritchie along with her brother John Ritchie junior were close followers of John Wesley and he stayed with them on his journeys to Otley.
A barn on Church Hill was used for meetings owned by Michael Barrand. He along with the Hobson and Walker families, created the first chapel on Eastgate in 1838. The congregation was swelled firstly by the families associated with the building of the Bramhope tunnel was being built the and later by the influx of wealthier families moving out of Leeds. This resulted in the building of the present large chapel opened in 1896.
According to W F Seals, “Methodism in the Otley Circuit 1744-1974” the following families were involved in the Methodist movement within the village:
Boyington, Burnley, Cawtheray, Denison, Hall, Miller, Moore, Myers and Pickard.
Unfortunately, the records held at Leeds Archives do not commence until 1938, perhaps more material may be held at the church.