Cole Street: A Brief History

A Legendary Start

 The history of Cole Street can be traced back to a legend which tells us that nailers from Derbyshire came to the Withymoor area and helped to establish the scattered settlement known as Derby Hand (as in the hands from Derbyshire) now known as Darby End. It is possible that they brought an interest in Methodism with them and could possibly have attended John Wesley's meetings in Dudley.

Thanks to a Scythe-Maker

John Griffin, a scythe-maker, helped to form the Darby End Building Society and bought land on which members could build a home when circumstances allowed. The Darby End Methodist Society form in c.1810 and ten years later bought land from John Griffin's widow on which to build a chapel. The Darby End Wesleyan Chapel was opened on 1 April 1821 and for the following forty years served as a chapel and a Sunday School.

The first church (1821-1950)

Growth begins but the ground gives up!

A Sunday School building was opened in August 1861 and was also used as a day school until local board schools were built in the local area. Over the years many Darby End activities were centred at the chapel including a cricket club. However, nearby workings of the ground caused the ground to shift although the chapel was never undermined. At the turn of the century, rebuilding of part and extending of the chapel became necessary.

Reopening and re-brand

The chapel reopened on 29 February 1904 and continued to serve as a centre of activities for use by the Darby End community. In 1933, with the Methodist reunification, the chapel had to drop the word 'Wesleyan' and thus became Cole Street Chapel to distinguish itself from Providence (now located at the Black Country Living Museum). In 1938, a fund was started to replace the building once again. However, the war intervened and the final service in the first chapel was held on 14 May 1950. Services moved to the adjacent Sunday School.


The last and the first! - The last Sunday School Anniversary poster from the old church and the first Sunday School Anniversary poster from the new church

The Current Building

The second building (the current one used today) was opened on 3 October 1959 with the funds part generated by a generous grant of £8000 from the Joseph Rank Benevolent Trust. Part of the conditions of this grant were for the church to be used not only as a place of worship for the community, but also for the community to use at large (something which had always been a theme throughout the history of Cole Street). It also stipulated no fixed pews and the fitting of a stage, which remains heavily in use today. In the late 70s, an extension was added to the building to allow for Kitchen facilities, as well as improved toilets and a dedicated Sunday School Room. 

 A view from the front row - A painting of the chancel c. 1994

A plaque noting the donation from the Rank Benevolent Trust

Cole Street Today

The building and grounds continue to be used by the community and as a place of worship whilst being renovated and improved by dedicated members of the Church. Cole Street continues to have regular two Sunday Services (10:30am and 6:00pm) as well as holding many different styles of worship, some more traditional, others more modern. Improvements to car park areas have enhanced the grounds, as well as the cultivation of a memorial garden and a vegetable plot and the restoration of the gravel garden. The building has been modernised with recently refurbished toilets and kitchen as well as being adapted for ease of access. 

Most recently, a new intelligent heating system has been fitted to the Church as well as the introduction of an audio-visual system comprising of 3 projectors and combined twin sound system using the latest in PA technology, really making services and events come alive. 

The congregation continues to grow across all age ranges and the work of the Church in the community, especially with the children and young people, is now more engaged than ever. So if you have not been to Cole Street before, or haven't been in a while, why not come along to one of our services or events and say hello. We would love to see you at Church.

Morning Worship at Cole Street today c. 2016
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© David Moss || Cole Street Methodist Church || 2016-2019
Cole Street Methodist Church | Darby End | Netherton | Dudley | West Midlands | UK | DY2 9PA
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