The history of our church began in the 1840s when a Wesleyan Methodist Society, which grew to a membership of 12, met in the village. However it was 1883 before Methodism was truly founded in Solihull. In the autumn of that year, the Superintendent of the Belmont Row Circuit visited Blossomfield Farm to enquire whether Mr John Beamond and his wife Catherine would support Methodist services if they could be started in the village. The Beamonds, who had been staunch Methodists when they had lived in Shropshire before coming to Solihull, were pleased to accept this challenge.
Solihull Public Hall
They arranged to hire the Court Room at the Public Hall in Poplar Road for 6 shillings a week to hold two services every Sunday. All services were taken by local preachers who travelled from Birmingham and were usually entertained to lunch at Blossomfield Farm. Weekly Class Meetings were held in the farmhouse on Tuesday evenings and led by farmer Mr Joseph Hulston who travelled from Sheldon. Once a quarter a Circuit Minister would visit to lead a communion service and to give out the previous class tickets.
The small village Methodist Society continued with a membership of less than 20 until the late 1890s, when only the Beamond family remained, so all services were held in the farmhouse. The faith and perseverance of the family was rewarded in 1901 when due to an interregnum at the local Congregational Church, numbers suddenly grew to about 70. The first resident minister was appointed and a Sunday School was started in 1902. Suddenly it seemed possible to build a Methodist Chapel in Solihull. This was achieved in an amazingly short time. The Old School Chapel situated on the corner of Streetsbrook Road and Blossomfield Road seated 150. It was opened by Rev F Luke Wiseman in February 1905.
Wesleyan School Chapel
Membership of the chapel flourished, reaching about 60, divided into 3 classes, by 1914. A ladies’ sewing meeting was formed by 1907 and the Wesley Guild in 1909. A choir was formed and the first paid organist was appointed in 1921. There were also numerous fundraising events, both to pay off the debt on the School Chapel and, as numbers continued to grow in the 1930s, to raise £10,000 to build a new church. The bricks and stones laid in 1936 can be seen in the church vestibule. The new Methodist Church was opened and dedicated, again by Rev Luke Wiseman on 5th June 1937.
The School Chapel became a Church Hall where church groups could meet and during World War II a servicemen’s club was formed. Membership of the church continued to increase after the war, exceeding 200 by 1952. There was a tremendous growth in the Sunday School and it became obvious that a new Church Hall was needed. More fundraising followed. The last service in the Old School Chapel was held on Christmas Day 1960, before it was sold, and the new Church Hall was opened on 9th December 1961. Membership continued to grow, reaching a peak of 501 in 1976, with many midweek organisations using the premises. Special occasions such as Festival Fifty (50th anniversary of the new church in 1987) and the 250th commemoration of John Wesley’s conversion in 1988, have been celebrated and various fundraising and social events held.
Despite many years of concerns about subsidence, the church was declared safe in 1990. Following this, alterations to the chancel, choir vestry and kitchen took place, together with refurbishment and alterations to the Church Hall.
Celebration Sixty in 1997, the 60th anniversary of the Church, was marked by the publication of ‘Travelling On’ compiled by Edna G. Handley. The book contained the full version of Alice Rand’s memories of her parents’ founding of Methodism in Solihull, written in 1915, together with more recent history of the church. Old photographs, maps and drawings alternate with text to provide an easy-to-read account which includes 7 varied and often humorous personal memories of years gone by at the church. Appendices give lists of Ministers, church officers and organisations.
Bringing the church up-to-date
In order to make our buildings more environmentally friendly, improve insulation and reduce heating costs, the Church Hall windows were progressively replaced with double glazing and insulation inserted in suitable outside walls and roof between 1999 and 2010. A projection system was installed in the Church in 2007 enabling liturgy and hymns for worship to become easily accessible to all.
In 2015, work was undertaken in the main church building to replace the pews with chairs, thus creating a more flexible worship space. The vestibule underwent a major face-lift, including the installation of a small kitchen area and extra toilets. The net result of this work is to allow greater use of the church building, both for worship on Sundays and throughout the week.