ANOTHER fine old Nonconformist church is now being
demolished. It is the former United Methodist Church,
Cowling, better known as "Bar Chapel"
Older member of the community recall the past and the
influence it had on village life.
It is clear that when plans were drawn up for this
stately church it was foreseen that, with the invention
of the power loom, there would be a rapid increase in
population. It was built to hold about 750 people.
During the years which have followed the official
opening on October 14. 1882. many notable preachers have
stood in its pulpit and only a few months before it was
closed. some six years ago there was a formidable
mid-week gathering to hear Dr Donald Soper.
Musically it held a reputation in the area for the high
standard maintained in both choral work and oratorios.
First class soloists such as Isobel Bailey. Stiles
Allen. Heddle Nash and Harold Williams, have helped to
fill it to capacity on many occasions.
The church`s Centenary and Jubilee handbook points out
that in 1830 three local preachers and 13 other member
of the Wesleyan Church were expelled by the
Superintendent Minister and they started holding
serviced in the Middleton Baptist Chapel, which had
fallen into disuse.
By 1832 it was possible to plan the erection of the "Bar
Chapel" to be built "hard by" the toll bar at Winkholme
It is interesting to note that the church was known as
"Bar Chapel, Ickornshaw" The village of Cowling
developed later with the new road over the Moss to
As years went by it was felt there was a need for a
large church and a site was purchased from Boocock`s
Charity for £1,030 and by the time the foundation stone
was laid in 1881 £2,500 had been raised towards the
total cost of £5,501 for land and premises.
Within the next few years a Sunday School was added at a
further cost of £2.500. This was capable of seating 500
persons but this number has now been reduced because of
This Sunday school is the largest and best hall in the
village and it was here that the reception was held to
pay tribute to the local lad, Phillip Snowden, on
becoming Chancellor of the Exchequer.
An excellent stage was built and celebrity concerts,
pantomimes, brass band concerts and in more recent
years, the Methodist Players, inspired by the enthusiasm
of the late Mr Horace Whitaker, have filled the hall on
Latterly however the schoolroom has taken on a more
important role in the furtherance of Methodism because
since the church was closed it has been used for worship
as well as by the Sunday School/
In 1905 it was decided that Cowling should have it`s own
resident minister and the Rev. Bruce White was
appointed, But it was not until 1912 that a house was
bought to serve as a manse.
Later on joining the Cross Hills, Silsden and Cowling
Circuit the resident minister was in charge of all three
Methodist churches in Cowling.
Although this church which was built in a most
commanding position overlooking not only the village of
Cowling but also the hamlets of Ickornshaw and Middleton
is being demolished the foundations are now being
prepared for the erection of a new and more central
church on the Walton Street site.
The church there was demolished at the beginning of the
year and members of both the churches have been planning
and raising money to meet the cost of this church which
it is hoped will be in use before the end of 1965.
Mr Reginald Smith who along with other member of his
family has been closely commented with the Walton Street
church points out that the beginnings of Walton Street
arose for the week-night cottage meetings held by
members of the Ickornshaw Wesleyan Chapel as it was
known then who lived in New Road Side.
Eventually it was felt that there was a need of a
separate room to accommodate this week-night meeting and
a hut was erected in Fold Lane which for a few years
replaced the cottage meeting.
About this period there was considerable development
going on in the village and this led to the purchase of
the Walton Street site and the subsequent erection of
the church. This building was not intended as a
permanent structure but merely to serve the need ad that