About the middle of the eighteenth century John Wesley travelled the length and breadth of England on horseback. He stopped in many places and, wherever he happened to be, he preached to the people with enormous energy and enthusiasm. One day he arrived in Preston. Hundreds of people flocked to hear the word of God from this dynamic man.
Four people from Leyland, awed and inspired by his words, came home and opened up their weaver’s cottage for prayer and Bible study. This was in 1777. So great was the change in the lives of these people that villagers without number came to hear the word for themselves. Soon the cottage was packed to the doors and many were having to stand outside.
These early Wesleyans decided that they needed a new meeting place so they built a new chapel. It was where the National Westminster Bank now stands at the top of Chapel Brow. Worship continued, a Sunday school was started and membership of both grew and grew.
As is the usual custom the Chapel Leaders held a meeting, and another, and another, whilst they decided how to deal with the problem. Eventually they heard of land to rent in Turpin Green and it would cost them ten guineas a year! They decided to rent and on this land they built a large school building. This was opened in 1868 to serve as a day and Sunday school.
Right beside the school they built a tall, red brick chapel. It was to have a fine pulpit, a big gallery and a splendid pipe organ and would hold 750 people. The new chapel was opened in 1876. Two more buildings were erected in the schoolyard, one of brick and one of wood.
These premises were open for school during the day and for any number of activities in the evening. Lessons were learned, hymns were sung, concerts were held, laughter was heard and solemn moments shared in these loved buildings – for they were lively places.
Then, after about one hundred years, the buildings began to crumble and the facilities became inadequate. A modern day school was built in Canberra Road. Some of the old school premises were pulled down and the Youth and Community Centre was opened. It contained a hall, coffee bar and rough room ideal for all kinds of activities. It was opened in 1972.
In 1982 the rest of the buildings were razed to the ground and immediately a new church was built. This was opened in 1983. It is up to date with a pulpit which can double as a stage. There is an excellent sound system to help the hearing impaired and all the preachers wear a microphone. Services are recorded and the CDs taken to the homes of any who cannot be there for any reason. We like to think that in this up-to-date church we worship God in a modern way but we are careful not to abolish the traditions dear to the hearts of so many members.
If you have not yet been inside our church you can easily see what we stand for. Look up, day or night, light or dark and you will see the cross silhouetted against the sky. That is the core of our worship, the centre of our life.