Webpage created: October 08, 2021
Webpage updated: October 08, 2021
RIDGEWAY WESLEYAN METHODIST CHAPEL
A document in the Plymouth & West Devon Record Office records that the first meeting of Wesleyan Methodists in Ridgeway took place in 1798. Presumably these meetings were held in rooms in private houses.
It is said that the Ridgeway meeting prospered due to Mrs Grace Williams, the wife of Mr Peter Williams, a naval officer. She joined the Wesleyan Methodist congregation in Plymouth while her husband was serving at sea and later he also joined. When he retired from active service in 1814, the family moved to Plympton, where they bought a house next door to the Hele Arms Public House in what became Market Road. As there was no Wesleyan Methodist place of worship in Plympton they converted the coach house at the rear of the premises in to a small chapel. This was licensed for service on Tuesday November 21st 1815.
Unfortunately the family found it necessary to give up the house and move to rented accommodation in Plymouth. This forced the growing congregation to look for new premises, which they found on the ground floor of a house in Dark Street Lane. This was licensed on Saturday January 18th 1823. It was said to have seated between 80 and 90 people and to have cost £130.
The congregation continued to grow and prosper and by the early 1860s had outgrown the existing accommodation. It was decided to erect a purpose-built Chapel and in August 1868 a well-known local Wesleyan Methodist by the name of Mr Edward Allen, of Ivybridge, laid the foundation stone of the new building in the Ridgeway.
Messrs Ambrose and Snell, of Plymouth, designed the Gothic building and it was built of Pomphlet stone, with window supports of Morley fire brick and Bath stone. It was erected by Mr John Hele Brimblecombe, builder, of Yealmpton.* The Chapel was 56 feet in length and 31 feet wide, with seating of stained and varnished deal for 274 persons. Seventy-two of the sittings were free. The cost of the land and building was about £1,000.
The pulpit was made of pitch pine and was wainscoted. It was located at the southern end of the building. At the rear of the Chapel was the vestry, which measured 31 feet long by 15 feet in width.
After the ceremony, about 400 people, many from Plymouth, partook of tea in the Working Men's Hall.
The first services were held in the new Ridgeway Wesleyan Methodist Chapel on Wednesday August 25th 1869.
In the succeeding years new rooms, two vestries and a school room were added and in 1925 an extra timber-built room was added to the eastern side of the Chapel. It was basically rebuilt in the 1960s, with only the organ remaining in its original place, and a new entrance hall was added. A two-storey extension was added to the rear to provide better kitchen facilities and more rooms for the Sunday School.
The growth of Plympton and its amalgamation into Plymouth in April 1967, brought an even larger congregation and yet another new building was called for. The foundation stone for this was laid on Saturday October 23rd 1993 and the first services were held at Mudge Way on Sunday May 1st 1994. The official opening took place on Saturday October 22nd 1994.
* Sylvia Guthrig states in her book "Tales of Old Plympton" that this building was erected by Mr John Lake and his brother Thomas, a mason and builder. This does not agree with the newspaper reports of the time. It is more likely that they all worked alongside each other.