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'A pool of Bethesda': Manchester's first Wesleyan Methodist Central Hall

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal article

Published
<mark>Journal publication date</mark>22/08/2012
<mark>Journal</mark>Bulletin of the John Rylands University Library of Manchester
Issue number1
Volume89
Number of pages21
Pages (from-to)105-125
Publication statusPublished
Original languageEnglish

Abstract

Methodist Central Halls were built in most British towns and cities. They were designed not to look like churches in order to appeal to the working classes. Entirely multi-functional, they provided room for concerts, plays, film shows and social work alongside ordinary worship. Some contained shops in order to pay for the future upkeep of the building. The prototype for this programme was provided in Manchester and opened on Oldham Street in 1886. This article offers a first analysis of it as a building type and looks at the wider social and cultural contribution of the building. It continues the narrative by discussing changing use and design during a twentieth century that witnessed the widespread contraction of Methodist congregations.