Liverpool Road and the
London Central Mission
Despite numerous visits to the neighbourhood, no Methodist societies were established in Islington during Wesley's lifetime. Presumably any Methodist residents of Islington would make the mile and a half journey to worship at the City Road Chapel. It was Wesleyan Methodists from City Road who established the first Methodist societies in Islington: Liverpool Road in the south of the parish and Hornsey Lane in the north.
Liverpool Road Wesleyan Chapel
Liverpool Road was the
second Wesleyan chapel to be opened in the parish of Islington, in 1827. This
society had originally met in a butcher's shop in Clerkenwell and later in a
warehouse. A school was subsequently added, but a fire in 1849 necessitated the
rebuilding of the church. In 1851 the Liverpool Road society was reported to
have an average attendance of 1,100 on Sunday mornings and 1,200 at evening
worship. From the 1880s it formed part of the London Central Mission.
Attendance declined until the chapel was closed in 1929, and work transferred
to Highbury. The building was demolished as the site for the new Royal
Highbury Wesleyan Chapel
The first Wesleyan chapel in Lower Holloway was built in the garden of 2 George's Place (later Road) in 1837. In 1857 this was closed and leased to the Quakers and the congregation transferred to the new Highbury Chapel alongside a number of members from Liverpool Road.
Highbury Chapel, Drayton Park, was built in the
Gothic style to seat 1,023. In 1864 day schools were added. It became part of
the Wesleyan London Central Mission from the 1880s. In 1930 it was closed and
the congregation amalgamated with Liverpool Road at Islington Central Hall,
built in 1929 on the site of the schools at the corner of Drayton Park and
Highbury Wesleyan Chapel
Islington Central Hall had a large two-tier auditorium seating 1,300. Its first minister was Rev. Donald (later Lord) Soper, who in his ministry from 1929 to 1936 drew large congregations and developed social care projects for the poor and unemployed of the area.
Highbury Wesleyan Day School
The cost of maintaining such substantial premises led to its closure in 1953, and the building was let for industrial use. The work was transferred to new premises in Albany Place, off Hornsey Road. However this building was compulsorily purchased for slum clearance. The congregation found a temporary home in the German Methodist Mission, which from 1929-1971 was based at 30 Drayton Park. A new church was built in Palmers Place on the other side of Holloway Road and opened in 1962 as Islington Central Methodist Church.
There is therefore a line of continuity of Methodist work from the society that originally met in a Clerkenwell butcher's shop but few congregations can have moved so many times!
Last Updated: 2 November 2017