The History of Charlestown
During the 1860s Albion Chapel was the centre of an extraordinarily vigorous range of spiritual and social activities including a full time paid ‘town missionary’ who made over 3,000 visits a year to poorer homes of the town (Victorian Ashton.EA.Rose). It was decided to start up a mission in the poor area of Charlestown, Ashton-Under-Lyne.
An Act of 1843 allowed for a congregation to be formed before building a Church. The usual method of extending the influence of the Church was to put down a building suitable for Sunday School work, to gather scholars, to establish weekly evening classes for secular instruction, to maintain preaching on Sunday evenings in the schoolroom, and as soon as circumstances might warrant the attempt, to form a Church. (Ashton Churches & Chapels. E.A.Rose).
In the year 1862 a mission school was started in Charlestown in a room made out of two cottages. The two cottages were soon too small and the mission moved to an old mill in Wellington Road. However in August 1866 the foundation stone for new premises in York Street, Charlestown was laid by Mr. Hugh Mason. The Mission was opened in February 1867 at a cost of £1,500 and declared free from debt.
In 1932 a Boys’ Brigade Company was formed and later, in 1951, a Girls’ Brigade Company. The Boys’ Brigade can take pride in the number of boys who later went into the Ministry, and the respect Lord Rhodes of Saddleworth had for the Company who attended the Annual Displays and presented the awards for 15 consecutive years 1950-1965 during which time he was the Member of Parliament for Ashton-under-Lyne.
In 1968 Charlestown Mission purchased, for £4,000, the Methodist Church premises in Alexandra Road – still in the Charlestown area – where it remains at the present time with a flourishing Sunday School and many weekly activities.
The missionary work again is in evidence with ‘The Carpenter's Arms’. This is an ecumenical group based at Charlestown where the Church opens its doors every Tuesday welcoming and giving support to the lonely and homeless who traverse through the borough.
As one elderly Church member, Mr. Albert Warren, says of his early recollections of Charlestown, “No matter how you were dressed, you received a warm welcome…In the midst of all the poverty, there was a building that shone like a beacon”.