A Timeline of Heywood Churches

St Luke's Church (Wikipedia)
This historical timeline of religious institutions in Heywood is a work in progress, and any suggested corrections or additions are welcomed.
  • 1514: Records of a chapel at Ashworth date back to this time, although worship at Ashworth is reputed to date back to Saxon times.
  • 1552: Heywood Chapel referred to in a report.
  • 1577: Heywood depicted as ‘Hawood’ on Christopher Saxton’s new map of Britain.
  • 1640: Old Chapel rebuilt by Robert Heywood.
  • 1650: Parliament assigned the tithes of Whittle, Heywood, Bamford and Lomax to Heywood Chapel.
  • c.1770: Chapel House, Ashworth, rebuilt as the Egerton Arms around this time.
  • 1789: St James’ chapel at Ashworth rebuilt. It was enlarged in 1837.
  • 1793: Heywood’s first Sunday School on Hind St. by Methodists from the Gooden Lane Society.
  • 1812: New Jerusalem Church established.
  • 1824: Congregational Church, Rochdale Road East, founded. This building was demolished in 2005.
  • 1825: Primitive Methodist missionaries from Bolton first preached in Heywood, firstly in the open air, and then out of two cellars under a cottage in Spinner's Row, Bury Street. The Rev. Samuel Tillotson commenced a Society and started a Sunday-school there.
  • 1827: St Mary’s Church built at Birch. St Mary’s National School was built in 1836. The church was demolished in 1964.
  • 1828: New Jerusalem Church built off Church Street by Swedenborgians. It was enlarged in 1838 and replaced in 1914 with a building on Hornby St.
  • 1835: Primitive Methodist Chapel opened on Bank Street, off Bury Street.
  • 1836: Heywood Baptist Church completed, Rochdale Road. It was replaced in 1979.
  • 1836: Wesleyan Methodist chapel opened at Kenyon Fold.
  • 1837: St James Church and Tower Street School built. The church was consecrated in the following year. The church closed in 2014.
  • 1840: The chapelry (a subdivision of a parish) of Heywood was constituted.
  • 1841: St James’ church built at Heady Hill.
  • 1844: Methodist New Connexion Church opened, Miller Street. This building closed before 1895.
  • 1850: United Methodist Free Church, Bridge Street, opened in 1850, replacing their earlier Queen St. building (1835). The congregation joined with Market St. Wesleyan Methodists in 1940.
  • 1853: St Joseph’s R.C. Church, Dawson Street, consecrated. It was replaced by the Mary Street building in 1915.
  • 1854: Consecration of St John the Baptist church, Birtle.
  • 1856: First Unitarian service held in Heywood, in a small rented room on Oak Street. 12 months later, the congregation moved to a larger premises at Mossfield.
  • 1859: Old St Luke’s Chapel demolished.
  • 1859: St Luke’s Parish School completed.
  • 1860: Britain Hill Unitarian Church founded.
  • 1862: The rebuilt St Luke’s Church was dedicated.
  • 1862: Christadelphian Church on Starkey Street by this time.
  • 1863: St. Luke's church, the church of Heywood chapelry, was built at a cost of upwards of £10,000; is in the decorated English style; comprises a nave of 80 feet by 24, with aisles, and a chancel of 42 feet by 22; includes a private mortuary chapel, erected at great cost additional to that of the church; is ornamented with coloured marbles and alabaster; and has a detached tower, with a spire 185 feet high.
  • 1864: Baptists build ‘Jireh Chapel’ on Queen/Starkey Street. This building became the Christadelphian Church in 1932, after being used by the Labour Party for a short time.
  • 1866: Bethel Street United Methodist Free Church, Heap Bridge, was consecrated.
  • 1869: York Street Congregational Church consecrated. It replaced an earlier building (1836). Congregationalists had held services in Heywood as early as 1821. This building was closed in 1968 when the congregation moved to the church on Rochdale Road East.
  • 1871: Bridge Street Primitive Methodist church and school founded, replacing former church on Bank Street.
Bridge Street Primitive Methodist church (Christian Messenger, 1920)

  • 1874: Trinity Methodist Chapel founded.
  • 1881: St John’s church, Hopwood, opened. The original church was made of iron. This was replaced by the current building in 1905.
  • 1882: Salvation Army established in Heywood.
  • 1886: Heywood Mission opened on Fox Street. Thought to be originally part of the Salvation Army, it later followed the Wesleyan Methodist doctrine. It was damaged by fire in 1994 and later demolished.
  • 1900: All Souls Church erected.
  • 1900: Primitive Methodists erected a new church on the site of the former Methodist New Connexion Church on Miller Street. A school was added in 1914. 
  • 1905: Wesleyan Methodist Church, Market Street built.
  • 1909: Old school at the Primitive Methodist Church on Bridge St. was demolished and replaced.
  • 1907: St George’s church, Heap Bridge, founded.
  • 1911: Restoration of St Luke’s church bells, as a memorial to King George VII, completed.
  • 1939: Congregation of Jehovah’s Witnesses established in Heywood, in a hut on Cartridge Street. In the 1970s they acquired the former municipal baths on Fox/Taylor Streets and turned it into a Kingdom Hall.
  • 1964: St Margaret’s C.E. Church and School opened.
  • Mid-1960s: The congregation at Unitarian Church, Britain Hill, was amalgamated with others in Bury due to falling attendances. A fire destroyed the old church building in 1968.
  • 1977: Baptist Church demolished.
  • 1979: New Baptist Church completed, Rochdale Road.
  • 1996: Maureen Thorpe, of St Margaret's, became the first woman to be ordained into the church in Heywood. 
  • 2016: St James' Church, Heywood, closed.
  • 2016: All Soul's Church closed.
St John's Church, Heywood.

The following information is extracted from Worrall's Directory 1871;

"The Church of St. Luke occupies a central position in the town, fronting the Market place. It was erected in 1860 on the site of the old edifice, at a cost of £10,000, which had become inadequate for the wants of the greatly increased population. It is a noble stone structure, designed after the style of ecclesiastical architecture of the period of Edward III. The tower rises to the height of 188 feet, and contains an excellent peal of Shells.

A fact in connection with its erection deserving of record, is the conduct of the scholars of the schools attached to the church, who in 1851 commenced a system of weekly contributions, which amounted to the handsome sum of £500 towards the building fund. The other portion of the cost was defrayed by the liberal donations of the gentry, manufacturers, and other inhabitants of the town and district. The benefice is a perpetual curacy of the annual value of £320, in the gift of the rector of Bury. The Rev. Thomas Ramsbotham, M.A., is vicar. 

The schools attached to the Church are in William street, under the superintendence of Mr. Wolstenholme, who has also established evening classes, attended by upwards of 400 persons of both sexes.

St, James' Church (off Bridge Street), is a substantial stone structure, built in 1837 at a cost of £4,200, defrayed partly by subscription, and partly by a grant from the Diocesan Society. The living is a perpetual curacy, held by the Rev. Augustus Conway.The schools connected with St. James,' in St. James' place, are constructed to accommodate 400 children, and are superintended by Mr. Thomas Popple. There is also a branch school at Heady hill .

Services are also held in St. John's school-room, Hopwood, - a populous district in which it is proposed to erect a new Church.

The Independents have a handsome Church and Schools in York street, erected in 1869, at a cost of £6,300, constructed to seat 750 persons.

The Rev. John Yonge is the minister, and of a small chapel at Bamford.

The Wesleyans have a large chapel in Market street, and others in Hopwood and Bamford.

The Methodist United Free Church, the Primitive Methodists, Baptists, Swedenborgians, and Unitarians, have each chapels in the town and neighbourhood.

There is a Roman Catholic Chapel in Dawson street, the Rev. Arthur McCann, priest.

There are large Sunday Schools in connection with the several dissenting places of worship, and Day Schools attached to the Methodist Free Church, Swedenborgians, and Roman Catholics.

Places of Worship and their Ministers
  • St. James' Church, St. James' place - Rev. W.A. Conway, vicar; Rev. William Jas. Tilt, Rev. John Groves, Rev. James Russell, B.A., curates. 
  • St. James' Church, Ashworth - Rev. D. Rathbone, vicar (surrogate)
  • St. John's, Hopwood - (service in the School, Rock street) - Rev. William A. Hales, M.A.,curate.
  • St. Luke's Church, Church street - Rev. Thomas Ramsbotham, M.A. 
  • St. Michael's Church, Bamford - Rev. — Fish. 
  • Baptist Chapel (Jireh), Starkey street - Rev. Robert Powell.
  • Baptist Chapel, Rochdale road - Rev. Joseph Rigby. 
  • Independent Chapel, York street - Rev. John Tonge. 
  • Independent Chapel, Bamford - Rev. Robert Ashcroft. 
  • Methodist (United Free Church), Bethel street - Rev. George Warne.
  • Methodist (United Free Church), Manchester street, Hopwood, and Heady hill. 
  • Methodist (New Connexion) Chapel, Miller street - ministers various. 
  • Methodist (Primitive) Chapels, Bank street and Miller street. 
  • Methodist (Wesleyan) Chapels, Market street, Hopwood and Bamford - Rev. Robert J.T. Hawksley.
  • Roman Catholic (St. Joseph's) Church, Dawson street - Rev. Arthur McCann, priest. 
  • Swedenborgian Chapel, Church street - Rev. Richard Storry. 
  • Unitarian Chapel, Britain hill - Rev. John Fox."

   Related pages   


The New Jerusalem Church was not demolished until the 1970’s.
The Sunday School was in Hornby St. the church services continued there.