One of the Smallthorne streets off Ford Green Road is called ‘Primitive Street’. For a hundred years or more, it contained two complete rows of unspectacular terraced housing. Those houses are now demolished and the area has been partially redeveloped. The street’s significance lies in its name.

‘Primitive Street’ is named after Primitive Methodism, which, in the mid nineteenth century, was an influential Protestant Christian movement. There was a Primitive Methodist Chapel close by in Sangster Lane, as well as Victoria Methodist (recently demolished after a fire) and Salem Methodist. There were numerous such chapels throughout the North Staffordshire coalfield until, in 1932, the three main Methodist groups in Britain, the Wesleyans, Primitive Methodists and United Methodists came together to form the present Methodist Church. In recent years many have closed and now only one, Salem Methodist, remains in Smallthorne. Built in 1874, it was restored in 2010 after funds were raised and grants received to enable the building to meet the laws for disability access. [1]

Primitive Methodism was founded by two Stoke-on-Trent Christian converts: Bucknall-born Hugh Bourne (1772-1852) and Burslem-born William Clowes (1780-1851). Bourne, and his supporters, were originally known as ‘Camp Meeting Methodists’ because they organised large open-air meetings for preaching, prayer and the public declaration of sin. From a vantage point on Chetwynd Street, outside Smallthorne Primary School, you can see three important places in the early history of the movement: Mow Cop, the site of the first two Camp Meetings on Sunday 31 May 1807 and 19 July; Norton-in-the-Moors, the location of the third Camp Meeting on 23 August 1807; and Chatterley Whitfield Colliery winding gear and spoil heap behind which can be found the small former mining village of Bemersley, where Hugh Bourne lived and died. In 1907 the Primitive Methodists celebrated their centenary with a new Camp Meeting at Mow Cop that attracted around 100,000 people.

Primitive Methodists were popularly nicknamed ‘Ranters’ because of their tendency to sing hymns in the street. Before the age of state education, many of Smallthorne’s children would have received their elementary education from ‘Ranters’ in Primitive Methodist Sunday Schools.

Taken from Wikipedia - 25th May 2013

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