Albion Church to Celebrate 200 Years of Ministry
Wednesday 9th December 2015 @ 16:17 by Tom Greggan
Ashton News

Ashton’s Albion Church will be launching its 200th anniversary celebrations at its Christmas Tree Festival in December.

2016 marks two centuries of ministry from Albion and its two Sunday schools; Charlestown and Hurst Nook.

The festival kicks off on 11th December from 2pm-8pm when local school choirs will be performing.

Ashton MP Angela Rayner will be in attendance on 12th to officially launch the 200th anniversary celebrations at 11am. Tiny Toes & Toe Tappers Dancing School will be performing that day and Santa Claus will also be visiting.

Finally, the festival wraps up on 13th December with the Willow Wood Light up a Life Service at 2pm.

The Albion United Reformed Church has a history that dates back to the 16th century and its first members were part of Dukinfield Old Hall Chapel- the oldest Independent Chapel in England. The Ashton members separated from Dukinfield to form their own church group and by 1816 they’d acquired two cottages which they made into a chapel. The first Minister, Rev. Jonathan Sutcliffe, was appointed the following year.

The congregation soon spread to surrounding towns; Mossley, Dukinfield, Audenshaw, Denton, Droylsden and Stalybridge. The present church on Stamford Street East was built in 1895.

However, as an Independent church, it wasn’t easy for Albion to become established, as Albion historian Mary Whitehead explained: “It was very hard for the independents to get a foot in at that time; it was always the Church of England.

“There were so many restrictions to independent worship; they couldn’t go to grammar schools, they couldn’t take up public roles, couldn’t go to university and they had to set up their own training for ministry. They were fighting for their cause all the way.”

But despite the difficulties in getting set up, Albion played a huge role in Tameside’s history, especially in education. Mary said: “They were very, very strong on education. The school that you see at the top of Penny Meadow, that was Albion Sunday School. That was built in 1862 at the time of the cotton famine.

“Then in 1869 they brought along a Mr Park and he began at day school there, before the Education Act came in to being in 1870. That school ran science classes, biology classes- it was an amazing school.
“The two big cotton manufacturers that attended our school, the Buckleys and the Masons, gave scholarships for children to go to Owen’s College which was an independent college in Manchester. We’ve such a tremendous history on education alone.”

There will be numerous events throughout 2016 to celebrate Albion’s 200 years. On the 30th January, Huddersfield’s Town Hall Organist Gordon Stewart will be performing a recital. A Flower Festival is penned in for 10th-12th June and displays of Albion’s history will be showed on a very special Heritage Day on 10th September.