The Wesleyan Methodist movement established a church on the corner of Manchester Street and St Domingo Street (now Rochdale Road) at which John Wesley himself preached on the 2nd April 1790, From that church two workers where sent to establish a 'Society Class' in the village of Cowhill on the outskirts of Oldham. For a while the society flourished often meeting in houses or the 'National School', but with the departure of the two key workers and the national controversy agitating the Wesleyan Methodist cause the society dwindled until it ceased to exist.

The work was re-established in 1847. The Methodists held open air services and cottage prayer meetings in premises at Old Lane, Bank Mill and Denton Lane. The visits to these outlying spots became dangerous with ropes tied across the dark lanes to trip up the worshippers and then pelted with sods and stones. The antagonism increased with the village bell man going around the area urging the people to yell and shout whenever they met.

An unsettled period began. First a temporary home was found at the top of Cowhill and then a room over what became Duckworth's shop, but the number of converts outgrew the meeting room. Eventually in 1849 the top room in a disused spinning mill in Alder Root became the venue for the first meeting of the Cowhill Wesleyan Methodist Sunday School attended by a Superintendent, 2 teachers and five scholars. This was in the days of primitive education which was dependant on Sunday Schools teaching children the 3R's. For whatever reason, permission to teach writing was refused by the Methodist District, but by the following Sunday the matter had been resolved and nine teachers and some fifty children were in attendance.

The society enjoyed a settled period and began to flourish. Many of those who had opposed the work were themselves converted and in regular fellowship.

On the 5th July 1854 a request was made to 'friends' and every home in the village, to subscribe to a new school. In April 1855 the foundations of the Cowhill School were laid and the church opened on the 29th July 1855.


Manchester Street Wesleyan Methodist Church


Cowhill Wesleyan Methodist Church


Brunswick Wesleyan Methodist Church



In nearby Freehold district the population was increasing and the need to build a new chapel was important. A decision was made to build one in Rutland Street, Werneth, half a mile away and in 1861 the foundations where laid for one of the largest churches in Oldham Brunswick Wesleyan Methodist church which opened in 1862. (This later contributed to the founding of Eaves Lane Methodist Church). Because of the prevailing economic climate at the time, the Lancashire cotton famine, the church opened with a debt of £1500.

Cowhill became prolific at building churches. Two more building projects a new school for Brunswick, on Oxford Street, opened in January 1890 and two or three years later the building of what became known at Cowhill as the "Extension Room".

The final building at which Cowhill society was involved came towards the end of 1912 with the removal of out-dated rooms and toilets to be replaced with an entrance hall, cloakrooms and classrooms; these were opened on the weekend 8th & 9th March 1913.

In its 119 years existence Cowhill like so many other churches, started as a pioneering venture in evangelism, seeing the need to reach out to the community it served with the Gospel of redeeming love. From humble beginnings in the borrowed room of a disused spinning mill these men and women burned with a passion to reach out to their neighbours with the good news to be found in Christ Jesus their Saviour and Lord, built some impressive monuments to the glory of God, both in stone but most of all, in the hearts of men and women, boys and girls.