From the Sheffield & Rotherham Independent, Saturday 23 February 1861:
Wesleyan Methodist Reformers' New Chapel
On Monday afternoon, the ceremony of laying the stone of a chapel, with its schools, for the use of Wesleyan Reformers, hitherto worshipping in Garden street chapel, was performed. There was a large attendance of the people of the neighbourhood. The site is a piece of ground abutting on Weston street, near Mitchell street, and as the land adjoining is rapidly been built upon, and as there is no place of worship in immediate contiguity, there seems to be good reason for anticipating that the chapel will supply a great want and prove a blessing to many. It is anticipated to accommodate (with gallery) 600, and the school will be capable of receiving 350. The day was extremely unfavourable, and the land being saturated with water, was trodden into a puddle by those who assembled. The Mayor who was announced to perform the ceremony, being detained by magisterial business at the Town Hall, did not arrive 'till considerably after the time, for which he apologised. After Montgomery's hymn "This stone to Thee in faith we lay," had been sung, and portions of Scripture from Haggai ii., Ezra iii., and 2 Chron. vi., were read by Mr. Muxlow, the prayer was offered by Mr. Buxton, of Regent street.
The Mayor then standing on a heap of stones—(Cheers)—said he did not intend to make any lengthened remarks, but could not forbear expressing his pleasure at being present, and in having been asked to perform this ceremony in his official capacity. The promotors of the chapel had done him an honor, and he had placed his services at their disposal with great satisfaction. He was a member of the Church of England, and to those of his friends in that communion who might deem it strange that he should thus lend himself to promote the erection of a chapel for the use of another denomination differing from his own, he would say that he felt no difficulty whatsoever. Was it not intended that this house should be dedicated to the worship of the Holy Trinity? Would not Christ be preached, and would not salvation through faith in Christ's blood, be the great object sought and in many cases really accomplished? Well, he asked for no other reason or justification. He would do anything in his power to aid and encourage those who had undertaken the erection, and he prayed God to bless them in their work. He hoped the gospel would be faithfully preached—that salvation through faith in Christ would be realized, and that the people who were gathered here, would hear no other gospel than that of which Jesus Christ was the centre and life and glory. On this rock Christ built his church and the gates of hell never could prevail against it.
Mr. Westby said he could give a distinct and short reply to the questions put, and an honest confirmation of the statements made by his Worship the Mayor. He then went on to summarize very briefly the main doctrines held by the Wesleyan Reformers and which would constitute the subjects of preaching within the future walls. On the ground of these vital and blessed truths, he trusted there would be a gathering of the people to the chapel, and gave a cordial and general invitation to the neighbourhood. He did so the more freely, because God had spoken good concerning his church, and if the people would associate with them it would be to their own benefit. The necessity of such buildings was shown by the relation subsisting between the preaching of the gospel and the faith of men. "How could they hear without a preacher?" They (the Weslyan Reformers) came to this locality to proclaim the unsearchable riches of Christ. They believed they had good news for all who would come and attend their ministry, and that their mission was to prepare souls for being gathered into the granary of God. The schools would be open to boys and girls, and he trusted would be a signal blessing to them, training them in the knowledge of the Scriptures. In conclusion, he trusted the chapel would be a centre of Christian influence—blessed and made a blessing, diffusing around it the knowledge of Him whom to know is life eternal. Such ends attained would serve to hasten and to usher in the time when all should know Christ from the least unto the greatest, so that there should be no need of such agencies—Christ receiving as his inheritance all nations, and being universally loved and served.
After a collection had been taken up, the presentation of the trowel and mallet to the Mayor, was made by Mr. S. H. Burrows, of Wortley, iron manufacturer. He said addressing the crowd: You have done your duty, (in contributing) and it now devolves upon me to do mine. A very pleasing one it is—to present to the Mayor, who has so kindly fulfilled the part assigned to him, this trowel and mallet with which he has laid the stone. He did so at the request of the committee, and with very great pleasure. Addressing Mr. Vickers, he said: You, Sir, have shown yourself on the Lord's side, and he, (Mr. Burrows), hoped the borough might always have such a chief magistrate to represent it. (Cheers.) He begged to present these articles to him adding his own prayer, that his life might long be spared to be serviceable to his fellow townsmen, and to the happiness of his family and friends.
The Mayor in acknowledgment, said he thanked them for their handsome present, which , however, was not needed, as what he had done had been a great personal pleasure. He only regretted having kept them waiting, but that was an unforeseen and unavoidable disappointment. He had failed to keep his appointment only through an incumbent public duty. This trowel and mallet he should value, and so would his family—and it was not a small one—as a memorial of the interesting proceedings of this day. He thanked them for the confidence they had displayed, though of another religious body, which was honourable to both himself and them.
After a vote of thanks to the Mayor, proposed by Mr. E. Hibberd, and seconded by Mr. James Stanley, the doxology was sung, and the company dispersed.
Several of the friends then adjourned to the Watery street school room, kindly lent, where they took tea together, the Mayor joining them at table, and spent the evening in very agreeable expressions of their hoped, &c., respecting the new chapel, details of the history of which were given by Mr. Andrews.
The trowel bore the inscription:—"Presented to H. Vickers, Esq., Mayor, on occasion of his laying the foundation stone of Weston street Wesleyan Reformers' Chapel, Feb. 18, 1861." G. Hadfield, Esq., M.P., who had been applied to, to be present on the occasion, was detained by family affliction, but enclosed a cheque for £10; and Wm. Cooper, Esq., of Fir view, who was also detained forwarded £5. The chapel will be 45 feet square, be galleried, and have school rooms under it. The estimated cost is about £1000, and Mr. James Blenkhorne, is the contractor. The time specified for the completion is April 30. The collection on the ground amounted to between £8 and £9.