Former Primitive Methodist Chapel, Balby


Heritage Category:
Listed Building
List Entry Number:
Date first listed:
Statutory Address:
Balby Road, Doncaster, DN4 0RG


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Statutory Address:
Balby Road, Doncaster, DN4 0RG

The building or site itself may lie within the boundary of more than one authority.

Doncaster (Metropolitan Authority)
Non Civil Parish
National Grid Reference:


Primitive Methodist Chapel, built 1867 to 1868 to designs by the architect Mr W Watson.

Reasons for Designation

The Primitive Methodist Chapel, Balby Road, Doncaster, of 1867 to 1868 by Mr W Watson, is listed at Grade II for the following principal reasons:

Architectural interest: * the architecturally elaborate front elevation features an eclectic mixture of Gothic and classical details, topped by a bold, strongly Italian Romanesque corbel table, and using a plethora of materials and colours in an exuberant display unusual for Primitive Methodist chapels, which were generally plain;

* the richly detailed façade includes high-quality craftsmanship in the foliate carving of the stone features;

* the outer side elevation containing the school room entrance, whilst more typically restrained, nevertheless incorporates polychromatic detailing which visually integrates the rest of the building with the more decorative façade;

* the interior is a simple auditory box typical of Primitive Methodist chapels, but retaining attractive roof trusses featuring semi-circular struts and curved supporting brackets. . Historic interest: * the prominent location and exuberant appearance of the chapel demonstrates a pride and self-belief on the part of the aspirational, working-class congregation at a time when urban Doncaster was booming, driven primarily by the growth of engineering, particularly for the railways.


The Primitive Methodist Chapel was built during 1867 (The Builder, February 15, 1868) and is dated 1868 on a panel near the apex of the principal, north-west gable. It faces onto Balby Road linking the village of Balby with Doncaster to the north-east. The 1:2500 Ordnance Survey map surveyed in 1888 to 1890, published 1893, shows that at this time much of the neighbourhood remained as open fields, but terraces of working-class housing were beginning to be built particularly on the south-east side of the road, with building plots being laid out on the north-west side of the road. The neighbourhood expanded further over the first half of the C20, particularly with the construction of further terraced housing. The chapel was designed by Mr W Watson, a well-established family firm of architects in Wakefield over at least three generations. The builder was Mr Harold Arnold.

A Doncaster Primitive Methodist Circuit was first formed in 1823, but it struggled and for a while belonged to the Sheffield and then the Scotter Circuits. It then began to prosper, largely due to John Garner, a travelling preacher, and in 1852 the Doncaster Primitive Methodist Circuit became autonomous again. At this time there were 56 local preachers and 29 preaching places, with 551 members. In 1858 the importance of Primitive Methodism in Doncaster was acknowledged with the holding of the 30th Conference in the town. In 1870 two Circuits were formed, with Balby belonging to the First Circuit.

The chapel closed in 2008.


Primitive Methodist Chapel, built 1867 to 1868 to designs by the architect Mr W Watson.

MATERIALS: the chapel is built of red brick with dressings and polychromatic decoration of white brick, blue brick and white stone, with a slate roof.

PLAN: the chapel has a rectangular plan at street level with a former basement school room.

EXTERIOR: not inspected; information from other sources.

The chapel stands on a sloping corner site with the north-west gable fronting the south-east side of Balby Road and the north-east side elevation facing onto Carr Hill.

The main gable elevation is designed in an exuberant and eclectic High Victorian style. The symmetrical design has three central bays breaking forward, flanked on each side by a narrow recessed bay. It is constructed of richly ornamented red brick with a high, chamfered plinth. The central gable has stone coping with rendered machicolations incorporating a small, square relief-carved stone panel at each end. It is topped with three ornamental iron finials, one at the apex and one at each end. The recessed outer bays have a stone coping and full-height recessed panels with brick machicolations with stone brackets. The three central bays have a door to each side of a central, ground-floor panel of three blind, roll-moulded, round-headed arches with stone sills, an inset line of white bricks and a row of blue bricks above the heads; the outer bays each have a similar, single blind, round-headed arch at ground-floor level. The two doorways have short flights of three stone steps with iron handrails to the inside edges, moulded double doors, and heavy, white stone surrounds of pilasters with central, square, foliate panels and deeply carved foliate capitals, semi-circular arches with foliate-carved tympanum panels, and thick roll-moulding surmounted by a central leaf. Above each door is a large stone roundel with a central relief panel of flowers and leaves and blue brick frames. The central bay has a tripartite window of three roll-moulded, round-headed windows under a single relieving arch with a stone sill band and a relief-carved impost band. The window mullions incorporate square relief-carved stone panels and deeply carved foliate capitals; a simple, timber Latin cross is now (2020) affixed to the window mullions in front of the central window. The stone spandrels above are also richly carved, and the relieving arch has alternating voussoirs of red brick and carved stone with a moulded stone hood. The outer bays each have a single, roll-moulded, round-headed window with a stone sill band, carved stone impost blocks, alternating red and white brick voussoirs and a moulded stone hood. All the windows have timber frames with decorative, multi-pane tracery. At the gable apex is a diamond-shaped panel with relief lettering PRIMITIVE / METHODIST / CHAPEL / 1868.

The north-east side elevation is of two storeys and five bays with a decorative eaves band with slightly-projecting panels of white brick. The upper, chapel level has five round-headed windows with stone sills, and a rendered sill band, a stone impost band, and voussoirs of alternating red and white bricks with a hood band of white bricks. The windows have timber frames with decorative, multi-pane tracery. The left three bays at the lower, school room level have a narrow door flanked by two segmental-arched windows. The four-panelled door has a deep, rectangular overlight and a segmental-arched head of red and white brick voussoirs. The windows have stone sills and similar heads of red and white brick voussoirs.

The south-east gable is of red brick with an eaves band of white brick and a slightly projecting central chimney stack. INTERIOR: not inspected, information from other sources.

Photographs available on-line (2012) depicted a simple interior with a plain decorative scheme. Photographs from sales particulars (September 2019) indicate that the fixtures have now been largely stripped out, with raked and aisled bench seating, the pulpit and the elders’ seating behind removed. The queen-post roof structure has semi-circular struts between the queen posts and curved brackets to the tie-beams, with a flat panelled ceiling above the collars.


This building is listed under the Planning (Listed Buildings and Conservation Areas) Act 1990 as amended for its special architectural or historic interest.

End of official listing

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