The history of the Allan Library is here told systematically for the first time.
This antiquarian collection of substantially foreign-language books and some
manuscripts was formed by barrister Thomas Robinson Allan (1799-1886) during the
1850s, 1860s and 1870s. His stated intention was to create a Methodist rival to
Sion College Library (Church of England) and Dr Williamss Library (Old Dissent).
Allan donated it to the Wesleyan Methodist Conference in 1884, which funded the
erection of purpose-built Allan Library premises opening in London in 1891.
However, the Wesleyans struggled to make a success of the enterprise as a
subscription library, and the collection was in storage between 1899 and 1920,
before being sold by Conference to the London Library (where most of it still
remains). The Allan Library Trust was established with the proceeds of the sale.
The reasons for the relative failure of Allans great library project are fully
There are now two orders of ministry in the Methodist Church, the Order of
Presbyters and the Order of Deacons. The latter developed out of the previously
existing Deaconess Order but now enjoys the same status and privileges as the
former. A study of the Order of Presbyters was completed in 2007, but it was
thought that a similar study of the Order of Deacons would be of value in
shedding light on the present task they are asked to do, their work experience
in the circuits, and the various stresses and demands to which they are subject.
The data for this survey was collected by a questionnaire put to the 119 deacons
of the Order then active in the circuits. Evidence from analysis showed that
their congregations did not fully understand the nature of a deacons ministry,
complicated by the fact that, unfortunately, deacons were often employed to ease
a shortage of presbyters in the circuits.
Methodist Central Halls were built in most British towns and cities. They were
designed not to look like churches in order to appeal to the working classes.
Entirely multi-functional, they provided room for concerts, plays, film shows
and social work alongside ordinary worship. Some contained shops in order to pay
for the future upkeep of the building. The prototype for this programme was
provided in Manchester and opened on Oldham Street in 1886. This article offers
a first analysis of it as a building type and looks at the wider social and
cultural contribution of the building. It continues the narrative by discussing
changing use and design during a twentieth century that witnessed the widespread
contraction of Methodist congregations.