Samuel Chadwick of Burnley

Burnley is not a place generally associated with godliness. And yet one of Methodism’s leading lights hailed from the town, teaching Sunday School and preaching at Wesley Methodist, now Central Methodist, in the town’s centre. Methodism is this country is sometimes moribund or distracted by social concerns, whereas Chadwick had a fiery passion for God’s great salvation. He was the first resident tutor at Cliff College in Derbyshire, and went on to become principal.


He superintended the Leeds Mission, in an area described as ‘a haunt of criminals and a stronghold of vice, poverty and slumdom’. Hundreds came to hear him, many of them by train, so that the particular rail service was nicknamed Chadwick’s train. The police frequently attended his meetings- not because of criminal activity but to help control the crowds. He once said:

‘The soul's safety is in its heat. Truth without enthusiasm, morality without emotion, ritual without soul, make for a Church without power. Destitute of the Fire of God, nothing else counts; possessing Fire, nothing else matters.’

Nigel Faithful in the Evangelical Times recounts his organising a thanksgiving service for the end of the Great War at the Royal Albert Hall – the first time in English history that the King and Queen formally attended a Nonconformist service.

‘The one concern of the devil is to keep Christians from praying. He fears nothing from prayerless studies, prayerless work, and prayerless religion. He laughs at our toil, mocks at our wisdom, but trembles when we pray’. -Samuel Chadwick