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History of Mount Zion Chapel

During the years of the construction of the Settle-Carlisle railway and the 22 cottages at Hawes Junction and Moorcock, the Midland Railway Company contractors provided a wooden structure, near to the railway bridge that marks the county boundary, for use as a school, reading room, and chapel.  Once construction work was complete, and a permanent community was in residence, the Middleham Primitive Methodist Circuit raised funds for a permanent chapel.  Reuben Alton, the coal merchant who lived at 14 Junction Cottages, must have been on good terms with the Railway Company's officials, because the stonemasons engaged to build the new chapel were Groves & Woodiwiss who had built the new station and cottages.  The style matched that of the cottages, with a front of Bradford stone, and the chapel was painted in the colours of the Midland Railway: maroon and cream.  As far as we know, this is the only place of worship to be built by railway contractors.  The circuit paid for the work by asking each chapel in the Middleham circuit to raise one pound and nine pence, and Reuben Alton laid the foundation stone on May 1st 1876, to coincide with the opening of the Settle-Carlisle line to passenger trains on that exact day.  Did he lay the stone as the first passenger train crossed the Dandry Mire viaduct?  The chapel was completed for the opening services on October 7th. that same year, and was originally known as "Mount Zion", though in December it was decided to call it "Hawes Junction" on the Middleham Circuit plan.  For over a hundred years, the chapel thrived, with a membership of up to fifty, and at one time there were seventy children on the Sunday-School roll.   Regular weekly services continued up to 1999, but membership dropped to just two.  Special services continued, and attempts were made to support the small congregation for monthly morning services in 2000.  The "Friends of Hawes Junction Chapel" were formed to raise funds to arrange special services, and to maintain the building for religious and community use.  We have been amazed at the support of so many friends, and this generous support, together with a grant from the Methodist Circuit, has enabled the building of the recent extension to provide a toilet with disabled access, and a utility area.  The chapel has also been redecorated inside and out in the original Midland Railway colours.

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