The Prower Family and Wesley Hall

We are members of the Prower family who were active with many aspects of Wesley Hall from its inception until the day war broke out on 3rd December 1939, when we left Woolwich, never to return to live.

The photo of the Rovers’ Reunion after the war was taken in our back garden in Richmond in 1947. Our father, Leslie Prower, was the Rover leader (he received his warrant on 23rd April 1932), and kept in touch with as many members as possible throughout the 2nd war.

We are in the photo: Audrey (aged 15), Colin (5) and Angela (3). Sadly our father died in 1949 (aged 54) and apart from occasional visits, the Prower involvement with Wesley Hall ceased.

In the early years of ‘The Hall’ there was a very active Wesley Guild and we have photos from the ’20s and ’30s showing members playing tennis and rambling. We think our father was the Secretary of the Guild before becoming involved in the Scouts. Audrey’s mother, May Conway, and Leslie met there and were married at Wesley Hall on 8th September 1923. They had a son, Frank, who sadly died aged 5, and whose funeral was held in the Hall on 11th August 1930.

Audrey was born in 1932 and clearly remembers the Rover ‘den’ and gang shows. (Father, Leslie, had a very good singing voice and was often called on to sing solos around the Circuit at Bazaars etc.) She also remembers arriving at morning service and making quite a commotion getting her doll’s pram through the doors!

Our Aunt, Irene Prower, was involved with the Guides at Wesley Hall, not as a uniformed member but keeping the accounts etc. She was awarded the Guides ‘Thanks badge’ in appreciation and appears in ‘mufti’ in one of the guide photos.

Audrey’s mother, May, died in 1938 and her funeral was held in the Hall on 28th May.

Our Grandmother, Caroline Alice Prower, also died in 1938 and her funeral at the Hall was held on 26th March.

Thomas James Prower, our Grandfather, whose diaries are the source of most of our information, died in November 1939, after we had left Plumstead Common.

Our connection with the Hall did not end there because in January 1941 our father, Leslie, married Ivy Rogers, who was also closely associated with the Hall, particularly the Sunday School. She had been a friend of the Prowers for many years and part of a group of young people pictured in the early photos of tennis and rambling.

She and Leslie had 2 children, Colin and Angela. Colin was born in 1942 and Angela in 1944 so their memories of Woolwich and the Hall stem from visits to Ivy’s relatives and Colin’s Godmother, Dorothy Pollard, the latter an active Wesley Hall member.

The Prowers had been Methodists for many years and, on moving to Plumstead Common from Plymouth in 1910, became actively involved in Circuit affairs, especially Wesley Hall.

Our Grandfather’s diaries are full of references to Society meetings etc. and often Sunday services, with references to preachers and sermons. In the early days of the Hall, music was often played by William Prower, one of our Uncles.

Below are some extracts from Grandfather’s diaries about the opening of the Hall. On the back of the postcard showing the opening he writes: ‘the opening was disturbed by Suffragettes who had to be removed by Leslie ( our Father) and Will (Uncle).

We know our family’s association with Wesley Hall was a very happy one and they had many friends there.

All good wishes on your Centenary celebrations and for your continued value to your community.

Extracts from the diary of Thomas James Charles Prower

15th March 1914 (Sunday)
Last service in the Old Sutcliffe Hall in The Slade.

19th March 1914 (Thursday)
Opening of the new Wesley Hall at the Slade by Rev. Ensor Walters at 3.30. Tea and meeting in the evening; addresses by various local ministers & Chairman, Mr Bishop.

(Weather: Rain, Sleet & Snow) !

21st March 1914 (Saturday)
Continuing opening services at Wesley Hall. Sunday Schools opened by the children trained by Will and Gladys (Prower). Tea and concert at 7.30 by (Methodist) Central Hall Male Choir.

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