Whilst the two other centres can trace their history back to the Old Portsmouth Methodists, Copnor originates from the Portsea Methodists.
John Wesley visited the area on many occasions including Portsea where the Methodists rented premises in Bishop Street in 1768 which they later bought. They moved to nearby Daniel Street in 1800 which had been built as a church by a ‘rebel Anglican’.
The members of Daniel Street saw a need for a church in the Landport area of the town and built Wesley Chapel in Arundel Street in 1845.
In their turn the members of Wesley in 1906 saw a need for a church in the newly developing area of Copnor and started meetings in Copnor School.
In 1911 a ‘tin’ chapel was opened on the corner of Copnor Road and Epworth Road (named at their request after Wesley’s birthplace). The chapel was joined by various ‘huts’ forming Sunday School and meeting rooms.
By the 1920s it was evident that a larger permanent building was needed and in 1934/35 the present church and schoolrooms were built on the site funded by Joseph Rank. This explains why we have a large screen and raked floor so that the religious films that the Rank Organisation produced could be shown at evening services and building has something of a cinema look to it. So Copnor can claim to be the first of the three centres to use a screen as part of worship. The pulpit and communion area could also be converted into a stage, but this facility was lost in a remodelling in the 1950s.
Even these premises proved inadequate for the numbers in the Sunday School in the 1950s and two additional rooms were built in 1957.
As with other churches numbers since then have dropped and the new rooms were redeveloped in 1977/78 to form the Wesley Rooms Drop-In Centre which are still open six mornings a week providing light refreshments and a meeting place for local people to meet for friendship.
The large halls which were used by Sunday School, Sisterhood, Wives Club, Cubs & Scouts and Youth Club now provide us with space that is used largely by external groups but we do have Boys and Girls Brigade and Girl Guides who use them on three evenings.