The conference of 1798 sent William Bramwell to Nottingham. This city had been badly hit by the split in Methodism when the Wesleyan New Connexion split from the main body. Bramwell had experienced splits before and overcome them, so he was an obvious choice. The large Chapel in Nottingham was taken by the Connexion, so he had to meet in barns and private houses. He found things flat in Nottingham and few had any idea about sanctification. One of his main objects was to raise money for a new chapel, to this end he went to Sheffield. The generosity of the congregation there was so great that Bramwell had to stop people from giving more than they could afford.
Reports of his time in Nottingham are very similar to those of the other places he ministered. People commented particularly on his faith and the way his prayers were answered. They also commended his holiness, love of the people under his care, his self-sacrifice, and his powerful preaching. One story demonstrates the anointing Bramwell carried. In one of the villages in the Nottingham circuit, several Methodists had joined the Quakers. On one of his visits to the village he deviated from his normal schedule after the sermon. He said, ‘Sit down friends! We will hold a Quaker’s meeting.’ He then encouraged them to lift up their hearts to God, and earnestly, though silently, to pray for the Holy Spirit to come. Soon the Holy Spirit was poured out on them; several fell off their seats, and many were overwhelmed by what the Lord was doing. Bramwell cried out ‘O, my Lord! I never thought of this.’
Bramwell was staying in someone’s home in Watnal. His host’s nine year-old boy had an eye disease that meant he had to be in a darkened room. Bramwell prayed for the boy and left. As soon as he went out of the house, the boy pulled off his bandages and declared he was healed.
Having spent three years in Nottingham and having brought unity to that society, the Conference appointed him to the Leeds Circuit in 1801. By this time the ‘Great Yorkshire Revival’ was largely over, but Bramwell’s ministry would continue to bring many to the Lord, although perhaps not in as great numbers as had been the case from 1793 to 1800. Bramwell wrote on November 30th 1802, ‘I still see greater things in Leeds. Many are saved in the town, not so many in the country. I say sometimes, “Woe is me! For I am a man beset with opposition from all the powers of hell!”’
Dr McGonigle writes that during the years of the ‘Great Yorkshire Revival’ a group of ‘revivalists’ arose, whose ‘enthusiasm’ was frowned upon by many of the Methodists. Many of these were Bramwell’s converts and they looked to him for leadership. Two of the main groups were in Leeds (known as the Kirkgate Screamers), under the leadership of James Sigston; and Manchester (known as the Band Room), under the leadership of John Broadhurst. Those in Leeds were aware of his support of the ‘revivalists’ and his previous support of Kilham, so many looked at him with a lot of suspicion. During his second year in Leeds Bramwell was very depressed about the situation in the Society, believing that there was a conspiracy against him. The reasons are unclear, but he left Leeds suddenly, going to Manchester to stay with his revivalist friends without telling anyone. An investigation was made, but nothing could be found to exclude him from Conference, much to the disappointment of the faction which was opposed to the revivalists.
Exact location unknown. John Broadhurst, a member of Oldham Street, Methodist Chapel, opened the Band Room in 1798. They became an Independent Church in 1806.