With the attainment of their centenary, it seemed appropriate to look back at the changes and achievements which have taken place at west End Methodist Church during the last hundred years. Having examined numerous old records, press cuttings and minute books, a much more detailed account could have been written had space allowed, but this not being possible, it is hoped that this brief account of past and present times will nevertheless be of interest and will rekindle memories for many of those who have been associated with the Church over a long period of time. To the younger members, perhaps it will encourage them to continue the work started by their forebears to ensure the security of worship at West End during the next hundred years.
Why not join us?
Family Worship Every Sunday 10.45 am.
Youth Group 1st & 3rd Sunday each month 8.00pm
Coffee Morning & Gift Sale Every Tuesday 10.00am to 12.00am
Ladies Happy Hour Fortnightly, Tuesday 7.30pm
Boy’s Brigade [Company Section] Every Tuesday 7.30pm
(At Hainsworth Moor School)
Boy’s Brigade [Junior Section] Every Wednesday 7.00pm
Mother & Toddler Group Every Thursday 10.00am
Junior Christian Endeavour Every Friday 7.00pm
Although West End Methodist Church is celebrating its centenary in 1988, the foundations of Methodist worship in Queensbury date back much further than 100 years. Indeed, the earliest records indicate that some cottages (long since demolished) at Blackmires, West End were used as a place of Wesleyan worship in 1800, these giving us our original name ‘Blackmires Chapel’.
The present site com rising some 450 square yards called Israel Close and described in the deeds as belonging to Swamp Farm, in Micklemoss, Northowram was purchased from Samuel and Joseph Pollard on 27 May 1816 for the sum of £20. Almost immediately, work began on the erection of a new Chapel on this land and this was duly opened during the following year.
Some years later, Mr. R. Temple of Halifax became lay preacher and as a result of his efforts and work it was soon found that the ‘Swamp Chapel’ as it was locally known, was of inadequate size to accommodate the ever-growing number of attenders. As the Chapel was now free of debt (the final repayment of monies borrowed having been made in 1870), and realising the need for urgent expansion, thoughts were turned to the possibility of enlarging the existing premises. Some however had set their sights on greater things, and on 22 July 1871, the movement for a new Chapel began. This signalled the start of a new era for the Queensbury Wesleyans, and a new dawn arose.
On this particular Saturday afternoon, at a meeting chaired by Mr. Jacob Norton, it was resolved that the leaders, Messrs. Bairstow and Toothill, and the stewards, Messrs. Haigh and Oliver along with Mr. Naylor, form a committee to arrange monthly Tea Meetings to raise money for a new Chapel. How history repeats itself, for in 1988 we are busy holding weekly Coffee Mornings for a not dissimilar purpose.
By February 1875, the sum of £160 had been raised, and although the hope was to make this into £200 before the year end, progress was but slow and in June 1878 the total had only risen to £302. So keen was the Church Trust at that time, that this money was changed from one bank to another several times in order to gain an additional 1/2% interest!
Meanwhile, the Wesleyans of Queensbury had to continue to make the best of the old building, and at a meeting held on 26 June 1880 a minute was passed that the Chapel be whitewashed and the pews have one coat of paint. What would we think of such Spartan decorations at the present time when churches are so beautifully painted ?
Under the wise direction and care of the Rev. George Walker, the ground upon which Blackmires Chapel stood was made freehold by deed in February 1883 and three years later a new Trust was formed comprising Messrs. T. W. Benson, E. Crowther, R. Crowther, G. Dodd, T. Fawthrop, W. Grime, A. Haigh, W. Hookway, J. H. Keighley, J. R. Maudslay, A. Priestley, C. Ramshaw and W. Uttley. It was these men who, after only a short time, were to make into reality the dream that the people of Blackmires Chapel had nurtured for many years – the dream of a new Swamp Chapel and Sunday School.
In 1887, a strip of land of about 80 yards at the rear of the Chapel was bought and soon afterwards the decision was taken to build a new Chapel with Sunday School at the rear at a cost not exceeding £1,000. The proposal further stated that the new Chapel be without gallery and have seating for 300 people and should include as much of the material salvaged from the old building as was reusable. After studying the materials etc. required, the original estimate – like most past and present – was found to be insufficient and it was thought that the £1,000 might be slightly exceeded. In the meantime, the Rev. George Sanderson was doing much valuable work in obtaining subscriptions and promises of money.
Knowing that the old Chapel would soon be pulled down, the Trustees set about finding alternative temporary accommodation and on 11 June 1887 reached agreement with the Queensbury Temperance Institute to use rooms on Sundays, Wednesdays and Thursdays at a rent of six shillings per week from 1 July to 31 December 1887. In addition, the agreement stated that the Chapel must light their own fires and provide their own fuel.
At last things began to move and general approval was gained for the building of the new Chapel and Sunday School at a meeting held on 22 April 1887.
In an unbelievably quick time, the architect submitted his plans on 30 April and on Monday 27 June, building work began. Memorial stones were laid on 6 August 1887 by Mrs. Charles Watson of Halifax and Joseph Craven M.P. of Thornton and an opening date was set for the middle to end of February 1888. As will be seen later, this had to be postponed, for in 1888, just as in 1988, builders worked in a slow and mysterious way, their wonders to perform!
There was at this time, still a wide divide between the money raised and the money needed for the new building (in the same fashion as currently prevails), and a gift of £60O from the Wesley Circuit Jubilee was welcomed as manna from heaven.
The General Chapel Fund also gave a grant of £45 on condition that each year a subscription was given to this fund, and the generosity of Mr. Charles Watson of Halifax brought a further £100 to the building account. There were of course many others who gave of their time and money in this cause whose names are worthy of mention, but sadly, lack of space prohibits this.
Seeing that progress on the new building to be slower than had been originally anticipated, it was agreed at a meeting in December 1887 to defer the opening until a later date, and following an announcement that the joiner contracted to the work had gone bankrupt in January 1888, further delays were experienced. Despite the many difficulties encountered, the new Chapel and Sunday
School was at last completed, and the opening ceremony was fixed for Saturday 7 July 1888 at 3.0pm. The Rev. George Dickinson accepted an invitation to preach at this inaugural service and tea was served in the school-room at 4.30pm. Such was the magnitude of this occasion, that people must have come from far and near to join in the opening ceremony and service, and it is recorded that no fewer than 325 stayed for tea.
At a public meeting held that evening, it was revealed that the cost of the new building totalled £1,393.10.5 and that after that day’s collections and subscriptions had been gathered in, the total debt still owing was a mere £157.3.0. How we wish that a similar statement could be presented today following the recent refurbishment of the premises……
The new building had its principal frontage to the Halifax Road, and at the rear had a Sunday School of two storeys, the lower of which was appropriated to class rooms, kitchen etc. and boiler house. In the Chapel itself, a small gallery was erected over the entrance vestibule and it had a rostrum pulpit at the back. Further communication could be gained between the Chapel and the upper floor of the Sunday School by throwing open large folding doors when occasion arose.
Seating was provided in the Chapel for 250 persons whilst the accompanyment to singing was provided by a harmonium. Indeed, the Rev. George Sanderson thought the new Chapel was one of the neatest places of worship in the North of England or Scotland and was efficiently ventilated. He thought the Devil’s best agent in a place of worship was bad air, and congratulated the Wesleyans of Queensbury upon achieving a place which could be made warm in winter, kept cool in summer and was well ventilated.
Within three years of its opening, it was reported that the school-room was already too small for the greatly increased number of Sunday scholars and several suggestions were made for temporary relief. It was thought inexpedient to undertake any enlargement of the premises at that time, and it was agreed to continue without major change until a time in the future. Meanwhile, the Chapel-keeper (caretaker) whose salary was at that time £8 per annum asked for an increase of one shilling per week. After some consideration, the Trustees not only rejected this request, but gave the man a months’ notice of termination of his employment …….
At this time, there was no water laid on to the premises and as this had to be carried some 400 yards whenever required, it was decided to arrange for a supply to be connected following the laying of a new main along the Halifax Road in 1891.
Nine years had passed since the new Chapel was opened, and whilst those who attended were justly proud of their new building, they were still somewhat restricted in their singing, having only a harmonium for accompaniment, Although it was felt by all that the addition of an organ would be a great asset, the cost of purchasing a new one was prohibitive at that time and so a search was started to find a second-hand one which could be bought. Upon hearing that one was for sale at Allerton Wesleyan Chapel, a deputation was sent to inspect this and upon finding that it would serve the needs of the west End congregation, it was obtained for the sum of £105, which included its erection. At this same time it was agreed to the addition of a new Pulpit and Rostrum at a cost of £35, despite funds being stretched at that time. Needing to raise £90 to cover these costs, a bazaar was held during Christmas week, 1897, and after a great deal of effort, a profit of £13B was made, this meaning that the debts for the new additions could now be paid. Sunday 17 April 1898 saw the opening of the new organ with a recital by Mr. J. W. Bearder, F.R.C.O.
Entering a new century, the ‘Swampers’ looked to the future in a progressive way, and at Easter 1902, instead of ‘setting off’, as was then customary at holiday times, the Church Stewards spent their free days laying flags at the rear of the school. Literally ‘they paved the way’.
Methodism, we are told, was born in song, and upon the introduction of the new Hymn Book in 1906, special services were held to commemorate this notable occasion. A new Pulpit Hymn Book and Revised Version of the Bible was presented at this same time by Mrs. J. Smith of London, whose husband had given the original Pulpit Bible when the Chapel was opened eighteen years earlier.
Until now, it had not been possible to conduct weddings in the Chapel and this had caused some concern. Thus, in October 1907 it was agreed to register it for the Solomnising of Marriages, this being accomplished early in the following year. The first such ceremony to take place was that of Mr.& Mrs. G. N. Squire, who were both active workers at the ‘Swamp’, and to mark this occasion, they presented to the Chapel two Communion Chairs (which are still being used in 1988). In return, the Trustees gave Mr. & Mrs. Squire an inscribed combined Bible and Hymn Book to commemorate their marriage being the first to be solomnised within the building.
Trying always to keep the Chapel up to date, in 1909 a change in lighting was made from the old type of flame gas to incandescent, this being welcomed by all concerned who saw it as a great improvement. As time progressed, it was inevitable that various essential items would need replacing and in 1911 it was found necessary to install a new boiler. The cost of this was 530 and, with funds once again at a low ebb, the Trustees were more than grateful when an old friend, Miss Ratcliffe sent a gift of £20.
The sad events of World War I prevented any further improvements or alterations being made and it was not until two years after peace had returned that the Chapel began to move forward again. In July 1920, it was agreed to buy the field adjoining the rear of the Chapel (known as Israel Field) from Messrs. Stocks for the sum of £350. This already had a wooden shop on it and after lengthy negotiations, this land was finally purchased on 2 February 1921 for £15, using money loaned by members and friends free of any interest charges.
Although the spiritual life of the Chapel took preference over all other aspects, its social life was nonetheless important to the overall fellowship and soon after the war a Chapel Sports Club was formed. Seeing the newly—acquired land prompted the Sports Club to ask for permission to build a tennis court on a part of it and this request was granted in May 1922 under the condition that an annual rent of one shilling was paid. Even after the tennis court was laid, the additional land was still far greater in size than was needed by the Chapel and following a Trustees meeting in 1922 it was agreed that 5/8th of that not required should be sold. Two offers were received for this in 1923 and after renting it out for some eighteen months, this surplus land was finally sold in 1925. Some of the money raised was immediately put to use when it was found that the boiler was in need of renewal, the cost of this being £42, and that the Chapel and school room were in need of redecoration.
Meanwhile, at a Trustees meeting held on 13 July 1923, a resolution was moved opposing Methodist Union on the grounds that this was not yet opportune whilst the motion was carried, it was agreed however to stand by Conference on whatever they did and when this matter was discussed again in February 1925 there were 4 votes in favour, 1 against and 1 neutral.
With the coming of electricity to Queensbury in the late ”twenties”, it was felt that it would be a great improvement if this could be installed in the Chapel premises. Obviously funds would have to be raised to meet the costs, but feeling it to be necessary, a concerted effort was made and in 1928, electricity became a reality – at a cost of £66.
The old organ, installed almost thirty years earlier was now starting to show signs of its age and the general consensus of opinion was that it should be replaced as soon as finance was available. With this in mind, an Organ Renovation Fund was set up in 1928 and by the end of the year had 550 to its credit.
Numerous efforts were made during the next few years to increase the fund and in 1933 the organ was extensively rebuilt and fitted with an electric blower, bringing it completely up to date with pneumatic action throughout. At this same time the Choir Stalls were enlarged and the Pulpit brought forward to make the Chapel even more attractive. Amid much ceremony, the opening of the organ took place on Saturday 25 March 1933. Sir Enoch Hill was the opener, with Mr. J. Horsfall as chairman, the organist in the afternoon being Mr. L. Parkinson A.L.C.M. and the choirmaster, Mr. F. H. Church. In the evening Mr. E. A. Moore, Mus. Bac., gave an organ recital and it was agreed by all that the music now able to be provided in the Chapel was second to none.
Earlier in 1933, a request was made by the young men of the Church for permission to smoke in the schoolroom during a social gathering. This was granted for one night only and the young men were told that they must renew their application on each future occasion as it was thought not in order to make it a regular practise !
This ‘fifties” view of the Church shows the old pulpit, choir and choir stalls which were removed in the early ‘seventies. Also to be seen at either side of the organ are the opening partitions from the school room behind.
Sadly however, despite the new organ, the congregation at Sunday services began to decline and reached an all-time low in the early ‘thirties when it became so small that the services were held in the downstairs vestry in an attempt to economise on heating costs etc. Fortunately this situation did not last long and by the efforts of the remaining stalwarts, attendances gradually improved and Sunday worship was able to be returned to its rightful place.
With the coming of Methodist Union, a new Hymn Book had been introduced.
The acquisition of this meant a great deal of expense, but the choirmaster and his wife, Mr.& Mrs. F. H. Church presented to the Chapel during 1934, a set of new Hymn and Tune books for the choir, organ and pulpit in memory of their daughter, Barbara – a gift much appreciated.
Apart from a series of necessary repairs and the redecoration of the premises, the remainder of the ‘thirties saw life at West End continue without great change and it was not until the end of the decade that any further structural alterations to the property were considered. The tennis court had fallen out of use in the mid 193Ds and it was generally felt that this would not be used again in the future. In 1939 however, it was decided to undertake alterations to the staircase and that two vestrys be built at the back of the minister’s vestry and Sunday school. Estimates were gained for this work and when it was found that the cost of the former would be £88 and the latter £225, it was agreed to leave the question of the two new vestrys in abeyance. Work was however contracted for the staircase and this was completed in November of that same year.
The advent of the Second World War dispelled any further thoughts of improvements and with a reduced congregation due to some of its members serving with the Armed Forces and the restraints of shortages of supplies hampered many of the normal fund raising efforts. Despite this drop in income, it was agreed in January 1943 to discontinue the charging of pew rents and a year later, it was found necessary to purchase a new heating boiler at a cost of i60. Surprisingly, during those difficult years, the vestibules and all exterior woodwork was repainted and a new fireplace was fitted to the ministers vestry.
At last, the long years of war were over, and people began to once again pick up the threads of normal life. The Church at west End began to turn its thoughts towards the future and started with a series of repairs to the property which had not able to be carried out in the previous years. The Chapel wall had deteriorated in condition and following many lengthy discussions, it was agreed that this should be completely rebuilt. Instead of continuing as before down the side of Chapel, it was turned at a right angle to meet up with the front.
Although over the years the Chapel and schoolroom had been the subject of various modernisation schemes, the toilets were, in 1950, still outside and it was felt by all concerned that the provision of indoor toilets was a priority. As a consequence, plans were drawn up in 1951 for alterations to the boiler house and to building above this, a new indoor toilet block. This was unanimously approved by the Trustees and the cost of this scheme was £356.3.6. In addition, it was agreed to overhaul the kitchen vestry and to have the Chapel completely repainted.
The Christian Endeavour, which had been an important part of the Church for a great many years continued to flourish and the Sunday School also kept on growing from strength to strength, building for the future of the Church.
Having had no set charges for the use of the Church premises in past years, it was decided that a scale of uniform charges be drawn up for all future occasions. After much deliberation it was agreed that 21/- be charged for the use of the schoolroom and crockery, plus 5/- for the caretaker. 10/- would be charged for the use of the Chapel for weddings, whilst funerals would be free except for a charge of 5/- for the caretaker if a funeral tea was had. There would also be no charge for Christenings, although donations would be asked for via the offertory box.
Such was the growing strength of the Sunday School in 1953 that a request was made for use of the schoolroom each Sunday instead of the vestry, due to the latter becoming extremely overcrowded. Also, permission was sought by the Divisional welfare Officer for use of the schoolroom for a Rest Centre and Feeding Shelter in case of emergency in Civil Defense work, and both the above were granted.
The scholars and teachers of the Sunday School continued each year to enjoy their annual treat in the form of a trip. This usually took place on Whit Monday and the destinations were wide and varied, and often to the seaside. In 1954 the trip went to Saltburn whilst in the following year, Bridlington was chosen. What fun and how exciting these trips were, and what stories there were to tell, Such events prompted the memory of Linda Parry, who wrote the following on this subject:
‘Sunday School trips are always a cause of concern to the organisers, joy to the children and relief to the parents who wave good—bye to their children and think of all they can get done without their offsprings around.
Take the Junior Church outing 1987 – the concern felt by all the staff when the bus did not arrive, the excitement of the children when extra crisps were provided free of charge, and the parents, who, at home had no idea of what was taking place and so had no need for concern.
Taking a coach to Dewsbury and then travelling on a canal boat followed by a shortened visit to Temple Newsam is a far cry from the Sunday School trips of the 1950s. Jerusalem Farm was the highlight then, with tea in the white-washed barn and 6d to spend and lots to get for it.
It had begun as a normal Saturday morning. Dad was at work until 11.30am having lit a fire before going out. At 8.30am a neighbour remarked on the vast amount of smoke from our chimney and suggested the fire be put out. This he did, but when Dad came home from work the chimney breast was hotter than ever. Mum was fussing about trying to get me ready for the Sunday School trip and Dad was delighting in being able to dial 999. Queensbury Fire Brigade answered the call and arrived at the same time as the coach. I was carried, kicking and screaming to the coach by a teacher, who was not amused.
I was certainly not going to enjoy this trip, but as children do, I soon forgot about the chimney fire. The stream in which we were allowed to paddle “Oh how exciting” caused the next incident on that unforgettable day. For Janice Bulman with dress tucked in knickers proceeded to fall flat in the water. The teachers were not amused. They wrapped poor Janice in a blanket and we were all warned about the stream.
It was not poor Janice‘s day, for later, having bought the forbidden black bubble—gum, she proceeded to get it stuck all over her face when a large bubble she had blown burst. The teachers were not amused.
I wonder if the children taking part in the 1988 trip will remember thirty years later what sweets they bought, or grow up to see that their teachers really cared about them, and still do’
Thinking of the Sunday School and events past prompted a reminiscence from Paul Miller relating to “The Bread of Heaven” :
‘Most people assume that the friendship and fellowship of west End are the main feelings that attract others to join. This, however, is not entirely true – food is vital.
One of the first items planned for the centenary celebrations in 1988 was one of Joan Batty’s and Dorothy Williams’ by then famous meals. Those who viewed the kitchen in 1988 would have noticed that it had been doubled in size — a sign of priorities and long-standing tradition at West End.
Christmas parties have always meant sandwiches, jellies, and Santa and it is true to say that thousands of sandwiches have been swallowed up by our young congregation over the years. One Sunday School Superintendent decided to introduce a ‘Nouveux Cuisine’ approach in the mid—nineteen sixties and made a few banana sandwiches, which we fought over furiously. The next year a mountain of such delights was produced — and about ten eaten!
However, if you need to get support for an entertainment, bring in the fish-cakes. The Christian Endeavour once produced a concert which had all the eight-year old boys dancing “when Grandmama met Grandpapa” and “Balling the Jack”
just on the promise of a fish·cake. We even had to walk home from Bradshaw on one occasion because there was no bus, and all the way back we were told “you will get a fish-cake”. One similar occasion gave rise to a famous saying. After the play “Little break my Toys”, for the seventh time, we children were having our supper and dashing to get to the buns when, from the front came a voice of total authority “STOP, REMEMBER two bites of bread to one bite of fish-cake”. And how we obeyed. We dare do no other.
How do you persuade six teenage boys to dress in flowered tops and grass skirts? Ronnie Young succeeded in 1964 by offering chips with the fish·cakes! We gathered in his front room one Friday night to try on our costumes, with his daughter Linda and wife Lil falling about laughing and trying to stitch up gaps.
When we discovered one of our number was missing, down the road with a girl friend, grass skirts were gathered up. Out of Ron’s front door and along the main road we rushed – the chips were getting cold.
Even during the more recent record—breaking run of ‘Saints Alive’ the children were encouraged to take part by being offered suppers. One dear little girl was seen to eat fish, chips AND a cake after a particularly demanding performance!
Regrettably, during the early 1960’s the fish and chips were not very good from the wooden hut shop at the side of Church, and we young lads were banned when one of our number asked for “A Shark and a Bag of Rivets please”.
In 1988, our repairs, alterations and centenary were based on a host of coffee mornings, meals and fund raising activities all of which involved food. If an Army marches on its stomach, then the Christian Soldiers’ of West End will certainly be ‘Going on Before’ in another hundred years.
No doubt many other will be able to recall that, and other occasions in their associations with West End, the people who took part and the incidents which occurred. How many can remember for instance that it was in 1955 that Mr. T. Scott and Mr. D. Coggan were invited to become joint organists and that Mr. Parkinson and Mr. Horner were to play the organ at special services ? Who can remember that the Rev. M. Arnold May and the Rev. Alan D. Ogle were our ministers at that time .
Church funds were obviously in a perilous position once again, for in 1954 requests for new Sunday School Hymn Books and a safe for the storage of the marriage register were refused on the grounds of lack of finance. The boiler was once again in need of extensive repair or renewal and it was agreed that this must take priority over other matters. Additionally, in a bid to overcome the need for a heating boiler, consideration was given to the installation of Gas Radiant heating and quotations for both were obtained. After careful consideration, it was felt that Gas Radiant heating for the Chapel, schoolroom and vestrys would prove more practical and cost-effective in the long term despite the initial cost of E450 and approval was given for such a system to be installed. Despite the desperate need for funds with which to pay for the new heating system, a request to hold whist Drives in the vestry was rejected and other methods had to be found. The problem of the safe was overcome when one was given to west End by Ebeneezer Methodist Church at Halifax.
The new gas heating system was duly installed towards the end of 1956, but within a matter of months its efficiency (or to be more correct, lack of) was causing great concern and the Gas Board were called back to correct the defects. Upon inspection, they suggested the installation of disc-ventilators to window tops to rid the vestries of condensation. Despite every effort being made to overcome the problems of the new system, the troubles continued and in 1959 the Gas Board were asked to remove the heaters and replace them with some other form of heating. To counter this request, the Board suggested an alternative, despite this not being available at that moment of time!
A new decade was reached, and in 1962 it was agreed to ask the tenants of some land adjoining the Church (i.e. gardens to houses etc) if they wished to purchase their respective plots. This they did, thus adding to their properties and reducing the burden of land ownership to the Church.
In 1968, west End decided to start a Christmas post box in which members of the congregation could post their Christmas cards to other attenders for the sum of 2d per card. All the proceeds raised were then donated to the National Children’s Home. Such was the success of this scheme that it became a regular Christmas feature, one which is still continued today. Christmas morning services
were at that time held jointly with Ambler Thorn Church and although a proposal was tabled in 1969 to the effect that west End should hold their own service on this day, the motion was defeated and the existing arrangement continued.
The Youth Club which had successfully operated under the leadership of Miss L. Young and Mr. T. Scott had to be disbanded when both leaders resigned due to other commitments and replacements could not be found.
Until this time, Halifax had boasted two circuits, Halifax North and Halifax Wesley and in November 1969 it was proposed that both be amalgamated. This was discussed in depth at a meeting held at west End, at the end of which the vote taken signified strong agreement in favour of the two joining together.
The circuit policy of mergers was carried further in 1970 when they offered West End and Ambler Thorn Churches the sum of £2,000 to build a new Church to serve the village. West End quickly saw the wisdom of investing in a new building, especially as their existing property was in need of further repair, and sought the guidance of the circuit quarterly meeting with regard to a site and cost involvements. As is now known however, the building of a new Church was not pursued and the West Enders remained where they had been since 1888.
During the following year, a request was received from a Mr. D. Smith to hold regular film shows in the schoolroom and after giving this consideration, it was felt that this may well be of benefit to the local community as well as to Church attenders and permission was granted. Following Mr. Smith‘s departure to join the R.A.F. later in the year, Mr. M. Rowley took over these film shows but upset the Church Leaders when he wanted to show ‘Sundance Kid’, a film which in their opinion was not fit for showing on Methodist property!
There had, for some time, been growing concern at the falling attendance at afternoon services each Sunday and in October 1971 it was agreed that for a trial three month period, there should be only one service each Sunday, this to be held at 10.45mn and which would include the Sunday School. The experiment proved highly successful and despite fears that the weekly offertory might suffer, it in fact increased and in May 1972 it was decided to make the new arrangements permanent.
Major alterations were made to the interior of the Church during the early ‘seventies which resulted in the removal of the old ornate pulpit and communion rail and its replacement by a more modern rostrum. At this same time, the front rows of the choir stalls were also removed and a new wooden fascia erected at the rear of the dias. This totally transformed the appearance of the Church, and although welcomed by some, others felt that some of the old character of the building had been lost for ever.
1977 witnessed a major change within the Methodist Church when, on 6 April the office of Trustee was abolished, the Trustees then becoming the Properties Committee. This transfer of office was accomplished with the minimum of inconvenience and in the first instance, all the former Trustees were transferred to their new role.
During the following year, the premises were repainted and in an attempt to reduce draughts at the back of the church, an ornate, predominantly glass screen was erected at one side below the gallery. In addition to proving effective, this also enhanced the appearance of that part of the Church. Despite this, the overall heating of the building was still causing some concern and the Gas board was asked to replace the existing heaters.
Although the village had earlier had a thriving Boy’s Brigade Company based at Ambler Thorn Methodist Church, this had lapsed some years earlier and it was with great joy that in 1979 its revival seemed imminent. Mr. Stuart Cater approached the Church for permission to re-form a Company which would be attached to West End and this was welcomed by all concerned. Fortunately the original ’21st Halifax Company‘ title was able to be retained. It was appreciated of course that the ‘new’ Brigade Company only provided an interest for the boys of the Church, and after its successful relaunching, consideration was given to the formation of a Girl’s Brigade too. This however, sadly never materialised due to a lack of volunteers to serve as Officers.
It was with great sadness that west End’s Minister, the Rev. Stanley Milner who had served the Church so admirably for more than ten years, died suddenly on Christmas Day 1978. This resulted not only in the loss of a hard-working member of the clergy, but also left west End without its own ministerial support.
Fortunately, the Church was able to secure the services of Sister Joyce Parker, a Deaconess who had been associated with west End during the early part of the ‘seventies until a permanent replacement could be appointed. Although by September of that year the congregation had become accustomed to a lady in the pulpit, it came as something of a surprise to many when it was learned that our new ‘permanent’ minister was also to be a lady (for at that time, lady ministers were still uncommon within the Methodist Church). As it was, the Rev. Beryl Dean quickly established herself at west End (who shared her with Boothtown and Claremount Methodist Churches just as they had done with previous ministers) and remained with us until September 1986.
The first year of the new decade saw the start of what was to prove a very exciting era for West End when the foundations were laid for a new Church magazine, designed as an informative organ for all those who attended the Church.
Although it was first suggested that this should be produced jointly with Boothtown and Claremount Churches, when it materialised in 1981 it emerged as a sole west End publication. Like the Boy’s Brigade, Christian Endeavour had for many years been an important feature of west End but had in more recent times lapsed. Happily this too was revived in 1980, appealing in particular to the junior members of the Church who were then able to join together in fellowship each Friday evening.
In addition to the spiritual side, the fabric of the Church also received attention during 1980 when the kitchen was rehabilitated and fitted with new units. Of greater importance however, was a proposal to create a new minister’s vestry and in addition, to open the existing minister’s vestry into the adjoining room and to fit a serving hatch between this and the kitchen. This sparked off numerous new ideas and during the following year it was suggested that an extension be built to the rear of the minister’s vestry which would incorporate the old boiler house and thus add space to the kitchen. A counter proposal was made to use the Church as a dual purpose building and to convert the upstairs schoolroom to classrooms. There was even talk of erecting a temporary building, although when this was costed, it was found to be too expensive. West End were now clearly moving forward at an astounding rate, and as will later be seen, these early plans were soon to be expanded to the complete refurbishing of the premises.
1981 also saw the creation of Sunshine Corner, an activity designed to appeal to all the children during the long school summer holidays. This proved to be an immediate success and under the supervision of a willing band of adult helpers, the children thoroughly enjoyed their ‘extra’ days at West End, learning more of the Bible stories, having walks and picnics and joining in a variety of games.
Realising that it was now only a few years before the Church was to celebrate its hundredth
anniversary, a Centenary Committee was formed in 1983 so that plans could be formulated for the celebrations which would inevitably take place. 1988 still seemed an eternity away however, and with more pressing immediate needs, little was accomplished at that time as far as the centenary was concerned. In an attempt to tidy up the outside of the property, the side of the Church was flagged during 1983, making it much easier to now reach the schoolroom door, and to the front of the Church, more flags were laid.
The Boys Brigade, which had grown in strength since its re-formation in 1979 transferred from the Halifax to the Bradford Battalion for financial reasons during 1983, but fortunately was still able to retain its ’21st.Company’ title in the process. During the following year, the Company achieved fame by winning a national Brigade competition, the prize for which was their own Company colours which are regularly paraded into Church during family services. During this same year, it was decided to change the Sunday School’s title to that of ‘Junior Church’ to reflect more accurately its role within the Church in the ‘eighties.
Following a variety of problems with the organ, this was inspected to establish the extent of the repairs required and sadly, this revealed much more than had been expected. The discovery of woodworm in both the organ and certain parts of the Church caused extensive concern, and immediately meetings were held to find ways of ridding the property of these unwelcome intruders. The cost of treating the organ and Church to this end appeared prohibitive, and as no guarantees could be given to the success `of any treatment, it was patently obvious that sights must be widened if the fabric of the building was to be preserved. Urgent discussions took place regarding the total refurbishment of the Church and schoolroom, and consideration was even given to the erection of a completely new building. On either account, the costs appeared frightening, but however frightening these might be, there were few, if any, alternatives to consider and a decision had to be made if west End was to be maintained as a place of Methodist worship. After much heart—searching (and many, many more meetings) it was agreed to completely refurbish the Church and schoolroom internally, repair the external fabric of the building, and convert the Church to dual-purpose use. Included in the plans was the provision of a new minister‘s vestry; the incorporation of the old minister‘s vestry into the adjoining room; the fitting of a serving hatch to the kitchen; the removal of the stage from the upstairs schoolroom and the building of new toilets in the front vestibule of the Church. In view of the condition of the organ and the prohibitive cost of its repair, it was agreed that this would have to be removed completely, and replaced with a new, more modern organ.
As can be imagined, the cost of this work was going to put the Church well and truly into debt, and ways were immediately sought for the raising of at least some of the money required. The land to the rear of the Church would have to be sold and in preparation for this, the tenants of the garages occupying this site were given notice to move. A wide range of fund—raising activities were planned,
each of which it was hoped would provide a little more of the money needed and these brought many new activities to the Church, fulfilling the financial aims and also providing much fellowship amongst those participating. Sponsored walks around Queensbury, sponsored swims at the local baths, exciting car rallies and Sunday lunches in the back vestry all proved both popular, enjoyable and profitable as of course did such hardy annuals as the Ladies weekend, bazaars and coffee mornings, and as the bank balance began to steadily grow, plans were drawn up for the alterations which were to take place. Before any of this work could be undertaken however, the Rev. Beryl Dean who had chaired the many difficult meetings relating to the massive rebuilding project left the Halifax Circuit – and West End – to take up a new appointment in Huddersfield. Her successor, the
Rev. Martin Groves, must have wondered what he had let himself in for when he found himself thrust in at the deep end with the task of overseeing a scheme in which he had become involved just as it was about to start. Fortunately, like his predecessor, he was a person of great strength who was able to ‘pick up the threads’ and adapt himself to the difficulties which lay ahead.
Throughout this difficult period, the normal life of the Church had to continue however with as little interruption as possible. The Boys Brigade, which had until now comprised a Junior and Company Section widened their sphere by starting a Pre-Junior Section for the under eight year olds, and wearing red jumpers instead of the Brigade’s normal dark blue uniform, the new section were soon affectionately known as ‘The Robins’. Christian Endeavour continued to meet every Friday and the Youth Group on alternate Sunday evenings and the other Church sections such as the fortnightly ladies Happy Hour continued to flourish, despite the immediate difficulties. Due to rapidly declining numbers, the Over 20s Group was disbanded in 1985, although a large proportion of its members continued to support west End in other ways.
After experiencing difficulties in more recent years in the distribution of the traditional harvest gifts of produce etc., it was, in 1984, felt that a ‘Token Harvest’ might be more appropriate in present times. Although the Church did not look quite the same on Harvest Sunday, this new form of thanksgiving was deemed to be a success, the proceeds being given to Christian Aid, and this has been repeated in successive years.
Upon hearing the news of the closure of Ovenden Methodist Church in the Halifax Circuit, west End were fortunate in being able to obtain a quantity of wood panelling, the communion rail, pulpit and some lights from the Ovenden premises, all useful items which could be used in our own Church once the rebuilding had been completed. The storage of all these items caused a few minor short term problems however, and meant that the upstairs stage could now no longer be used, not that it frequently was in recent years anyhow.
The talking continued, with meetings almost every week, and the time had now been reached when a decision as to the Church’s future had to be made.
Agreement was finally reached to proceed with the rebuilding as outlined above and after seeking tenders for this work, contracts were awarded and signed on 13 October 1987. The land at the back of the Church was put up for sale and a buyer was found early in 1988. It had been decided to refurbish the schoolroom, kitchen and back vestries first, and work on this part of the building began on 26 October 1987. This, as had been expected, caused numerous problems. The Junior Church could no longer meet in their normal surroundings and although various alternatives had been considered – meeting before the normal Sunday morning service; meeting on Sunday afternoons or meeting in the homes of various Church members – it was finally agreed that the children would join in the normal Sunday morning worship in Church. Whilst it can hardly be said that this was successful, it was at least keeping the Church family together during what was to be a difficult and disruptive time. The kitchen was also not able to be used, making the fund-raising Coffee Mornings more difficult to organise, and with the Minister‘s Vestry also ‘out of bounds’, the Minister had to prepare for services in a corner of the Church.
As a result of the electric blower having to be disconnected and removed, the organ was unable to be used after 6 December 1987, and at first, all musical accompaniment had to be with a piano. Fortunately, through the kindness of Terence Scott, our organist, who temporarily loaned the Church his own organ, the music at Christmas and for a few weeks afterwards was more like that to which the congregation were accustomed.
In view of the schoolroom and back vestry being in an unusable state during the rebuilding process, it was necessary to make alternative arrangements for the annual Junior Church Christmas parties. Fortunately, our friends at the Catholic Church across the road allowed us to use their premises for this event, and the children enjoyed this just as much as they have always done on past occasions.
Our centenary year had at last been reached, and amid the chaos, plans began to be made for our celebrations during the summer months. Everyone wondered if indeed the rebuilding would be completed by then, especially as the contractors were already behind schedule, and then all suddenly seemed to be possible. The work at the back of the premises being completed, a start was now to be made on the Church itself and the final services took place on 7th.February. In addition to the normal morning service, a ‘Favourite Hymn Service’ was held during the afternoon, this being well attended not only by West Enders but also by many from other Churches in the district. Within a week, the Church was unrecognisable. The pews had gone, the organ and choir stalls had disappeared completely and floorboards were removed in quantity. How different the place now looked – and how different it would be when it was refurbished l
As a complete reversal to previous months, the Sunday morning Church services were now held in the new y-rebuilt upstairs school room whilst the Junior Church was able again to be separated, using the enlarged downstairs back vestry. With floors carpeted and new heaters installed, it was hard to imagine that these were the same premises that had served west Enders for almost a hundred years. The task had now passed the half-way mark, and it would not be too long before the whole refurbishment would be completed.
The land at the rear of the Church was eventually sold towards the end of March 1988 (for housing development), providing some of the much needed finance for the fulfilment of the rebuilding and refurnishing of the Church premises. Although the work was slightly behind schedule, there was great confidence that completion would be achieved in time for the Sunday School (or Junior Church as it was now called) Anniversary in mid-June and consequently in time for the centenary celebrations which were scheduled for late June/early July. The new organ was duly installed, and with its new attractive interior colour scheme based on shades of pink and lilac, the ‘new‘ Church was almost unrecognisable from that to which all had become accustomed over a great many years.
Like any Church, west End has continually had to introduce new ideas to the task of raising the constantly needed funds. To this end in the recent past, numerous enjoyable ways have been found to bolster the finances including car rallies; sponsored walks and Sunday lunches in the back vestry, as well as of course such hardy annuals as the Ladies weekend, bazaars and coffee mornings.
Despite all such events requiring much hard work in their organisation, such events have maintained the fellowship within the Church as well as provide much needed money.
The sharing of fellowship is not always confined to our own Church premises however, day and weekend trips being equally as important ways of coming together. Many of the young people, and adults too have gained much from the Christian Endeavour weekends at Grange, Saltburn and in North Wales whilst the Boys Brigade have twice had weekend visits to the Isle of Man, staying at a
Methodist Church in Douglas. Even the day trips to the Flower Festival at Bridlington, to Wembley and to Edinburgh have brought the various age groups of the Church together to the benefit of all concerned.
The centenary was celebrated with great pride. Not only had West End Methodist Church achieved its hundredth birthday, but it had been completely refurbished to enable it to continue as a place of worship for the next hundred years. whilst it is always interesting to look back, it is more important to look forward in time and to ensure that future generations will be able to enjoy the same fellowship as their predecessors have shared, and we pray that west End will continue to be as a beacon set upon a hill to guide and illuminate a great many lives.
WE WISH TO THANK
THE FOLLOWING SUBSCRIBERS
FOR THEIR SUPPORT
Harold & Joan Bolton
Mr & Mrs Peter Brook
Miss Margaret Church
Margaret & Allen Clayton
Mr. D. G. Coggan
Mrs Alice Crummett
Mrs Florence Crummett
Norma & Gordon Hillas
Joan & Tony Holmes
Mr & Mrs Wilfred Horner
Maureen & Keith Jenkinson
Mrs Elizabeth Jolley
Doreen & Gilbert Lee
Margaret & David Lee
Mr & Mrs Paul Miller
Mrs Vera Miller
Gemma, Amy & Rebecca Parry
Linda & Dudley Parry
Margaret & Terence Scott
Miss Evelyn Smith
Mr & Mrs E. Stead
Mr & Mrs Terence Whitlow
Dorothy & Norman Williams
Mr & Mrs David Wilson
Brenda & David Woodhead
Lilian & Ronald Young
WEST END METHODIST CHURCH, OUEENSBURY
PROGRAMME OF CENTENARY EVENTS
SUNDAY 19th JUNE 1988
JUNIOR CHURCH ANNIVERSARY SERVICES AT 2.30pm & 6.00pm
Preacher at both services – Mr. D. A. Miller M.A. of Woodhouse Grove School, Apperley Bridge, Bradford.
WEDNESDAY 22nd JUNE 1988
MIDWEEK ECUMENICAL SERVICE OF THANKSGIVING for all Christians in Queensbury at 7.30pm.
SATURDAY & SUNDAY 25th & 26th JUNE 1988
FLOWER FESTIVAL WEEKEND — ‘God has given us a book full of stories’. To be opened on Saturday 25th June at 11.00am by The Lord Mayor of Bradford.
Preacher on Sunday 26th June at 10.45am – Rev.Beryl Dean.
Refreshments & Craft Stalls open on Saturday 11.00am to 6.00pm and Sunday 12 noon to 4.30pm.
WEDNESDAY & THURSDAY 29th & 30th JUNE AND SATURDAY 2nd JULY 1988
West End Choir present the musical ‘The Witness’.
Admission at all performances £1 and 60p.
SUNDAY 3rd JULY 1988
SERVICE OF CELEBRATION FOR METHODISTS IN THANKSGIVING FOR IOO YEARS OF WORSHIP AT WEST END.
Led by Rev. Martin L. Groves, M.Theol., Th.M.
Preacher Rev. Michael J. Townsend, B.A., M.Phil. B.D.
Celebrant Rev.Kathleen Richardson – Chairman of the District
You are assured of a welcome at any or all of these events and services.