Opening of the New Church, 1905

Taken from Rushden Echo, Friday, April 28, 1905
Transcribed by Greville Watson

Opening of the new Chapel, Easter Monday, 1905
This image is taken from a commemorative postcard

Opening of the New Church

The opening services of the spacious and handsome church erected by the Wesleyan Methodists of Rushden on the site adjoining their school-chapel in Park-road were held on Easter Monday and were in every way a brilliant success.

The architect for the new building was Mr.J.Jameson Green, of Liverpool, and the contractor was Mr.Robert Marriott, builder, of Rushden, who has carried out the work most efficiently.  Mr.Ambrose Marriott, of Higham Ferrers, is responsible for the heating apparatus, and the glass work has been done by Messrs. S.Evans and Son, of Smethwick.

The Building Committee comprise Messrs. Isaac Cunnington, C.W.Horrell, T.Watson, J.W.Bright and J.Nattrass.  Mr.Thos.Cunnington is the treasurer, and  the onerous duties of hon secretaries have been carried out in the most thorough and efficient manner by Mr.Thos.Watson and Mr.Isaac Cunnington.

The new church provides seating accommodation for 735 adults, or a mixed congregation of adults and juveniles of 900, though considerably over 1,000 people were packed into it at the opening services.  The exterior presents

A Noble Appearance.

Pressed bricks have been used, with Bath stone facings.  At the north-east corner is a massive square tower, ornamented, terminating in a very pretty lead-covered spire, with louvred openings.  The main entrance to the church is in Park-road; there is also an entrance under the tower, and another at the east end of the church.  Terazzo paving is used in the main porch and vestibules, the work having been done by Italians.  Between the vestibules and the body of the chapel is a glass screen of beautiful pattern and subdued tints, which was much admired on Monday.

The interior of the church is as handsome as the exterior.  It is light and airy; the acoustic properties were proved on Monday to be perfect; from every seat in the chapel the preacher can be easily seen and heard; the ventilation is ample; and the general appearance is pleasing and artistic.  The windows, with stone divisions and lead easings, are filled in with tinted glass.  The north transept window bears a scroll containing the words, "God is light. God is love"; the south transept window has the words, "Serve the Lord with gladness"; and the large window over the main entrance contains the text, "Rejoice in the Lord".  The artificial light [gas] is of the most up-to-date pattern.  There are ten elegant pendants, each containing four-lights, and there are 24 very tasteful brackets, all of ironwork, with copper mounts, making in all 64 burners - all incandescent.  Spacious galleries occupy three sides of the chapel, and at the back of the rostrum, which is of an excellent design, there is a commodious choir gallery in which has been placed the organ from the school-chapel, the instrument having been repaired and re-erected and considerably improved.  The front of the galleries, the match-boarding, the roof, &c., are of pitch pine; and throughout the church the flooring is of pitch pine blocks.  The seats are of oram wood, and the communion table and chairs of solid carved oak.  At the rear of the church are several very useful rooms, one of which is intended for the infants of the Sunday school, another for a ladies' parlour, with a class-room above.

A large crowd of people assembled outside the church in anticipation of the formal unlocking of the doors by Mr.Thos. Wetherall, of Northampton.  He said that that was a time for great gratitude.  He hope the new church would be open each day of the week for work of some kind.  He trusted that the same message, the same invitation, the same gospel would always be heard within its walls, for there was always the same sphere of work before them.  He rejoiced with them in the success which had attended their effort.  On behalf of the trustees he had the privilege - for he felt it to be a privilege and an honour - to open the doors and invite them to enter in the name of the Father, their God and their friend.

Mr.Wetherall then unlocked the door.

The First Service.

The new church was speedily crowded in every part.  At the outset Mr.Eacott announced that the church had been duly registered for public worship.  Before the service was started, the whole congregation bowed for a few moments in silent prayer.

The choir was augmented for the day.  Mr.Geo.Farey presided at the organ.

A public luncheon, kindly given by two ladies of the congregation, was provided in the schoolroom.  Mr.J.S.Clipson, J.P., (chairman of the Urban Council) presided, and the company numbered about 160.

A procession of the Sunday school children was formed at 2.30 at the railway bridge.  With the Mission Silver Band at the head, they marched to the new church, which was again crowded to excess.  The gifts of the scholars were received at the communion table by Mr.A.Gadsby, superintendent of the Sunday school, assisted by Miss I.L.Scott.

The afternoon service was conducted by the Rev.H.Howard May, of the West London Mission.

Tea was provided in the school-room, some hundreds of people being present.

The Public Meeting

in the evening was announced for 6.30.  Shortly after 5.30, however, the congregation began to assemble, and before six o'clock the church was densely packed.  From 6 to 6.30 a musical service was held.  After an organ recital by Mr.G.Farey, Mr.Max Stringer sang "My hope is in the Everlasting"; the chorus, "Lift up your heads", was given by the choir, Mr.F.Betts conducting; Miss Alma Denton sang "The Holy City"; the quartette, "God so loved the world", was given by Mrs.Taylor, Mrs.Corbett, Mr.Stringer, and Mr.T.T.Clarke.

Mr.Henry Bisseker, of Birmingham, presided at the public meeting, supported by the Revs. C.H.Kelly, H.Howard May, T.Moorhouse Thorp, J.W.Eacott, H.J.Atkinson, and E.E.Dewhurst.

[Following amounts in brackets are 2017 equivalent]

Mr.T.Watson (one of the secretaries of the Building Committee) said that when they started the effort connected with the opening services he hoped that they might reach £500 [£57,790.00] or £600 [£69,348.00] as a maximum, considering the very depressed state of the trade during the past 12 months.  The cost of the new church would be about £5,200 [£601,016.00].  They had already raised £2,360 [£272,768.80], and it was necessary to obtain a further sum of £940 [£108,645.20] at the opening services and within the next twelve months before they could secure a grant of £600 [£69,348.00] promised by the Twentieth Century Fund Committee.  A few weeks ago they had a bazaar which realised £150.0s.11d. [£17,342.77], towards which Miss Scott's class of girls contributed £19.1s.5d. [£2,204.11].  A small sale of work at the North-street mission-room realised £2.15s.5d. [£320.16].  The Adult Bible Class had promised £50 [£5,779.00] and the Mothers' Meeting had given £2 [£231.16].  The Sunday School children, by collections and their offerings that day, raised £24.0s.1d. [£2,773.92].  The Rushden friends had contributed handsomely, but on the understanding that the names were not to be read out.

Mr.Watson then announced the result of the collection that night, viz., £21.4s.6d. [£2,452.61], besides which the chairman had given £10 [£1,155.80], and Mr.Pickbourne, of Northampton, £2.10s. [£288.95], bringing up the day's total to £1,050.17s.9d. [£121,461.86].  So that altogether they had now, with the Twentieth Century Fund grant of £600 [£69,348.00], raised £4,016.6s.8d. [£464,207.42].  According to Methodist regulations three-fourths of the total cost, including grants, must be raised within 18 months of the opening, the remaining quarter being allowed to remain as a debt on the church.  In this case the three-fourths would be about £3,900 [£450,762.00] and the debt £1,300 [£150,254.00].  To-day, however, they had not only met their obligations but had made a start towards

Wiping Off The Debt

allowed, and instead of having to face a debt of £1,300 [£150,254.00], it would only be about £1,190 [£137,540.20].  (Cheers.)  In many cases "extras" were a serious item, but in this case the scheme was so thoroughly thrashed out before they started upon it that out of the amount of the contract they would have at least a bit towards furnishing the ladies' parlour, which was not included in the scheme.  (Applause.)  The contractor, Mr.R.Marriott, had given them £10 [£1,155.80].  The Building Committee had instructed him to express to the contractor their best thanks for the very satisfactory and conscientious way in which the work had been carried out.  (Cheers.)

On the motion of the Rev.J.W.Eacott, seconded by Mr.Staniland, a hearty vote of thanks was passed to the Chairman, Mr.Kelly, and Mr.May.  A similar vote, on the motion of the Rev.H.J.Atkinson, seconded by Mr.Nattrass, was accorded the choir, the secretaries, and all the helpers.

A word of praise is due to the choir for the excellence of the musical portion of the services.  No fewer than six choirs were represented.