The People and the Building – Page 4

PerformanceAnother group was known as “The Gilt Edge Six” who, with helpers, gave concerts in their own and other Sunday Schools. On one occasion they took over the evening service in the Church; Mr. George Cave (Comedian) conducted the service and preached the sermon; Eva Mills (Elocutionist) read the lesson; Winifred Ashton, Alice Redfern, Wesley Baldwin and Jack Schofield sang an introit, two anthems, a vesper, and led the hymns. Albert Schofield played the organ.

Amidst all these social interests serious responsibilities were not neglected: even though the Chapel had been cleaned during the week, the teenage lads and young men had to dust all the pews on Sunday morning before the Sunday School opened at 9.30 a.m.

The order of the day then was:-
9.30 – 10.15 Sunday School
10.30 a.m. Church Service
1.45 p.m. Sunday School
6.00 p.m. Evening Service
This continued for many years.

Sometime around 1930 House Fellowship meetings were started and kept up for some years. Groups met in various members’ homes to debate topics of importance to young people. Christmas Carol singing was also resumed.

In the meantime changes were also taking place in the Chapel itself: in 1926 the gas was replaced by electricity, and in 1929 the original windows were removed and stained glass ones installed at a cost of £96.4s.Od. (In 1949 they had to be repaired – cost £136).

Group PerformanceThe year 1932 brought a change that was not wholly welcome; Methodist Union came about and the Church lost its name of United Methodist Free Church to become Holcombe Brook Methodist Church. Many older members felt sad that their “freedom” had gone.

Shortly before the Second World War the Trustees could foresee the necessity for extension. The plot of land behind the Chapel was awkwardly shaped as it narrowed towards the bottom. Enquiries were made regarding the purchase of a triangular plot which would make the piece of land square. The price asked was considered excessive and beyond the Chapel’s means and so the plan had to be shelved.

In 1935 the Communion Table was presented to the Church by Mr. J. Brooks in memory of his son, John, who had died in January of that year, aged 14 years. The Communion chairs were given by Mr. W. Holden in memory of two aunts.

Choir pews were installed and dedicated on 27th March, 1938. They were the bequest of the Misses A. and S. A. lsherwood to be a memorial to their two sisters who had been the first and second wives respectively of Mr. Samual Holden.

Unfortunately, war came again in 1939. As in the previous war the main concern of the members was the raising of money to provide “comforts for the troops”. During those war years the class of girls aged 13-15 were taught by Mrs. Lily Pilling. Every Wednesday evening the class and the Minister, Rev. E. Robinson, were welcomed by Mrs. Pilling into her home. After a short service and serious type of talk given by Mr. Robinson, the meeting closed with the benediction. Supper was provided by Mrs. Pilling or the girls in the class and was accompanied by informal chat about social activities outside the Church. The girls in the class numbered about 15.

Performance GroupAfter the War the social activities of earlier and happier years were resumed: concerts and pantomimes were held, a choir was once more gathered together, giving “Choir Concerts”, holding “Choir Sermons” and enjoying “Choir Trips”. Each year the pantomime was given first on our own premises and then in other Sunday Schools, helping to raise money for our own Church and also for the hosting Sunday Schools. There was a thriving Table Tennis Team which reached very high positions in the Sunday School Table Tennis League. When the town held a pageant the Sunday School took part by presenting tableaux. As part of the Christmas celebrations in 1948 a lengthy Nativity Play was presented, mostly by the Primary and young children. The older scholars formed a choir singing carols, “off stage”, during the play. The atmosphere created by the children was very moving and gave rise to some rather moist eyes in the audience. At the end of the performance the then Minister requested that the stage and scenery be left in position and the Nativity Play repeated during the Sunday evening service. The first performance was on Saturday evening. In the Minutes for the next Sunday School Teachers’ meeting in April there is a resolution that Mrs. Robinson and her co-producer “be thanked for services rendered, in particular for the Nativity Play.”

Performance GroupEvery year a procession of witness took place on Whit Friday, when Sunday Scholars and adults met at the Chapel at 9.00a.m. for one hymn and prayers. The procession was formed and banners brought out – a small, lightweight one for Primary children to carry, and a large one the poles of which were carried by the men, whilst scholars held ropes and ribbons attached to the banners. All were “dressed for Whitsuntide” and the children carried baskets or sprays of flowers. At various points on the route the procession stopped so that hymns could be sung; a visit to Aitken Sanatorium (now a school for Moslem boys) was always included. On the return to Church a final hymn was sung and then refreshments were served to everybody. Many, many years ago coffee and raspberry buns were given, with mustard and cress sandwiches for payment. In later years the whole of the refreshments were given and in the early ’50s a simple meal such as meat, pickles, bread and butter and jam was provided. In the afternoon games and races were held in a field nearby, the men carrying forms from the Church to provide seating accommodation; in the early years an annual cricket match took place – married men v. single men. If any food remained from lunch time, tea- was served on the field.

In 1949, the year in which the stained glass windows had to be repaired, dry rot was discovered in one of the ceiling beams, which meant repairs and re-decoration of the inside of the Church.

PerformanceAnother expense occurred in 1956: it was imperative that the outside toilets should be replaced within three months at a cost of £400, a very large sum of money when the average weekly wage was around £5. Everybody worked hard: every Sunday School scholar was given a shilling from which to make more money. Some girls baked and sold cakes or sewed little articles for sale; some boys chopped firewood and sold it in bundles. Adults made money by organising socials in the vestries: a charge was made which was all clear profit because the suppers were given by various people. Donations were made and more than the required amount of money was raised within three months. Pews each side of the porch were removed, the spaces partitioned off and toilets installed.

This task of raising money quickly for a particular project reflected a united effort that had been made around 1930: The Whitsuntide banner had to be replaced as the old one was torn, in parts beyond repair. The good parts were cut into strips to be sold as book-marks. A plan of the new banner was drawn and marked into squares; when one person had raised 6s.8d. e.g. by knitting and selling dish cloths, that money was handed in to cover the cost of one square.


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