Home Church Officers Direction and hall hire Organisations History BELIEFS and MISSION This Month

THE STORY OF OUR CHURCH

1885-1985

IN THE YEAR 1885 Lancaster Road as we know it today did not exist. Instead, the area consisted of fields and orchards and some elegant estates to which a thoroughfare known as New Lane provided access. But Victorian enterprise was moving fast, and in a few short years the district grew and developed. New streets and houses rapidly came into being, bringing hundreds of families to live in the area with needs both material and spiritual. Indeed, in 30 years the population jumped from 9,000 to 19,000

Fortunately, not far away in Chase Side, was Christ Church, an active and evangelically minded congregation alive to the needs of the people who had come to live in what was now to be called Lancaster Road. Even while house building was taking place, missionary work had been started with open air services conducted by Dr J. J. Ridge, a Mr J. Neville and several Christian friends. In particular a Sunday School was started by Dr Ridge, supported by his son, Dr R. Leslie Ridge, which made a powerful impact on the young people of the area. Later in 1888 this youth work received a great boost by the founding and development of the 1st Enfield Company of the Boys Brigade by the same two gentlemen.

The first building to be erected in the area by the good folk of Christ Church was an "iron building" costing about £100, and in these rather primitive surroundings the work of the mission went from strength to strength under the enthusiastic leadership of Dr J. J. Ridge in collaboration with a committee appointed by Christ Church. Soon this erection became too small and cramped for the numbers attending worship and the youth activities.

Again the congregation of Christ Church set to work and a piece of ground was bought at the corner of Browning Road and Lancaster Road on which a brick building was erected and named Christ Church Hall Mission. It was opened and dedicated for public worship in 1885, and now forms the main body of the present church.

The years that follow show a steady increase in the size of the congregation and in the extent and scope of the work among young people and children. By the early 1900s, the mission was proving too small to provide accommodation for the varied organisations and activities.

Once more Christ Church faced the challenge of Christian service, and the need for new and larger premises was met when on a site in Armfield Road the "Institute" was erected as a dual purpose building in which worship was held on Sundays and other church activities went on during the week. This was completed and opened in 1909, after which the church took the name Armfield Road Congregational Church. The original building in Lancaster Road became known as the Old Hall. The move to the "Institute" and the transfer of all worship and church activities there was never a completely satisfactory arrangement, and as time went on the need for a separate church was felt more and more.

During the ministry of the Rev W. F. Elmes, which covered the period of the First World War and most of the Second, many important events happened in the life of the congregation. Under his talented and far-sighted leadership the church reached the decision to seek full status as a separate congregation from Christ Church and to take responsibility for its own maintenance, witness and service. In the year 1917 this step, with all its onerous implications, was taken. At the same time a new building scheme to place an entirely new church on land adjacent to the "Institute" was launched, the cost being £7,000.

Alas, it was not to be. For nearly 20 years church members and friends worked to raise the required amount, but only managed £1,750, no mean effort when one realises that the years after the First World War and through to the hungry 1930s were years of unemployment and poverty, low wages and industrial stagnation.

n 1937 the scheme had to be given up in favour of one less ambitious to extend and reconstruct the original brick mission hall at the corner of Browning Road. The estimated cost of this work was £2,800. Church members took new heart and the extra money was raised with surprising speed. Our present church with its quiet simplicity and unpretentious style was opened free of debt on May 21, 1938.

So now the church became Lancaster Road Congregational Church, ready to face a new future and the challenge of a new age. In the following year the Second World War broke out, bringing problems, testing's and heartbreaks to the very doors of the congregation in unexpected and more terrible ways. In God's providence and mercy the church buildings were spared, though 24 young men who had passed through our BB Company and one church member died in the service of their country.

The post-war years saw the congregation taking up the reins of service once again, and re-assessing the situation facing them. It is to their credit and faith that soon numbers increased and organisations, old and new, began to flourish with a vigour and enthusiasm which echoed those of the earliest days of the church. In spite of added difficulties brought about by changing social conditions and attitudes, and the decline in moral values and spiritual concern which characterise so much of modern life in our land, the church has steadfastly held fast to its calling in Christ to preach His Gospel not only by word but in deeds and practical service.

There has been an increasing awareness of the world around our doors and its needs, and also of the fact that the church can offer an answer to these same needs. The new ecumenical outlook slowly emerging in the various denominations of the Church did not pass unheeded in Lancaster Road. Therefore, when in 1972 the Congregational and Presbyterian churches brought years of prayerful negotiation and discussion to a courageous conclusion to unite to create the United Reformed Church, our church with equally prayerful foresight resolved to join. This union is the first major breakthrough across denominational barriers in Britain since the Reformation, a tremendous step towards reshaping the structure and life of the Church to meet modern conditions.

We are now Lancaster Road United Reformed Church, but our roots go back over a century to the missionary zeal and enthusiasm of a few dedicated Christian men who saw in our district a call and a challenge from Christ to witness for Him and serve Him here.

Their prayers and labours have produced a rich harvest down the years. In our centenary celebrations of 1985 we remember them, and the Christ who inspired them, with gratitude and thanksgiving. But above all, may the occasion re-awaken in us, their spiritual descendants, a like spirit of love for the Gospel and the courage to proclaim it down the coming years in word and in action.

The above was taken from Lancaster Road United Reformed Church, Centenary Year Book, published in 1985.  Download our History booklet from the download page.

Mr. C. Wicherson

1893-1902


Rev’d. A. G. Bryson

1902-1903


Rev’d. H. C. Crow

1904-1907


Rev’d. Weadale Phillips

1907-1910


Rev’d. W. F. Elms

1911-1944


Rev’d. G. A. Woolcock

1944-1948


Rev’d. S. J. H. Gadsden

1950-1971


Rev’d. George Coombs

1973-1981


Rev’d Keith McRobb

1982-1985


Rev’d. John Wadhams

1986-2001

Shared with Ponders End URC

Rev’d. Jonathan Hyde (Associate Minister)

1994-2002

Shared with Ponders End URC

Rev’d. Alan Abraham

(Interim Moderator)

2002-2003


Rev’d. David Atkinson

2004-2013

Shared with Christ Church URC

Rev’d Henriette Wentink

2015-

Shared with Christ Church URC and Bush Hill Park URC




Ministers from 1885