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CHAPTER 5
ALBERT HALL,  PART 4: 1920 to 1929

In May 1920 the Mission Staff consisted of  Rev. Ira G. Goldhawk  (Superintendent Minister), Rev. G.H. Taylor, M.A., Mr. Wilfrid Hough (Lay Agent), Sister Annie Gilbert, and Sister Dora Hall.

Sister Olive Lewin, Mrs. Grace Hardy, Mr. Bob Proctor, and Mrs. Edna Proctor related their reminiscences of Rev. Goldhawk.

Mr. Goldkawk was a tremendous character.  The services were full to overflowing every night when he was here for about eight years.  Every seat was full and there were two rows of standing around the balcony.  He absolutely hypnotised you.  He was rather strange in his movements.  He would stop all of a sudden and you would think he was not going to start again.  He had a wonderful sense of humour.  He had a lovely voice and you could hear every word.  There was no microphone in those days.

Miss D.M. (Muriel) Pontin wrote that she had attended the Albert Hall for a short period in 1921/22.

A sister and her husband had just moved to Nottingham and were living with mother and me.

First of all, we went to an Evangelical Mission being held  for two or three weeks.  It was run by two brothers and called the Brothers Wood, Young Life Campaign.  After they left, a branch of Y.L.C. was formed and we became members.  We had meetings about once a month held in various churches in the city.  When the campaign finished we attended the Albert Hall for the Evening Service.  We had to queue from the front entrance right round into Derby Road to the corner leading to the back entrance.  The hall was packed with people standing round the gallery.  The minister was the Rev. Ira Goldhawk.  He was a marvellous speaker and always gave an inspiring message  -  to a hushed congregation.

Being a Methodist you can imagine what the singing was like  -  all the hymns from the Methodist Hymn Book.

My only memory of Bridgeway Hall is going there for some Celebrity Concerts where I particularly remember hearing Webster Booth and Anna Keigler and a young violinist whose name I cannot remember.  We also held some Y.L.C. meetings there.

At that time there was the Albert Hall Literary Society, of which there was little mention. However, on one occasion, on Wednesday 14 April 1920 they had the privilege and pleasure of listening to the Rev. G. H. Taylor lecture on Robert L. Stephenson, his life and works. His opening remarks were: "The best way to study Stephenson is to read him".

By March 1921 the staff had lost Mr. Hough but gained the Rev. W.H.Bright (Supernumerary).

On Sunday 18 September 1921 the War Memorial was unveiled.

ORDER  OF  SERVICE.

HYMN  O God, our help in ages past.

PRAYER  -  A General Thanksgiving.

HYMN  -  Ten thousand  times  ten  thousand.

SCRIPTURE  Rev.  vii.,  9-17.

ANNOUNCEMENTS.

COLLECTION .  Organ Voluntary - Prelude and Fugue  in E minor  Bach

ANTHEM.  - Blest are the departed.  Spohr.

PRAYER  -  Rev.  G.H. TAYLOR,  M.A.

HYMN.  Jerusalem the golden.

ADDRESS   -   Rev. IRA  G.  GOLDKAWK

HYMN.  -  For all the  saints.

BENEDICTION

 


Albert Hall Memorial Roll, 1914-1919

By March 1922 the staff had changed considerably: Rev. Ira G. Goldhawk  (Superintendent Minister), Rev. G.H. Taylor, M.A., Rev. W.H. Bright (Supernumerary), Sister Ida Illingworth, Sister Phoebe Heaslett, and Miss E.M. Wagstaff (Albert Hall Missionary, Hankow, China). A year later the same staff were recorded.

Between January and August 1929 the Mission staff consisted of  Rev. Harold G. Fiddick (Superintendent Minister), Rev. B. Hughes Smith, Sister Edith Trotter, Sister Alice Menzies, and Sister Emily Strutt, B.A.

On Saturday 29 June 1929 the Annual Garden Party was held at the home of Sir Arthur Black, "Springfield", Alexandra Park. The day had been bright but the cool breezes kept some of the older friends away. The gardens were ablaze with colour. It seemed as though the flowers had met in conference and decided to burst into bloom on that day for their special benefit. Games and amusements were organised by the Cricket Club, and members of the Junior Girls' Gym gave a display of country dancing. Teas were served and the big family kept the ladies busily employed for the afternoon and early evening. After tea, community singing was conducted by Mr. Bernard Johnson, and the Rev. W. Edwin Lant gave an interesting talk on his work in India. This was followed by Evensong at 7.30 pm.

Mrs. Eileen Stacey stated that:

We came from Sheffield to live at Rise Park in August 1969.

My great-uncle, Albert Clarke, lived in Nottingham during the 1920s to the 1950s.  He owned a sweet shop in Goosegate and was a local preacher and attended the Albert Hall.  My father used to come down and stay during his school holidays and "Uncle Albert" bought him his first cricket bat from Gunn and Moore's.

The Superintendent Minister, Rev. Fiddick, announced that he was very much concerned about the financial position of the Mission. He explained a scheme towards reducing the long-standing debt  ... to raise 6,000 shillings by means of Collecting Cards etc.. Mr. & Mrs. Thompson very kindly volunteered to start the Fund with donations of 100 shillings each.  Mr. Oldman expressed his willingness to act as Organising Secretary.

Walter Hayes recalled that between 1925 to 1943 was the period in which he was involved most at the Albert Hall.

At the age of fifteen, mother thought I ought to go to a chapel.  I wasn't very thrilled by the idea but you did what your parents told you.  I went down to the Albert Hall as my mother had been going to the evening services.

She thought that it would be lovely if all the family went and we did.  Sunday School was very prolific: there were 100, 120 or 130.  We learnt comradeship and friendship, which really is the key of Methodism.  It taught you how to live, how to mix.  Almost the first person I met was John Jarratt and his elder brother, George, and we somehow clicked.  There was a little group of  about ten.  There was a Young Men's Class, following on from the Sunday School.  We were a real handful. Our first teacher was Harry Stocks.  He was a grand fellow.  Then came a deaconess, Sister Alice Menzies, who was used to dealing with young men.  She did very well.  We respected her, more than anything, although we probably nearly broke her heart in the end, because we eventually took little jobs in the Albert Hall to occupy our energies.

However, what attracted us most was the Wesley Guild.  It was very strong.  It was the young people who ran it.  Mrs. Goldhawk, in a letter years later, said that her husband started it as a mixed group.  That was an attraction.  There were girls' classes, boys' classes, there was a Boys' Brigade (run by Eddie Embleton and Sister Kath), then there were the men.  But this was mixed, and we could do it ourselves.  The Sister or a senior would start it, each Monday, and then would leave us to ourselves.  We had real authority.  We eventually had two cricket teams and lots of tennis and occasionally a football match.  The cricket teams were the inspiration of a Mr. Ward.  He was a fine cricketer and very much respected, as was a relative, Herbert Green.

In the early 1920s there were very few residential houses around the area of the Albert Hall.  The only buildings were St Barnabas Church, the Albert Hall, the Institute, and the General Hospital.  If you walked up Park Row you came to The Park.  I recall that the Guild went carol singing one Christmas Eve but we did not realise how few houses there were: just a few in The Park and the people mostly were away for Christmas, so collections were almost nil.

Various class leaders had house groups (Mrs. Watkinson, Gladys Stocks, etc.) at their homes but it was only in a small way.  Travelling was not easy and we were all spread out: Mapperley, Sherwood, West Bridgford, Radford, and even further afield.

Of course, in the interim period all these lads at the Albert Hall  grew up and turned into couples with the corresponding girls.  George Jarratt was the first to get married, because he had a good job at Players  -  a job at Players was for life  -  at the top of the tree.  It was either Players or Boots, and you were made.  George found Alice McGowan.  John found Dorothy Sloan, daughter of a tailor and balcony sidesman.   Wives didn't always go out to work in those days.  The other lad I used to fraternise with, George Bradley, the debonair chap with the spats and silver-topped walking stick who joined the Trent Navigation Company, on the side of the canal, which was very busy with water barge transport and plenty of staff.  He got a lovely looking lass, Elsie Harrison, the daughter of a traveller.  Phyllis Kirkby was my first wife who died twenty years ago.  She and her parents lived at Woodthorpe Grange Park.  Her father, Jack Kirkby, was the first head gardener there after the Nottingham City Corporation took over the park.  I eventually had a key to the main gate of the park (courting days).  After his retirement they moved and lived in Beeston.  I thought it would be a suitable place to open a bookshop.  There were plenty of empty shops in those days.  I should think a third of the shops were empty in 1929/30.  The first shop I went to was at the side of a butcher's shop (Clifford's).  I went in and asked him if he could tell me who owned the empty shop next door.  The butcher said: "What do you want to know for?"  I said: "I want to open a shop".  "What do you want to sell?" "Books." "Give up, my lad, no one in Beeston can read.  You're in the wrong place." It's like trying to sell sand in the desert! Anyway, I didn't let that put me off and eventually found a very small lean-to shop near Beeston Square.  There was a chemist's shop, the Town Hall, Assembly Rooms with shops beneath, and this lean-to shop was attached to it.  I went to the chemist, Andrew Gilmour,  on the other side who told me the lean-to belonged to so-and-so's daughter.  Her father bought it as a birthday present for her.  It had been occupied by the Singer Sewing Machine Company for many years and the floor was thick with Singer machine oil.  She was glad to get rid of it.  We agreed on twelve shillings and six pence a week including rates (72˝ pence). Rates were an unknown quantity in those days.  I got it rent-free for about six weeks while I cleaned up the place.  So I started there with my accumulation of books.  Elizabeth is my second and present-day wife, and was also involved in the business.

I didn't have any sense of spirituality in those days.  It was a matter of "good living".  You might like to know that I have never had a drink in my life, I even objected to sacramental wine, and I've never had a cigarette or bought a raffle ticket in my life.  I do contribute to good causes that the raffles are for and often that costs more than the raffle ticket.  But those are the seeds of Methodism in my family.  My five brothers and sisters, and mother and father, were all strict early-day Wesleyan Methodists.

One big feature I was involved in with the Wesley Guild, about 1929 when the country was in depression,  was the Used Clothes Store.  Those needy who wanted clothes obtained a reference from their doctor.  Mrs.Gregory [the minister's wife] was the kingpin in that.  She started with me.  I was secretary and Ron Scruton was assistant secretary.  I was the secretary the whole of the time it was in operation.  I got in touch with Sir J. Arthur Rank for an appeal film and they made a trailer film which I used to take to the Elite and other cinemas.  The appeals would be shown free on the screen.  We received an unbelievable response  -  the clothes we got  - people left whole wardrobes in their will and folk used to send us cash donations. We operated once a week and we had a queue of people, kiddies and the most destitute.  The Boots Company put up racks and fittings in Room 7 on the third floor of the Institute to our requirements.  It cost us nothing.  Then when the shop on the corner of Great Hall Street became vacant we used the upstairs room.  We used that until the war broke out.  It was a great service.  That was the Guild; that was Methodism.  The helpers were magnificent.  Those who wanted clothes were expected to complete a recommendation form which had to be referenced by a Minister, Doctor, Nurse, School Master or School Mistress.


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Fore-
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Chapters Epi-
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