On Sunday morning 24 August 1930 at 10.45 am, in the presence of a large congregation at the Nottingham Albert Hall Mission, Rev. B. Hughes Smith re-dedicated two beautiful stained glass windows which were in memory of Eleanor Pearson (who died 9 October 1898) and Frederick Pearson (who died 2 February 1909), and had originally been placed in the Halifax Place Chapel but when it ceased to be a Wesleyan Methodist Chapel the windows were transferred to the Albert Hall where Mr. Frederick Pearson had been one of the founders of the Albert Hall Mission. The transfer to the new position on the front facade of the Albert Hall, one on either side of the organ, was carried out by Messrs. Pope and Parr, (Nottingham). Following the hymn, For all the Saints, the congregation remained standing while the Litany of Commemoration was chanted and then the minister offered the prayer of dedication to the memory of Eleanor and Frederick Pearson. The choir rendered Coleridge-Taylor's anthem, O ye that love the Lord, with Mr. L. Gordon Thorp (organist) conducting, and the service concluded with the benediction and the Hallelujah Chorus.
An example of the Guild membership card, used at that time, was as follows:
| THE WESLEY GUILD
CARD OF MEMBERSHIP
Local Secretary Mr. T. Pearson [printed]
Member's Name Mr. T. Pearson [handwritten]
| [and on the reverse]
This card is
a token that you belong to a great fellowship. You are invited to help
us to make the Guild of real value to our Church and Country and to the
world-wide Kingdom of God.
The Guild stands for :-
COMRADESHIP of young Methodists in all lands.
CONSECRATION of body, soul, and spirit to the Lord Jesus Christ.
CULTURE of the mind to ensure thoughtful and intelligent life. CHRISTIAN SERVICE for the building up of the Church and the Kingdom of God.
In view of the success which attended the tournament with New Basford Wesley Guild, two more inter-Guild literary evenings were arranged: 17 November 1930 (a debate when the Albert Hall Guilders proposed that "Prohibition is desirable in England" and King's Hall Wesley Guilder opposed), and on Thursday 15 January 1931, when the visit was to New Basford for a literary tournament when it was the Albert Hall Guilders' turn to choose the book, which was Sir Walter Scott's Kenilworth.
A large congregation met at a farewell gathering to Rev. and Mrs. Fiddick. Mr. T. Pearson (senior Circuit Steward) presided. After a hymn and a prayer, Mr. Gordon Thorp accompanied the solos of two very talented friends of his, Miss Connie Elsom and Mr. Orange, which were highly appreciated. In making the presentations, which consisted of an oak bookcase, a tea-wagon and cheque, the chairman spoke of Rev. Fiddick's work amongst the young people, of his social work and his strong messages to those who were unfortunate in the battle of life, the impartial attitude Rev. Fiddick always showed and the unostentatious kindnesses which both Rev. and Mrs. Fiddick never hesitated to show to all. Their home on Sunday evenings after Service had been open to many lonely people, nurses from the hospital, students from University College and young people living away from their home. He left to take up a new appointment in Cardiff.
On 1 September 1930, the new Superintendent, the Rev. Osborn Gregory, came to Nottingham from Colwyn Bay. Also commencing then was the newly-appointed Deaconess, Sister Kate While, who came to take up the work laid down by Sister Emily Strutt. It was a great blow to all when Sister Emily felt she had to resign on health grounds. She had been loved by all and her work remembered.
Sister Olive Lewin, Mrs. Grace Hardy and Mr. Bob Proctor made the following brief comments about Rev. Gregory:
The deaconesses did the visiting so, unless you were dying, Mr. Gregory didn't come to see you. As Superintendent, he was seldom seen except on Sundays and at the Minister's Class.
The Boys' Brigade had a full programme: Sunday morning, Bible Class; Monday, 6.30 to 7.50 pm, Club, and 7.00 to 8.45 pm, First-Aid Class; Tuesday 6 to 7.45 pm, Club, and 7 to 8.45 pm, Drill; Wednesday, 7 to 9 pm, Gymnastic Class; Friday 6.30 to 9 pm, Club, and 8 to 9 pm, Indian Club and Swimming Class; Saturday, football.
Albert Hall interior
The Men's Gymnastic Society celebrated the tenth year of its existence not only by sixty members having enrolled during the season and an average attendance of thirty each practice night, but by taking part in several competitions and performing in four displays, one of which was given in the General Hospital when a collection was taken for the Royal College of Nursing Endowment Fund. The Annual Display was held on 3 April when the Chief Constable, Captain A. Popkess, presided. Again, on 21 June, an open-air display was held in the General Hospital Grounds, when a very enjoyable afternoon was spent by both gymnasts and spectators. On this occasion the show was conducted by Mr. A. Bradley, of the Birmingham Athletic Club, who had joined the society as Director of Exercises for the Summer Season. He attended every Wednesday evening for 18 weeks and gave of his very best during this short period. The members greatly benefited from his virile teaching, and vast strides were made in the general efficiency of the class.
The November 1930 Messenger recorded that "Last season the players of the Albert Hall Institute created a record for the Nottingham Institutes by winning the Senior Billiards and two Snooker championships. The "A" Snooker team (Mr. E.Johnson, Captain), also created a record by winning this competition in three successive years. The medals (15 in all), suitably inscribed, were presented by Mrs. G. Osborn Gregory. The recipients were (Senior Billiards) Messrs. G. Breedon (Capt.), H. Kingsley, G. Linney, A.J. Otter and E. Vipond; (Snooker "A") Messrs. E. Johnson (Capt.), H. Kingsley, S. Fischman and P. Brown; (Snooker "B") Messrs. E. Richardson (Capt.), E. Harding, C.L. Pretty and W. Hales."
The re-opening of the Girls' Parlour after re-decoration took place on Saturday 11 October and was the social section of the Girls' Club Anniversary Effort. An exhibition of rug-making, leather-craft and needlecraft done by members of the Girls' Club was arranged in the Church Parlour. After supper, which was held in the Girls' Parlour, there was a musical programme arranged by Mr. Bernard Johnson in the Church Parlour. Subsequently, every Saturday evening the Girls' Club met in the Girls' Parlour for recreation and friendship. It was open from 7 pm to 9 pm. There was a Social Evening for games, music and refreshments.
Room No. 9 was the Rest Room, set out with comfortable chairs and small tables, supplied with magazines and periodicals, and freely open for any girl who wished to use it. Each Sunday afternoon tea was served there for girls who, away from home, were grateful for this opportunity of friendly companionship and conversation. Someone was present each week who was competent to assist girls in making Christmas presents, such as articles in cane and sea-grass, barbola work, needlework, etc.
Next to Room 9 was the Junior Girls' Club Room, and just beyond was the Senior Girls' Club Room accommodating one hundred and fifty. The activities of the Girls' Club were innumerable, including all manner of social activities, and classes in elocution, dressmaking, decorative needlework, leather craft and rug making.
Attached to the Girls' Club was a canteen for the service of refreshments. The Girls' Parlour was used on Sunday afternoons for the Senior Department of the Sunday School.
Young, Austen & Young, heating engineers of Park Row, on 29 January provided their report and recommendations on the state of the heating and ventilation plant in the Albert Hall. [A précis is included here to indicate the nature of the heating system.]
We find that the system is a combined heating and ventilating one, fresh air being blown in over a steam heated battery or radiators by a centrifugal fan, thence being discharged into the Hall through gratings in the ceiling.
The vitiated air is extracted by means of a series of gratings in the walls and balcony risers connected to a system of flues which discharge into the main roof space, thence through the latter to the main tower which acts as an extraction turret.
In principle, this system is quite good if worked efficiently. There are, however, several local faults which, if remedied, will no doubt give greatly improved results.
We can readily imagine that complaints of cold draughts in various places are frequent and also the indifferent heating at low level. The causes of these are, in our opinion, twofold. Firstly, the extraction system is not as effective as it might be, because instead of the main extraction flue being directly connected to the tower, the air coming from it has to pass through and mix with the roof air space generally. Secondly, owing to enormous leakage of cold air into the fan inlet, together with the present inefficient heater, the resultant temperature of the air entering the hall is not nearly high enough. Our recommendations are as follows:-
1. That the discharge from the top of the main extract flue in the roof space be boxed as a continuation flue connecting to the base of the tower so as to get the maximum extraction power available.
2. That all the various points where the small flues from ground level connect into ducts under the balcony be examined, as we are of the opinion that these may not be large enough as there does not seem to be as much suction at the gratings as one would expect.
3. That the doors into the Fan Room be all fitted with felt pads to prevent cold air leakage which now exists, and that the very bad cold air leak past the front edge of heater be stopped.
4. That the present old and washer-jointed heating battery be replaced by a modern air heating battery with screwed joints, which will not only well warm the air, but avoid the constantly recurring trouble due to leaking. While the new battery is being installed, a larger cold air feed to it should be arranged, the present air feed being only about 2'-0" x 3'-0".
5. We noticed that although a revolving wet jute screen is provided, the condition of the air ways and fan indicate that this has not been in constant use. The result is a thick coating of dust which must be constantly getting into the Hall. This washer screen should be in proper use at all times when the fan is running and to ensure this, a rope drive from the fan was provided but the rope has been taken off. We understand this was because the jockey pulleys made a noise, but this should be remedied and the plant worked as intended.
A large representation of members of
the choir and their friends met at the Co-operative Café on 9 January,
for a Complimentary Dinner to our Organists, Mr. Bernard Johnson and Mr.
L. Gordon Thorp. Mr. Johnson had been organist for twenty-one years and
Mr. Thorp assistant for twenty-five years. Sir Arthur Black, in making the
presentation of a wireless set to Mr. Johnson, said that they were all proud
of him. His genius they all knew and the presentation was a live gift.
Mr. Johnson in receiving the gift from Sir Arthur expressed his "deep
feelings of gratitude and love". The results achieved by the choir,
he went on, had been obtained only by good, loyal team work. He looked upon
the share in the worship at the Albert Hall not as a performance or rendering
of music, but as a tribute of praise to Almighty God. In presenting a book-case
to Mr. Gordon Thorp, Mrs. Footit, a staunch member of the Choir and Mission,
paid tribute, not only to his loyalty to the choir, but to the Mission.
Mr. Thorp in a few well-chosen words thanked the choir, not merely for the
gift, but for the sincere wishes it represented.
Mr. Gordon Thorp
Albert Hall Organist
The Annual Convocation of the Wesley Deaconess Order met at the Albert Hall from Friday, 17 April to Thursday 23 April when some two hundred and fifty deaconesses were expected to be present. The Warden of the Order, the Rev. W. Russell Maltby, D.D., presided. A civic welcome was extended to the Convocation by the Right Hon. the Lord Mayor of Nottingham and his Sheriff on Friday evening at 7 p.m., and the Methodist speeches of welcome were voiced by the Rev. G. Osborn Gregory and J. D. Marsden, Esq., J.P. On Saturday the Deaconesses went to Willersley Castle, Derbyshire, by special train. On Sunday morning the Convocation Sermon was preached at the Albert Hall by the Warden and in the evening many of the deaconesses preached in the Wesleyan Churches of the city and neighbourhood. A great public meeting on Sunday evening in the Albert Hall was conducted by deaconesses, and Sister Phoebe Heaslett and Sister Carrie Harding were the speakers. The private business of Convocation took place during the morning hours of each day, when the wide interests and important work of the Order were reviewed. Other public meetings included:
Monday evening, Wesley Chapel, Broad Street, 7.15 p.m., a service for the consecration of a number of Deaconesses was held with Dr. Workman, M.A. (President of Conference) as speaker.
Tuesday evening, Musters Road Wesleyan Church, West Bridgford, at 7.30 p.m., a missionary meeting with Mr. E.H. Palmer as chairman.
Wednesday evening, Albert Hall, 7.30 p.m., Anniversary meeting with speakers Rev. J.E. Rattenbury, D.D., and Rev. W. Russell Maltby, D.D.
Miss Rene Dove recalled that Mrs. W.G. (Sammy) Ward and her husband (at one time Mayor) used to sit on the platform when all the dignitaries sat there. There were two brothers; Sammy and another.
From September 1931 to February 1933 inclusive the circuit staff consisted of Rev. Osborn G. Gregory (Superintendent), Rev. Thomas A. Kidd, Sister Gertrude Edwards, Sister Gladys Thorpe, Sister Kate While.
On 10 July, Rev. F. L. [Luke] Wiseman, B.A., preached and spoke at the Sunday School Anniversary. During the latter part of the First World War, when the Mission had had no permanent Superintendent, Mr. Wiseman played a great part in the activities of the Mission, and showed particular interest in the Sunday School. From 1918 he favoured the Mission with a visit each year at the Sunday School Anniversary. Mr. Bernard Johnson trained the scholars who sang special hymns throughout the day.
The twice-weekly cricket fixtures in June provided a good variety of social gatherings:
|2nd||Albert Hall Boys' Brigade||Highfields||6.15 p.m.|
|4th||Bridgeway Hall||Highfields||2.30 p.m.|
|9th||"Evening Post"||Forest||2.30 p.m.|
|11th||University College Students' Evening||Highfields||2.30 p.m.|
|18th||Nottingham Co-operative Society||Highfields||2.30 p.m.|
|23rd||Gresham||Wilford Lane||6.15 p.m.|
|25th||Beeston Wesleyans||Highfields||2.30 p.m.|
On 20 September the Uniting Conference of the Methodist Church met in London and from that date all prefixes, which had previously been applied, were dropped - Primitive, Wesleyan, United - and all became simply, Methodists. They united to form one Methodist Church. As a result, the Nottingham Mission Circuit became "The Nottingham Methodist Mission, Albert Hall".
The Leaders' Meeting of 20 September reported that the various sports sections in connection with the Mission had been amalgamated under the title of The Albert Hall Methodist Sports Association (usually written as A.H.M.S.A.) and that the names of Mr. Brown and Mr. Gates, who were representatives to the Cricket Clubs, should be transferred to the new organisation. The philosophy of the A.H.M.S.A. was that for efficient Christian Service, a healthy, physically fit body is a great asset. Opportunities for keeping physically fit and mentally alert were provided by the Cricket, Cycling, Football, Lawn Tennis and Table Tennis Clubs in this Association. These clubs were well supported by members of the Albert Hall Mission and were a valuable means of providing facilities for fellowship and comradeship. This work was closely associated with the spiritual work of the Mission because the rules required active membership of fellowship classes, Sunday School, Boys' Brigade, Girl Guides, or Wesley Guild.
Mrs. Celia Offiler remembered her early days at the Albert Hall:
Firstly, I started going there in 1932. My friend and I decided we would like to see what it was like. Some time afterwards I went for an interview for work as a shorthand typist and one of the questions asked was: "What religion, if any, do you support?" On the strength of probably only one attendance I said I was a Methodist. It turned out that the interviewer was a Methodist too and so at last I had a job. I remember at that time there was a "depression", so what could I do but make my statement and attend the services there.
Eventually I was persuaded to join a Fellowship Class and as I made new friends I joined other organisations including the Wesley Guild, the Girls' Club, Cycling Club, etc.
The Girls' Club was for girls in those days. Later, I think the name was changed to Women's Club, because as we got older it seemed wrong to term ourselves as girls. We did an assortment of things. We had badminton on Wednesday nights in the Girls' Parlour on the top floor of the Institute until the army commandeered the Institute during the war. We then had a court made out of the Billiard Room downstairs. As we were allowed the Billiard Room, the Gym and the small chapel were turned into a canteen for the use of any soldiers wishing for light refreshment. Naturally, when they passed the door and saw us playing badminton we would go and have a chat with them. I know they appreciated this as one of them with whom I talked died in action and I had a lovely letter from his father saying how pleased he was that we had made his son welcome, and that it had helped him with being so far from home. Inevitably some of the men wanted to know if they could have a game, so it was decided to let them join us which was a great concession as it was a ladies-only club, which meant that when our own men returned from the war we could hardly bar them from joining in, so the Badminton Club became a mixed one. Also during the war we formed a team and went to other clubs playing matches.
During the summer we went rambling, taking public transport to a terminus and then going for a walk. Of course, a short ride and we were in the country so a lot of the walks we did are now built over. Our first walk was always through the Dumbles at Lambley, along the main village street to the far end where there was a field of cowslips. We would gather a bunch to take home, never to throw down. In those days it was not criminal to gather wild flowers, as is the case nowadays.
The Albert Hall Cycling Club to which I belonged when I was 18 or thereabouts used to go to Swithland Woods, in Leicestershire, to gather bluebells, and when they were at their best there was a service held in the heart of the wood surrounded by the blue carpet of bluebells. I recall we had two sections: the "Slow" one which cycled a short distance and then stopped somewhere where they could play around with a ball before starting off back home again, and a "Fast" section which consisted mostly of fellows and perhaps three ladies of which I was one. We aimed for a destination further afield, would stay somewhere for tea, and then make our way homewards. One of the things I do remember was bowling along the country roads when someone, probably one of the men, started singing: And can it be. I am sure it lifted our spirits and gave extra strength to our legs. I must say we had some very happy times together. My mother could never fathom why I should sometimes want to be the only female, as she said, tearing after the men, but I can assure you in those days it was for pure enjoyment of the countryside and companionship with people of like mind.
During the war, the Girls'/Women's Club was held on Saturday afternoon when we gathered over the shop on the corner of Great Hall Street and Derby Road.
Also, I well remember during the war one of our members could not be married in the Hall itself as it was booked for something else, so she was married in the Minister's Vestry.
The Club also put on an entertainment once a year in the Billiard Room when we did country or Morris dances. We also put on a play about St. Francis. Sister Marjorie Maltby took the part of Brother Francis and I the part of Brother Juniper, a really lovely character who was devoted to Francis but had a simple faith in his Lord Jesus. The others, taking the parts of the other brothers, were complete with brown habits tied round their waist with a piece of rope. It was Sister Mary McCord who taught us to sing and speak in unison. I can't recall just what we learnt, but one line sticks in my memory which went: "Charge, charge, 'tis too late to retreat", which we shouted out with much gusto. What happy days and friendships which have lasted until now, but sad to say the majority have passed away and there are not many of us left.
Another thing I recall is that during the war I joined the choir under Gordon Thorp's conductorship and on one Sunday School Anniversary he asked to see me. I thought the message was wrong and it was my friend he wanted, but it was me, and he wished us to sing a duet in the morning. It must have sounded O.K. as we were asked to sing it again at night. It wasn't so bad in the morning as there were not so many people there, but at night my boss at work, who was a Methodist and was a keen Gilbert & Sullivan devotee attended the service which made me feel a bit nervous but everything turned out fine. I left the choir after I started going out with Frank. We were married in the Albert Hall on Christmas Eve 1947 and our son was christened there in February 1953.
In 1925 Oundle Drive in Wollaton was divided into plots but it took over seven years before plot 41 became the site of the Albert Hall manse. The manse was built in 1932 at a total cost of £2,047 8s 3d: £325 12s 7d for the land, Messrs. Stamp & Co. built the house for £1,487 2s 9½d, road expenses £80 0s 8d, laying out the garden £67 12s 2½d, and fees paid to Dawson & Lambert, Architects & Surveyors, 28 Park Row, Nottingham of £87 0s 0d. The manse was named "The Arborery" (June 1933) and was numbered 27 Oundle Drive, Wollaton.
People who were well-known at the time were recorded in the Leaders' Minutes of December 1932: Mr. Arthur Jackson as a Class Leader of Boys and Mrs. Watkinson as Leader of the Young Women's Tuesday Class. The following Assistant Class Leaders were elected, Mrs. Sturgess to Sister Gladys's Tuesday Class, Miss Myra Lester to Miss Stock's Class, and Mr. G. Jarratt to Mr. Stock's Class.
In From the forest I came, the story of Gypsy Rodney Smith, M.B.E., by David Lazell, some reminiscences were related of the Albert Hall. One was from a lady, then about eighteen years of age, who said:
He was a dark-skinned gypsy of medium stature, brown eyes, radiant expression of his great love for the Lord Jesus, of a special gentleness, always filled with joy.
Gypsy Smith also preached of his great love for the Lord Jesus Christ, and one could hear a pin drop - such was the great attention of his hearers. I remember playing the piano while he sang. He had a rich tenor voice. We sang duets together, mostly Sankey and Moody hymns. One I remember was, We walk by faith but not alone. I remember his pleading voice expressing the need to commit oneself to Jesus. He gave many anecdotes referring to flowers in his sermons. His lovely illustrations were almost poetry.
During his stay at the Edwalton Manor House [at Edwalton, Nottingham] he was more than thrilled to be taken with my mother in a landau carriage behind a couple of blue roans with bells ringing on their harness. There was no tarmac on the roads in those days.
The 1933 Anniversary number of the Messenger reported that the Albert Hall Institute was one of the largest and best equipped Institutes in the country, but it was all too small for the varied purposes for which it was used. There was a fine Gymnasium in the basement, with dressing-room and up-to-date equipment, used by hundreds of young men and women, and boys and girls every week. Next door was the Men's Club Room, with five billiard tables, a section of the room being set out with smaller tables where men could talk together or play chess, draughts or dominoes. The Men's Club was a centre of hearty friendship which was greatly appreciated and in constant use. Here also were the kitchens catering for many thousands during the year.
On the ground floor was a large crush hall, leading to the Lecture Hall, accommodating five-hundred people. Here the Junior and Intermediate Sunday School was held and once a month after the evening service, the Social Hour; and all through the week, public meetings, lectures and concerts took place.
Every Saturday night throughout the winter some gathering of a social character filled the Lecture Hall. Here too each Friday night the Cripples' Guild met with a band of devoted ladies to watch over their interests. Once a year members of the Cripples' Guild visited Welbeck Abbey and were entertained by Her Grace the Duchess of Portland. On the ground floor too were the Superintendent's room and the Secretary's office. The doors of the Institute were open all through the day until ten o'clock at night and there was a constant stream of people who came for help and advice. Homeless people came for meals and beds, and no deserving case was sent away without consideration and such assistance as could be given.
There were two flights of stairs to the Deaconesses' Rooms and the Boys' Brigade Office and, just above on the first floor proper, was the Church Parlour (seating 250) and five classrooms. On Sunday the Church Parlour was used for the Morning Sunday School and for the Primary in the afternoon. Here the Wesley Guild met, a company of intelligent and devoted young people, eager for service. The Ladies' Sewing Circle met there each Wednesday and the Choir for practice each Friday. There was a magnificent choir, renowned throughout the Midlands. On this floor was the home of the Girl Guides and Brownies, and every class room was in use throughout the week for fellowship meetings.
On the second floor was the Jewish Girls' Club, and next door, the office of the British Legion. The officials of the Legion worked in close co-operation with the Mission in the relief of distress and unemployed ex-servicemen. The Superintendent of the Mission was a chaplain of the Nottingham Branch.
The Leaders' Meeting of 2 June 1933 decided that the Introit should be sung at the Evening Service as well as at the Morning Service.
Soloists who sang for Sunday services in August included Miss Mary Wragg (morning on the 6th); Mr. Leslie G. Wyer How lovely are Thy dwellings (evening on the 6th); and Mr. Bernard Mellows (on the 13th)
Mr. L. Gordon Thorp succeeded Bernard Johnson as organist and choirmaster at the Albert Hall Methodist Mission in December 1933. On the first Sunday of July 1934 Mr. Gordon Thorp commenced his duties as Organist and Choirmaster at the Albert Hall. Mr. Thorp had been assistant organist for thirty years, including a period in the old building that was destroyed by fire at the beginning of the century. For years he had been a composer of music and a prominent figure in the society of organists. He had been President of the Nottingham Society of Organists, director of music at the Nottingham High School for Boys, and music adviser to the Nottinghamshire Rural Community Council. It was believed that he would maintain the same high standard for which the music of the Albert Hall had been justly renowned. Later, when Mr Thorp reached the age of seventy, members of his choir arranged a party to celebrate his birthday and to give him a gold expanding bracelet for his watch, in appreciation of his long and valued service.
The Saturday runs of the Cycling Club in January 1934 met at the front of the Albert Hall at 2.15 pm and rode to Bottesford, The Dukeries, Melton Mowbray and Swarkestone Bridge, and were invited to "either return to Nottingham for tea, or carry tea".
The July 1934 edition of The Messenger reported that at the last Executive Meeting of the Albert Hall Wesley Guild the principal topic for discussion was to alter the Guild Year to commence on 1 January and finish on 31 December, and not from September to March as before. This suggestion came from headquarters, and originated from the fact that the two allied organisations, the Christian Endeavour and the Legion of Service work to a calendar year. After somewhat lengthy discussion the recommendation was carried, subject to the approval of the rest of the Guilders. The year was divided into three sections, January to April, May to August, and September to December. The first and third sections were to comprise indoor meetings. The dates for the summer session were left blank for a ramble or an open-air meeting as circumstances permitted.
During the winter of 1934 a new feature, the Concert-Recital, was started. Twice monthly, on Sunday evenings, at 8 p.m., an hour of music was given. The programmes had been varied, with a wide choice of artistes.
The Rev. G. Osborn Gregory officiated at the marriage of George Brummitt Jarratt to Alice McGowan on 23 June.
Alice Jarratt said that one after the other of her age group got married. She and George were first, because they were the oldest; then it followed on from that so the whole "gang" who used to play cricket, tennis, and other activities, broke up. She went on to say:
Cricket was played at Highfields. In 1978 we had a reunion after fifty years. Kenneth Waights, who also played cricket, came.
We had a Christian Endeavour for some time but that did not take very well because we had the Wesley Guild which had a membership of about eighty.
We married off several of the deaconesses. Joan Morton married Warren Bardsley. He was in the ministry in Southport. She was Irish from Belfast. Pamela Pratley married Peter George Keward. Other names which come to mind are Winifred Kingdom (married Mr. Marrat), Joan Barlow (married Mr. Gudgeon) and Rev. Jean Cowton (married Mr. Quick). All the "Deacs" had flats. There were two on Rolleston Drive.
Flowers were sometimes bought by a group. The Wesley Guild Sunday was somewhere around February or March and flowers would be bought from collections taken at their meetings. There would be a church collection on Easter Day and out of that the flowers would be bought so that a good display could be achieved. There was never a collection taken as such for other Sundays. If anyone wished to have flowers in memory of someone the money to buy them would be individually given and specified. We also had a permanent list of subscribers who wanted to give flowers and the date on which they wanted to give. Each would give an amount, say five pounds, and then the flowers were given to the sick or housebound after the service. Four of us were responsible for the flowers: Beatrice Pikett, Dorothy Spencer, Rene Dove and myself.
Miss Rene Dove was involved firstly with the Albert Hall and later the Central Mission in Parliament Street. During a very large part of that time she had been involved with flower arrangements for Sundays and special occasions. During a conversation with her, she remembered some of the people who were involved with the Albert Hall.
Mrs. J.T. Thompson [who was at one time responsible for arrangements for collecting the money for the flowers] was the wife of a businessman, Mr. J.T. Thompson, who had an umbrella shop in Milton Street. Kendalls bought him out. They had lived at No. 3 Elm Avenue, Mapperley Park.
There were about four people who had the job of collecting the money from subscribers which was paid to Mrs. Rose Taylor, in the office, who would probably "do" the flowers. She did them for years, for as long as I could remember. They were always put on the piano, on the platform, in a tall brass vase. I think she did them even after she finished in the office. I know she always used to go across the road to the Co-op. It was a big shop on the corner of Derby Road with a large green grocery store and a butchers, but no grocery. It was where the Derby Road/Maid Marion Way island is now. There was a pub there and an optician called Plattins.
Gertrude Edwards wrote in the July 1931 Messenger:
The Sunday Flower Fund provided flowers for the church. Every Sunday there were flowers placed on the Communion Table and on the piano. When the last hymn had been sung, the last prayer uttered and the worship for the day finished, the members of the Sunshine Band took those flowers to the sick and suffering members and friends of the Mission. Not only did the beauty of the perfume of the flowers cheer the sufferers but there was the remembrance that those flowers had come straight from the house of the Lord. To carry on this work of beautifying God's House and cheering the sick ones, required funds which were dealt with by Mrs. J.T. Thompson at the Albert Hall Institute. The average cost for flowers, in those days, was 3s 6d each Sunday.
Mrs. Alice Jarratt continued her reminiscences.
Notable people in the early days included Mr. Llewellyn Davies, Mr Palmer and Dr. Proctor. At one time the people on the Trustees' Meeting and the committees were all eminent people in the City. Nowadays if we want money it has to come from the real laymen, but in those days they had eminent people who dipped into their pockets and could provide it. Members of the Pearson family gave us the stained glass windows [Pearson Memorial Windows dedicated in August 1930]. Mr. Myers, the Managing Director of Jessops, was a member.
There was a Youth Chapel over the corner shop on Derby Road that led into the back of the Albert Hall. The Turner's [Ladies] Choir used to rehearse in there during the war because they were not allowed to rehearse in the Albert Hall.
The Superintendent Minister was very strict about what kind of worship there was. Only Ministers (including Supernumeraries) and Deaconesses were allowed on the platform except for one day of the year when we had Local Preachers and that was on Local Preacher's Sunday.
Mrs. Alice Jarratt also recalled that Rev. Osborn Gregory was Superintendent Minister for about fourteen years because the war started while he was in Nottingham and he stayed until the war finished. He was very involved with training Local Preachers and he encouraged the young men, telling them that it was wonderful to preach. However, they didn't all complete the course. George Jarratt used to go to Mr Gregory's study at least one night a week. The examination was very, very stiff in those days. George Jarratt was a Local Preacher for forty-two years. George Fieldhouse was also a Local Preacher. They were both granted their forty years' certificate together.
In September it had been decided to install "talkie" apparatus in the Albert Hall, and this enabled them to give much more attractive, improved and up-to-date programmes at the Saturday Night Cinema. As a result the audiences greatly increased. The value of the Cinema in religious work had been by no means fully realised or developed. During winter evenings clean and interesting entertainment was provided each Saturday night, commencing on the last Saturday in September which met the need of many who could not afford the ordinary cinema prices. The Saturday Night Cinema did something far more than provide entertainment at a very low price. It brought the church workers into touch with hundreds of people who would otherwise remain outside the Mission's influence.
There were fifty-two steps up to Room 7 where the Used Clothes' Store opened on Wednesday evening. On wet nights, especially in the winter, perhaps an entire family, consisting of seven, received strong boots or shoes, some new clothes, and their soaking cast-offs were left behind. The same family may later be seen wearing overcoats and each carrying a parcel of personal clothing. In February the warmest thanks were paid to Sir Julien Cahn for his most generous help in reconstructing the Used Clothes Store, with separate office and men's and women's departments. The work of the Used Clothes' Store, carried on entirely by the young people of the Wesley Guild, had enormously developed during the year. By then over 3,000 cases had been dealt with. Every case came with a written recommendation and was very carefully and closely investigated, but, once its genuine character was established, clothing was sometimes provided without any charge whatever. All through the year, and especially through the winter months, there was a stream of homeless and unemployed men who went for food and shelter. During the year the Mission provided meals and beds for 1,000 of the most urgent and desperate cases among them, but lack of the necessary money prevented help being given to as many as one would have wished.
Throughout the Sunday School there had been an increased interest in the Scripture Examinations. Three Training Classes were held from January to March. Sister Gladys trained the Juniors, Mr. H. Stocks the Intermediates, and Sister Madeline the Seniors. Twenty-two successes, including three prizes were gained. The work was always interesting and gave increased knowledge of the Bible.
In March Mr. G. Jarratt submitted a report of the proposed Wesley Guild Men's Hostel. It was decided to form a sub-committee consisting of Sister Emily, Mr. Pearson, Mr. Ward, and Mr. Stocks to meet with the Guild representatives and to report any news of interest or progress.
The staff of the Mission at that time, were Rev. G. Osborn Gregory (Superintendent), Rev. Thomas A. Kidd, Sister Madeline Hancock and Sister Gladys Thorpe.
On 12 June the open-air witness in the Council House Square re-started on Wednesday nights. Once more the Methodists united with the Church of England in this work. The speakers were the same as the previous year, namely Bishop Talbot, Rev. H.V. Turner, another Methodist Minister and Rev. G. Osborn Gregory. The general subject, for the summer, was The Apostles' Creed.
Early June saw the retirement of Miss W.R. Holford from the position of Secretary to the Albert Hall and Institute. For ten years Miss Holford had served the Mission with great efficiency, admirable judgment, and unfailing courtesy and willingness. There was no department of the Mission's work which had not benefited by her interest and service. Although she left to get married, she continued as a Class Leader, in the Sunday School and in many other spheres, and continued to take an active part in the life and work of the Mission.
During the week-end of 14 June the Local Preachers' Mutual Aid Association held their National Conference at the Albert Hall. It was attended by over six hundred delegates and the preacher on the Sunday morning was the President, Mr. W.J. Johns, and in the evening, the President-Elect, Mr. Fred Ogden, J.P.. Methodism owed an incalculable debt to its local preachers who brought to their Church a noble gift of devotion, culture, and ability.
The A.H.M.S.A. Tennis Club sought, in the 1935 season, to profit by the experience gained in its first season. It was recorded that there was room for a limited number of members at the fee of 12s 6d. Records showed that in 1935 the court was at the Y.M.C.A. ground but in 1937 it was shown to be "at The Hollies, Wilford, near the Toll Bridge" and that refreshments could be obtained there. For the benefit of onlookers there was a good supply of comfortable deck-chairs.
The Oliver Hind Lads' Club provided part of their Sports' Ground on Thursday evenings for the Life Boys which allowed them to play all sorts of games and enjoy themselves without any interference.
On 4 August the Rev. T.A. Kidd preached for the last time at the Albert Hall as a minister of the Mission. He had been on the staff for four years and left to go to Hull to take charge of an important Church there. He was succeeded by the Rev. Philip Romeril, a man of keen social interests, an excellent preacher and organiser, and "one who loves his fellow men". Mr. and Mrs. Romeril and their family were given a very warm welcome. Sister Madeline Hancock left on the occasion of her marriage. Her place was taken by Sister Alice Wayne.
The Boys' Brigade camp was at Saltfleet. It seemed to be well organised! "All advance luggage must be at the Loading Dock, Victoria Station, (Parliament Street Entrance) by 6 pm, on Tuesday, 30 July. The advance party, who put up the tents and generally get the camp ready, meet in the booking hall of the Victoria Station at 8.15 am on Wednesday, 31 July. On Saturday (oh, let it be soon!) 3 August, the remainder of the Camp assemble at the corner of Shakespeare Street, Mansfield Road, at 6.25 am (sharp), arriving at Saltfleet Station at 10.25 am. Altogether there will be about 130 in Camp. We are taking about 34 from the Albert Hall Company. This is the largest number we have ever taken since the writer took over the Company. Each year the numbers have shown a slight increase, but we shall not be satisfied until every member of the Company comes to Camp. It is, without a doubt, the finest and best holiday a boy could have. The villagers of Saltfleet are eagerly looking forward to our visit almost as much as our own lads. This, in itself, speaks volumes, not only for the B.B. and the Camp, but for the boys themselves. We wish all our friends as good a holiday as we hope to have, from 3 to 10 August, by the sea."
During August, Messrs. Brindley's of Sheffield were responsible for the overhaul of the organ. Over 3,400 pipes were individually taken out and treated with a special high-pressure suction plant for removing all possible dirt. The mechanism itself, involving the seating of each of the respective pipes, was treated in a similar manner. The leatherwork of the small valves had perished in over two hundred cases, all of which had to be renewed. The pedal board, which had worn almost level, was entirely re-faced and the mechanism action throughout was tested and made good where necessary. Several buckets-full of solid dirt were removed from the suction plant, and this was a slight indication of the shocking state into which the organ had fallen.
The hint of future international struggles may have led to the holding of a Youth Peace Rally at the close of the Evening Service on the first Sunday of September 1935. The peace of the world was the special concern of youth for if war should come, upon youth would fall the awful brunt of it, and in after years, youth would pay the bill.
Two and a half years later, on 9 February 1938, there was a meeting of Peace Council held at the Albert Hall. The speaker was Mr. Bernard Millett of the British Youth Peace Assembly (B.Y.P.A.). In the same month it was reported that the Albert Hall Peace Council had been set up as a result of the growing menace of war in the world and the increasing disregard on the part of the nations, of the elementary principles of Christianity. The aim of the Council was to express in a practical manner, the concern and horror of all Christian people at the atrocities that took place in the name of civilisation; and to co-ordinate the efforts for peace with those of other people, irrespective of religions or other differences of opinion. The Council was affiliated to the B.Y.P.A. through the Nottingham Youth Peace Council and by whole-hearted co-operation with brother organisations and bodies working for this common purpose of peace and by organising the Mission's own meetings, demonstrations, exhibitions, etc., it was believed that it would play a foremost part in that great and immediate task.
The Free Churches held a united service of thanksgiving and remembrance for His Majesty King George the Fifth at the Albert Hall at 11 am on Tuesday 28 January 1936. It was conducted by Mr. Fuller Stebbings (Baptist), President of the Nottingham Free Church Council. One of the prayers, led by Rev. Gilbert Porteous, B.A. (Presbyterian), read: "O King, Eternal, Immortal, Invisible, who in the righteousness of Thy saints hast given us an example of godly life, and in their blessedness a glorious pledge of the hope of Thy calling, we thankfully remember all who, having served their generation according to the will of God, have passed peacefully into the unseen. Especially do we give Thee thanks for the life and reign of Thy servant, our Sovereign Lord, King George V., who by Thy grace, gathered our commonwealth of free people into one great family, and whom Thou hast now called to Thyself. For his wise counsel in times of perplexity, for his faith and courage in the dark days of war, for his steadfast vision of a world at peace, and for his understanding heart as he looked upon our common life, accept our thanks; through Christ our Lord. Amen." Mrs. Doreen M. Davis (née Gutteridge) recalled that they sang O Love that wilt not let me go, one of his favourite hymns.
The Annual Leaders' Meeting held on 15 September recorded that an Intermediate Wesley Guild had been formed. This was for young people from eleven to sixteen years of age and was intended to bridge the gap between the Junior and Senior Guilds. The intermediate period was the time when, having finished the Junior Guild, and not quite mature for the Senior, they seemed to slip away from the Church. Enthusiasm had been shown by the young people and they ran their programme on their own. They met on Friday evenings. Although the average age of those attending the Wesley Guild was fairly low, those in the Intermediate Guild were largely boys and girls who, through the Sunday School, had come into closer contact with the life of the Church.
Also, the deaconesses had started a Bible Study Circle which was held on Thursdays.
Ecce Homo was performed for the first time on Sunday at 6.30 pm on 5 April followed by the unveiling of the portrait of Mr. Bernard Johnson, who composed the music for it. The words were by Rev. H. Gifford Oyston. The soloists were Mr. Charles Morley and Mr. S. Allen, with an octet consisting of Mrs. F. Arnold, Miss O. Trindler, Miss F. Gretton, Miss V.Begley, Mr. H.N. Elliott, Mr. H. Martinson, Mr. J.R. Moore and Mr. L.J. Wyer. Mr. A.E. Jago was organist and Mr. L. Gordon Thorp conducted.
On Sunday 5 July a service was broadcast from the Albert Hall. The Choir rendered an anthem and Rev. Gregory gave the address.
For a spiritually alive Church, corporate prayer is essential. Contrary to common opinion, corporate prayer is not dependent upon time and place, but the sole essential is unity of spirit. In this unity, time and space are transcended. In order to make the practice definite, "The Prayer Circle" was formed. Members of this Circle received a card of membership for which a small charge was made to cover expenses. Members of the Circle were asked to pray, as far as possible, on week-days at 6.45 pm, and on Sundays at 9.30 am. The idea of having a definite time was to give a sense of fellowship, but that did not exclude from membership of the Circle any for whom prayer at these times was impossible. Those who could not pray at the set times were asked to join and pray at such a time as may be convenient for them. In order to develop prayer of this nature, the Prayer Circle published each month, a list of subjects for which they prayed, one being allocated to each day of the month. They were reminded that, in praying, it involved the consideration of one's own responsibility in the attainment of the object for which we pray.
In September, Sister Gladys Thorpe left after five years at the Mission to go to South Africa for a short time.
Mr. Gordon Thorp arranged six concert-recitals, one in each month, during 1936-7. The first took place on 4 October 1936 when the Nottingham Boys' High School provided an evening of school songs. There was a lady vocalist and an organ and piano duet by two of the boys.
The Electoral Roll for 15 October recorded the occupants of the shops and offices at the foot of Derby Road, by the Albert Hall: No. 3, Heber Lister, Evelyn Mary Lister and Frank Aston; No. 5, Vera Beecroft and Charles Beecroft (abode, 83 Moore Road, Mapperley); No. 7, Herbert Valentine Jackson, Clarissa Olivia Jackson, Leonard Stilwall Jackson and Isobel Marie Jackson; No. 11, Stanley William Leavesley, Ethel Leavesley and Cissie Lear; No. 15, Gerald Schofield (abode, 1 Independent Terrace, Independent St.); Nos. 21-23, Benjamin Blaskey and Gwendoline Blaskey (abode, 30 Grange Road, Woodthorpe); No. 23, Florence May Hopewell (abode, 44 Front Street, Arnold); No. 25, Hugh Emile Colman Collins, Susan Collins, Jack Brown and Jessie Lacey; No. 29, Vincent Turner (abode, 94 Portland Road), Walter Stanley Curtis and Mabel May Curtis (abode, 193 Newstead Avenue, Westdale Lane). Readers might care to compare this list with that for 1903 [Chapter 2].
An interesting innovation took place during June with the introduction of a Choir Magazine called Allegretto, which provided a résumé of all the musical work carried out by the Choir during the previous six months, and also detailed the Sunday night organ recitals and concert-recitals, letters from various people giving their views on the work of the Choir from different aspects, special events that took place during the previous twelve months, and a cross-word puzzle with an element of humour. The price was sixpence.
For the forthcoming 1937-38 season the Football Club booked a pitch at the Melbourne Road Ground, Aspley. There was a good pitch and excellent changing accommodation, which included hot shower baths and a refreshment buffet.
In order to be a member of the football club or the cricket club it was obligatory to be a class member, that is a member of the Methodist Church.
The August The Messenger recorded that, owing to the redecoration of the Albert Hall, the first three Sunday morning services would he held in the Lecture Hall [in the Institute] and the first three evening services would be held in the Elite Picture House, Parliament Street. Dr. Brummitt, the preacher on Sunday 8 August, was one of the foremost preachers of the United States, and the Editor of the Christian Advocate, a great American Religious Journal.
The soloists during the same period were:
|1st||-||morning||Mr. Bernard Mellows|
|evening||Miss Mary Wragg|
|15th||-||morning||Mrs. Violet Meakin|
|evening||Mrs. Florence Arnold|
An unusual snippet of information concerning the redecoration of the Albert Hall was the quantity of materials used. About 50 tons of steel tubular scaffolding was used, with about 800 planks. It took nearly 600 planks to form a platform at the top of the scaffolding (about 50 feet from the floor of the hall), from which the work on the ceiling was carried out. Five men were employed for nearly four weeks erecting and dismantling the scaffold alone. No less than 2,688 lbs of paint was used, in addition to 39 gallons of turpentine, 26 gallons of oil, 8½ gallons of varnish, 8 gallons of synthetic enamel, 3 gallons of cellulose enamel, etc., etc., a total weight of over one and a half tons of material, all of the best quality. There were twelve men continuously employed on the job, a total of 2,376 man-hours.
Ticket of Membership
Mr. Walter Hayes
During February there were two outstanding musical performances. The Annual Concert given by the Nottingham Free Church Choral Union was the first of its kind, the Choir consisting of over three hundred voices drawn from various Nonconformist Churches in the city. The programme was identical to that given at the Crystal Palace by a similar society a short time previously. Various organists and choirmasters took part in the programme. In addition to the choral items, Miss Elsie Welbourne was solo-pianist and also played the first movement of the Schumann Concerto, in conjunction with the organ. On 27 February the Junior Concert-Recital consisted of performers all of whom were under sixteen years of age, a concert of considerable variety in its programme.
The National Children's Home had been founded in 1869 by the Rev. Dr. T. Bowman Stephenson. At the Wesleyan Conference held in Nottingham in 1891 Dr. Stephenson was the President. In 1935 Sir Arthur Black, a lifelong Methodist and former Lord Mayor of Nottingham, presented his house, Springfield in Alexandra Park (with extensive grounds including a playing field), to the National Children's Home. He moved to Southbank, 28 Magdala Road. In 1947 he gave this house also to the National Children's Home, and on 10 September 1947 eleven girls moved in from the Frodsham Branch. In 1960 both houses started admitting children of both sexes and by 1982 there were mixed family groups at both houses comprising forty-five children in all. Until comparatively recently the children often came from far afield, but now the branch aimed to serve the local community. Methodist connections were maintained with the churches at Devon Drive, Mapperley, the Albert Hall and King's Hall. Albert Hall garden parties had been held at Springfield when he lived there.
At a Nottingham National Children's Home Organisation Festival in the Albert Hall early in 1938 the boys took part in entertainment which appeared to have been highly original and unusual. It consisted of "Campanological items, such as Handbell Solos, Sleigh-bell and Xylophonic Pieces rendered by skilled young performers, Song Scenas and Interpretations given by clever young people in original costumes, and a Keep-Fit and Skipping Display was also given". The Principal of the Home, the Rev. John H. Litten, gave an address.
The A.H.M.S.A. Table Tennis Men's League Team was still doing well, coming fourth in the table. The support given to the January American "Lightening" Tournament had been very encouraging and was followed by the Easter Knock-Out Tournament.
The Young People's Fellowship was held after the Sunday evening service, when young folk met together. One young man, who had stayed for the first time, said quite frankly: "It didn't seem like religion. I never thought of it being happy like that". One month later he announced that he had found Christ and had "given the Devil his cards". The Y.P.F. gave a unique opportunity to our young fellows and girls of coming together, not to listen to an address, but to share their difficulties, ask their questions and to share their joy in Christ. Life is very wonderful when you are finding it out together.
The Mission Committee decided to take over the Aspley Central Hall as from September 1938. It was in the midst of a new and rapidly increasing population and was the only Free Church on the Estate. It was believed that, with enthusiastic and vigorous work and true fellowship, a fine cause could be built up and a valuable Christian service could be rendered to the people of the district. In August 1938 it was stated that the Mission had been fortunate in securing the appointment of the Rev. Harry A. Breakspear as additional minister to the Mission for the coming year. He would have special charge of the Aspley Hall. They were glad to have him back amongst them again.
Sister Olive Lewin and her family had lived on a farm about a mile-and-a-half out of Halam, Nottinghamshire. Her grandparents and parents had been members at Halam Chapel, in what was then the Southwell Circuit. Her father had been the organist at Halam Chapel for a long while. She and her parents moved to Wollaton in 1935, their membership being transferred to Chilwell Road. The buses did not run between the church and home so they had to cross the canal and walk across open fields in order to get to Beeston. When Olive was thirteen and her brother, Peter, was four, the family began to attend the Albert Hall. She went to Sunday School, Arthur Jackson being Sunday School Secretary at that time. Both her father and mother went to classes; father went to the Men's and mother to the Wednesday nights. She and her father were in the Albert Hall choir for years. When they first came to Nottingham her father was organist for the Minister's Class when Mr. Gregory was taking it.
Mrs Grace Hardy, Sister Olive Lewin, Mr Bob Proctor and Mrs Edna Proctor related some of their reminiscences.
Sunday School Anniversaries were very much the local minister's decision. He would plan and lead his own Sunday School Anniversary services. He sat in the middle of the children who had learned songs and recitations especially for it. They did a lot of singing, mimes and Bible stories. The deaconesses also took an active part. When Sister Mary McCord was there she did a lot of the singing training in the Sunday School, being very musical and a good organist too.
The lessons contained in Mr. Gregory's sermons were remembered all the week and gave food for thought. They were very vivid. He had tremendous powers of illustration. In one, when he was talking about how valuable friends were, he compared a friend with a dewdrop on a rose which shines like a diamond in the morning. He didn't use a microphone.
When Bernard Johnson was the organist, Gordon Thorp played every Sunday morning and Bernard Johnson played at night, playing until the sermon. He then nipped up the side and out. Gordon Thorp would then have to play the last hymn. Even with fifty or sixty in the choir on Sunday night, Mr. Thorp knew if there was anybody missing. So, on Monday morning he would go to their home to find out how they were.
The post of organist carried with it the post of choirmaster. Mr. Jago's daughter is noted to have said that her father always remained assistant organist because even when Gordon Penneston was organist, he did not want to be the choirmaster.
Mr. Waights organised marvellous pantomimes in which he, the Boys' Brigade and the Good Companions performed. In one he was one of two babies in a pram, with bonnets and doublets. There were a large number of young people in the Mission then. Mr. Waights was marvellous with young people. He used to take them on holiday. To him everybody was equal. He was very down to earth.
The major part of the deaconess's work was listening and talking to people who did not manage to get out of their homes. These people would sit alone day after day looking at the same walls and not having anybody much to talk to. Often a deaconess would go and might just as well have been a talking post: they did the talking. It is what they said and what they wanted to do that was important. There had been times when a deaconess had made a visit expressly to take a class ticket or something and walked away with it still in her bag because somehow or other they never got around to remembering that they had that job to do. It didn't matter in the least but that person had got off their mind all things they had wanted to. One ninety-eight-year-old lady could not remember anything generally, but when the Albert Hall was mentioned she would recollect which class she had gone to, who had come to that class, and she would remember the words and tunes of all the hymns they sang; and she would sing a hymn in her croaky voice right through, remembering all the words.
The daffodil exhibition and the chrysanthemum show were held in the Hall.
In the colder weather there was always a fire in the Girls' Parlour and there was a little kitchen off it where the younger people could always go and make a cup of tea to have with their sandwiches. It was right at the top of the Institute and was an ideal place for going and losing oneself. It wasn't for girls only. It was called the Girls' Parlour but that was probably more because the Girls' Club used to meet there.
Blanche Wise came from Boots to be secretary at the Mission. For years she was the leader in the Girls' League which was the junior section of Women's Work for overseas. There was quite a sizeable district network for the ladies group, at which level Sister Olive Lewin was heavily involved. There were Girls' League branches in the District, but the Albert Hall League consisted mostly of younger single people, so the meetings were held in the evenings.
After the Sunday night service a crowd of youngsters, for a long while, used to go on the Forest to hold another service.
Mr. Waights used to have a lunch-time service on the Market Square on Tuesday. He used to get a crowd. When he left, those who attended bought him a lovely leather briefcase. About twice a year a march was organised from the Albert Hall down to the Market Square where a service was held.
Sister Frances Credland
left at Christmas 1938 to be married. Sister Marjorie Maltby came from the
Hull Mission to take her place. In March 1939 the staff of the Mission were
Rev. G. Osborn Gregory (Superintendent), Rev. Philip Romeril, Rev. Harry
A. Breakspear, Sister Alice Wayne, Sister Marjorie Maltby and Sister Emily
Sister Marjorie Maltby
The Young People's Room was built towards the end of 1937 and opened on the last day of that year. The result was a well-furnished Club Room, completely equipped with refreshment buffet, games and reading matter. The Annual Subscription (the income from which covered only a small part of the expenditure) had been made as low as possible, two shillings being payable quarterly if desired. Members of the following organisations were eligible to join:- Wesley Guild, Young People's Fellowship, Boys' Brigade, Girl Guides, Sunday School, or any Society Class. The Room had become an established part of the leisure life of a large number of people. Whilst there was a minimum age, there was no maximum.
The Girls' Club held Keep Fit classes on a Tuesday evening, Badminton on a Wednesday, and Saturday evening was a time of fellowship.
The Albert Hall had Girl Guides, Boys' Brigade and Life Boy companies. As a foundation for all the work undertaken by these organisations was the object: "The Advancement of Christ's Kingdom". Service was the keynote of the training the members received week by week. They were told that their responsibilities were to other members, and that each must be prepared to give of their best for the whole. As they grew older new responsibilities were introduced. The seniors were given to understand that new recruits were their special care; they were encouraged to take a deeper interest in the work of the Church, to become Sunday School teachers and to try and alleviate, if only in a small way, some of the pain and misery of the world. It was not forgotten that the members were encouraged to take an interest in the furtherance of Christ's Kingdom overseas, and regularly gifts of money and goods were collected within the organisations and sent to Medical Missionary Stations. So, under God's guidance, the officers tried to train these boys and girls to become real pillars of the Church. The Life Boys were boys aged 9 to 12, the Boys' Brigade 12 to 17 and the Girl Guides 11 to 16.
In a manuscript by Mr. W. Alex Johnstone, he recollects life in the 3rd Nottingham (Albert Hall) Boys' Brigade Company:
I remember joining the Life Boys - 3rd Nottingham (Albert Hall) - in 1934. It was then being led by Kath Embleton and two leaders assisting, whose names I cannot recall.
We met in the top rooms at the back of the Albert Hall, which was also used by the 3rd Nottingham (Albert Hall) Boys' Brigade. Latterly we used the gymnasium in the Albert Hall Institute.
We were very fortunate and privileged to have such "super" premises, and the number of boys in the Life Boy team and the Boys' Brigade Company proved it was one of the best companies in Nottingham.
We covered so many activities as youngsters, it is too difficult to recall them in this article. However, when we reached eleven years of age, it was the big transfer to the Boys' Brigade proper.
The Company was led by Captain Eddie Embleton, with the help of Gordon Ainsworth, Tom Naylor and Bernard Leivesley, all of whom I regard as helping me personally in one of the great changes of my life, especially spiritually.
There was Bible Class every Sunday morning, with up to forty or fifty boys attending (a "must" in B.B. rules). On Monday evening there was first aid, on Tuesday evening, drill and then club. We produced a Drill Squad, which won the Battalion Drill Cup, and was runner up several times. That gave us the poise and discipline which we all saw as essential to our lives. On Wednesday evening there was gym in one of the best fully-equipped gyms in Nottingham, deep down in the basement of the Albert Hall Institute. On Thursday evening various other classes were held. Then Friday was club night and band practice. On Saturday there was football, or cricket in summer; the cricket on Friday taking place instead of club.
The Company always had, and produced, an item for "Nottingham Rock", the annual Boys' Brigade show, held at the old "Empire" and biennially at the Theatre Royal.
It was the 3rd Company's great privilege and honour to provide, also at the last concert at the old "Empire", the Bugle Band item. We beat the retreat, the one and only time it was ever done.
I had the luck to write to the Commanding Officer of the Royal College of Music, Kneller Hall, and also the Commanding Officer, Royal Marines' School of Music, at Deal and Portsmouth. By return, Kneller Hall sent me a lovely letter explaining ceremonial and enclosed the Army Book of Ceremonial for myself and the Company. Also from the Royal Marines Director of Music I received a lovely letter and several sheets of Bugle Band music for our own personal use. One of the marches was Mechanized Infantry, which the Royal Marines played on their next ceremonial occasion on Plymouth Hoe, and sent me another letter telling me of this event. Marvellous memories!
Then, of course, Battalion Church Parade, always on the first Sunday in March, was a great spectacle, the four districts of the Nottingham Battalion converging at the Albert Hall. There were up to thirteen hundred boys and officers, with few seats left in the Hall for friends and family. But the 3rd Nottingham Company was a member of the Western District and on Battalion Church Parade day we all met on The Ropewalk at around 1.45 p.m. The 17th Company (Beeston) always walked and paraded all the way from Beeston.
When we were all assembled, we marched down Derby Road to the Albert Hall, led by the massed combined Bugle Band of the District. Then followed the 3rd (Albert Hall) Company; the 4th (St. Augustine's) Company; the 14th (Mansfield Road Baptist) Company, and the 17th (Beeston Lads' Club) Company. It was a rare sight to behold. We marched six abreast down Derby Road, before it became "one way". After that, we went round the back, via Circus Street, etc..
The Albert Hall Company was also involved as a first at playing at the Notts. County Football Ground in the days of Tommy Lawton, Jack Sewell, etc.
The stories are endless, but these few memories will remind many of the good times, the good days, the many friends found and still kept to this day. But, as I said earlier, being part of the 3rd Company helped to shape my life by the example of all those who led us, and who, unfortunately, have passed on. But, in the words of the "B.B" motto, they will always be remembered:-
"The advancement of Christ's Kingdom amongst boys, and the promotion of the habits of Obedience, Reverence, Discipline and Self-respect, and all that tends towards a true Christian Manliness."
To close, I remember attending a Bible Class course, run for young officers of the Battalion, at Dakeyne Street Lads' Club (2nd Company), and attended by Rev. William Barclay, a great teacher and preacher from Scotland. He told us, during his many talks, of an incident when he was attending a school in Edinburgh and he talked to a class: "What would you like to be when you grow up?". He expected from the girls, "Nurses", etc., and from the boys, "Engine Drivers, Firemen", etc. But one boy put up his hand and on being asked what he would like to be, he replied, in all sincerity: "I want to be a MAN".
The 1938-39 session was the Golden Jubilee of the Boys' Brigade in Nottingham. Fifty years earlier, on 10 October the 1st Nottingham Company was started and continued its work without a break for all those years. The 3rd Nottingham Company, at the Albert Hall, offered to their camping pals in the 1st their heartiest congratulations on this great event and wished them all the success they deserved.
The Tennis Club announced that they were commencing the season on 10 May until 30 September. The Court was situated at the Hollies, Coronation Avenue (near Wilford Bridge), Wilford. The subscription for the season was 12s 6d. Refreshments could be obtained at the Court.
The Broadcast Service on 23 April was recorded by the B.B.C. and afterwards transmitted overseas.
On 24 May members of the Albert Hall Young People's Fellowship staged a dramatic presentation of John Wesley, by Rev. H.V. Ivens, in the Lecture Hall. Mr. Bob Proctor recalls that Sister Marjorie Maltby announced that: "We will have a celebration; we'll have a dance". Mr Proctor told her that dancing was not permitted in the Hall but Mr. Gregory told her: "Whatever you do, I don't want to know". So they had a dance!
In May, Mr. L. Gordon Thorp was paid the honour of being invited to preside at the Organ at the Great May Missionary Meeting in the Albert Hall, London. This was the first occasion on which a provincial organist had received such an invitation, and it was felt that the Nottingham Mission shared in a reflected glory.
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