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CHAPTER 7
ALBERT  HALL, PART 6:   1940 to 1949

The Retford Grove Street Circuit Plan and Directory for the quarter 26 April to 25 July 1942 listed the people who would provide transport for preachers within the Circuit. They were well organised!

Preachers were conveyed to their appropriate appointments by the undermentioned friends and in the way indicated. The Albert Hall was given the number 22, so it will be seen that their preacher was transported in Rev. Halstead's car on 3 and 24 May and 12 July, and in Rev. Garnett's car on 26 April (p.m.).

Mr. E. HURTON'S  CAR Mr. F.J.T. HIGGINS'S  CAR
Apl. 26.. (p.m.) 20,18,17,15,13,14 May 3..25,24,7
May 17.. 33,30 May 17..31,32
May 24.. (p.m.) 26,27,30,33,32,31 May 31..31,29
June 7 .. (p.m.) 6,5,4,3,14,13,15,16,17 June 21..5,4,14,13
June 21.. 32,31,29 July 12..9,8
June 28.. 6,5,4 Mr.  G. PICKERING'S  CAR
July  19.. 6,4,15,16,17,18 May 2..(p.m.) 27,30,29,28
Rev. C.W. LIMB'S  CAR May 17..19,10,9
Apl. 26.. (a.m.) 25,24,7 June 28..27,30
May 3.. 12,11 July 12..(p.m.) 6,5,4,3
May 10.. (a.m.) 10,8,9, (p.m.) 7,6,4,3 Mr.  J. BARROW'S  CAR
May 17.. (p.m.) 5,4,3,14 Apl. 26.. (p.m.) 7,6,4,3, (Return 5)
May 24.. 25,24,7,3 May 24.. 19,10,9, (Return 20)
June 7..(p.m.) 7,24,25 June 7.. 10,8
June 14.. (a.m.) 31,32 June 21..19,10
July 12.. (a.m.) 10,19 July 12..29, (Return 30)
July 19.. (a.m.) 7,24,25 Mr. MARSH  SMITH'S  CAR
Rev. E .J. HALSTEAD'S  CAR Apl. 26..(p.m.) 27,30,33
Apl. 26.. (p.m.) 8,21 May 24..16,15
May 3.. 22,31,32 June 28.. 19,9
May 10.. 17,16,15 Mr. J. B. GARNETT'S  CAR
May 17.. (a.m.) 25,24, (p.m.) 27,28 Apl. 26..(p.m.) 2,22,23
May 24.. 22,2,1 May 31.. 16,14
June 14..11,12 June 14.. 3,14,13
June 21..19,10 June 21.. 16,15
July 12.. 22,2 July 12.. 12,11
Mr. A. W. NEAL'S  CAR Mr.  J. RANDALL'S  CAR
Apl. 26..32,31,29 May 3..19,10,9,8
May 10..32,(Return 33) May 10..29, (Return 30)
May 17..12,11 May 31.. 25,7,3
May 31..33,30,27,28 June 28.. 26,25,24,7
June 14..10,9,8 July 12.. 31,32
July 12.. 26,25,7 Mr.  E. CROOKES'S  CAR
  May 10.. 14,13

NOTE.  -  Mr. Hurton's car starts from Grove Street, Retford,  9.15 am and 4.45 pm.

Preachers are requested to notify Mr. Hurton if they do not desire to use the car provided.  Those to be taken up en route are advised to ascertain PRECISE  information where the car will pass.
The above arrangements are entirely dependent upon cars being available.
Preachers must otherwise make their own arrangements for travelling and in every case Preachers are urged to communicate with the car owners early in the week.

TABLE

Chapelgate 2   Markham 10   Rockley 18   Hayton 26
Rampton 3   Normanton 11   Milton 19   Clayworth 27
Cottam 4   Weston 12   Elkesley 20   Gringley 28
Treswell 5   Dunham 13   Laxton 21   Everton 29
Leverton S. 6   Laneham 14   Albert Hall

22

 

Mattersey

30

Leverton N.

7

 

Drayton

15

 

Ordsall

23

 

Torworth

31

Egmanton

8

 

Headon

16

 

Sturton

24

 

Blyth

32

Tuxford

9

 

Askham

17

 

Wheatley

25

 

Sutton

33

The Mission Staff in February 1940 consisted of  Rev. G. Osborn Gregory (Superintendent), Rev. Harry A. Breakspear, Pastor Ernest Kemp, Sister Alice Wayne, Sister Marjorie Maltby and Sister Emily Bird.

In his autobiography, Donald Harrison provides a picture of some of the highlights which attracted him to the Albert Hall and the University of Nottingham. He was baptised in 1919 at the Kings Road Methodist Church, Middlesborough, near where he was born and, when small, attended Sunday School at Atlas Street, a small mission-type chapel very close to the street where he lived. The great feature of Sunday School life in those days was the anniversary, when the whole school, teachers and pupils singing hymns and waving banners, would march in a body through all the local streets. Each year most of the pupils would receive a prize for good attendance.

During the war, after service in France and evacuation from Dunkirk, I was stationed in Nottingham.

At the Albert Hall in Nottingham, even in war-time, concerts and recitals were held and I heard such famous conductors as Sir Thomas Beecham and Sir John Barbirolli and distinguished pianists like Pouishnoff.  I noticed that the Albert Hall was a Methodist place of worship and that organ recitals were given before the services.  Attracted at first by the music, I began to attend the worship on Sundays and was strongly impressed by the fine preaching of the Rev. G. Osborn Gregory, the Superintendent Minister.  In the spiritual field he had the same power and relevance as Churchill in national life.  After Sunday evening services it was customary to serve light refreshments in the canteen in the Institute and then have informal and request hymn-singing, with occasional solos.  I became a regular attender on Sundays and my interest in the church was strengthened by my acquaintance with two colleagues at the drill hall, both committed Christians.

Some of the Albert Hall's own members serving in the Forces were stationed for a time in Nottingham and I remember a few of them in uniform as stewards or taking the collection  -  George Jarratt, resplendent in Captain's dress, Will Mottram in the Pioneer Corps and Chris Mottram in the Fire Service.  I did not myself become a member of the church until later (1944 in the Rev. Frank Copplestone's ministry).

I think it was through a friend of my landlady that I first began to visit the university campus at Highfields.  I was greatly impressed by the fine Trent Building overlooking the lake (D.H. Lawrence called it a "wedding cake building") and I thought I would very much like to work there one day. The whole campus was much more rural in those days: Cut-through Lane (now obliterated by the Medical School and Applied Science buildings) was a pleasant country walk; the area off Derby Road and Lenton Lane, now occupied by Halls of Residence, was farmland with grazing cattle.  In the summer the students used to produce an operetta, followed by a dance which the public could attend.  One year it was Merrie England and it was pleasant to dance with the girls still in their Elizabethan costumes.

At the Albert Hall, Osborn Gregory left in 1944 and was succeeded by the Rev. Frank Copplestone.  I was present at Mr. Gregory's last service and remember the main theme of his sermon.  He had been at the Albert Hall for thirteen years and the people were not looking forward to a change.  He urged them to support his successor, quoting the scripture passage about "the Gospel not of Paul, nor of Apollos, nor of Cephas, but of Jesus Christ".  Frank Copplestone was a Cornishman and a very fine preacher; his powerful sermons were full of allusions to history, literature and music.  It was mainly through his ministry that I became a member of the church.  I am one of those whose conversion was not instantaneous but a steady and gradual process, but there has to be a point of decision.  For me this came as a result of a sermon on the debt of gratitude we owe to the past  -  the work of thinkers and writers, the religious insight of the Jews, the nurture of our parents and, above all, the teaching and sacrifice of Jesus.  At the end there was an appeal for conversions; I did not have the nerve to go forward in public but I went to the minister's vestry after the service.  He asked me about my baptism and the church background of my parents, then said: "If you become a member of the church you will have to attend my men's class on Tuesday evenings"  -  and that is all I can recall about the formalities of acceptance into the church.

After the war I returned to Nottingham, to an administrative post at the University.  On my first Sunday back in Nottingham I was keen to resume attendance at the Albert Hall.

During the session 1948-49, the University College was granted a Royal Charter and became the University of Nottingham with effect from September 1949.

Around this time we enrolled our son, Vincent, in the Life Boys (the junior branch of the Boys' Brigade), meeting one evening a week in the Albert Hall Institute.  I used to take him there and wait for an hour before bringing him home. It was then that I met Tom Thresher who was there for the same purpose with his son, Kenneth.  Having time to kill, we made our way to the billiard room and played snooker with the minister, George Sails.  This was the start of one of those life-long friendships which still continues to-day.

For a short time during the second world war, Sunday afternoon services were held at three o'clock, instead of the evening, because of the blackout.

Walter Hayes tells the story about growing vegetables.

During the early part of the war the Albert Hall had, as one of its members, Arthur Billett, who was head gardener at Boots (Lenton House) which was involved with experimental gardening.  He was later a BBC broadcaster on gardening together with famous Percy Thrower.  He arranged for two rugby pitches to be ploughed up at the Nottingham University so that any member of the Mission could have an allotment.  John Jarratt and I were very keen: we used to say "Yes" to everything in those days.  We soon met Arthur Billett [who owned Clacks Farm] and asked him if he was going to have an allotment.  We told him he ought to have one to show us how to do it.  He agreed, and had one in the middle of the allotments and John and I had one each side of his.  The result was that we got free seed potatoes from Boots and so ran an allotment during the war years. Fancy ploughing up a university playing field! I'm sure the rabbits grew fatter from our produce.  We knew nothing about gardening: it was all a matter of "Dig for Victory".  We had some fine lettuce and spuds.

 Mrs. Alice Jarratt recalls that she was fifteen years of age when she joined the Albert Hall.

In the 1940s there was a Rest Room in the basement of the Institute in Osborne Gregory's day.  I remember they took a collection to buy some material to make the curtains. There was only one window in the room.  Someone bought the material and I made the curtains.  Then we rigged up a table which we pinched from another room in the Institute and put a cloth on it.   It really was a Rest Room: you could go in and get a cup of tea.  Every night, any member of the Mission could come in from work, bring their own meal and we would heat it up and make sandwiches and that went on for many months until the Americans came in and took over part of the Institute.  They made the little Rest Room into a NAAFI.  We Albert Hall girls had a rota and we took it in turns to help them out.  My younger sister, Peggy, was on that team.  I never was.

In order to obtain a feel for how members of the Mission had given and gained from their membership, Sister Olive Lewin, Mrs. Grace Hardy, Mr. Bob Proctor, and Mrs. Edna Proctor were given the opportunity of relating their reminiscences.

During the last year of the war there used to be a crèche at the Mission where the very young would be looked after.

Tricie Bird worked part-time in the Hall as a cleaner during the war.  She lived nearby.  There was always a kettle available to make a cup of tea in the old kitchen under the Hall, at the Institute end, and a  fire in the grate; that was one of the reasons for congregating there.  Later on that was where they had the used clothes store, but when we were there it was a home-from-home for the caretakers and they used to have their lunch there, and that sort of thing.

Part of the billiard room was used for fellowship after the evening service when crowds of the younger members met there.

There was a Deaconess's room down there during the war years and just after.  Sister Marjorie Maltby had her room there.  Being a probationer, she was called a Grey Sister (the students and probationers wore grey uniforms).

Mr. Gregory said: "We must always think of all those that have gone away from the Mission" during the war so a prayer was said every day at nine o'clock.  It coincided with the news on the radio, which was supposed to be the reminder.

Mr. Gregory used to come up the steps to the platform.  He would say his own prayer and then he used to say: "Let us all pray" and he would put out his arms and bring them forwards, as if he was gathering you all in.  He was wonderful to listen to from the pulpit.  He always stood by the rail and used to twiddle one of the knobs.  He rubbed it so many times it was different from the other knobs.  When the platform was removed, during the alterations in the 1960s, that particular knob was taken off and mounted on a board and sent to him.

Sister Olive Lewin and Dr. Joan Barks talked about the links with the General Hospital.

                In the winter there was always a huge fire in the lower hall.  You could go down and Tricie Bird  was always there: "Come and get warm".  We didn't have the advantage of a buffet or anything of that sort but we had the advantages of a lot of folk who were all close together. Tricie only lived across on Wollaton Street.  There were so many around us:  all the Ropewalk, and around there where the doctors came later.  The nurses came down from the General Hospital.  This was all part of the close connection.  It was wonderful.  We enjoyed it at the time, and we look back at it with wonderment.

[Joan Barks] Sunday afternoon we had a lovely nurses' fellowship.

[Sister Olive] Matron, Miss Plunkett, used to come down and do a bit with the Sunday School class, for quite a long while, when Sister Mary was ill and had to give up, and she continued to do it.

The Gymnasium in the Albert Hall Institute was one of the Air Raid Shelters during the war:

td>     >
SPECIAL  "A.R.P."  NOTICE
Nearest  Air  Raid Shelters.
Accommodation.
Albert Hall Institute Gym.  (by kind permission of H.M. Forces in possession)       200
Free Church Street, Derby Road                   ...                         ...                           ...400
Ford & Parr's Factory, Wollaton Street (corner of Hanley Street)      Street)          400
31 & 33, Derby Road              ...               ...             ...                       ... 110
31 & 39, Park Row                  ...                   ...                       ...             50
Warehouse in Park Place, Park Row           ...             ...           ... 45
Criterion, Chapel Bar               ...               ...             ...                       ... 200
[1,405]

In the unhappy event of an air-raid warning during the Service, members of the congregation are asked to leave the Hall as expeditiously as possible.  This will be done best by following the advice of the Stewards, who will direct you to the nearest exit. Each member will then be expected to proceed to the nearest Shelter which is likely to offer accommodation.

FOLLOW THE ARROWS.  
PLEASE   ACCEPT   STEWARDS' INSTRUCTIONS.

The newly-painted Used Clothes Store was described as standing "in great prominence at the corner of Great Hall Street". The Store, as its predecessors, consisted of an Office, a Ladies' Department, Men's Department, together with a waiting room complete with a cosy fire, so that those applicants who had to wait would be able to do so in far greater comfort than ever before. It was fitted with shelves, racks, stands, cupboards, chests, and every kind of receptacle for holding clothing to the best advantage, so that by merely scanning the build of the applicant, the staff could produce the necessary articles in the shortest possible time. Applications for clothing had to be recommended by one of several bodies in the City:- the Social Services, Citizens' Advice Bureaux, Public Assistance Officers, and many other such organizations which were at the disposal of the public. Information was immediately passed on to the Mission that help was wanted. 

The Nottingham Journal, on Friday 30 August 1940, reported that The Committee of the Albert Hall Used Clothes Store, operating at 13 Derby Road, Nottingham, by arrangement with the Personal Services Society, had taken over all existing stocks of that organisation.

The Mission, at this time, maintained a Prayer Circle which provided a list of  suitable daily prayers, together with readings from the Bible. For example, in February 1940 the first four days offered

1   For the oppressed.   Psalm 34, 13-22.
2   "Give us this day our daily bread."   Matt. 15, 32-39.
3   For the drivers of public vehicles.    
4   That Christ may reign.   Isaiah 35.

Some Society Classes, which normally met in the evening, held two sessions  - afternoon and evening  -  in order that members who could not face the blackout would not be deprived of fellowship. Every organisation continued in operation in some form or other.

The Mission had hardly adapted itself to war conditions when it was faced with a new challenge. For many years the Albert Hall Institute had been the centre of religious and social life to untold hundreds of people, and its loss, especially that of the large Lecture Hall, was continually felt. The remaining accommodation was the great Hall and a few small rooms under its roof, and  - in the Institute  -  the Office and two rooms in the basement, the Young People's Room and the Billiard Room. The Institute, a magnificent building accommodating some 1,600 people in its various rooms, in which the Sunday School had been held, all the social and institutional work and the week-night meetings, had been taken over by the Military Authorities at short notice. The Mission had to find immediate alternative accommodation and was most grateful to Sir Arthur Black, to whom the Mission owed an incalculable debt ever since its inception, for his great generosity in presenting to the Mission the remainder of the lease of premises at 13 Derby Road adjoining the Albert Hall, which, with the accommodation provided in the Hall itself, enabled the Mission to carry on all its work with unimpaired efficiency. By a Surrender dated the 3rd January 1940 this leasehold property, formerly part of the estate of John Smith deceased, was acquired by Sir Arthur Black. The property was formerly used as a Saleshop but was converted for the purposes of the Trust. It was insured against fire in the names of the Vicar of St. Mary's Church, Nottingham, as lessor, and the Trustees of the Albert Hall as lessees for £500. A letter from the solicitors to The Wesleyan Methodist Trust Assurance Co. Ltd. stated that: "The property has been acquired to replace the Albert Hall Institute, which has been requisitioned by the Military Authorities. It will be used for the same purposes, that is for religious and social work. The furniture is that which was moved out of the Institute and is thus already covered."

13 Derby Road was also used by the Table Tennis Club. This good-sized room, which was very cosy with two fireplaces, was reached by the stairs which lead up from the doorway in Great Hall Street. It held some special evenings with lightning tournaments, etc. The team, although the number of available players was only small, had some very good games, a fair proportion of which it won.

The old Billard Room had been partitioned to form two rooms, the Young People's Room and the remainder of the Billiard Room.

The Young People's Room was opened to the troops and was used as a canteen operated by about forty workers. It was said to be a "small room which had a large part in the heart of the future life of the Albert Hall. It had become the axis of our Young People". The May 1941 Messenger reported on the atmosphere there.

Entering the portals of the Y.P.R. on a Monday evening you would find it buzzing with activity, as both soldiers and our own people mix for the brief conversation before retiring into the Guild Meeting, next door.  Tuesday would see games being played, small Committee Meetings, and a serious game of darts all in progress, to say nothing of the busy Wardens behind the buffet providing tea and eatables to all who may!!  Wednesday and Thursday are also cheery nights when many meet just before and after class.  But, of course, the week-end finds it a real bee-hive. Afternoon teas are provided for those who wish and the tea-pot is ever flowing.  Nine-thirty sees the last happy throng wending its way homewards.  Then on Sunday you would find a welcome.  At the close of Evening Service, some fifty or more persons can be found taking part in a Hymn Sing-Song, an informal feature which is enjoyed by all.

In 1941 the remainder of the Billiard Room was renamed the Recreation Room, all but one of the billiard tables were removed and the lights which had been over the billiard tables were raised. The room now provided seating for 150. The Wesley Guild met there on a Monday, Women's Fellowship on Tuesday afternoon and the Boys' Brigade on a Tuesday evening, Badminton on a Wednesday, and Choir practice on a Friday. The Intermediate Sunday School used the Recreation Room on Sunday. Even the one remaining billiard table was used! "When the room is used for a tea the table is loaded with food, or at a concert it finds itself behind a platform, the resting-place for programmes and music and artistes' requisites. Does it long for the good old days of silent seclusion, or does it rejoice at all the signs of life and progress around it?

Because of the risk of the enemy bombers being directed towards buildings where there were lights showing, all buildings had to have black curtains over the windows or to use their buildings only during daylight hours. In consequence of the "black-out" and the difficulties of travel and transport after dark, many activities were curtailed. The 1940 Mission Anniversary, for example, was postponed until the end of April to allow people to come to and go from the Sunday Evening Service in daylight. Perhaps during the summer there was an experimental period when Sunday afternoon services were held at three o'clock, instead of the evening, because of the blackout. However, it appeared to be general practice to continue to hold evening services on a Sunday notwithstanding "black out" and other problems. In January 1941 it was recorded that:

We shall continue the three services each Sunday during the present month, at 10.45, 3.30 and 6.30. The Evening Service will be held in the Recreation Room in the Institute, where they can carry on the worship without undue disturbance in the event of an alert.  Within a few yards of that room there is an excellent air raid shelter.

The Albert Hall's income during this period was greatly reduced. Because of the reduction in the number of rooms available for hire, there was a great loss of income from lettings (previously a major source). Also the decreased collections at Evening Services (because of the blackout and restricted transport), and the commandeering of the Institute meant that there was no suitable room for the normal fund-raising "efforts", and rationing made large tea meetings and social gatherings an impossibility. In order to compensate for these losses, the members were encouraged to generously increase their weekly collections and to use "Emergency Boxes" into which they would regularly donate.

Members of the Mission kept in close and constant touch with the men in the Forces. Many of them found new spheres of Christian service and witness in their new life and some had developed unexpected gifts which they are used for Christ.

The Wesley Guilders were very active in providing entertainment for the Forces in the form of table tennis, social evenings or concerts. They were wholeheartedly behind the Mission Gardening Club. It was recorded that, for the sake of the "men serving with the Colours, the following hymn is being sung at the Albert Hall on their behalf".  Tune: Lynton  M.H.B. 442

O FATHER, hear the prayer we raise
   And take into Thy care
All those who pass in danger's ways
   By land, or sea, or air.

Alice Jarratt recalls the liaison with the Salvation Army.

Rose Taylor had a lot to do with it.  The Mission's policy was to give any man on the road who came in, a signed half crown ticket, and he took it to the Salvation Army hostel and they gave him a meal and a bed for the night.  Our office then paid the Salvation Army when they returned the tickets.   It was probably started before the war and went on all the years I was there.  On Communion Sunday we used to take a collection for the Poor Fund and then we paid the Salvation Army out of that.

In a letter from Mrs. K.M. Pikett she recalled:

My husband, John, and I were married in the Albert Hall in 1940.  He learned to play the organ in the Albert Hall and later became organist at King's Hall. Hall. Hall. Hall.  He was organist for fifty years.


The Albert Hall Cricket Club
The Cricket Club continued to have a full list of fixtures, despite the loss of many of its best players. Its home ground continued to be Highfields, but the pitch was changed to the south side of the pavilion instead of the pitch on the north, which had been occupied since the inception of the Club. The Captain in 1940 was Mr. George B. Jarratt and the Secretary, Mr. Eric Keward. The photograph (right) was taken sometime between 1949 and 1952, left to right George Jarratt, Eric Keward, Peter Keward, (?), John Appleby, Bill Spencer, Jack Wynnds, Bill Stanesby, Keith Gutteridge, Ron Wragg, John Jarratt, Mr. [Fred] Gutteridge (Senior).

Through the great generosity of Mr. George Hallam (of  4 South Road, The Park) a very beautiful copy of the New Testament was sent to each member of the Mission serving with the Forces.

Rev. H.G. Fiddick (Manchester Central Hall) paid a special visit on Palm Sunday 6 April 1941. Ecco Homo was sung by the Albert Hall Choir, assisted by the Long Eaton Free Church Choir.

After a difficult winter, choir practices were resumed on Friday evenings in the Recreation Room at 7 o'clock.

On Ascension Day 22 May 1941, Rev. Donald D. Soper, M.A., PhD.  preached at the 39th Anniversary service.

In May 1941 the staff of the Mission were Rev. G. Osborn Gregory  (Superintendent), Rev. Harry A. Breakspear, Pastor Ernest Kemp, Sister Alice Wayne, Sister Marjorie Maltby and Sister Emily Bird.

In January 1942 it was recorded that the Canteen was catering for something like 1,200 each week, the week-ends being particularly busy with many visitors from the surrounding villages. Although the official time of opening at the week-end was 4.30 pm it was usual for every table to be full of prospective customers by 4 pm waiting for service to commence. Then followed the rush period, until 410 hungry souls had been satisfied in the five hours during which they were open. This required the cutting up of thirty loaves of bread (by hand), serving nearly one thousand cups of tea or coffee, and the washing of an endless number of cups and saucers.

The centre of life in the Methodist Church has always been in the Fellowship Class.  That was why John Wesley, in his wisdom, ordained that if one wished to become a member of the Methodist Church, one must be a member of a Fellowship Class. He knew that in the more intimate circle of "those who think and speak the same, and cordially agree", one entered a communion no other fellowship could give. The members of the Albert Hall were rightly proud of such Classes for Fellowship; and what they meant no-one could fully tell. They only knew that they would not miss their Class for anything, for there they gathered strength and courage to press on, and there they met those they loved.

The August 1942  the Messenger recorded that: "No need to worry about the City now, lads.  John Jarratt is a L/C in the Home Guard."

In September 1942 the Rev. Roland Wilson, B.A., succeeded Rev. Harry A. Breakspear as second Minister, with the special charge of Aspley Hall. The Rev. G.E. Allcock, who was already well known and loved in Nottingham, took over the work at King's Hall. Sister Mary McCord joined the staff at the Albert Hall.

On Sunday 7 February 1943, community hymn singing, conducted by Rev. G. Osborn  Gregory and  Dr. W.K. Stanton  (Musical Director of the BBC) was recorded by the BBC and broadcast in the Forces' Programme at 8.30 pm. Mr. L. Gordon Thorp was organist.

From Sunday 21 March 1943 the Evening Service at the Albert Hall returned to its normal time of 6.30 pm.

The August 1943 edition of  the Messenger reported on the death of  Mr. John W. Dove who had been caretaker at the Albert Hall for over thirty-two years.

It is with deep regret that we record the death of Mr. John W. Dove, the Senior Hallkeeper  of the Albert Hall Nottingham Mission, which occurred at his home, Middle Furlong Road, on Wednesday 14 July, after a short illness from pneumonia.   He leaves a widow, son and daughter to mourn his loss.

The Funeral Service was held at the Albert Hall, on Monday 19 July, and was conducted by the Rev. G. Osborn Gregory, the Superintendent of the Mission.   In addition to the principal mourners, a large number of friends assembled to pay their last respects to the deceased.   A company of A.R.P. Wardens was also present to honour a departed friend.

During his long and faithful service, Jack, as he was familiarly and affectionately known to hundreds of members of the Mission, made a whole host of friends, not only amongst our own Mission members but also in a large number of the general public who patronized the high-class musical, choral, and instrumental concerts that are so frequently held in the Hall.  It was commonplace to receive letters of thanks from the promoters of such concerts, saying how much they had appreciated the excellent arrangements made by the Hallkeeper, and his unfailing good humour and courtesy.

Jack would sometimes boast humorously that he knew all the great artists on the concert platform and would sometimes tell of their little idiosyncrasies, and occasionally of their little tantrums, saying that you only had to humour them a bit and they were all "good boys" at heart.

He was devotedly attached to his work and to the House of God of which he was so ardent a member and worshipper.  His cheerfulness and ready willingness to help all and sundry made him a great favourite and he was in his element when any special activities were to take place in connection with the Mission work, such as Anniversary Teas or Concerts, or special efforts.  To see him bustling about getting tea tables ready and helping to bring in the numerous tea urns was an inspiration in itself.  His great slogan was : "I'm well and happy", and no one could doubt that he lived up to it, for happiness and contentment fairly spread from him to all in his vicinity.

We shall miss him sorely, and remember him with lasting gratitude and affection.

The Mission staff in September 1944, when Rev. Frank T. Copplestone came as Superintendent Minister, also consisted of  Rev. Roland Wilson, B.A., Rev. G.E. Allcock, Sister Mary McCord and Sister Marjorie Maltby.

The February 1945 edition of the Messenger printed an appreciation of the life and work of Mr. J.D. Marsden, who had been one of the earliest members of the Mission Committee, a Trustee of the Albert Hall, and a Co-Treasurer with Mr. E.H. Palmer of the Mission Fund. The Mission owed much to him in the way of financial help for through the years he retained his conviction that the social and spiritual work done in the City by the Mission was of incalculable value. But he will be remembered not merely for his material help, but for the guidance and advice, and such other service as he could render, which he was always willing to give.

He was succeeded as co-Treasurer with Mr. E.H. Palmer by Mr. Llewellyn Davies.

At the Mission Anniversary Day, Thursday 17 May 1945, the speakers for that day were Rev. Donald O. Soper, M.A., Ph.D., and Rev. Stanley F. Keen, Principal R.A.F. Chaplain. Mr. A.P. Rickard, from Manchester, presided.

The Superintendent's letter in the first edition of the Messenger to go out after "V.E." Day, No. 198, of June 1945, acknowledged the Mission's thanks to God for His great deliverance.

We must record our great joy that we are so far on the journey that must end in peace all over the world.  It has been a long way, untold suffering has been endured, hardships borne and sacrifices made by all.  These things had to be if some of the finest treasures of life and civilisation were not to perish from the earth.  We give thanks to God, for it is God alone who has sustained, guided and delivered us.

You will be glad to hear that Frank Offiler, Bob Robertson and Archie Smith are home at last from P.O.W. camps, and, of course, delighted to be back again.  It will be grand to see them at the Hall once more.  You will also be glad to hear that Mr. Romeril is once again restored to freedom.

In a letter dated 17 May 1945, Philip Romeril wrote from Le Hauter, Vale, Guernsey:

 We are still trembling with the peaceful deliverance.  It seems miraculous to us that it has all happened without a fight.  "We were as if dreaming.  Then was our mouth filled with laughter and our tongues with joyful cries.  The Lord hath done great things for us and we were glad."  I cannot put my feelings into words just now.

Please tell the friends we are well.  The children have been splendid and a great comfort to me since the loss of my wife.  The people here have been wonderfully kind.

The first Conference of the Methodist Church held after the end of the war, was in the Albert Hall from 17 to 26 July 1945.

In August 1945 the staff consisted of Rev. Frank T. Copplestone (Superintendent), Rev. Roland Wilson, B.A., B.D., Rev. George E. Allcock, Sister Marjorie Maltby and Sister  Mary McCord.

A Broadcast Service was held in the Hall, at 7.30 pm on 9 September 1945 transmitted live to listeners in Africa and recorded for transmission to North America.

At this time congratulations were announced on the appointment of the Rev. Harry A. Breakspear, to Wesley House, Alexandria. For the last two years he had been working in Palestine and Persia.

From 1 September 1945 the Mission staff was Rev. Frank T. Copplestone (Superintendent), Rev. Norman B. Cooper (Aspley Hall), Rev. George E. Allcock, Sister  Mary McCord, and Sister Winifred Kingdon. Apart from the experience Rev. Norman Cooper  had gained in rural areas in East Anglia and Gloucestershire and in the West Riding City of Wakefield, he had experience in his effective ministry when in charge of churches at Edgware and Queensbury in north London. He was an accomplished singer and pianist and for some time had been an active member of the Scout movement and Toc H.

The Messenger, of April 1945, records that Sir Arthur Black had very kindly obtained, and leased to the Mission rent-free, a house where they were able to make provision for elderly and lonely folk. The Home for Elderly Folk at 7 Gill Street, in the City, was opened in the autumn of 1945. Sister Emily Bird was appointed Matron and worked under the direction of the Mission and a House Management Committee. Initially, there were six old folk and each person had a room of his or her own which they could call their own by payment of a nominal rent. A common room was provided where they could meet for friendly companionship. A mid-day meal was prepared by the Matron, so at least they had one good meal in the day, for while it was not the aim to destroy their independence, provision was made for their physical needs, comfort and well-being. The Matron in many unobtrusive ways exercised care and oversight over the old folk. The Quarterly Meeting of the Albert Hall Committee 10 December 1945, approved the following appointments concerning 7 Gill Street: Treasurer, Mr. A.E. Mason; Committee of Management, Sister Mary McCord, Sister Emily Bird, Mrs. F.T. Copplestone, Mrs. Llewellyn Davies and Miss Taverner.

The Albert Hall Institute re-opened for church work in 1946.


Rev Kenneth L Waights
After serving the minimum period of four years, Rev. Frank T. Copplestone was superseded by Rev. Kenneth Laws Waights (photograph right Methodist Recorder, 24 June 1971, by the Methodist Recorder.)
in September 1948

Sister Olive Lewin recalls that when Rev. Waights came, he asked: "Who are all these people sitting on the platform?" There could be as many as forty or fifty on the platform: all the stewards, the trustees, the church treasurer, and the Deaconesses. The deaconesses sat on the end and all the dignitaries in the middle. "I'll soon get rid of them", he said.

The Methodists' Cricket Club beat Stoke Bardolph at Highfields on 10 September 1949 which victory provided the following record for the year:-

Played Won Lost Draws Runs for Runs against
15 10 3 2 1,623 1,262

Whilst all the figures since the commencement of the club in 1928 are not available, those for this year probably represent the best record in the history of the club.

The November 1949 edition of the Messenger, records the following items of Mission work:

The Good Companions' Sunday Evening Group at the Manse was very popular.  The Bible Study Group led by Rev. K.L. Waights and Sister Grace met on Tuesday evenings at which they were studying  the stories of the Old Testament.

Sister  Jean Baillie took over the leadership of the Sunday School Junior Department almost immediately upon her arrival to join the Staff of the Mission.

The Sunday School Harvest Festival on 2nd October was notable for several reasons.  The chair was very ably and charmingly occupied by Miss Plunknett, Matron of the General Hospital and leader of one of our senior classes.  On behalf of the hospital she thanked the scholars for their abundant gifts of produce which were transported to the hospital immediately after the Service.

During the past few weeks we have had occasion to be particularly thankful that so many of our young people have offered their service as trainees to augment both our teaching staff and that of the proposed new branch of the Mission on the Bestwood Estate.

Recently, too, we endeavoured to enlist the interest of the parents of our Sunday School scholars in a Parent Association.  As the outcome of a meeting held on 24th September1949 a small committee has been formed to foster the growth of this new project, which, though at present in its infancy, we hope will grow to be a very useful and beneficial branch of the Mission's activities.

A newly-formed Wesley Guild Ladies' Choir performed for the first time at the Guild Concert on Saturday 5 November 1949.                                                                                                      

Mrs. Doreen M. Davis (née Gutteridge) provided reminiscences.

I first went to the Albert Hall in the 1930s and recall going to a memorial service in1936 for King George V, singing O Love that wilt not let me go, one of his favourite hymns.

During the war, Wesley Guild members kept in touch with the boys who were called up, sending them the monthly magazine called the Messenger.  After 6½ years of corresponding, I married "my boy", Fred Davis.  He had been in the Sunday School with John Jarratt as his teacher.

The Albert Hall Institute was requisitioned during the war [used by the American Red Cross] so we lost many of our meeting rooms.  I was a Sunday School teacher by now, and for our midweek preparation class we had to meet in what was formerly the caretakers' office and now one of the deaconess's rooms, a pokey little place.  For the midweek classes we met in rooms over the shop which was on the corner of Derby Road and the little road [Great Hall Street] leading to the back of the Albert Hall .

My two sisters (Mavis and Margaret Gutteridge) were founder members of the Good Companions which had been started by Rev. Kenneth Waights.  We went to Paris on one occasion.

My father (Fred Gutteridge) was the superintendent of the Senior Sunday School and also umpire for the cricket team for which my two brothers (Les and Keith Gutteridge) played and I scored when necessary.  Father was a Church Steward and also a Trustee of Aspley Hall.

The Women's Fellowship was a thriving meeting and put on pageants relating to the Bible and their anniversary.

Leading up to Christmas, we went Carol Singing in aid of National Children's Homes, finishing at the home of Sir Arthur Black in the Park for coffee and mince pies.

We continued worshipping at the Albert Hall until 1964, when we had to move for business reasons.


Mission staff, 1949  (47th Anniversary Report, March 1949)
Back row: Sister Grace Simpson, Mr Bernard G Walkland (Youth Leader),
Miss Jean Everett (Office Staff), Miss Blanche Wise (Office Staff),
Mr Archibald H Sleigh (Hall Keeper), Mr E Woolsey (Hall Keeper)
Front row: Sister Winifred D Kingdon, Rev Albert Aspey, Rev Kenneth L Waights, Sister Annie E Newsome

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Fore-
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