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CHAPTER 14
BRIDGEWAY HALL PART 1:    Pre-1968

THE WAY TO THE BRIDGE

PREVIOUSLY KNOWN AS
ARKWRIGHT  STREET  METHODIST  CHURCH

Kirke White Street East,  Nottingham.
(ex Wesleyan Methodist)

In the early 1800s Nottingham was surrounded by a green ring of fields, open meadows and waste lands comprising over one thousand acres of which three hundred and thirty-four acres were known as The Meadows. The owners of this land, the Duke of Newcastle, Lord Middleton, Mr. Musters, and others, were willing to sell for building purposes, but time after time they were blocked by the Town Councillors who stood to lose from lower rents from already existing slums in the City and valuable rights of free pasturage on The Meadows.

The beginning of Queen Victoria's reign found Nottingham thriving on its reputation for producing hosiery and lace of the finest quality. Its population was growing rapidly and some parts of the town had become terrible slums. In 1845 the General Enclosure Act made expansion possible and so a "new estate" started to spring up on the south side of the town. Meadow Road became Kirke White Street, but such names as Crocus Street, Waterway Street and Meadow Lane still remind us of a past age.

In 1864 there had been a total of one thousand four hundred houses built which presented a challenge to the leaders of Halifax Place chapel. They commenced a mission in Talbot's Turning Mill on Arkwright Street which was opened on 21 October 1860. Three years later a decision was made to build the Arkwright Street Chapel which would seat seven hundred and schoolrooms for five hundred children. These premises were opened on 18 October 1864. It was registered as a place of religious worship on 24 December 1864 by Joseph Barnsdale Lomas, an accountant and trustee of the Chapel.

The stage coach had just given way to rail, so the Midland Station on Arkwright Street was well patronized, although cricket was still being played outside. Only the occasional horse and cart competed with those who travelled on foot.

On 11 January 1869 a day-school was started with qualified teachers and under Government inspection, with one hundred and sixty children. Within three years the premises had to be enlarged after which there were over six hundred scholars on the register. The school achieved a high standard and continued under Wesleyan management until 1899 when it was transferred to the Nottingham School Board.

A "Forward Movement" had begun in 1919 which provided "popular" services with a small orchestra engaged at a cost of two pounds per week, but was soon discontinued. The Methodist Recorder for 31 March 1927 had described the old Arkwright Street Wesleyan Church vividly.  "The front elevation was sombre and almost forbidding.  The inside was dim. Pews were of the propriety type and were of a green and pallid hue.  Anything more uninviting to the outsider would be difficult to imagine."

When Rev. Philip Thompson was appointed minister in 1925 the membership was down to one hundred and twenty-five and the congregations were meagre.  Every attempt to revive the work had failed and, without drastic action, the church would have perished. By the time Mr. Thompson left in 1928, the membership was growing and constant evangelistic work was attracting up to four hundred and fifty people to the evening service.

Eventually the old chapel was given a "facelift" in the form of a new entrance and crush hall and the old pews were replaced by tip-up seats to give the appearance of a central mission. It was renamed the Bridgeway Hall (the way to the bridge) and re-opened on 24 March 1927. The speakers were Rev. F. Luke Wiseman and Rev. John Hornabrook who, as secretaries of the Home Mission and Chapel Departments respectively, had been largely responsible for making the transformation possible. Describing the Hall, Harry Hind wrote: ".... it was as though the genie of Aladdin had been invoked.  The interior is absolutely transformed, light, bright, happily arranged, the decoration the manifest work of an artist."

Of the school premises he said: "There are now two new approaches [entrances]. The colour-washed bricks have been picked and plastered, new windows of cathedral glass put in, new floor where necessary and the timber stained dark oak and the walls durescoes are in sunny buff. The suite of rooms now available for the Mission are the most adequate and attractive to be found in the city." It said much for Methodism that


Before 1926

Interior, 1914
Arkwright Street Methodist Church


Arkwright Street Chapel: plan of the site of the building. 


Without a steeple

With a steeple: after alterations to the façade
Bridgeway Hall

Plate 109.  Bridgeway Hall Methodist Mission: interior, right-hand side. [Image missing.]

Plate 110.  Bridgeway Hall Methodist Mission: interior, organ end. [Image missing.]

the Home Mission and Chapel Departments had the vision to embark upon a scheme which was to transform a withering church into a thriving mission. It was originally intended that the scheme should cost £8,000, but this figure rose to £11,500.  An anonymous donor provided £5,000, the Chapel Department £3,500, and the balance [£3,000] had to be raised locally.

When Rev. T.W. Mallinson was superintendent of the Circuit he had the useful habit of counting congregations. The following figures taken from his records are revealing:

1929November 3rd pm......295
1930 August 17th pm ...... 205
  August 24th am ...... 37
1931 May 3 pm ...... 260
  December 27th am ...... 38
1932 April 10 am ...... 39
  June 5th pm ...... 184

 

The Report of Home Missions Ministers at Synod on 4 and 5 May 1937 noted that Bridgeway Hall made good use "of the lovely private chapel: at the other end of the building we have fitted up a beautiful little room for girls where work has brought them away from home to live in Nottingham. In this room they will be able to meet their friends and spend many a leisure hour under the influence of a Church."

The choir obviously had quite a social life in 1939 because their minutes recorded that "The Choir Supper (for the benefit of Church funds) again justified the hopes of all who were anxious for its success, and approximately 120 people sat down to an excellent supper.  The catering arrangements and decoration of tables did great credit to all the ladies responsible and the choir is indebted to them for their services. After supper a concert was held, the artists being Miss Timms (Elocutionist), two members of the Bulwell Male Voice Quartet, and Mr. Cecil Zambro (Comedian). Every item of this concert was thoroughly enjoyed and we record our thanks to Mr. Burton for the arrangements so ably made."

A special meeting of the Choir Committee was called by Mr. F. Shepherd for 6.45 pm on Tuesday 12 January 1943. He suggested that, as it would be ten years in February since the opening of the organ, they might organise a concert to celebrate the occasion. As they all knew, this instrument was the gift of Miss Elizabeth Simpkin and he thought such a concert would mark their esteem of her life’s work at the place of worship. The date of the concert was Saturday 19 April 1943. The artists were:
Miss Constance Shacklock(Contralto)
Mr. Will Bowles(Elocutionist)
Mr. Owen Grundy(Baritone)
Mr. Albert Lauder(Piano Accordion)
Angelus Male Voice Choir(Musical Selection)
Bridgeway Hall Choir(Part Songs etc.)

The work had suffered during the 1939-45 War.  Because of the "black-out", evening congregations were seriously reduced and, as the War had gone on, the damage to the pattern of Church life became more  permanent.

The following extract of life in The Meadows was written in 1993 (thanks to Pat Toombs, Vera Williamson and Florence Holmes):

Very few houses in the Old Meadows had the facilities needed for washing and ironing a week's worth of bedding and clothing, and the Public Wash-house on Muskham Street, therefore, took on an added significance.  This institution set up in the early years of the century, under the Public Health Act 1875, was more than a washplace  -  it was a place for people from all over The Meadows to meet together and work together.

The week's wash was piled onto prams and for the price of one shilling the high technology of a bygone age beckoned.  Once a stall became vacant the boiler was turned on and the rinse tubs filled with fresh water.  Acdo, Comp, Persil and Dolly Blue were made ready and once the clothes had been sorted, they were rinsed with "ponchers" or scrubbing boards before insertion into the boiler where more stirring and ponching was carried out.  After a final rinse in more fresh water, the stall was vacated and the women made their way to the drying racks which were pulled out from a heated chamber, loaded up and pushed back into place for twenty minutes' drying.  This could be the opportune moment to partake of a cuppa, available for a copper or two, but which had to be drunk wherever there was a flat surface on which to set the cup and saucer.

 Ironing was the final stage but, in some cases, the girls preferred to by-pass formal ironing by making use of a huge wringer capable of taking a double sheet in one swallow; it combined two operations as the rollers were heated.  Usually four women were needed to feed sheets through this machine; two on one side of the rollers and two on the other.  You helped others and they helped you! The temptation to put items through by oneself usually resulted in socks and stockings arriving at the other side of the wringer just in time to see them disappearing down the drainage well where they would stay until the staff decided it was time to empty it and put the items on display for collection later.

The only remaining part of the wash house complex now forms part of the Portland Leisure Centre, a new amenity replacing an earlier one.  Does it serve the same need as the former wash house, I wonder? More importantly, is the Bridgeway Coffee Bar contributing to the rekindling of the community spirit? I hope and pray that it is, because there has never been a time when people have needed a meeting point than these difficult times.

From 1946-1953 the Nottingham Corporation used part of the premises for a Civic Restaurant.

The month of December 1948 saw the usual complement of special Christmas services. On Monday 20 December, the boys of the Trent Bridge Secondary School under their Headmaster, Mr. Lawrence, held their Annual Carol Service at Bridgeway Hall. It was an inspiration to listen to the hearty singing of such a grand company of boys who almost filled the hall, and they were ably led by the school choir. The address was given by the Rev. Herbert W. Eames.

The Methodist Church Nottingham (South) Circuit Magazine of March 1949 recorded that Thursday 24 March 1949 was the date of the Anniversary when Rev. Dr. Donald Soper, M.A., was the special preacher and speaker for the day. He was supported by the Chairman of the District, Rev. L. Gillians, together with Rev. Kenneth Waights of the Albert Hall and Nottingham South circuit ministers. The evening meeting was presided over by Ald. C.C. Kirk, J.P. and attended by friends from throughout the circuit.

During the 1949 summer months open-air meetings were held on the Trent Embankment.

In 1950 a sum of £2,320 was spent on re-decorating and repairing the Hall.

In 1997 José P. Lloyd provided her reminiscences:

I attended Bridgeway Hall from about 1931 to 1939, enjoying Sunday School especially and other activities such as outings.  Our family left Nottingham in 1939.  What I remember most is entering the Scripture examinations each year.  We would be given a book to read on a certain part of the Bible, then on a certain date we would have the examination.

One well-remembered minister at Bridgeway Hall was Rev. Arthur H. Bird in whose autobiography, Adventure in Evangelism, he wrote:

After leaving London I travelled for some years in Yorkshire.  It was at Maltby in the Rotherham Circuit that I studied for the ordained Ministry.  I was accepted and stationed at the Bridgeway Hall Methodist Mission in the Nottingham South Circuit.  I visited public houses in The Meadows area of the city from time to time with a small group of helpers from the Mission.

It was customary on New Year's Eve to hold a Watchnight service.  During my ministry I have led many such services, but none quite like the services I conducted in the Bridgeway Hall, Nottingham.  This was always a service with a difference.  It was not exactly quiet although it was reverent, the reason being that most of the large congregation was drawn from near-by public houses.  Just after eight o'clock in the evening a small party of us from the Mission set out in search of our congregation, touring as many of the pubs as possible before eleven.  In each we sang hymns which I accompanied on the accordion, we also had a prayer and then I gave a welcome to the Watchnight service.  About 11.15 pm, the first members of the congregation drifted in.  Some came in boldly, others slipped into a side seat.  Some were quite talkative, others seemed strangely out of place.  Father and mother came together.  There were quite a number of grans and grandads. Young men and women were also much in evidence, and a few courting couples. One wondered what thoughts they had after spending most of the evening in the smoky atmosphere of a public house, laughing, jesting, singing, drinking copious quantities of ale.  One thing was evident, they were a little more serious now. There was a clatter of the tip-up seats as the ever-growing congregation stood to sing a familiar hymn.  They had their favourites such as, The Lord's my Shepherd, While Shepherds watched and it was these rather than the traditional Watchnight hymns that we used to sing.  We sang again and still more entered the large hall. Well over two hundred were now joining in worship, amongst them a familiar figure in the person of the Sheriff of Nottingham, who made his way to his place, along with his wife.  So the service continued with a reading of the Bible and my address.  As I spoke to the large company, I was conscious of the fact that the majority of them were non-churchgoers, and I must make the best of this opportunity and reveal the power of God to save and restore the human heart.

Rev. Bird was also renowned for his preaching from a boat on the River Trent (see photo right). He went on to say:

Unfortunately no boat was forthcoming, and so once again I had to rely on the goodwill of a boat-maker to loan a craft for our motor boat evangelism.

There are great opportunities for this novel method of evangelism on the River Trent.  Close by  the famous Trent Bridge Cricket Ground the river flows quietly along, with sailing craft of all shapes and sizes anchored in its waters or moving leisurely along its broad expanse.  Nottingham is proud of its river and proud of its Victoria Embankment, one of the finest riverside promenades in the country.  It is one-and-a-quarter miles in length and covers twenty-eight acres.  In addition, a further fifty-six acres are devoted to memorial gardens and recreation grounds.

It is 3.30 pm on a Sunday afternoon and people are beginning to congregate on the river steps at a point almost half-way between Trent Bridge and the suspension Bridge.  They are looking downstream in an expectant manner.  The sound of a piano accordion is heard, and moving slowly up the Trent comes a motor boat with a large painted standard in the prow of the boat introducing "River Crusaders".  A minister of religion is playing a well-known hymn on his accordion and around him are members of his congregation.  As the strains of the hymn drift over to the banks of the Trent, people stop to listen.

This is something different and they watch the craft with interest as it is manœuvred past small rowing boats, or rocks in the swell of a speed boat, on its way to the Suspension Bridge.  There it is turned round and directed to a point close to the Embankment, where it is anchored.

The first hymn is given out, young and old gather on the river steps, little children make sure of a front seat.  Special hymn sheets are distributed and another riverside service gets under way.

The idea of holding such services on a Sunday afternoon came to me shortly after my arrival in Nottingham.  The piano accordion which I play had rendered invaluable service in many ways.  Why not use it on the river? I mentioned the idea to some of the members of my Mission and they agreed to support the venture.

The next time we went we had a pennant proudly flying in the breeze, with the words "Bridgeway Hall Methodist Church" painted on it.  Later, we were to carry a large painted standard made by one of our members announcing the fact that we were the "Bridgeway Hall River Crusaders".

After five years at the Bridgeway Hall Methodist Mission in Arkwright Street, Nottingham, I was invited back to Barnstaple to take charge of the Thorne Memorial and Boutport Street Methodist Churches, with oversight of a Sunday school on the Forches estate.

My stay in Barnstaple lasted five years and then I accepted an invitation to become the Superintendent Minister of a newly formed Circuit in the Rhondda Valley of South Wales, the Rhondda Tonypandy Mission Circuit.  This was my third experience in a coal-mining area and it gave me the biggest opportunity for evangelism I have known.

Reverend Arthur H. Bird died 8 July 1993 aged 84 years. He had been the minister of Bridgeway Hall from 1953 - 1958.  He had a very charismatic ministry. He was very gentle and caring and longed to bring people to a knowledge of Jesus Christ his Lord and Saviour.

One person who has been very involved with the Bridgeway Hall Mission as member and officer was Albert Johnson. He provided the following resumé: 

There have, of course, been two distinct periods within the one era  -  the pre-war and the post-war.   In both periods there has been the devoted and inspired leadership of a succession of truly great ministers, and if one recalls only the gospel songs of James Bradburn, the artful diplomacy of Ernest Jones, the practical religion of Ronald Bollam, the tremendous courage of Herbert Eames and the personal friendship of Joe Law, it is without deference to the great leadership of others who also have faithfully served.  Such reminiscences cannot fail to include the great Men's Bible Class of the pre-war days, and the less evident but nonetheless rich post-war fellowship where the young people probed deeply the significance of the Faith on Sunday afternoons in the Private Chapel. To many, the pre-war Guild holds memories of a strength which still sustains and inspires even today. The crowded Watchnight Services of the late forties, the great evangelical campaigns of Herbert Silverwood, and later the Didsbury Students, must also command a mention even in a brief synopsis.

What then evolves from the past to be as pertinent and relevant to the future?

First of all there has been the distinctive personal contribution  and witness of the ordinary individual members of the society. It is with the utmost humility that I recall that a number of young people in different places have come in part to know their God through the workings of His Spirit even through my imperfect  service; and it is with tremendous gratitude that I acknowledge that none of this could have been but for the personal care and sincere interest of my own teacher in the Sunday School at Bridgeway Hall. I recall, too, those within the society who possessed few of this world's goods but who had a zest and enjoyment of life so elusive to  the majority of others.  What a challenge the memory of these still is! The distinctive personal contribution of ordinary members was vital to the Bridgeway Hall I knew, and to that which will rise in the new era.

Secondly, there was the deep fellowship of the small group where together we shared our problems and joys, our thoughts and ideas, and sought prayerfully to know our faith and its application in daily living. It is now all part of a memory, but one which belongs equally to the future, where the form of witness may be different, but the vital prayerful preparation the same.

Finally, there has been the great preaching of the Word, the spiritual need of every generation.

I recall the text of the farewell sermon in 1939 of our beloved Ernest Jones.  It was Deuteronomy 2: 3  -  "You have been in this mountain long enough, turn ye to the north". Moses included these words in his reminiscing before the Children of Israel crossed the river into the Promised Land. Once across that river nothing would ever be the same again.

At the time that Rev. Harry Salmon was minister, in the 1960s, the manse was at 55 Musters Road, West Bridgford, Nottingham. Sister Vera Prunell lived at 43 Kirkby Street, Nottingham.

When the Trustees were considering the future of the church building, a report was commissioned in which the following are a few extracts:

The total site, in area some 1,650 sq. yds., is situated on an important corner on one of the main approach roads [Arkwright Street] into Nottingham from the south. The surrounding property is very diverse in use. There is a very large hinterland in which live some ten thousand people and connected with this are numerous small shops of all kinds. Off the main road there is a variety of light and medium industries.

The main Church building is a typical urban Methodist Church of brick construction, with a large ground floor and a balcony on three sides. There is a high staging for pulpit, choir and organ. The vestry and parlour are situated between the church and the school rooms which are brick-built with wooden floors and slated roof. Neither building had any architectural merit and the construction, while adequate, is not exceptional in its quality.

The school building consisted of four large rooms and ancillary accommodation. The main hall is on the ground floor, equipped with a stage and can seat approximately one hundred and fifty people.  There are other halls on the first floor with capacities of two hundred and two hundred and twenty-five, and a schoolroom on the ground floor with room for between eighty and one hundred people.  There is a kitchen-servery on the first floor, and on the ground floor there is a kitchen, a store-room and lavatory accommodation. The building has its own entrance. This is approached from a mean passage from Kirkwhite Street and is in no way dignified or imposing. The brickwork is pressed red common brick. The roof is a blue Welsh slate on timber rafters and trusses. Heat is supplied by a boiler. The actual method of providing the heat, however, (by pipe coils) is inadequate and inflexible and the system is not geared to react sensitively to temperature changes. The general atmosphere and character of the school building is of ungainly proportions, particularly inside. It is unfriendly in its finishes which had reached a pitch of shabbiness which lent the unfriendliness a feeling of meanness as well. It looked to be a building in which hard work is put into, but a superficial cleanliness is insufficient to dispel the institutional character which is unsuitable for its use, and to bring it into line with current thought necessitated a considerable and expensive treatment.

It would be a very costly undertaking to alter the existing building to provide the accommodation required. The present plan of the building is inflexible, and it seems essential that a building of such a nature needs to be flexible and to look at once a composite and unified whole, and it is difficult to imagine the possibility of achieving this.

Mr. Bestwick went on to say that in the present building, the schoolroom and social part of the premises and the church itself were distinctly separate. This, he felt, was wrong. Whereas the new building would have a common entrance, and this, together with other features of the design linking the church with the social part, would give all organisations the realisation that they were all part of the Church and a consciousness of their environment.

Just before the new hall was built there were plenty of activities occupying the members:

SUNDAY -  

 

10.00 am Boys' Brigade Bible Class

 

10.40 am Family Service (Parade Service third Sunday of the month)

 

11.35 am Class Meeting

 

2.15 pm Sunday School

 

2.15 pm Youth Fellowship (43 Kirkby Street)

 

6.30 pm Mission Service (Holy Communion first Sunday of the month)
(Services were held in the School premises during the first stage of the Rebuilding Scheme)

 

MONDAY -  

 

3.00 pm Women's Fellowship

 

8.00 pm Youth Group

 

TUESDAY -  

 

7.45 pm Fellowship Meeting

 

8.00 pm B.B. Parents' Meeting (first Tuesday of the month)

 

  WEDNESDAY -    
2.45 pm Homely Hour Meeting (over sixties)

 

6.15 pm Life Boys

 

6.30 pm Brownies

 

7.00 pm Boys' Brigade Drill

 

7.45 pm Choir Practice

 

8.00 pm Women's Own (first and third Wednesday of the month)

 

THURSDAY -  
3.00 pm Sister's Class

 

6.30 pm Guides

 

6.30 pm Inters Club (12-14 age group)

 

8.00 pm Youth Group

 

FRIDAY -  

 

7.00 pm Boys' Brigade Games Evening

 

7.45 pm Drama Group

 

SATURDAY -  
10.00 am Junior Group

 

8.00 pm Youth Group

 

We now consider the "new" church, the present building.

As far as the new church was concerned, the architect,  Mr. Terry Bestwood A.R.I.B.A., wrote an article on the approach to designing a church:

"We only build churches when it rains". We need to think in this direct way when designing a church or any building. By starting from scratch we avoid a number of traps.

Here is how the design of a church is initiated:  a man wants to tell people about Christ  -  he will find them anywhere, in any surroundings and they will gather round him in the most natural and suitable way. As the numbers grow, he will find that he cannot see all the people and he will raise himself; also the people at the back will ask those in the front to sit down, so that all may see and hear better. The people will have formed themselves in a concentric shape of a fan around the man, widening out from the centre, but setting up a counter movement as they press forward to be nearer the source. They have formed themselves into a natural and functional shape, and they now only need a building as protection from the rain and cold.

The building of a church is a special opportunity to return and inspect what is basic and important; an opportunity to re-phrase our thoughts on how people work and live and worship; an opportunity to give the people who will use the building a chance to do the same. The most successful buildings come from an understanding of this by the clients at least as much as the architect. In the case of the new Bridgeway, we are told: "Give us a building which is warm, comfortable and light". This is a thrilling instruction because it shows an understanding of what the building is there for. We hope the building we make will match the directness and simplicity and sense of this brief.

1962 saw the demolition of the Hall as the first stage in the erection of a new church, memorial room and offices. Permission had been given to spend £25,000 on this part of the scheme. The Joseph Rank Benevolent Trust generously agreed to grant the very large sum of £15,500 towards this amount.  This supplemented the £1,500 from the Chapel Department and £3,000 made available by the Circuit from money held since the sale of Canaan Chapel. Locally, it was necessary to raise £5,000. Work on this stage commenced as soon after the centenary as possible. In Mr. Terry Bestwick they had an enthusiastic and imaginative architect.

Stage two consisted of the demolition of the remaining premises and the provision of facilities for youth work at a cost of about £20,000.  An application had been made for a Ministry of Education grant, leaving half the amount to be found from Methodist sources.

A very moving event occurred with the Cross-erecting Ceremony which was held on the site of the new Bridgeway Hall Methodist Mission on Saturday 15 May 1965 at 4.00 pm (see photo right). The service was conducted by the Rev. James Jackson, Superintendent Minister (Nottingham South Circuit). On behalf of the people of Bridgeway Hall, Mrs F.J. Cook erected the fifteen-foot-high cross made out of wood from the previous Bridgeway Hall in the position it was to occupy in the new. It was on the same site on the 17 May 1863 that the Foundation Stone of the Arkwright Street Wesleyan Church had been laid.

Guests then had a buffet tea, provided by the Sunday School Staff, in the School premises.

The Leaders’ Meeting held on 25 November 1965 was advised by the Rev. Salmon "that the Ministry of Education grant for 1966/67 will not now be forthcoming for that year. Therefore, there is a possibility of a three-stage programme instead of two stages. Stage II would probably, therefore, consist of the erection of a coffee bar, kitchen, toilet facilities, in the area between the new church and the back premises."

The Opening and Dedication Service of the New Bridgeway Hall Methodist Mission, built by Jesse Gray (Malcolm E. Gray) of West Bridgford, was then held on Saturday 18 June 1966, also at 4 pm. The official party proceeded from the school premises to the door of the new Church at 4 pm and the Architect presented the key to the opener with the words: "I have much pleasure in presenting you with this key, and I ask you to accept it with my hope that God will prosper the work of this Church in the community". The Opener, Mrs. P.B. Bartlett Lang, opened the door and said: "To the glory of God, I open this door. May those who gather in this Church receive within its walls grace, mercy and peace, and strength to serve Christ in this city". The Superintendent Minister, the Rev. James Jackson, entered the Church and said: "Peace be to this house and to all who worship in it; Peace be to those who enter in, and to those who go forth from here; Peace be to those who love it and who love the name of Jesus Christ our Lord".

During the singing of the hymn (H.M.B. 2) the official party proceeded to their seats. This was followed by prayers, two lessons, and announcements and thanks by the minister (the Rev. Harry Salmon). The Act of Dedication was led by the Chairman of the District, the Rev. Wilfred Wade, and the sermon was given by the General Secretary of the Department of Chapel Affairs, the Rev. W. Oliver Phillipson, M.A.

The cost of the new church and meeting room (Phase 1) was completely met as the following summary shows:

INCOME £   s.   d.
Cross erecting and opening ceremonies 311   0   1
Refurbishing appeal 575   0   9
Sale of organ 400   0   0
Grants:   
      Joseph Rank Benevolent Trust
  
      Circuit Invested Funds

      Department of Chapel Affairs
 
15,500
3,000
1,500
       
Mission's contribution 5,003   14   7
  26,289   15   5
           

EXPENDITURE          
Cost of demolition 1,191   9   8
Architect's fees 1,450   0   0
Quantity Surveyor's fees 700   0   0
Cost of building 21,096   8   9
Cost of furnishing (including seating) 1,851   17   0
  26,289   15   5

The minutes of the Bridgeway Hall Mission of 14 November 1966 recorded that: "We are likely to get a grant of half cost from the Department of Education and Science if we take this up within the next twelve months, which would obviously be the best thing to do as the existing building is deteriorating rapidly. The Chairman asked if Bridgeway is likely to get 25% grant from the Local Education Authority but was told this is not so, although they are granting 50% towards the cost of furnishings for the Coffee Bar. We will need to raise half the cost locally and the Trust is looking into this matter now."

The new church building (phase 1) which had opened on Saturday 18 June 1966 was followed by the opening of the Coffee Bar block (phase 2) on Sunday 12 March 1967.

The souvenir brochure for the re-opening of the church stated that it was hoped that the new premises were "not an end in themselves, but a vehicle through which the life of Bridgeway Hall must be related to The Meadows' community. As Christians we are called to share in God's mission to the world and we cannot do this simply by singing hymns and exhorting the converted on the church premises. We must remember Christ not only invited people to come but He also commanded them to go".

However, the needs of an inner-city area were too extensive and too complex to be met by any one body, and so the emphasis had been upon co-operation with voluntary and statutory agencies which shared the Mission's concern for the life of the community. The Meadows Group, founded in November 1963 as a neighbourhood association of  people who live or work in The Meadows, had continued to be the umbrella under which working committees sought to understand and meet particular needs.

Nottingham's first Play Leadership Scheme was pioneered by The Meadows Group in the summer of 1964. The formal opening of the Nursery Play Group (also described as the Pre-School Play Group), which was a combined project of The Meadows Group and Save the Children Fund, was performed on Wednesday 26 April 1966 by Mr. John Neville O.B.E., Director of the Nottingham Playhouse, and was attended by invited representatives from several interested groups. It was for  three to five-year-olds and was started in the Coffee Bar wing of the building. It had been planned by a committee which included a number of Bridgeway Hall people, and had been made possible by the agreement of the Save the Children Fund to pay the salaries of two qualified workers. The Group operated each morning and children attended for either two or three sessions a week. The capacity was set at twenty-five children per session.

By the summer of 1967 there were ten Play Leadership Schemes sponsored by the City Parks Department.

A Pensioners' Luncheon Club, which had been operating at the previous Bridgeway Hall since November 1964, still  [in 2000] provides fifty people with a hot lunch every Wednesday . The meals were delivered from a central kitchen and the city's Welfare Department met half the cost. A team of church workers supplemented by girls from Trent Bridge Secondary School looked after local arrangements and three or four volunteer car drivers provided transport for infirm people. This Club, together with one at the Community Centre on a Tuesday and a visiting service, came under the auspices of the Old People's Welfare Committee.

The Coffee Bar proved to be one of the most important links with the community. It was open on  Saturday mornings and on some evenings each week.

A newspaper cutting (details unknown) reported at the time that:

Rev. John de St. Croix died on Monday 7 August [1978] in St Christopher's Hospice, Sydenham, at the age of forty-eight. In the past months, during which he had been fighting cancer, his essential qualities as a person and a minister were increasingly apparent. His temperament, gifts and experience fitted him admirably for work in the inner city, and his ministry as superintendent of Friendship House, Wandsworth, was developing in range and effectiveness. John was born and brought up in Plymouth. His family were Baptists, but he attended the Methodist Sunday School at Halcyon Road, in the Devonport circuit. At the age of sixteen he was converted and received the call to the ministry. Between that moment and his entry into the then Didsbury College, Bristol, he acquired considerable experience of secular life. He started work as an apprentice shipwright in the Devonport Dockyard and, after completing his apprenticeship, became a draughtsman. After a brief interlude as a civil servant in London and a period of National Service in the Army, he returned to the dockyard as a draughtsman and candidated for the ministry from the Devonport circuit. John was very forthright in speech, practical in approach to his work, and he had a remarkable, dry sense of humour. He needed it. When he was asked, in college, what kind of work he would like to do, he opted for inner-city or industrial situations. In 1959 he was sent as a probationer to a rural appointment in the Dorchester circuit. After ordination in 1961, he went to the rural section of the Luton (North) circuit, where he served for six years. Then he moved to the Nottingham (South) circuit, to be minister of the Bridgeway Hall and Gordon Road churches. His eight-year [1967 to 1975] ministry in Nottingham was conspicuously effective, within and beyond the church. A large debt was cleared, he became involved in local broadcasting, and served as Chairman of the Community Relations Council in the city. For the last three years, he had experience of superintendency. In 1975, with his wife, Joan, and their three sons, Stephen, David and Richard, he came to Friendship House in Wandsworth, to an area of great social need. His influence, both in the church and the community was growing, and a rich ministry was unfolding. The way in which he and his family accepted and lived through the months of his illness was itself an eloquent testimony to the life of faith, and became an extension of his ministry. There was in John a remarkable blend of the practical and the deeply spiritual. He was compassionate, confident in faith and prayer, and utterly committed to his Lord and to the ministry of the Methodist Church. He was a complete minister, whose work lives on in lives blessed through him and in the church he served.

It was recorded in the minutes of the Mission Committee held at Bridgeway Hall on 11 November 1968 that: "The work in Phase III of the rebuilding (Youth Block) is programmed to be finished by 27 December [1968]. We are grateful to the main Contractors, Simms Son & Cooke Ltd., and to the Architect, Mr. T. Bestwick, for the smooth way in which the work to date has been accomplished. We hope to have the Opening Ceremony for the new premises on Saturday 1 February 1969." The cost of Phase III was about £22,100 of which £10,625 was receivable from the Department of Education and Science.

Sister Deirdre Aitken resigned from the Deaconess Order on 31 March 1968 just before Bridgeway Hall joined the Nottingham Central Mission Circuit. This meant that the Bridgeway Hall Mission was without a Deaconess until 1 September 1968 when Sister Rosalie James was appointment to the Mission.


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Fore-
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