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CHAPTER 16
KING'S HALL, PART 1  pre-1950
St Ann's Well Road

Surroundings

The District we call St. Ann's has a long history. Many of the names still in use there can be traced back to when it was farming land. The name Peas Hill can be traced back to 1230 when peas were grown there. The Hunger Hills are first mentioned in 1304 when the name meant "the land on the hill" or "hanging land".  One of the most interesting features of this earlier time was St. Ann's Well. Its water was supposed to be the second coldest in the British Isles and had the reputation of being able to heal sore eyes. The young folk used to gather bluebells, primroses and violets there. It was situated in a coppice about where the railway later crossed. Beside the well there was a public house and a green. Near the well there may have been a Chapel dedicated to St. Ann. In the middle of the eighteenth century the citizens of Nottingham would consider a walk to St. Ann's Well a pleasant country stroll for at that date the land outside the town was all countryside. A stream ran from the well down to the "Spring" as it was locally known, being at the bottom of Coppice Road, now Ransom Road. By 1851 the well was said to be dilapidated.

From the bottom of Coppice Road and up to Mapperley were gardens and the Rifle Range (the Butts) where the local Volunteer Regiment did their firing practice. Coppice Road rose northwards from the well while Donkey Hill (St. Bartholemew's Road) rose southwards up a very steep narrow piece of land which led on to the "Pad Road wheat fields". This path went right through to the village of Gedling.

Nearer to town, a cab rank stood on Corporation Road where hansoms and other cabs plied for hire. On the left side of  Robin's Hood Chase was a brickyard where the clay was dug and made into bricks.

St. Ann's Well Road was paved with rough granite sets. If horse-drawn buses, with their iron-rimmed wheels, clattered by during the services in the chapel there was no  "peace, perfect peace"!

In 1845, like other parts of the Borough of Nottingham, St. Ann's was enclosed under an Act of Parliament of that year and was made available for development, allowing people to build houses on the Clay Field (old name for St. Ann's). Considerable building development took place in St. Ann's to house the workers needed for the new factories on which Nottingham's prosperity was based. This was completed by the 1880s. Streets were laid out in straight lines, no doubt in order to include as many houses as possible  -  about forty an acre.

Most of the houses were of the same type and size, small houses intended for lower-paid working classes. They were plain-fronted and the street door usually opened directly into the parlour. Behind this was the kitchen and beyond that commonly a small scullery. There was a small back yard reached via a back entrance. The water closet and sometimes a coal cellar were in the yard. On the first floor there were two bedrooms and above these was a fifth room which was sometimes an attic lit by a skylight.

Mention has already been made of Hockley Chapel which had been opened by John Wesley on 4 April 1783. It seated one thousand people but by 1838 the work had developed so much that a new chapel, called Wesley Chapel, was built on a lawn in Broad Street, only a few hundred yards away from Hockley Chapel. The evangelistic work continued and soon  this spread to the St. Ann's Well area where open-air meetings were held on a piece of wasteland at the corner of Martin Street and St Ann's Well Road. These were successful, so plans were made to build a Chapel there. Meanwhile prayer meetings were held in a room over a shop near the corner of Livingstone Street, near St Ann's Church and the school.

The history of the churches

The history of the churches on this site may conveniently be divided into four epochs:

1883-1903   St. Ann's Well Road Wesleyan Chapel (Tin Chapel)
1903-1912   East Nottingham Methodist Church
1912-1941   The King's Hall Mission (to the time of the blitz)
1941-1997   The King's Hall Mission (to the time of closure). 

St. Ann's Well Road Wesleyan Chapel (Tin Chapel)
1883-1901

Opposite to where the front of the Chapel was to be built was the old Flower Show field. At the side up Martin Street stood some farm sheds, with a "crew" yard where an old farmer called Sheppard brought the cows from the nearby fields to be milked.  At the rear of the Chapel was a tract of waste land extending along the tops of the streets on the left of St. Ann's Well Road. These streets were only half the length of what they are today and much narrower as most of the houses had a piece of garden at the front.


Map of the St. Ann's Well area (Manvers Ward) in 1901


St. Ann's Well Road Wesleyan Chapel
"The Tin Chapel",
the final service

On the same site as the open-air meetings had been held, a chapel was built and on 15 February 1883 the foundation stones of the Tin Chapel were laid and it was opened for public worship in May 1883. It was situated at the corner of Martin Street and St. Ann's Well Road and officially known as the "St Ann's Well Road Wesleyan Chapel" although it was affectionately known as the Tin Chapel. At that time, quite a few other places of worship in the district had their original building of the same type as that of St. Ann's Well Road Chapel, but only this one was named "The Tin Chapel".

It was built of wood, on a brick foundation, roofed in, and covered with corrugated iron, a steeple or a belfry being on the front. Wooden steps led the way into the outer lobby. The interior comprised one large hall, with a vestry at the rear. The seating accommodation, for 200, consisted of pews down the centre, also at the sides near to the pulpit. Down the sides and front were long reversible forms. The combined pulpit and rostrum was a very fine piece of work. A raised gallery behind the pulpit housed the choir and harmonium. Shortly afterwards, this gallery was removed and the pulpit taken further back. The choir occupied seats on the ground floor just in front of the rostrum. The lighting of the Hall was by gas jets suspended from the roof, each pendant having a ring of about twelve naked lights. To light these jets the caretaker had to use a long pole with a lighted taper at the end.

A wooden fence surrounded a pathway, bordered with shrubs and trees, which led around the building.

From 1883-1901 the chapel was in the Broad Street Circuit. It was situated in the eastern part of the city, in the midst of a population of at least forty thousand people, mostly of the working class. It had no separate resident minister; the ministerial duties being provided by the circuit ministers and local preachers. Rev. J.E. Wakerley came as supply and soon manifested his adaptability for aggressive Mission work.  He soon gathered round him an earnest band of workers and filled the chapel Sunday by Sunday. It began with three basic activities: Sunday services, the Sunday School and the Band of Hope.

The first Superintendents of the Sunday School were Mr. Chandler and Mr. Cantrell and the first Anniversary was held in June 1884.  The school was expected to contribute £6 a year to the trustees for the use of the premises. By 1890 there were three hundred and forty-seven children on the register, but the average attendance was only seventy-four in the morning and one hundred and sixty-two in the afternoon. By 1897 the number of children on the register had fallen to two hundred.

During Rev. Wakerley's time the trade in lace was very bad and consequently there was great distress in Nottingham. To alleviate the wants of the poorest, soup was made in the chapel copper and distributed several times a week.  In this work the young minister was ably supported by Mr. and Mrs. C. Bailey. Mrs. Bailey's portrait, presented by the members of the Mothers' Meeting of which she was the founder and first President, used to hang in the vestry.

The Tin Chapel had certainly catered for a wide variety of activities during its short lifetime. Amongst the regular activities were revival meetings, services of song, the Wesley Guild, women's meetings, prayer meetings, open-air meetings, and magic lantern shows. There was a choir and also an orchestra at one time. The choir even gave a performance in the local public house on one occasion.

It was a custom in those days to have paid sittings (to pay for your seat in church). Members of the congregation could have their seats or pews reserved for them. Some even had cushions, arranged for their own comfort.

During the prayers, some of the members of the congregation had the habit of calling out "Praise the Lord", "Hallelujah", "Amen" and other phrases as to how the Spirit moved them. This was a source of wonderment to some of the boys because, if they as much as batted an eyelid, they were hauled out by the ear, by "old dusty" (whose name was Ash). He was the caretaker, a very tall old man but bent with age. He took a great pride in the cleanliness of God's House. Often he would tell the boys to "kape yer fate off  ther firms". At evening services a group of lads had to sit on some forms at the back of the chapel near the door, under the watchful eye of Old Dusty. The corner where they sat was called the "Amen corner". The girls had the corresponding one on the other side, known as the "Gas corner".

Garden parties were often held, being very much enjoyed by all.  On some occasions sidelines were run, such as sale of work, waxwork shows, games, etc., which not only brought financial gain but also a grand spirit of fellowship and enjoyment.

Magic lantern shows on a Saturday night were another feature. The boys had "scrounged"  a  lantern  from  somewhere.  They  hired  the  slides  from  a   well-known

Methodist who had a large shop in the town. If he was lucky he received the payment for the hire of the slides! Oxygen gas had to be bought to give the light. On one occasion, running out of ready cash, they had to wait until sufficient cash was taken at the door before one of them could go into the town to purchase the necessary cylinder of gas.

As the chapel did not have its own piano, one had to be hired on special occasions such as concerts, services of song etc. Eventually, the young men of Sister Lois's Bible class bought a piano on the hire purchase system, the young men paying the instalments, as they became due, out of their scanty pocket money.

By 1897 the condition of the chapel had deteriorated. The Tin Chapel was never meant to be a permanent structure and within fifteen years it was clear that it needed replacing. Under the leadership of Sister Lois, special efforts were made by the young people to do something to help the Chapel. Working classes were started and even the boys were "ordered" to go to the girls' sewing meetings to thread needles and help to make rugs. Special efforts were planned, the young men doing their best to outdo the young women. They unmercifully begged money from the older folk both inside and outside the church. There was a rambling club in which one of the rules was "to do someone outside the church down" to pay the whole cost of the teas wherever they went. Then each one who went also had to pay for their own tea and for the privilege of walking miles and miles and miles. The money raised went towards the debt-reduction fund. When the Wesleyan Methodist Church inaugurated the Million Guineas Fund it was hoped to get a grant from it, but such grants could not be given to pay off debts. Each member subscribed one guinea. Their name was entered on a roll of honour. The money thus raised was to be used for the assisting and expansion of Methodism. They were for developments only. Consequently a Mr. Thomas Parker offered to lend £600 free of interest for an indefinite period.  The members of the church set to work with a will to raise as much money as possible and the children of the school were asked to be Memorial Stone Collectors. On 11 December 1900 a report was given at the Sunday School Teachers' Meeting of what had been achieved. Of twenty-two collectors at the beginning of the year, only eight were left. £7 had been paid to the treasurer and there was the sum of £1 13s. 0p. in hand. The secretary was "somewhat despondent". What encouragement was he to give the scholars in regard to the prospect of a new chapel being an accomplished fact? The chairman replied that he should speak encouragingly to the workers that they go forward by all means. He would do his level best to encourage the Trustees that they push forward the work of arrangement of plans as speedily as possible. "We are nearer having a new building than ever we have been before." The encouragement given there, and in the society as a whole, achieved its object. Money was raised, and the plans drawn up. Preparatory work began with taking down the Tin Chapel in 1902. It was sold to the Salvation Army who re-erected it in a street off  Wilford Road. This was the same year that the old Albert Hall was bought.

In 1901, to travel from the Parliament Street Chapel to the St. Ann's Well Road Chapel (Tin Chapel), one would turn right, go down Lower Parliament Street and pass the disused high-stonewalled Nottingham Prison ("House of Correction") into what then led into St. John's Street with Heathcote Street on your right. On your left was Beck Street, which proceeded (past St. Catherine's Church, Sunday School and St. Catherine's Cemetery, on your right) in a straight line to Commercial Square where it met with Union Road which had come from the middle of the Victoria Station. If one continued along Union Road, across Commercial Square, it became St. Ann's Well Road. Crossing Hill Road (on the left and Pym Street opposite on the right), Robin Hood Chase, Corporation Street, Cathcart Street and Dickinson Street brought one to Martin Street, on the corner of which the Tin Chapel was built.

 During the time that the new brick structure was being erected on the same site as the Tin Chapel had been, the services and Sunday School were held in a building previously used by a rag and bone merchant at the bottom of Dame Agnes Street. The two shops had been knocked into one. The Free Library was above it. Part of the congregation could not see the temporary pulpit. During these two years the Sunday School Anniversary services were held in the Board School. The membership dwindled to sixty-nine.

The ministers during this first era were:

St. Ann's Well Road Wesleyan Chapel 1883-1901
Circuit Ministers
1883   Rev. B. Weaver

1884   Rev. J.E. Wakerley

1886   Rev. S.H. Hallam

1890   Rev. W.L.Tasker

1891   Rev. F.B. Swift

1891   Rev. J. Holmes

1894   Rev. B.Broadley

1896   Rev. Amos Burnet
1897   Rev. G.W. Wiles

1899   Rev.  R.C..Robson

1900   Rev. J.H.Watson

Resident Minister

1901   Rev. J. Dingle Cocks

East Nottingham Methodist Church, 1903-1912

On 17 July 1902 the foundation and memorial stones were laid for the new church. The ceremony was presided over by the Rev. T. Moorhouse Thorpe. Circuit Ministers took part and the address was given by the Rev. Amos Burnet who was later appointed President of the Wesleyan Methodist Conference when it met in Nottingham in 1924. Stones were laid by Mrs. T.A. Gray, Mrs. Wadsley, Mrs. J.G. Watson, Miss Ethel Black, Miss Althea Bolton, Mrs. Drewry on behalf of the Mothers' Meeting, and Mr. A.K. Cowham on behalf of the Sunday School. Bricks were also laid by a number of young people. Tea was served afterwards at Wesley Chapel, Broad Street, followed by a public meeting, the chairman being Mr. Lloyd Whitely, F.I.C., a former choirmaster and member of the chapel, supported by many influential persons of those days.  The speakers were the Rev. John Hornabrook (General Chapel Secretary)  and the Rev. John C.W. Gostick (Chairman of the District). The membership of the chapel at this time was sixty-nine.

Plans were submitted, the design chosen being that of Mr. A.E. Lambert, the architect of the new Albert Hall, Nottingham. It was a brick building with an imposing front entrance. Large central doors at the top of a flight of stone steps provided the main entrance. The tall spire or steeple on one side dominated the skyline and became the home of many pigeons. In describing the interior, it must be understood that alterations and additions were later carried out. Instead of pews, the seating accommodation was provided by separate chairs (afterwards joined together in threes and fours to help to make some sort of alignment). A very fine oak pulpit occupied the rear of the hall. The layout for the pulpit and choir was the same as that first used in the Tin Chapel. The choir seats and harmonium were in an alcove at the back of the pulpit, fenced in by a wooden partition. There was no access to the choir from the hall except by way of back stairs and through the choir vestry. A balcony surrounded three sides of the hall. On the right-hand side of the hall a doorway opened into a long passage in which were four class-rooms and the front room, known as the church parlour. Also a door led into the lecture hall at the rear of the building. This hall had another door which led into the Martin Street entrance and to the very small minister's vestry. By the side of this vestry, some steps led down to the kitchen and stoke-hold and cellar.

The imposing new building was officially opened on the 21 May 1903, the preacher being the Rev. W.T. Davison, D.D., ex-President of the Conference. It was re-named "The East Nottingham Methodist Church". The first service of  public worship was on Sunday 24 May 1903 at which a resident minister, the Rev. J. Dingle Cock, preached to a large congregation. The church now entered upon another era in the history of the work at St. Ann's Well Road.

Not very long after the opening, it was felt that the harmonium was not adequate for leading the singing in the larger building, especially as it was not in a very good condition after long years of service, so it was decided to procure a pipe organ. A second-hand, two-manual instrument was purchased for £55 from a church in Darleston, and was installed behind the pulpit. The pipes were painted bright green, with gold linings.

During the first few years of the new church things went well. The Sunday School increased in numbers and there was an early evening service just for young people. A Boys' Brigade Company was formed and also a Fife and Drum band. In December 1904 it was decided to establish two Bible classes for those aged fifteen and over. This was because it was felt that the church had difficulty in keeping the interest of that age group.

The Methodist Recorder  of 6 February 1908 reported that:

Special attention was being paid to the young life of the neighbourhood, some of which was not a degree above slumdom.  Hundreds are being attracted to the Mission through the agency of the Sunday School (under Mr. H. Raper and Mr. J.H. Frank), the Band of Hope (Mr. Davidson), Children's Services (conducted  by Mr. William Trout), Classes, an Institute for Lads, Boys' Brigade (Captain Frank), the Drum and Fife Band, Football Club and Cricket Club. Part of the open-air services are also devoted to the children.

On Saturday nights, from September to April, two of the largest vestries are well lighted, made as comfortable as possible and supplied with games such as bagatelle, draughts, dominoes, etc., also with the daily and illustrated papers. These rooms are thrown open, free of any charge, to the young men of the neighbourhood, as a counter attraction to the public house and theatre. The privilege is much appreciated, large numbers turning in for an hour or two.

A penny bank was also in operation.

At one period, the young men and women formed an orchestral band which assisted in the leading of the singing each Sunday evening and on special occasions.

In their young days, boys had more respect for the men in blue, or was it the canes they carried? At one time, several policemen were members of the chapel. One very tall, thin man had the habit of thrusting his head round as he walked along. The boys called him "Duck neck". He was a good policeman all the same. But the favourite "copper" was Inspector Burge who was a class leader for the elder boys. Often he used to join in with the boys when they went on their walks over the wheat fields and when they played football in the fields. On several occasions services were conducted by the Christian Postman Association and by the Christian Police Association on behalf of Sunday School funds.

For a few years special revival series of meetings were conducted by a man who styled himself as "The converted collier". Special services of song rendered by the choir were always a welcome feature.

In addition to the usual services, many other activities of church life took the form of Cottage meetings, tract distribution, Mothers' Meetings, garden parties, sewing circles, and Wesley Guild.

Eventually, however, it was insufficient to cope with some of the difficulties which occurred. The church had no minister of its own then and found it difficult to combat a declining congregation.

Looking down Northampton Street towards The East Nottingham Methodist Church,
with the terraced houses in
the background



St. Ann's Well Road Wesleyan Church, 21 May 1903


East Nottingham Methodist Church,  from Northampton Street, 1903

Plate 127.  East Nottingham Methodist Church, with iron railings.  [Image missing]


Wesleyan Methodist Church, St. Ann's, registered to solemnize marriages

The total cost of the beautiful new building had been £5,777. Towards this amount £2,577 had been paid by the autumn of 1907, leaving a debt of £3,200.  In order to ease this burden which crippled the resources of the people, a great circuit effort was made in November 1907 by a bazaar which, with subscriptions, cleared £560.

The members of  Mr. Whittington's young men's class formed themselves into a concert party called the "Sunbeams". At the teachers' meeting, the superintendent suggested that, owing to the influence of four boys upon the behaviour of others in the Sunday School, these four boys should be expelled. This did not meet with approval. The school secretary stated that he would make two of the offenders assistant "secretaries", being confident that the boys, being found something to do, would have an outlet for their exuberance. This proved to be correct.

The Resident Ministers during this period of the newly-named East Nottingham Methodist Church, which in 1903 had replaced the old chapel, were:-

1904  Rev. Oliver F. East
1905  Pastor W. Davidson
1910  Rev. Mortimer Allen.

The King's Hall Mission (to the time of the blitz)
1912-1941

By 1911 it was obvious that urgent action was necessary and negotiations took place which resulted in the church transferring from the Nottingham (East) Circuit to the Nottingham Mission (Albert Hall) Circuit in 1912. Major changes took place in the church's interior and it was closed for a while during the alterations. The pulpit was removed and a platform with a rostrum substituted, and re-decoration was carried out. Then the hall was re-opened with the name of "King's Hall Mission".  A Minister and a Deaconess were appointed, and almost a complete set of new officers brought in from the Albert Hall. Initial difficulty was caused by making the Sunday morning service for men only, but this soon reverted to a service for all after much protest from some members.

The first Minister, with sole responsibility for King's Hall, was the Rev. J. Crowle-Smith who worked with Sister Flora Beer to build up the church. There could be no doubt that King's Hall grew from strength to strength in its early years. "The Rev. J. Crowle-Smith and Sister Flora Beer are leading the workers on to a victory which is being made certain by hard toil." There was a wide range of spiritual and social activities available.

Amongst the measures adopted were late lantern shows on Sunday nights after church to attract passers-by, band parades around the area and regular open-air services in the summer. Two thousand magazines entitled Messengers were delivered in the area each week. The Church provided the following:

Sunday11 and 6.30Morning and evening Sunday services
10 and 2.30 Sunday School
3.30Sunday School prayer meeting (3rd Sunday in month)
3.00Bible class for young women
3.00Men's hour
6.00Special service for children, league of young worshippers
7.45Lantern Service
Monday   Sisterhood, with refreshments, savings bank, holiday fund, etc.
Choir practice (afterwards changed to Friday night)
Tuesday  Preparation class in Bible Study            
Junior Girls' Guild                                          
Men's and women's fellowship classes
Wednesday Band of Hope                  
Boys' Brigade                                            
Ladies' sewing meeting                                          
Women's fellowship classes
Thursday    Women's fellowship class                                          
Boys' class                                          
Girls' club and Institute
Friday    Classes for boys and girls.

The ladies' Snowdrop Band was available "for the encouragement of Social and Individual Purity". In  addition, considerable social work was carried out and on New Year's Day a party was organized for five hundred poor children.

In 1918, when hostilities were over, the organising of the work had to make a new beginning. The men's Institute was re-opened. Pastor W. Hough was in charge, but the church life did not seem to be able to attain the heights that had been experienced before the war.

Ministers came and went, each contributing to the best of their ability for the welfare of the church.

During this period, through the generosity of Mr. J.D. Marsden, structural alterations were made to the building. The Church Parlour was doubled in size and the passageway and small class rooms at the side of the Hall were removed, making one long large room. Also another storey was added over the Church Parlour and rooms. One of these added rooms was used by the men for their institute, which previously had used the Church Parlour. Also, alteration was made in the tower.

For a time, therefore, the church was a hive of activity, but the First World War had deprived the church of some of its male members and work had gone into a decline which was difficult to put right after the war. The strength of the Church's fellowship helped it to recapture its momentum during the inter-war period,  however, and the available information about that time suggests that it was a time of doing things together. There was a cricket team, a football team, a variety of holidays and outings and a gradual concentration on some of the basic activities more familiar today.

In May 1937 the King's Hall Cricket Club opened their season with weekly matches against such teams as New Basford (on the Forest ground), Derby Road Baptists (Forest), The Greys (Embankment) and Mansfield Road Wesleyans (Embankment).

The Messenger, August 1937, reported that the address of King's Hall Camp was c/o The Beeches, Trunch Lane, Chapel St. Leonards, near Skegness, where they hoped to "be at the coast enjoying the air, the sunshine (?), and the real fellowship which will make our holiday well worth while".

In October 1937 The Messenger congratulated "our Young Men on their consistent play in the Notts. Amateur Football League; so far they have only lost one point and head the table".

The King's Hall Institute Billiard Team had the distinction of winning the Junior Small 2nd Division Championship (The Messenger, May 1938). The following took part in the matches:-  Messrs. W. Wheat (Capt.), A. Watterson,  S. Hose,  W. Bourne,  R. Scarborough,  A. Reeve.  They were defeated in the game for the Scroll by the Bloomsgrove Institute who won the Championship of Division 1.

Philip Pomeril recalled, in July 1939, that:

During this month I shall be attending the Methodist Conference at Liverpool as a representative of the Nottingham District.  There is a special personal reason why I am looking forward to this. Liverpool was the City where I was brought up, and gave my heart to Christ and became a local preacher.  On Conference Sunday, the 23rd, I shall have the privilege of conducting services in the old Wesley Chapel.                 



Choir outing by horse-drawn bus to Woodhouse Eaves,
just befo
re the First World War

Plate 130.   King's Hall, pulpit and organ, 1912. [Image missing]

Plate 131.   Interior of the Mission Hall (St. Ann's Well Road). [Image missing]

It was in the house attached to this chapel, the Caretaker's house, where I was born, and it has for me many hallowed memories and associations.

It is interesting to note that the church to which the members of the Nottingham Central Methodist Mission moved while their building was being refurbished in 1989, namely St. Catherine's, played the King's Hall Cricket Club on the Embankment fifty years earlier on 22 July 1939.

Mr. C. Leonard Gough who, since 1918, had been the Secretary of the Sunday School, had been awarded a Certificate of Merit for long and devoted service by the Connexional Sunday School Council. He also served as organist. Other members of the family are amongst the church's most valued workers.

Then came the disaster of the church being destroyed by fire on the evening of 8 May 1941, following a bombing raid by German aeroplanes on Nottingham. Incendiaries lodged on the roof of King's Hall and within a short time nothing could be done to stop the raging fire. Next morning charred walls and heaps of rubble were all that was left of the main hall. Some local people thought that this was the end of King's Hall, but church members were not to let this disaster stop their work. A notice went up the day after the fire which read: "Bombed, but not beaten"; such was the spirit that had been built up. The officers of the East Nottingham Boys' Club in Northampton Street quickly offered the use of their premises, and it was there that the Methodist witness was carried on until the side room, which had not been too badly damaged, was made fit for habitation and allowed much of the church work to continue. A service of re-dedication was soon held and for ten years the work was maintained under very cramped conditions.

For four years, during the period since the bombing, the Rev. George E. Allcock provided outstanding leadership and encouragement and a room in the new building was named in his memory. Although the Superintendent tried his utmost, no one could be found to succeed him, and the Hall was put in charge of the Aspley Minister until 1951 when the first part of the new building, the lower hall, was opened.

The Sisterhood, Wesley Guild (later called the Midweek Medley) and other fellowships, continued to meet, and the Youth Club received an added impetus with the coming of Mr. Bernard Walkland as full-time leader in 1948. Summer camps for boys resumed after a break of ten years and there was an active Cricket Club.

This period, when King's Hall had no proper meeting-place of its own, was an extremely difficult one. The church was fortunate to have as its minister at this time, the Rev. George Allcock. He was an inspiring man who sustained the morale of the church until he left in 1946. The Allcock Room in the re-built church was later named in his honour.

Work which had been postponed for ten years re-commenced, including summer camps for boys, and the cricket club was re-started.

In 1949, repairs and extensions were made to the side rooms, adding greatly to the facilities.

Early in 1951 the small chapel on Sycamore Road, which had few adult members left, joined forces with King's Hall and there was close co-operation between the churches over the use of the premises. The Sunday School made the most of this co-operation.

One of the many people who were blessed by their association with King's Hall was Mr. Arthur Watterson. A few items of his testimony are:

I was introduced to King's Hall at the end of 1918.  My mother had taken me with her around the corner of Cathcart Street to Truswell's, the milk shop, to purchase a pennyworth of skimmed milk.  It was on a Sunday and mother asked Mrs. Truswell if there was a Sunday School anywhere.   We were taken out onto the pavement and a pointing finger showed me the children playing outside the gates of King's.   I duly went there and have never regretted the decision these two ladies made for me.

At Decision Day I took the long walk down the church and knelt at the communion rail in front of Rev. B. Hughes Smith.   He placed his hands on my head and I heard the words "Bless you, my son".  I think now that this was the time when I began to progress in the church and be of some use.

I was given the job in the vestry after service of opening envelopes and recording in a book what monies were in each numbered envelope, mostly 3d joeys or 6d.  That went for a while and then I found myself stamping all the small envelopes with the numbers and I passed these to one of the stewards.  The "fillers" of each packet was not known to me.  Another job came my way: chasing folk for class monies and recording it.   I think it was passed to me because stewards did not like asking folk for cash; but they said they did not have the time.

I found myself in the King's Hall Institute most nights of the week where I enjoyed the company of others, learned to play billiards, won medals in the Institute League and all in all life was fulfilling and enjoyable.

The thing for which I would remember Rev. Bernard Hughes Smith, apart from the incident above, was his great love of cricket. 

The church was sport-orientated and BHS used the bat but was NEVER out.

In 1932 Rev. Thomas A. Kidd followed, with an entirely different ministry.  He was a great preacher, a deep thinker, a man of many aptitudes.   He gradually emptied the pews but those of us who would listen and learn were to benefit from his ministry.  The Men's Fellowship under Thomas Kidd was a weekly time of thinking and always we would end the evening - 8 pm to 9.30 pm - with the same hymn,  This , this is the God we adore; and I am sure that this represented all of our thoughts.   This is where I learned my pacifist views.   Tommy was a great person to know.  Tommy Kidd would appear to have been appointed to the wrong church, and yet again God's guidance could have been there for those who were seeking righteousness.  They would have found a minister with a like mind.   I am sure my own life would have been the poorer if I had not known him.

Rev. Philip Pomeril came in 1935.  He was the quiet man; the family man.  On Sunday mornings his wife and children were always at service.   At this time [1923 to about 1940] the manse was at 272 Derby Road and the family had to make its way across town so it wasn't easy.   Philip was a kindly man who appeared to be around ready to "minister" whenever it was needed.  Eventually he left King's to go to the Channel Isles for health reasons.  There he was when the islands fell into German hands during the last war and there he stayed until the occupation ended.   A different man, a different ministry, but one has to remember that a person cannot be all things to all men.

In March 1960 the National Sunday School Union and Christian Youth Service presented me with a Diploma of Honour "for continuous and valuable service in the Sunday School Cause during thirty years".    I must add that this service went on as Superintendent of King's Hall Sunday School until the end of John Stacy-Marks's ministry.

The National Christian Education Council of Redhill, Surrey, presented me with a certificate for forty-five years' work amongst children and young people.

On Sunday nights the Young Peoples' Fellowship used to go around the King's Hall area singing hymns, accompanied by a harmonica. On Saturdays, five of the Mission members used to knock on the doors in St. Ann's Well Road to see if anybody would come to church.

In 1944 Rev. H.A. Breakspear was on active service in the East.  He wrote to the church to say that his circuit extended throughout Persia, as he was the only Methodist Padre in that country.  Eight months of his service overseas were spent in Palestine, thus affording an opportunity of seeing Jerusalem and other places in the Holy Land.

The resident ministers during the second era were:-


1911  Rev. J.Crowle-Smith
1914  Rev. D.S. Magor
1916  Rev. Benjamin Gregory
1916  Pastor W. Hough
1918  Rev. G. H. Taylor, M.A., B.D.
1922  Rev. G. Samuel Smith
1926  Rev. B.Hughes-Smith
1931  Rev. Thomas A. Kidd
1935  Rev. Philip Romeril   (Rev. Harry A.Breakspear supplied for Mr.  Romeril September to December 1937)
1939  Pastor Ernest Kemp
1942  Rev. George E. Allcock
1946  Rev. Norman B.Cooper  }    with
1948  Rev. Albert Aspey           }    Aspley Hall.

For five years, from 1946 to 1951, the church was administered as part of  Aspley Hall and did not have its own Minister during this crucial period because it proved impossible to find another Minister to succeed Rev. Allcock. 

Plate 132.   King's Hall after the 1941 bomb. [Image missing.]


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Last amended 23-Feb-2012 14:28 Copyright © Ian Grant - Web implementation by Eric Foxley Visits Chapter 16 pp 316 - 344 OK