Chapters Appendices


The newly-merged society of the Albert Hall and Parliament Street worshipped and worked at the Parliament Street Church site until the refurbishment commenced on the building under its new name of the Nottingham Central Methodist Mission.

The Minister of the day, Rev. Joe Gibbon, had stated that:

As you will now know, the Church Council has opted to use St. Catherine's Church for worship during the time we shall be closed for the re-building.  Whichever venue was chosen, difficulties would have arisen.  The main advantage  of St. Catherine's is that we can use the church  as our own and come and go as we please, for worship and group meetings.   Remember, it is only for about a year.  It is a bit off-centre, but if we can get our cars organised, I'm sure most people will manage to get a lift.     

In a different style, Hilda Miller, the Central News editor, wrote the following article, which suitably summed up the situation.

So, we shall soon be going to St. Catherine's Church! Well, well!  Isn't it strange how things go full-circle? In the 1960s when "conversations" were taking place regarding uniting the Church of England and the Methodist Church, we were encouraged to get together at local level.  So Parliament Street was asked to link up with St. Catherine's for Lenten services.  What a trauma  that caused! "No, never; no, never" the stalwarts cried.   "Go to a high church! With candles and incense! We never go to any church but a Methodist one!" However, some of us went along, found the service interesting and came out unsinged and unincensed! Some of their braver souls came to our church and went away quite happy.  We continued to join each other every Lent.  After several years though, the [unification] project fell through, but we maintained our link with Father David Keene.  If those old walls of St. Cath's could speak, I bet they could say: "Well, it's taken twenty years, but we've got them thar Meths here at last!"

The "New Methodist Centre Appeal" fund was set up and held a "Fun and Frolics" afternoon at Woodview on Saturday 13 June 1987 which commenced at 2.30 pm. It included races, a large variety of games and competitions, a car wash (at £1.00 per car), bring and buy stall, and a barbecue and other refreshments.

A preliminary report (no. 16/04/85) submitted in September 1985 in support of the Planning Application for a new centre of worship, Nottingham Central Methodist Mission, Parliament Street, Nottingham, was submitted by the Architect, Percy Thomas Partnership, in association with Mr. Geoff Birkett, B.Sc  B.Arch  RIBA, for Section 1 and the Minister, the Reverend J A Gibbon B.D., for Section 2 whose views were expressed in it.

Section 1. The existing Parliament Street Church was designed by R C Sutton and completed in 1874.  It is fronted by wide steps which add nothing visually to the interest of Parliament Street as a whole and act as a physical barrier to any passer-by.  The floor level of the existing church is approximately 2.5m [8.1 feet] above the pavement.  With an ageing church membership this is obviously not acceptable and with congregations of three hundred to five hundred, a lift is not a solution  to  this difference  in  levels.  The surrounding  buildings  on  both  sides of Parliament Street are generally of a  very poor quality and not of significant scale.  The existing interior of the building does not answer the needs of the City Methodist Mission.  It reflects the mainly-Sundays-only usage for which the Victorian Church was designed.  The emerging dynamics of Christian Worship require a building which is extremely versatile.  There is no telling what movements in worship will emerge over the next few years, but we must have a building available for a variety of expressions.   The old building in no way could offer such versatility.

Section 2. Christian Worship extends to Christian Service.   In a building, this means a variety of rooms available for a variety of purposes.  Our current commitment is for self-help and hobby groups from all over the City, and include such services as Alcoholics Anonymous, Nottingham Dyslexic Association, Senior Citizens, Youth Groups, Boys' Brigade, and Girls' Brigade.

Architecturally expressed, this means a central place for Christian Worship and a periphery of rooms where Church and Community can meet.

This is expressed in our new proposals.  The ultimate aim is to create a "Living Church".  Altogether, this depends more on people than on a building.  The life must also be interpreted in architectural terms.  The present building from the outside is a dead building.   The interior does not relate to the street.  A building with a wide glazed front and easy access would speak to the pedestrian, providing an attractive invitation via a friendly reception lounge to the central place and act of worship.

St. Catherine's Church, St. Ann's Well Road, St. Ann's, Nottingham

Left-hand side

Light-hand side
Inside St. Catherine's Church

Mr. Fred Kent, Mr. Graham Morgan,
Mr. Bob Proctor and
Mrs. Paddy Wright

Mr. Derek Smith
at Woodview Sports Ground

Three-legged race

Woodview Sports Ground

Welcome to Nottingham Central Methodist Mission

Official Opening of the Nottingham Central Methodist Mission
From left: Deputy Lord Mayor's Lady Mrs. Madeline Roper, the Rev. Dr. John Vincent, senior church steward
Mr. Eric Stevenson, minister's wife Mrs. Kathleen Gibbon, the Rev. Joe Gibbon,
Geoff Birkett, Deputy Lord Mayor Councillor Alfred Stone,
and Chairman of the Nottingham and Derby Methodist District Rev. Geoffrey Clark

Rev. and Mrs. Gibbon in front of the Rev. William Booth plaque,
cutting the Opening Celebration cake

Plate 181.  Rev. Joe Gibbon and Mrs. Kathleen Gibbon [Image missing]

Plan of basement

Plan of ground floor

Plan of first floo.

Plan of second floor
Nottingham Central Methodist Mission plans

"Peace" banner made by Mrs. Lynn Mitchell and Mrs. Carolyn  Broadhurst

Nottingham Central Methodist Mission
Conacher organ and

A diagrammatic representation of the Mission Church Council

"The Shop", Advice and Information Centre

The design aims of the new building were based on the vision of an outreach Church.

Firstly, the New Worship Centre, as it was called in the appeal brochure, became a building that is in use both during the day and in the evenings for seven days a week, not only by Methodist Church members, but also local clubs and organisations; thus providing a source of income as well as making contact with as many people as possible.

Secondly, the Worship Area itself was capable of responding to innovations in the style of worship. This necessitated the use of loose seating and staging to give a variety of seating and free floor arrangements to accommodate a maximum capacity of approximately five hundred persons. The Conacher organ would be overhauled. The old tongue-and-groove floor would be replaced by pale beechwood and the old wooden pews by new removable chairs. The quartz radiant heaters would be used to heat the worship area, from cold in a quarter of an hour, their glow making the hall look instantly warmer.

Finally, the third aim was to encourage the passer-by to enter the Centre. For this reason, the Coffee Bar (Wesley's) and the Advice and Information Centre would become the shop window of the Centre and would provide the visual invitation to come in and "see for yourself" what the Methodist Church could offer. A Day Chapel on the ground floor would provide easy access from the main entrance to cater for smaller services and private prayer, having a seating capacity of forty to fifty.

The address of the new Nottingham Central Methodist Mission is 22 Lower Parliament Street, Nottingham, NG1 3DA. It was to this address that the following letter was received from The Lord Mayor's Parlour, The Council House, Nottingham, when the "New Methodist Centre Appeal" was launched in 1986 to raise £100,000 for the refurbishment:

Message  from
 The Right  Worshipful  The  Lord  Mayor  of  Nottingham
Councillor  Frank  Higgins

As Lord Mayor of Nottingham I am obviously concerned about Inner City Affairs.  I am, therefore, very interested in the fact that the Nottingham Methodist Central Mission is proposing to build a new Methodist Centre in Parliament Street which will be readily available for folk in the centre of our City.

The Albert Hall and Parliament Street Methodist Churches have played an important part in the life of the City in past years, but the new building will be more in keeping with modern needs and will give a warm welcome to those who wish to enter.  The Church will not only be open for services on Sundays, but will offer every kind of community service during the week.

It gives me great pleasure in wishing you all every success in your efforts to provide this city with a purpose-built Central Methodist Mission.
                                                                                Frank Higgins
                                                                                   LORD  MAYOR

Access to the multi-purpose hall in the basement is from the door in the tower, from George Street, or down a glass-covered way (what used to be the open area, and graveyard between the Vestry Block and the main building). This multi-purpose lower hall is suitable for luncheon groups, Mothers and Toddlers, meetings, socials, and concerts. As well as having its own small kitchen, since refurbishment in 1999, it has access to the larger one in Wesley's on the ground floor.

The ground floor of the Mission is at pavement level on Parliament Street. Immediately on entering the building, the entrance hall is bright and welcoming, with a door to the Coffee Bar on the left and the Advice and Information Centre on the right. To the right of the ramp (to the Lower Hall) are the Minister's room, the Administrator's office and the Day Chapel. From the front foyer rises the staircase and lift to the first floor and the second floor balcony.

On the first floor landing is an area available for seating ten or so people. This leads to the foyer with stained glass windows (lighted at night) and then to the main Worship Area. There are two meeting rooms on this floor. Room 3 is used for larger meetings such as the Church Council and the Wesley Guild. Room 4 has three round windows overlooking Parliament Street, and is used for smaller groups such as the Crèche on Sunday mornings. These, as well as other rooms in the building, are designed to be as flexible as possible to allow many different functions to take place.

Most of the outside fabric of the main building, dating back to 1874, was not changed. The original stained glass windows were left untouched. This new block of offices, meeting rooms and a Day Chapel replaced a cluster of old schoolrooms and meeting rooms (the "Vestry Block").

In March 1989 the new Methodist Centre was opened, reaching out to the twentieth century's needs from that same plot of land bought by Methodists so long ago.

The Opening and Dedication of the new Nottingham Central Methodist Mission was held on Saturday 11 March 1989 at 6 pm. The Opening ceremony was graciously performed by Mrs. Kathleen Gibbon, who was presented with a bouquet of flowers, as was the Deputy Lord Mayor's Lady. The official party then entered the church to a trumpet fanfare from members of the Boy's Brigade, and took their places on the platform. The platform party consisted of Mrs. Kathleen Gibbon, the President-Elect of the Methodist Conference Rev. Dr. John J. Vincent,  Chairman  of  the  District Rev. Geoffrey Clark, Deputy Lord Mayor Councillor Alfred Stone, the Architect Mr. Geoffrey Birkett, Rev. Andrew Barker (Bridgeway Hall), Rev. Stephen Williams (King's Hall), and the Senior Church Steward, Mr. Eric Stevenson, who welcomed the invited guests and all others who had joined in the opening

Radiant heaters, drawings

W.R.V.S. Ladies in Wesley's (before 1999 refurbishment)

Wesley's  (before 1999 refurbishment), entrance and counter

Plate 193.   Tables (inside) in Wesley's  (before 1999 refurbishment). [Image missing.]


Tables (by street) in Wesley's (before 1999 refurbishment)

Nottingham Central Methodist Mission, day chapel

The Dedication of the Church was led by the Rev. Geoffrey Clark and confirmed by responses from the congregation of about five hundred and fifty people. The service was shared by the Rev. Stephen Williams and Rev. Andrew Barker, and the soloist, Mrs. Brenda Tomlinson, sang Father in Heaven beautifully.

The Address was given by the Rev. John Vincent who complimented the architect on designing such a beautiful, modern, and purpose-built church to meet today's requirements, yet had managed to keep a gem of an old church. His address was based on John 5:1-18, about the man beside the pool and especially the text: "I have no-one to put me into the pool". Central News reported as follows:

He reminded the members to cherish the things of the past even though the task was to meet the needs of the community of today.

The journey from the Albert Hall down Upper and Lower Parliament Street could be regarded as a symbolic Gospel journey downwards to the new £1 million-plus Nottingham Central Mission beside "the pool of humanity", with thousands of people milling to and fro in the streets around it.

The people are looking for survival, with basic essential needs of food, clothing, bread, health and human companionship.  The church was called to do what some sophisticated people condemned as "only ambulance work".

In the crude self-seeking success society, the church had to return to a fundamentally simple basic ministry to help people survive.  This meant soup kitchen, meals and accommodation, all things of the Central Mission tradition of Methodist ministry.

Those living in a world of their own were searching for spirituality and looking for meaning, mystery, inner sustenance and support.   They needed open space, time, listening ears, shoulders to cry on, coffee bars and people just to be there.

Others were searching for significance, especially those having no function, no job, nothing to contribute.  Missions must start opening workshops, small rooms, provide sums of money, be facilitators and become places where people could find significance.

These were the contemporary responsibilities of the inner city missions.

Acknowledgements were gratefully given to Mr. G. Birkett ARIBA (Architect), Mr. P. Willows (Quantity Surveyor), Messrs. Bodill and Sons Contractors Limited (the Builders), "Various Sub-Contractors", and the skill and dedication of the work force.


It was abundantly clear that God was with us in the £1 million refurbishment of the church. In the very month when the Treasurer ran out of money to pay Bodill & Sons he was advised that the Woodview Playing Field had been sold to Pickering Development Limited. This sale, together with that of the Albert Hall, provided sufficient money to leave no debt outstanding at the end of the refurbishment. The Church was blessed, indeed.

Analysis of  building costs up to 31 August 1989

Building contractor676,815
Architect's fees & expenses52,985
Consultants' fees  40,418
                               Subtotal 770,218
Value Added Tax     115,532
Sundries (see below)              100,918
Total                                         986,668
Sundries:                                             £
Original study & aborted scheme       20,594
Demolition                    8,205
Exhumation                   2,215
Organ repairs and renovation  25,260
Chairs for worship area & balcony  22,274
Other, smaller, items                             22,370
Total sundries (as above)                  100,918

A very large "Celebration Cake" was made by Mr. and Mrs. Bob Jones, with pieces for everyone  They not only put the icing on the cake but on the occasion itself!

On Tuesday 18 July 1989, the Church and Circuit met together to say farewell to the Rev. Joe Gibbon and Mrs. Kathleen Gibbon. The Rev. Andrew Barker said how much Joe had helped him when he first came to Bridgeway and how all the staff had always had a good relationship with him as Superintendent. Joe Coates paid tribute to Joe and Kathleen, saying that their amazing courage and faith had been an example to all. He said: "Joe's powerful preaching of God's word equalled that of Dr. Sangster. He has taught us, he has cared for us, he has led us. So many of us will remain grateful for his love and help in times of trouble, distress, and bereavement. He was always there when needed." Many tributes were also paid to Kathleen, the gracious friendly "woman behind him". Joe later corrected this and said she had never been behind him  -  always by his side! (We still think she has sometimes been behind him  -  shouting: "Slow down, Joe!"). What grand partners they made. She had always believed in family life, not only in their home but also in the church. She always had a smile and a word for everyone, even in the darkest days of Joe's illness. No wonder she was such a loved and respected lady.

She started the "Link Group", taking the church to the homes of the ones who could not get to church. The team usually managed to visit these people once or twice a year in their own homes or in Nursing Homes and took a short informal service, the residents choosing the hymns and taking part if they so wished. There was usually a theme or a message based on a recent Sunday service. The group was particularly pleased that not only did the church members and friends find the visits worthwhile, but the  other residents  welcomed  them  and  appreciated  the fellowship  together.  They always left the homes feeling blessed and encouraged that this time of outreach had been enjoyed by everyone.

When Dr. Joan Barks B.A., L.Th. retired from the County Council Domiciliary Services, she gave even more of her tremendous professional skills, abilities and compassionate care to the members of the Mission. It was known that God would richly bless her and her work in the Ministry. One of the great strengths of the Mission is a very active pastoral team which came under Joan's control. As Honorary Lay Worker, Joan's talents are made use of in the Team Ministry, which is organised within the Mission and circuit to develop the evangelistic outreach.

Sister Olive Lewin and Dr. Joan Barks talked about the pastoral visiting systems which they had experienced.

[Sister Olive] We have had Pastoral Visitors for a long time.  We had them at the Albert Hall in my time with John Horner.  Not only did we have Pastoral Visitors but the people who were Class Leaders looked after their own little group, unless there was some particularly difficult circumstance.

[Joan Barks] I followed on from Joy Hemmington who was just about to set up a system for pastoral visiting when she died.  I created my own style of Membership Roll from my experiences in Social Services.  At the present time we are fortunate in having an excellent system working which interacts very well.  We have a person in the Guild who has oversight of the people in that group so if anyone is in any particular need or requires a visit, I will then go and visit them. The same thing happens in the Ladies' Network.  There is a link person there.  In the Junior Church there is a person who links with me if there is a need.  In much the same way, we have a link person in the City Hospital and a link person in the Queen's Medical Centre.  It is not true in all circumstances and it is not always perfect. In the past we used to make a pastoral visit once a quarter but now we have Pastoral Visitors who go more regularly.  Some would visit every six weeks or every two months, unless something else arose in the meantime that I got to know about.  I might go and pay a visit myself and I always passed on that information to the Pastoral Visitor, providing it was not confidential.  I would tactfully say that the person would like to see you.  It was really a matter of building up relationships, which most of the Pastoral Visitors liked to do.  As that relationship developed they got to know the people and they knew basically how often to make a visit.  You needed to keep a record and a list of the people who were most in need, which was always rather a difficult matter.

 [Sister Olive] At the Albert Hall, my friend Blanche Wise was in the office at that time and I could drop into Blanche; and Tricie Bird as she was then, (Mrs. Beatrice Sturgess), was in the big kitchen on the lower hall.

Early in the ministry of Rev. Patrick McCluskey (1989 to 1997) a Management Team was set up which was a sub-committee of the Church Council and had  authority to act within the framework of the agreed Church Council policy. It attended to matters that required a swift response and with those areas which seemed to fall between different church committees. Its officers were the Minister, Patrick McCluskey; Treasurer, Ian Grant; Property Steward, Tom Flynn; Church Steward, Derek Smith; and Honorary Lay Worker, Joan Barks.

Community House, 52 Noel Street, Nottingham

Mr. Rehmat Paul at Hyson Green Market stall

Thirty-minute weekly lunchtime services have been held in the Day Chapel on Tuesdays at 12.15 pm since it was built. Their aim is to provide a mid-week devotional break; a pause for reflection and prayer, and a brief address, hoping that these services would become popular with workers in the city. A small electronic organ in the chapel provides voluntaries and accompaniment to two or three hymns. As well as some shoppers, this has encouraged those people who go to the Senior Citizen's afternoon to attend the service first.

As a result of street and door-to-door publicity in Sneinton, a Parent/Carer and Toddler Group was a success from the start. Meeting on Mondays from 10.00 to 11.30 am, it is organised by a group of competent and supportive Church workers who are proud and delighted to see some of their families attendin Sunday services.

At the other end of the age scale, an Elderly Day Care group meets monthly. A party of drivers transports them to the Mission where they are entertained before lunch and attend the Women's Fellowship meeting in the afternoon. This is a happy occasion when housebound Church members and friends who have known each other for many years have the opportunity to meet with each other.

The "shop" premises, which has an entrance from the church foyer, also has a front door onto Lower Parliament Street. It opened in early July 1990, as a Health Promotion Unit, with widespread TV and press coverage, giving maximum publicity to this unique project, the first in the country. It is a three-way venture, administered by the Health Authority, financed by Help the Aged, with the Central Mission providing the premises and back-up services. The centre is staffed by volunteers from various bodies and groups and has qualified nursing back-up. Later, it became known as the Advice and Information Centre.


Nic Williams was the brainchild of a "mega mag" magazine called SPLAT, for "age  0  to  99", the first edition being issued in 1991. Included in it was a poem about family experiences in the home of someone who was later a Church Steward. 

                                                Pause for thought

  A  Teenager's  Bed
Ever tried to raise a teenager from her bed,
To try and shake that curly head,
To drag that body from its abode,
To change the mind into rising mode?
It's a losing battle: you cannot win.
You shout and shout 'til you get a stiff chin.
"Come on love, get up, please."
The gentle approach doesn't raise a wheeze.
She's dead to the world  -  or is she faking?
I'm fed up of this liberty-taking.
It's time to get tough!
Yes, I've definitely had enough!
"There're chores to be done!
Don't think that you've won!!
Get out of bed!!!
Did you hear what I said!!!!?"
The bucket's full of water.
I climb the stairs to my darling daughter.
I open the door and walk inside.
She lets out a cry as an eye opens wide.
Her body springs to life,
Her face full of strife.
"No, Mum, please don't" she pleads.
"I'm coming down now"  Oh, my heart bleeds.

                                                                                                Rita Dowding.

And a Prayer

We thank You, Lord, that if we have You at the centre of our lives, and try to live according to Your Will, we know that our mistakes and failures will be forgiven. We pray that You will help us to live our lives creatively and positively, in a way that is pleasing to You. Guide us to right and wise decisions that will bring a better future for us all. In Jesus' name, Amen.

A notable event in the life of the Church was the performance of the religious musical, From Pharaoh to Freedom, by Roger Jones, on Maundy Thursday 28 March, presented  by the Nottingham  Central  Methodist  Mission  Singers. The choir, under the baton of Peter Wiles, included some thirty singers, in addition to eight soloists.  They were ably supported by Terry Brown as narrator, Sally Brown as pianist and Paul Woolley as guitarist. The work was unusual in that the sacrament of Holy Communion formed an integral part of it.  The music was in a modern idiom, but tuneful and lively.

The June 1991 edition of Central News reported that, in response to the appeal for a successor to Bob Proctor, Mrs. Carolyn Broadhurst had been appointed a full-time member of the Mission staff, employed for 37½ hours each week, working according to the conditions and terms set by the Methodist Conference. Her appointment heralded a new office equipped with a computer which housed Mission records, information, and all the major church accounts.

The position having been advertised for a Full-time Youth Worker, six applications were received. Three were invited for interviews and the successful applicant was Ian Naylor. He was married to Judith and had an eight-month-old daughter, Miriam. After many years of youth work in his local church, he had gone to college for three years, Moorlands Bible College in 1988 for two years, and in 1990 he specialised in Youth Outreach at a college in Oxford called Oxford Youth Works for two years, and gained further experience in Christian Youth outreach among unattached young people and Asian groups. He originally worked in the Royal Dockyards at Kent and Devon as a shipwright, serving the Royal Navy in repairing and up-dating  their many forms of craft. He was appointed to the Mission Staff for an initial period of two years from 1st September 1991. The service of Induction and Welcome was held at 6.30 pm that night. During his spell at the Mission his work included working alongside young people on the farm at Wilford Meadows School and visiting shops in the Victoria Centre complex opposite Central  Mission where he promoted Christian counselling. He met young people from all walks of life through various board games published by Games Workshop. He became involved with the Trent Polytechnic Christian Union and Nottingham University Methsoc, and sought to recruit students to help with evangelistic youth work. He assisted with circuit youth and fellowship groups in the circuit, but was busy doing what he described as "cold contact" work, meeting and building up relationships with those who were not used to church at all. He ran a special club for them on a Sunday afternoon and looked at ways of introducing the concept of  "Church" and all that that meant to them.


On Easter Day, new communion furnishings and pulpit lectern, made by craftsmen, were dedicated to the Glory of God in memory of Peter Spencer. A small Bible lectern and a wooden cross rested on the new communion table which stood beneath the pulpit and a little way out from the platform and which became a focal point at the front of the church. A font stood to the left of the table.

Members of the Mission shared in a team which organised an escort duty service for people wishing to attend services at any of the city's three hospitals. One of the circuit ministers was a chaplain.

On two days each week a Church member, a retired bank manager, offered credit crisis counselling for anyone with money problems.

On Tuesday evening 17 March the Chattanooga Singers from the University of Tennessee, Chattanooga, gave a concert of sacred and secular songs. The first half consisted of  "church music" sung by a dozen quartets (bass, tenor, alto and soprano) who stood around the front of the balcony. They sang with no score. In the second half of their concert, the choir was downstairs on the platform, and sang secular music. This was the seventh time this very popular choir had visited Britain but the first visit to the Central Mission. Members of the church provided accommodation overnight to this fifty-strong choir. It was great meeting our American friends. Their musical director was Dr. Glenn Draper who was Director of Music at the World Methodist Centre, Lake Junaluska, North Carolina.

The Circuit provided an exciting series of scriptural studies on Tuesday evenings in June, at Central, on Aspects of the Kingdom; 2 June Jesus and the Kingdom led by  Dr. Stephen Travis, New Testament Lecturer at St. John's Theological College; 9 June Entry into the Kingdom led by Rev. Brian Nicholls, Minister at Mansfield Road Baptist Church; 16 June Spreading the Kingdom led by Mr. Cliff Broad, District Enabler in Evangelism;  23 June Living the Kingdom led by Rt. Rev. Alan Morgan, Bishop of Sherwood; and 30 June Kingdom People led by Pastor, Eric Maddison, The Christian Centre, Talbot Street, Nottingham.

In June, Mrs Hilda Cowlam sent her sincere thanks to all those who sent her birthday cards, gifts, and flowers, and for all the many good wishes she received on her ninety-fourth birthday.

Missing from this year's anniversary celebrations was the Superintendent Minister, the Rev. Patrick McCluskey, who took part in a three-week New World Mission programme involving about one hundred speaking engagements, plus press, radio and television opportunities, in the United States of America.

In September book trays were fitted to all the chairs in the main church and Hymns and Psalms and a pew Bible were placed in each one.

When the Princess of Wales came to Nottingham on Wednesday 9 September she was welcomed by Rev. Patrick McCluskey, the Superintendent Minister of the Nottingham Central Methodist Mission and chairman of the Advice Centre's Management Committee, outside the "Shop". The Princess, who was patron of  Help the Aged, was then introduced to the volunteer workers at the Centre who had regularly worked in the Shop ever since it opened two and a half years earlier. She was presented with a bouquet by Miss Mary Pashley, who at ninety-five years was the oldest member of the Mission but also well known to the workers in the Shop. The Princess was especially interested in the bereavement support work which took place. She signed a portrait of herself for display in the Centre. "She's lovely!"  "Gorgeous!"  "It was a smashing day!" were some of the comments following the Princess's visit. Notwithstanding the crush barriers, crowds, police, and press photographers straining for the best view in Lower Parliament Street and Clinton Street East, it was a great day when the Mission had a Royal Visitor!

Alan Johnson, A.B.S.M., a professional singer and teacher who had worked with opera singers and pop musicians, had the calling to help people in the area to make use of their talents and at the same time to aid the church in its evangelism and worship. A number of concerts were given in the Mission and his group, Visions of Creativity,  meets weekly in the building.

On Saturday 3 October the Mission was blessed with a visit by the President of Conference, Rev. Dr. Kathleen Richardson. She had come to visit the Forest Fields and Hyson Green Project in Noel Street that day and shared an agape with its members, a project supported by the Mission and District Methodist Churches.

The Indoor Bowls Club met weekly in the Lower Hall from 2 December 1992 on Wednesdays between 10.30 and 12 noon. It later met at Bridgeway Hall. 


The Flower Festival held during the three days, 21 to 24  May 1993, was one of several held at the Mission during the last decade. On each occasion very special thanks were expressed to the Nottingham Flower Club for the beautiful and imaginative displays. On that occasion the theme was Creation's Glory. The theme of the Flower Festival, 16 to 19  May 1996, was Easter to Pentecost.

In his sermon, Don't put out the Spirit's Fire, on Sunday 13 June 1993, the Rev. Patrick McCluskey said:

With a huge forest fire the fire-fighters cut down trees on the circumference of the fire to avoid the spread of the fire.  In the church the Spirit's Fire can be put out cutting off the life of the church from the outside world. 

With Miss Mary Pashley

With Rev. Patrick McCluskey
Visit of Princess of Wales, 9 September 1992

Nottingham Central Methodist Mission
Flower Festival

Elderly Day Care group 1995

One way the Spirit can be spread is for those in the church to BELIEVE that they can spread it and that the Spirit's Fire will spread.

On 28 June the Mission was host to Rev. Donald English, C.B.E., M.A. (Cantab), B.A. (London), the guest speaker at the Methodist Conference Home Mission celebration, chaired by Rev. Brian Hoare, whose hymn Born in Song heartily sung opened the service. The evening was blessed by On Fire, performed by the Central  Mission  Music Group Dancers. This was followed by a dialogue (interview with the Rev. John Clark and the Rev. Tony Holden) about Urban and Rural Mission work. In his address, Rev. Donald English spoke well, but briefly.

On four Thursday evenings between 28 October and 18 November, Rev. Paul Morris, Adviser in Evangelism for Southwell Diocese, shared Good News Down The Street, an excellent in-depth look at what represented the Good News of God's Kingdom.

Over the weekend of 12 to14 November, eighty-nine friends from the Mission went to Scarborough for the first of several visits. Seventy-nine people stayed at the large Victorian "Green Gables Hotel" and ten lodged at a small bed and breakfast hotel round the corner. The theme for the weekend was "Going Together, Growing Together", led by Jeremy Fletcher (Associate Minister at St. Nicholas' Church) and his family. He also showed his diversity in juggling, rock music, and playing the spoons, while others enjoyed table tennis, Scrabble, snooker, and swimming. With Margaret Nelson and her worthy team of helpers, the children were wonderful and learned songs, served communion and even prepared Scarborough workbooks complete with drawings of the Minister!

This week-end was followed, in alternate years, with excellent times of great joy and  spiritual  enlightenment.  At  each  of  these  Scarborough  week-ends  there  was  a well-planned Christian programme. There were morning and evening prayers led by members of the Mission. Workshops were run for a wide range of purposes, including Christian drama, banner-making, dancing, and for the children to learn and make visual aids for the Sunday worship. Methodist fellowship was evident at all times and in all places, from the time the coaches left the Mission to the time they returned. But throughout, there was a very positive sense of spirituality often brought about by planned teaching, prayer and communion. The spirituality of the 1999 weekend was particularly powerful, many people experiencing great joy and strength from the Sunday times together.


Commencing on 11 April, the first of the Cell Groups began what was to be a successful enterprise in fellowship and spiritual understanding. The original groups were Bob Proctor (Monday at Aspley), John Fee Snr. (Monday at Clifton), Clive Gilliatt (Tuesday, Beeston), Carolyn Broadhurst (Wednesday, Central Mission), June Brown

(Wednesday, Wollaton), Sylvia Nicholas (Wednesday, Aspley), Joan Barnett (Thursday, Thorneywood), Bob Jones (Thursday, Beeston), Ian Grant (Thursday, Sherwood), Rosemary McCluskey (Thursday, Aspley), Mona Shelton (Friday, Canning Circus), Tony and Paddy Brunt (Friday, St. Ann's), Paul and Stella Skidmore (Friday, Carlton), and John and Di Storer (Friday, Wollaton). The style was based on that of the early Christian church when followers met in private houses for worship and discussion. Two of these groups, Sylvia's (Aspley) and Ian's (Sherwood) were still flourishing in the Summer of 1999, the others having gradually faded away.

After the Sunday evening service on Sunday 3 July there was an additional service which started at about 7.30 pm for those who wanted to continue in worship and praise for choruses, prayer, testimony, and the laying on of hands for healing. There were three superb occasions when many of those present experienced the Holy Spirit. Unfortunately only three such services were held.

 "What 's in a name? that which we call a rose by any other name would smell as sweet." In July a Leadership Team replaced the Management Team, although it served the same purpose. Its members consisted of the Minister, Patrick McCluskey; Treasurer, Terry Brown; Honorary Lay Worker, Joan Barks; Administrator (secretary), Carolyn Broadhurst; Property Steward, Tom Flynn; Church Steward, Clive Gilliatt; and six representatives from the General Church Meeting.

The church committees which had previously been responsible for organising most of the church's activities were disbanded and four "Action Groups", Worship, Outreach and City Concern, Youth, and Coffee Bar, were appointed in their place. However, because the cross-referencing between all interested parties, which had existed for many decades under the old committee system, no longer existed, there was a certain lack of co-ordination, reporting, and understanding of who was responsible for what.

The sad demise on 25 November, of Bill Farmer, the caretaker at Central Mission, brought a conclusion to the era of a notable character, who was missed by all those who valued his contribution to the life of Central Mission. "Big-Al" Broadhurst said that he would "certainly miss his 'How's it going, Al?' that he usually greeted me with, and the way he ended most of his comments with a touch of the Frank Bruno's 'You know what I mean?'  Many would have enjoyed his ability to label people with amazingly astute nicknames: I will not repeat some of his most biting, but you should have no difficulty with 'the colonel'! He also had an extensive programme of whistling/singing solos." Hilda Miller reported that he was also renowned for "the lovely tall stories he used to tell us  -  all told with dead pan humour, folks never knew for sure whether he was having them on or not... His mythical black cat he would warn us not to trip over on the stairs!  - The underground tunnel he had discovered running from the basement to the George Hotel!  -  The camels he had seen passing by going to the Market Square when it became 'Nottingham by the Sea'. The Coffee Bar customers loved listening to his stories, then would ask us: 'Is it true?' He was indeed a great character, always pleasant and helpful, and will be greatly missed by us all."

In the worship area of the Central Mission were hung colourful banners which had been made by members at various times.


Wesley's is the glass-fronted room facing Lower Parliament Street, and is approached from the front foyer of the Central Mission, which provides outreach to the Mission in the form of light refreshments. It is open Monday to Saturday from 10 am to 2.30 pm.

Nicholas Williams and his fellow workers ran the Friday night Wesley's from 8pm to 11pm for young people including the members of Visions of Creativity, who use the Lower Hall on Friday evenings. Until 1998, Richard and Pam Simpson were the managers of Wesley's. They bought most of the food from a cash-and-carry which they physically brought to the Mission. On each of the days, Monday to Saturday, there is a different lady in charge of operations during the day's work. For several years, the W.R.V.S. have very kindly staffed the Coffee Bar and Wesley's on one or two days a week. Church members who, amongst many that have worked there, may be included in the names of the day-to-day ladies in charge have been Mrs. Joyce Bradshaw, Mrs. Pat Gilliatt, Miss Rene Dove, Mrs. Ida Poxon, Mrs. Janet Gaunt and Mrs. Gwen Hirst.

During 1998 Glyn Williams, as Office Manager, was responsible for the purchasing of the goods. In February 1999 Wesley's closed for refurbishment, made larger and its own kitchen created alongside. It was re-opened on Monday 5 July 1999 as Wesley's. Mrs. Janet Gaunt and Mrs. Gwen Hirst took over the management of Wesley's and once again the responsibility of purchasing most of the goods.


An Alpha Training Course, based on that originated at the Holy Trinity Church, Brompton, in London, about 1979, was started on  6 March. The course consisted of eight evening sessions and one Away Day, on Saturday 27 April at Sherwood Methodist Church. Each Wednesday evening began with a meal together in the Lower Hall, followed by a short time of worship, an introductory talk on the evening's topic, and a discussion in groups of about eight people.

Ladies' Fellowship or the Women's Fellowship are names covering the women's work under the umbrella name of Network, covering all forms of Women's Work, principally Overseas and Home Missions. Meeting on Thursday afternoons, numbers have grown steadily to about fifty.

A new initiative for the Mission was the Chatterbox Holiday Club  - a five-day, action-packed, activity week for some fifteen young people aged between seven and eleven associated with the Mission. Amongst other things, they had a disco, swam, made models, went on outings, and put on a concert for the very appreciative Senior Citizens. It was Nicholas Williams who had been responsible for the venture. The programme, devised by Scripture Union, incorporated activities both on and off church premises and was aimed at the "unchurched" as well as children belonging to a Junior Church. Some of the Mission children brought along their friends. The whole week, although exhausting, had been extremely enjoyable and a huge success.

Grateful thanks were duly given to all those who took part in Breaking Bread on Sunday 21 July which involved so many people and was an exceptionally meaningful celebration of the communion service.


During January and February, the Salvation Army were unable to hold their Sunday Services at The William Booth Memorial Halls due to some refurbishment work.  They were welcomed, therefore, in joining the Central Mission congregation at morning and evening worship.

September saw a change-over in the Superintendency of the Nottingham Central Mission Circuit. The last service conducted by Rev. Patrick McCluskey, as Superintendent Minister of the Nottingham Central Mission Circuit, was held at 6.30 p.m. on Sunday 27 July.  This was followed by a presentation, a light-hearted song (the words are shown below) sung by The Alan Johnson Singers, and a buffet meal.

Plate 202   Elderly Day Care, with helpers. [Image missing.]

Mrs. Hilda Cowlam, Rev. John Taylor and stewards

Alan Johnson had had a dream that The Alan Johnson Singers were singing a well-known musical at Patrick's farewell, so Carolyn Broadhurst  produced  the following parody based on that song. Judging by the smile on Patrick's face, it was felt that he enjoyed it.

A hundred and one pounds of fun, All
Hey-up Bulwell, here we come, Kate
Get a load of honey bun tonight. All
I'm speaking of him, funny guy,   Carolyn
Only sixty inches high,
Every inch is packed with dynamite   All
He walks his dog, feeds his bunny, Keith
Even plays with a red-headed dummy,
Get a load of honey bun tonight. All
See his shirts, see his gown, Deb
Smartest vicar in the town,
Every inch is packed with dynamite. All
He likes his whiskey, likes his wine, Cath
Glad his Asda bill ain't mine,
Get a load of honey bun tonight. All
He likes a steak but lives on cress, Martin
He hopes to make his waistline less,
Every inch is packed with dynamite. All
What's his age? See his hair  -   Alan
Oh dear, is there any there?
Get a load of honey bun tonight.  All
A hundred and one pounds of fun  All
Hey-up Bulwell, here we come, Kate
Get a load of honey bun tonight.    All

Rev Peter Willis, Christine (Chris) and their two children, Kirsty aged eleven and David aged eight, came directly from Manchester, where Peter was one of the Ministers at the Manchester Central Mission and Director and Trainer in Evangelism for the Manchester and Stockport District. He came with enthusiasm, bringing with him a wealth of experience within the Methodist Church, together with a wide range of gifts, abilities, and theological and spiritual knowledge.

The minutes of the Circuit Meeting, Nottingham Central Methodist Mission, held on 16 September, recorded that Rev. Peter Willis's intentions for the future:-

  1. I have no intention of supervising the closure of any of our buildings, or retreating from any of our present work.    I do not believe in centralising our ministry, or downsizing our staff.
          All our decisions must be fashioned in prayer.
          We must build our future not by the expediency of our finance, but by the dynamic of our Faith.
  2. Our theology has to be Kingdom Theology.
  3. Our strategy has to be Missionary.
  4. We must be:

              aware of the difference between building and scaffolding,
              pioneers not settlers, and eagles not parrots.

John Richard Jarratt was born on 19th September 1911, married  Dorothy Eleanor Sloan and died on Saturday 18 July 1998 at the Churchfield Christian Nursing Home, Nottingham. He left a daughter, Mrs. Pat Preston. A Service of Thanksgiving for  his life was held at Kingswood Methodist Church, Wollaton, Nottingham, on Tuesday 28 July 1998 at 2.30 pm. Amongst the appreciations was one  from Mr. Roy Goodrich, friend and former colleague at Boots. The following are extracts from that appreciation.

He had joined Boots just before his sixteenth birthday to work as a laboratory assistant in the Research Department.  With remarkable dedication and perseverance he attended Nottingham University College on Saturday mornings and in the evenings.  He first matriculated and then went on to obtain a B.Sc. degree by the time he was twenty-one.  Five years later [about 1937] he had become an M.Sc. and an Associate of the Institute of Chemistry, and he was working for a Ph.D. when the war interrupted his studies.  Subsequently he became a Fellow of the Royal Society of Chemistry.

As he became more highly qualified, his employment moved from Boots Research Department to the Fine Chemical Department and he worked on the manufacture of saccharin and then on to the production of Potassium Permanganate which Boots had to start making in anticipation of the outbreak of war.  In his own words he had become "a poor struggling chemist always overworked and underpaid".

By the time of our meeting he was the night manager of the Beeston Section of the Chemical Department and I was a shift chemist in the permanganate plant.  I can still recall that period in the middle of the war when some of the very irregular leisure time had to be devoted to the national service.  We were both in the Home Guard where he was an NCO in a Hi Tec platoon equipped with rockets.  Towards the end of the war John was appointed Chemical Factory Manager at Beeston and he continued in that post until 1961 when he transferred to Island Street as Factory Manager there, where he oversaw much of the redevelopment of the site.

Also at the end of the war, Boots appointed a new fire chief who realised that his brigade needed some specialist training in view of the hazardous materials being handled on the site.  He asked John to talk to his firemen and John in turn asked me if I could devise some experiments to illustrate the particular hazards.  So began a long-lasting partnership which became quite famous.

[Later he went] round the county judging the Best Kept Village Competition which was sponsored by the Nottinghamshire Rural Community Council.  He was on the Council's panel of speakers and later was their Vice Chairman.

John's experience with the manufacture of saccharin in his Beeston factory and with the production of insulin in his Island Street factory, led to his association with the British Diabetic Association and he joined the local section becoming their Vice Chairman and their regional representative.

Soon after John qualified as a chemist he joined the Chemical Society and the Society of  Chemical Industry.  The Nottingham section of the latter appointed him as assistant secretary in 1947 to help the secretary who was in failing health.  In fact the old secretary did not recover and John was local secretary within a short time.  He held this post until 1971 when he became Chairman of the Nottingham Section and subsequently a member of the governing body, the Council of the Society.  The Society awarded him their Lampitt Gold Medal for services to a local section.

In 1964 he received an Honorary Insignia award from the City and Guilds of London Institute and he was flattered to find that his fellow recipient on this occasion was Alex Issigonis, the designer of the Mini.

Within the Boots organisation, John was a member of the Supervisors' Association from its foundation in 1949, and for sixteen years he was its Chairman.

When he retired in 1971 he was able to offer his services as a Safety Consultant.  It was the right business to be in at the time.  He regularly lectured to the Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents and the British Safety Council, and also for individual companies and employers' federations.  He was awarded a Diploma in Safety Management.  He was at various times a Council Member of the Institution of Occupational Safety and Health, Chairman of the Health and Safety Group of  SCI, Vice Chairman of the International Institute of Risk and Safety Management, and so on.  In 1992 he went to Goldsmith's Hall in London to receive the British Safety Council's Sword of Honour presentation.  He travelled widely at home and overseas as an acknowledged expert in Industrial Safety during twenty-one years after leaving Boots.


During February and March, Rev. Peter Willis led a study course at Bridgeway Hall Mission, Growing together through Lent. Members met at 7.00 pm for a meal in the sports hall, sitting in eight groups, and enjoying the fellowship of each other. Then they went into the worship area where Sally Watson led a short worship time, followed by ten minutes' instruction from Peter Willis. Then each group went to a different part of the building for forty-five minutes of discussion on set topics: (1) the right motive for ministry; (2) the right man or woman in ministry; (3) the right manner for ministry; (4) the right mood for ministry; (5) the right manifestation for ministry.

Another step on the road to reaching out to the outside world was a heartening service on  Easter Saturday. Kindling the Flame commenced with carrying a small cross from the Day Chapel to Clinton Street East, where during the weekdays there is a small market by the side entrance to Wilkinson's, where Rev. Peter Willis lit a flame on a salver which  he placed on the ground in the middle of the circle of followers from the Mission. "Father, make this fire holy, and inflame us with hope." Several songs (including Christ is the world's light) were sung and prayers said. Several passers-by thoughtfully pondered.


Mr. Nic Williams  and Mrs. Gwen Hirst 1997.
Boys' Brigade, Headquarters, Northampton Street

Mrs. Ann Lyons shaking hands with Rev. Peter Willis,
November 1997

Nottingham Central Methodist Mission,
Wesley Guild
Anniversary Sunday 26 May 1998,
with Wesley Guild
pulpit  fall

Nottingham Central Methodist Mission,
George Street
 entrance, 1998 
(later used by Gen: X)

Kirsty Willis, Rev. Peter Willis, Mrs. Chris Willis and David Willis

On 15 June, Mrs. Valerie Swinscoe commenced her duties as the Mission Administrator. She has two teenage children, Claire who is studying to be a Nursery Nurse, and Christopher who is entering his GCSE year at school.

For some time, there had been a number of Christian leaders within the city of Nottingham who had felt the call to work with youth in varying ways. Whilst some of that work had been done in partnerships, most of it had been done independently. In the autumn of 1996 some of these Christian leaders found that they shared a vision to see this ministry working on a greater scale. Since that time, a small number of churches explored how God may have been calling them to work together in partnership in order to effectively reach a youth generation for Christ.

Looking to the future, the Nottingham Central Methodist Mission is to be the premises in which a new venture in evangelism is to operate. A number of Nottingham churches, of different denominations, will encourage young people to meet in a neutral environment where they can enjoy a peaceful and happy time together away from the problem spots of the city. During March to June the Lower Hall was completely refurbished   to  make  it  a  very  pleasant  environment  for young people aged between sixteen and twenty-five to meet. This refurbishment is basically to house this new outreach scheme, called Gen: X (the missing generation).

The policy is to create an environment where young people can worship and experience God in a way which is relevant to them. The hope is that Gen: X will appeal to those in their late teens and to the strong student community in Nottingham. It has two main purposes, viz to encourage the city's young Christians to envision and empower them in their faith, and to reach the unchurched youth with a gospel which will change their lives.

The Mission Statement of Gen: X  is:
Gen: X is a city-wide ministry based in the city centre, linking with other churches and owned by all churches.
Gen: X seeks to reach a new generation, to challenge, nurture, feed, and to see young people discipled for Christ.
Gen: X  aims to present a relevant faith and, by using culturally-accepted media, it will be pioneering, technically-driven, and striving towards excellence in every way.

It commenced on Thursday 26 June and was organised by the Youth Worker, Matt Jones, who left later in the year to train for the Methodist Ministry in Birmingham. It is planned to be a weekly worship event meeting on a Thursday evening from 8.30 pm to 10 pm. It uses a visual and music-based programme, with both live and pre-recorded music. An ambience is created through lighting, stage design, and layout. It functions through the relationships which developed out of the event, moving towards a pattern of nurture and discipleship.

A Watchnight Service at the Mission saw in the new Millennium on the first day of January 2000 and was a time to remember that Jesus Christ was the creator of the Christian Church and brought the covenant of love to all mankind. Life at the Centre will go on pronouncing His teaching to all who will listen.

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