Giving their ‘hall’ for new church building

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AROUND 30 members of Oxford Road Baptist Church gave up their time, in some cases their holidays, to build a new £2,000 hall for their church.

The Mail’s report on Friday, August 16, 1962, said: “Work started on the hall on Saturday, and already its sectional walls have been put up, and work on the roof is well underway.”

An average of 20 people a day turned up for the voluntary work on the hall, which would cost around £40,000 in materials today.

The church had been badly in need of a hall since World War 2, the Mail reported. But matters had worsened when a room at the back of the church, used by youth organisations, was re-decorated and partitioned to form two extra vestries.

The youngsters, who included companies of the Boys’ Brigade, Lifeboys, Girl Guides and Brownies, then had to use a small hut outside.

So fundraising began, and the church raised enough money to start work on a 60ft by 40ft hall.

A member of the church who was an architect drew up plans, which were passed by the town planning committee on the condition the building was brick-fronted.

Master plumber George Norman was put in charge of the work and was one of a number who gave up his holidays to ensure all went well.

He told the Mail there were around 20 volunteers each day “although not many turned up yesterday morning in the rain” and the outside shell should be completed in three weeks.

George, who had attended the church regularly since he was five, said others would get the chance to show what they could do when decorating and fitting out began later in the year.

The secretary of the church building fund, J L Howells, said the hall was a necessity: “The Oxford Road Baptist Church has one of the largest Sunday School memberships in town and it has been increasingly difficult to fit them into the church, which can only accommodate 350 people.”

He added around 200 attended Sunday evening services and that the ideal solution would be to build a new church – “but who can afford that nowadays?” – as the existing building was itself originally intended to be a hall when built in 1914.

Have you any memories you would like to share with other readers of working on this building?

Contact Andrew Levett by emailing andrew.levett@northeast-press.co.uk or write to him at Hartlepool Mail, New Clarence House, Wesley Square, Hartlepool, TS24 8BX.