The church that has served West View in Hartlepool for 60 years

The stone laying ceremony at West View in 1957.
The stone laying ceremony at West View in 1957.

It’s been a diamond of a church for the thousands of people who have used it.

And now the West View Baptist Church is celebrating its own diamond occasion by reaching its 60th anniversary of serving the people of the West View area of Hartlepool.

The Sunday School in 1950.

The Sunday School in 1950.

To mark this special milestone, officials are planning five days of celebration next month.

Chris Cordner look back on some of the landmark moments in the church history.

It had been seven years in the planning before that beacon moment.

The moment when the foundation stone was laid for a brand new church to serve the people of Hartlepool.

But when it did get under way, it marked the start of an era which was to make a huge difference in the West View area.

And it all began in 1949 when members at the Regent Street Baptist Church first got together and discussed starting up outreach work on the new West View Estate.

Within a year, the wheels were in motion.

By January 1950, the temporary day school in Miers Avenue was hired as a Sunday school for 13 shillings a week. It was an instant success.

It saw 220 children attend for that first meeting, under the supervision of Ron Jones from Regent Street, who worked in the Co-op in Miers Avenue.

By June that year, the Civic Hut began to be hired for evening services on Sundays for 6 shillings a week.

The next year, 1951, was just as busy as the services continued to develop. A youth fellowship began on the estate in January whilst in April, the sisterhood began.

In 1952, a Friday night youth meeting began in October on the Oakesway Trading Estate and by 1953, there was a significant development.

The present site was bought for £548 and a building fund committee was formed.

It was all systems go as the church moved ever closer and by November 21, 1955, West View Baptist Church was officially formed.

A resolution was passed at Regent Street Baptist Church to constitute a new church on West View Estate.

The resolution was signed by the 28 founder members.

Then came the year when it all really took shape.

In January 1956, the first church meeting was held at the home of Katie Turner in Miers Avenue and the first new member was Mrs Lilian Fincken.

In September of that year, Sister Elsie Drewett was appointed as the first pastor of the church.

They were exciting times and by 1957, the stone laying ceremony for the new church took place in January.

By June 1, 1957, the church was officially opened. The cost was £4,000.35 and the sisterhood provided most of the internal furnishings.

There were 35 members and the building had a seating capacity of 200.

Watch out for more on the history of the baptist church in tomorrow’s Memory Lane columns.