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Wombwell Congregational Church

February 1937

Mexborough and Swinton Times, February 1937

The Congregational Church in High St, Wombwell, is to be sold in another place of worship, better suited to modern needs, is to be erected in its place.

This is the effect of a momentous decision taken by the officials of the church at a special meeting on Tuesday.

At the same time members of Wombwell Council were being asked to approve the minute relating to a letter sent by the Congregational Church enquiring if they were prepared to sell a site for the proposed new church and school in summer Lane Wombwell; and if so upon what terms.

At present the land is used for allotment gardens. It forms the angle between Cemetery Road and the back of High street and is immediately opposite the Rectory grounds. The Council and referred the matter to a subcommittee consisting of the Chairman (Mr H Copeland), the vice chairman (Mr H Houldsworth) and Messrs J.A.Hall, JP and Stubbs, to report back to the finance and general purposes committee at their next meeting.

Rumour Confirmed

The meeting at which the deacons of the Congregational Church made the vital decision was presided over by the Rev E.L.Lewis, who holds the pastorate of the Wombwell and Elsecar churches. They had received a definite offer of a certain sum of money for the old church, and they decided in the interests of the church and all concerned it would be wise to accept it. It has been rumoured for some time that the officers of the church were considering rebuilding and that the old church was “in the market.”

It is believed that the building has been acquired by a well-known firm of retail traders, owners of stores all over the country. The premises are substantially built of stone and having large rooms on the street level, could easily be converted to business uses. This the church itself is on the first floor above the street level. It has a membership of of about 800, and there are something like that number of children in the Sunday School. The building stands flush with high Street in one of the most congested parts of the thoroughfare, and since the acceleration of motor traffic in the past 20 years the church has suffered badly from the distraction of noise.

From that standpoint the new site is more desirable; it also has the advantage of being quite near to the new communities being established in connection with the Wombwell Council housing scheme between Summer Lane and Windmill Road.

Purchasers Not Known

One of the deacons told a “Times” reported yesterday that they had instructed solicitors and negotiations were proceeding. They had not yet prepared plans for the new church, and they propose before doing so to visit various new churches in various parts of the country with a view to incorporating all the best ideas of construction. He said that not even the deacons knew who the actual purchasers were, and any definite statement made in that direction were pure guesswork.

Wombwell Congregational held their first meeting in a joiner’s shop at Wombwell Main colliery in 1856. The room was provided by the proprietor of the Colliery, and the preaching services were conducted by students of Rotherham College.

The founding stone of the existing church was laid by the Rev Dr Falding, principal of Rotherham College in 1866, and it has therefore been used for 71 years. In 1867 the church was open with the Rev Isaiah Horton as pastor, and the first sermons were preached by the Rev William Thomas of Leeds.

A Wombwell Patriarch

The Rev Alfred Foster followed Mr Porter (moved to Burngreave, Sheffield, in 1869), and five years later commenced the notable pastorate of the late Rev George Hadfield, who led the church for 43 years and retired full of honours in 1917. Mr Hadfield was a leading educationalist and played no small part the shaping of the civic and religious life of Wombwell. Sagacious and off-line personality he made the church a power in town and his influence has not spent itself.

Mr Hadfield was followed in turn by the Rev W Jones, the Rev G.W Deeley, and the Rev Rowland Hill, a young minister who after much good work here removed to Cleckheaton. When the Rev E.L.Lewis was appointed the church had been without a pastor for some years.