The following is the OCR text of a book and will likely contain errors. This page is designed to be indexed by search engines. Click on a page number to view the book in your web browser.
Please note that the text is not in the Public Domain and should not be reproduced further without the express permission of the copyright holder or their estate.
Ramsden Street Chapel.
NOTES AND RECORDS OF A HUNDRED YEARS 1825-1925.
ARTHUR W. SYKES.
HUDDERSFIELD: ADVERTISER PRESS LTD., PAGE STREET AND QUEEN STREET SOUTH. 1925.
The following pages have been prepared at the request of the Centenary Committee of Ramsden Street Congregational Chapel.
The writer makes no claim for the book to be regarded as a continuous story of the events of the past hundred years, or a complete history of the chapel during that period, nevertheless
it is hoped the ‘‘ notes and records ’”’ will be of interest, not only to those who love and cherish the traditions of oid ‘‘ Ramsden Street,’’ but also to a wider public who may be disposed to wel- come a slight contribution to a not unimportant chapter of the
social and religious life of Huddersfield.
The record is garnered chiefly from minute books, and various printed reports which have been issued from time to time in con- nection with the work of the church.
At the Jubilee celebration meeting held on January 3rd, 1876, the Rev. R. Skinner gave a brief historical sketch. The script of this, now in the possession of the church, has been con- sulted and proved most helpful.
From the vanishing records of living memories, much of the story and the atmosphere of the past have been redeemed. To J. E. Willans, J.P., LL.D., and Mr. Charles Hirst, both of whom can trace through their respective families intimate association with the beginnings of Ramsden Street Chapel, the writer is especially indebted for kindly sympathy and help, and for the benefit of their rich stores of reminiscence so freely unlocked to him.
The reproduction of many of the ‘‘ old familiar faces ’’ has been rendered possible by the kindness of friends who have loaned photographs or blocks for the purpose. To all who have
contributed to the interest of the book in this way, sincere thanks are tendered.
For the plan of Back Green, which indicates the open country to the south and east when Ramsden Street Chapel was first built, thanks are due to Mr. W. H. Sikes, of Almondbury, who has been at great trouble to obtain it from a plan of Huddersfield in 1825, the original of which is in the Tolson Memorial Museum, Ravensknowle.
Mr. Edgar Sheard, of Honley, has kindly prepared a brief and concise account of the various trust deeds of the chapel, and this is given in the form of an appendix at the end of the book.
Advantage has been taken of the kind offer of Mr. W. J. Beal, B.A., to read the proof sheets. To my friend, Dr. T. W. Woodhead, F.L.S., grateful acknowledgment is due for his many suggestions, practical assistance and advice in the production of the book. A.W.S. OcTOBER, 1925. .
HUDDERSFIELD A HUNDRED YEARS AGO. ‘* A Miserable Village Industrial Revolution.
THE NEW INDEPENDENT CHAPEL IN BACK GREEN.
A “Forward of Long Ago—Rev. William Moorhouse—John Oldfield: A Helping Hand—Preliminary Meeting—Rose and Crown Inn— Public Meeting—William Willans appointed First Secretary—Back Green— Subscription List opened—Laying of Foundation Stone—Distressing Accident—Quaint Records—Cost of Building Chapel and Premises—Memor- able Prayer Meeting—Opening Services—Establishment of a Sunday School —Formation of a Christian Church.
THE FIRST PASTOR—Rev. JOHN EAGLETON. 1827—1832.
Critical Time at Highfield—Eagleton’s Fame as a Preacher—Theology and ‘‘ Churchwardens’’—Dorcas Society and Provident Union—A Vague Rumour—Ilness and Death.
CHAPTER IV. MINISTRY OF THE Rev. JOHN THORPE. 1833—1836.
A PASTORAL INTERLUDE.
Visit of the Rev. Richard Knill—Formation of Christian Instruction Society.
THE MINISTRY OF THE Rev. WILLIAM A. HURNDALL. 1838—1845.
Organ Installed—Mr. Hurndall’s interest in Education—Licence for Celebration of Marriages obtained—The Hungry Forties—Reduction of Chapel Debt—Ill Health compels Mr. Hurndall to resign.
THE MINISTRY OF THE Rev. RICHARD SKINNER. 1845—1877.
Extinction of Chapel Debt—Cottage or District Meetings—Congrega- tional Mission—South Street Meeting House—Origin of the Hillhouse and Moldgreen Congregational Churches—George Street Mission Chapel—Edu- cational Efforts—Week-evening School—Association for Mental Improvement ‘—Monday Evening Class—Purchase of Guild Hall property—-Losses—Altera- tions and Improvements—Testimonial to the Rev. R. Skinner—Assistant Minister appointed—New Dorcas Room—Visit of Congregational Union of England and Wales—Jubilee Celebrations—Retirement of Mr. Skinner— Mothers in Israel.
THE MINISTRY OF THE Rev. JOHN T. STANNARD. 1874—1881. Ordination of Mr. Stannard—Disruption—Milton Church.
INCIDENTS AND EVENTS DURING PULPIT VACANCY. 1881—1884. A Notable Bazaar—A Disappointment—Death of C. H. Jones.
THE MINISTRY OF THE Rev. SAMUEL R. ANTLIFF. 1885—1891. ‘The Cloisters’? Bazaar—Progress—Mr. Antliff’s popularity.
CHAPTER XI. THE MINISTRY OF THE Rev. EBEN EVANS. 1893—1899.
Appointment of Bible Woman—The “‘ Orient’? Bazaar—Visit of Dr. Newman Hall—Retirement of Mr. Evans.
CHAPTER XII. THE MINISTRY OF THE Rev. JOSEPH PLEASANTS. 1900—1908.
Death of William Dawson—Boys’ Guild—Struggles and Difficulties— Resignation of Mr. Pleasants. I
A NEW ERA. JOINT PASTORATE OF THE Revs. SYDNEY R. LAVER AND J. ALEXANDER BOOTH. 1910—1915.
Eighty-fifth Anniversary—lInterior of Chapel remodelled—Inauguration of Forward Movement—Spade Work—Men’s Own and Women’s Own Meet- ings—Solid Achievement—Benjamin David Hill—The Shadow of the Great War—Resignation and departure of Rev. S. R. Laver—Rev. J. A. Booth accepts sole pastorate—New difficulties—-Resignation of Mr. Booth.
CHAPTER XIV. alg THE MINISTRY OF THE Rev. F. WHEATCROFT. 1917—1925.
Successful effort to reduce debt—Interesting links with the past—Pur- chase of a Manse—Memorial Tablet—Mr. Wheatcroft’s many-sided activities —Conclusion of Rev. F. Wheatcroft’s pastorate.
CHAPTER XV. ‘“MUSIC AND MUSICIANS.”
The first Precentor : William Moore—Rev. John Eagleton as a Musician Old George Armitage’’—Exit the Bass Viol—The New Organ—Richard Mellor—‘‘ Elevation ’’—-Enlargement of Organ—Farewell Service to Mr. Mellor—Charles Walton Ellis: a Pioneer in Modern Musical Culture—
Ramsay Bower—Choirmasters and Organists,
Vii CHAPTER XVI.
SOME LEADERS AND REPRESENTATIVE MEN ASSOCIATED WITH THE PAST HISTORY OF RAMSDEN STREET CHAPEL. William Willans—John Moody—John Frost—William Wrigley—Joseph Batley—William Atkinson—Charles Henry Jones—Stephen Arlom—Benjamin Halstead—Charles Vickerman—William Shaw—Edmund Eastwood—John
Catton Moody—Edward Stott—William Dawson—John Whitfield—Charles Hirst—James T. Prentis.
Huddersfield a Hundred Years Ago.
The early years of the nineteenth century saw Huddersfield entering upon an important phase of its growth and development.
The quiet, old-fashioned market town was changing, and the first glimmering of modern Huddersfield began slowly to appear. It was but a glimmering, for some fifty years were to elapse before it took definite shape in its main outline of streets and buildings as we know it to-day.
The passing of a hundred years has been marked by many changes in the general aspect of the town, and it is not easy to trace in our modern streets, the quaint nooks, corners, and by-ways of a century ago.
The Cloth Hall and Queen Street Chapel are probably the only large public buildings now left which stood at that period. The old parish church of that day has disappeared and a new edifice built on the site.
There was, of course, no Railway Station, and the shriek and roar of the steam engine, which some years later were to sound the advent of a new age, had not then disturbed the peace and quiet- ude that reigned over the green fields where St. George’s Square now stands.
In those days we should have looked in vain for the stately blocks of buildings we see in the town to-day. The Town Hall, Estate Offices, Market Hall, Theatre Royal, and our palatial banks and warehouses—all these came long after the period of which we write.
** A MISERABLE VILLAGE.’’
The oft-quoted description by Phillips, in his ‘‘Walks round Huddersfield,’’ in which he depicts the place as ‘‘a miserable village, the houses poor and scattered, the streets narrow, crooked and dirty’’ may be approximately true of the town at the close of the eighteenth and beginning of the nineteenth centuries. Doubt- less some parts of the little town were wretched and unsavoury. Orderly and progressive development was not a characteristic feature of the growth of provincial towns of that period.
They grew haphazard. The blessings of sanitation and the glories and triumphs of modern town planning were unknown and
unsuspected. Yet it was not all squalid and ugly. In those days our thrifty forefathers had not yet acquired the habit of suburban living—there were no suburbs in the modern residential sense— they were content to dwell in the busy town, amid the scenes of their daily labour, and here, among the plain but tidy houses where the respectable tradespeople lived, more pretentious abodes were occasionally to be seen, the residences of leading citizens, whose house fronts were adorned with climbing plants, and where in summer-time the sweet scent of roses hung about the dusty pave- ment. It sounds almost like romance to hear of little railed-off gardens in the main streets of Huddersfield, yet they were actually to be seen a hundred years ago in New Street.
This was the era of cottage industry. There was no smoke problem, no tall mill chimneys to pour darkness and filth over the landscape, for the Industrial Revolution had not yet laid its grimy, devastating hand on the sweet, unravaged fields around.
The surrounding country retained its rural charm, beautiful and unspoiled. Patches of woodland flourished in the immediate vicinity of the town on sites which are now entirely built upon and where no blade of grass is now to be seen. Green lanes and shady paths with hawthorn-scented hedgerows ran through the meadows and cornfields which crept up to the very edge of the town, and many a dimpling brook lazily threaded its course by reedy nooks and under willow—fringed banks to lose itself in the ‘‘silver winding way’’ of the Colne.
No deadly chemical works then disfigured the banks of that winsome river, now alas so sadly outraged, and the pure undefiled waters which flowed by the town and under the picturesquely wooded slope of Kilner Bank would have scorned to claim kinship with the flood of inky abomination that has since run in the same course.
Such was the town and its surroundings of a hundred years ago, but meanwhile a new era was dawning, and a greater, if less picturesque, Huddersfield was to emerge from this quaint old- world spot, and the quiet life of the drowsy streets was to give place to the hurry and bustle of a busy industrial centre.
THE INDUSTRIAL REVOLUTION.
The invention and introduction of new machinery in the textile trades, the discovery and application of steam power, together with improved methods of transport for merchandise, all had combined to supersede and gradually oust the scattered elements comprising the old system of domestic or cottage manufacture.
These developments, included in what is usually spoken of as the Industrial Revolution, brought about a complete transforma-— tion of many parts of the country.
The coming of the factory system and those massed conditions of labour generally characteristic of modern industrial organisa- tion, caused new towns to spring up, and many hitherto small and unimportant villages quickly grew to be large and populous centres. Huddersfield, which had from time immemorial been associated with the woollen manufacture, was profoundly influenced and affected by this great movement, and shared in the results of its progress and expansion. A glance at the statistics of population will reveal how the town was beginning to grow. In 1801 the modest figure of 7,268 souls is recorded, but by 1821 it had almost doubled, and from that time onward continued to increase rapidly.
People began to leave the country-side, where they had previously found employment in their own homes, and drifted into the town, in and around which factories were springing up.
The purely material progress of this period constitutes one of the outstanding facts of our national history.
In an age largely concerned with the mere increase of wealth, happily it cannot be said the higher things of life were altogether neglected, for there were not wanting men of high character and lofty ideals who strove to keep the light of truth burning, who laboured for the uplifting of the people, and for the establishment of those agencies which had for their object the moral and religious advancement of the people.
The new Independent chapel in Back Green.
The Ramsden Street Independent Chapel, opened in 1825, has undoubtedly played a notable and conspicuous part in the social, educational, and religious life of Huddersfield.
Its history, during a hundred years, is a wonderful and inter— esting record, and recalls many events and striking personalities associated with its progress.
Among its former supporters and devoted workers can be counted some of our most influential citizens of byegone days, who bore honoured names in the annals of our town.
Ramsden Street has not the honour of being the first Independent chapel in Huddersfield. That distinction belongs to the Highfield Chapel, first opened in 1772.
The population of Huddersfield in those far-off days, when the interest at Highfield was first commenced, now more than one hundred and fifty years ago, probably did not exceed some 3000 inhabitants, and for a long period the needs of the town, so far as Independency was concerned, were adequately served by the one church. But the last century had scarcely grown out of its teens before it was apparent that the growth and progress of the town called for the provision of additional facilities for the rapidly increasing number of those who desired to associate themselves with the Independent cause.
The Chapel at Highfield was overcrowded and no longer able to cope with the demands made upon its space, and new—comers who wished to settle there were unable to do so, and thus many possible adherents and supporters were lost to the Independents.
To the credit of the Highfield people, be it said, this unsatis— factory state of affairs was not permitted to continue long without being the object of their anxious concern.
A FoRwWaRD MOVEMENT ’”’ oF Lonc AGo.
A movement was set on foot by the more progressive section of the Highfield congregation, having for its object the establish— ment of a second Independent chapel in Huddersfield.
It may be recalled that the first quarter of the nineteenth
century was a period of great activity in chapel building throughout the country.
In the West Riding of Yorkshire many new churches sprang up about this time, and the Huddersfield Dissenters were in no wise behind the rest of the country in their zeal in this direction.
Proposals for the erection of a second chapel had been fre- quently under consideration long before the actual enterprise was entered upon.
The need for such an undertaking grew more urgent and decided. Highfield had reached the limit of its accommodation; moreover, the chapel there was not strictly in the town itself. Cut off, geographically, in those days, by a stretch of green fields, it was placed at a disadvantage from the point of view of the town’s needs.
This was an important consideration in the agitation for a second chapel. The residential population in the centre of the town was increasing, and it was felt that to meet the new condi-— tions a more suitable and advantageous situation must be secured than was afforded by the old chapel at Highfield. It may be asked why the original Highfield Chapel was, apparently, placed so inconveniently away from the town, the inhabitants of which it was intended to serve.
The answer is supplied by Dr. Bruce in his ‘‘ Centenary Memorial of Highfield Chapel.’’ He tells of the difficulty the founders experienced, ‘‘ the proprietor of the town having no sympathy with Dissent . . . . refused a site anywhere upon his property.’’ They were thus compelled to go to the outskirts of the town, thereby suffering a geographical drawback, by means of which the early Independents of Huddersfield were somewhat handicapped, albeit the Chapel is no longer in the same isolated position as at first, the intervening green fields having long ago disappeared owing to the gradual encroachment and extension of the town. I
Happily the promoters of the new chapel were not likely to be faced with any obstacle in regard to a site, such as the Highfield people had met with fifty years earlier. Time had brought a more tolerant spirit in regard to Dissent, and a more enlightened policy was pursued generally by landholders in the granting of leases for such purposes.
REv. WILLIAM MOORHOUSE.
A few of the more active members at Highfield, amongst whom, as already stated, the project for a new chapel mainly originated, while strongly desiring the prospect of increased usefulness which would be opened up, were yet restrained by the fear lest it should lead to any weakening of the cause at the mother church, and also by the kindly determination not to embarrass or pain the feelings of their aged and beloved pastor, the Rev, William Moorhouse,
Mr. Moorhouse died in July, 1828, after having held the office of pastor at Highfield for over fifty-one years.
With this event it seems the last scruples were removed of those who in deference to the feelings of their late pastor and friend - had hesitated to put into action their earnest desire for that scheme of extension on which their hearts had been so long set.
JoHun OLDFIELD—A HE.pinc
At the same time, generous help and encouragement was I forthcoming from another source quite apart from Highfield, in the person of Mr. John Oldfield, of Parkton Grove, Honley, and this timely support proved to be the decisive turning point in the for— tunes of the scheme. Impressed by the need for carrying out the suggested undertaking, he strongly felt the time was ripe and opportune for its realisation, and with unfaltering purpose and rare public spirit, took upon himself the task of stimulating the promoters to immediate action. This great—hearted man, who so generously came over to help and encourage the Dissenters of Huddersfield in their efforts to establish a new chapel in the town. was actuated only by the highest and most unselfish motives. He _had no intention of withdrawing from the Independent Chapel at Honley, of which he was a loyal and generous supporter, to join the new cause to which he was so anxious to lend a helping hand.
It is known that, with a view to ascertain the measure of sup- port likely to be forthcoming, Mr. Oldfield personally conducted a house—to—house canvas of all the leading Independents of Hud- dersfield, and the result of this visitation was so far encouraging that after consultation with his friends he took the preliminary step of calling together a number of sympathisers to confer with him as to the plans to be adopted to further the scheme.
This meeting was held at the Rose and Crown Inn, on Febru- ary 27th, 1824, and the following gentlemen were present :—John Oldfield, Honley (in the chair); William Cliffe, Paddock; John Winterbottom, Carr House; John Hannah, Bay Hall; Joseph ‘Schofield, New Street; Thomas Kilner, Junr., Castlegate; John Edwards, New Street; John Edwards, Junr.; William Moore, Westgate; S. W. Wakeford; William Willans; William Taylor, King Street.
To the present generation, this bare list of names may convey little or no meaning, nevertheless they were borne by men who in their day stood high in local public esteem. They were in many respects representative of all that was best in the family and social life of Huddersfield a hundred years ago,
Rose and Crown Inn, Kirkgate, demolished in 1884.
If the reader may be disposed to question the propriety of meeting for such a purpose at an inn, it should be remembered that scarcely any other facilities then existed for gatherings of this kind. There were no public halls in the town in those days, and the large rooms of the leading inns were the recognised places for such meetings.
ROSE AND CROWN INN.
The Rose and Crown Inn, a bit of old Huddersfield demolished about forty years ago, formerly stood on part of the site now occupied by the Palace Theatre in Kirkgate. It was a large old- fashioned hostelry, with stables and other outbuildings in the rear, and in pre-railway days, when road travelling was at its height,
was one of the principal posting and coaching houses in Huddersfield.
No longer do the coaches clatter down the cobbled street, but we can picture the constant throng of travellers, the weather- beaten coachmen, the jovial guards, the laughter and gossip of the ostlers, and all the gaiety and excitement associated with the arrival and departure of the coaches in a small market town.
As one by one the coaches disappeared before the advancing tide of railway enterprise, this old inn, like many others of similar type, lapsed-into desuetude and its glory began to fade, but at the time the meeting referred to was held within its walls, the Rose and Crown was a busy place, with every feature of animation and bustling life. We have but a slender account of the proceed— ings at this first meeting, but we can see the little company of earnest men engaged in serious discussion, some of its members, as we know, fearlessly devoted to the scheme and enthusiastic for its adoption, and others, may be, less brave and confident, dis— _ playing a more cautious spirit in their advocacy.
At this meeting the various tentative proposals and sugges— tions in furtherance of the scheme were for the first time rallied and focussed into a definite effort, and may be regarded as the real starting point of the undertaking.
At this memorable gathering it was resolved—
That a new Independent Chapel in the town of Huddersfield appears to this meeting necessary and desirable.
This was moved by John Winterbottom, seconded by Thomas Kilner, Junr., and unanimously agreed to.
It was further decided to call a public meeting to be held on the 8th of March, 1824. To this meeting the Independents of Huddersfield and neighbourhood were invited by special circular.
The circular was drawn up by. William Willans, and signed by the Chairman, John Oldfield. The circular read as follows :—~
At a Preparatory Meeting of a few friends favourable to the Independent Religious Interest, held at the Rose and Crown Inn this day, it was unanimously resolved—That a Public Meeting should be convened at the same place on Monday, the 8th of March next, to take into consideration the propriety of Erecting a New Independent Chapel, when and where your attendance is respectfully requested.
As it is impossible to recollect or to know all who may be friendly to the undertaking, you will be kind enough to communicate as exten- sively as you can the purport of this note.
By order of the Meeting,
JOHN OLDFIELD, Chairman. Huddersfield, 27th Feb., 1824.
On the appointed day this public meeting took place as announced. No particulars are on record as to the number of persons present, but we have reason to believe the attendance was both large and enthusiastic. Mr. John Winterbottom, of Carr House* was in the chair. The following important resolutions were adopted :— .
Resolved unanimously that for the accommodation of such as can- not obtain pews in Highfield Chapel, or conveniently go there, and for securing the attendance of those who neglect places of Divine Worship, a new Independent Chapel in Huddersfield is indispensably necessary. Moved by John Oldfield. Seconded by Thos. Kilner, Junr.
Resolved unanimously that the ground opposite to the end of Queen Street appears to this meeting the most eligible site for the intended Chapel to be erected upon. Moved by John Hannah. Seconded by Josh. Schofield.
Resolved unanimously that the following gentlemen form a Com- mittee with power to add to their number to ascertain if the approved site can be obtained, to negotiate with Sir John Ramsden, Bart., for the same, to solicit subscriptions, to determine on the size and des- cription of Building, and to obtain plan for the consideration of, a future public meeting. John Oldfield, William Cliffe, John Winter- bottom, William Taylor, Thos. Kilner, Junr., Abm. Lockwood, John Hannah, William Oldfield, Josh. Schofield, John Edwards, Junr., John Nelson, Josh. Walker, Law Walker. Moved by E. Chadwick. Seconded by S. W. Wakeford.
It had been suggested at the first meeting that the new Chapel should be connected with the one at Highfield, but this proposal was not adopted. It was decided by a large majority that the Huddersfield Chapel was to be totally independent.
*The Carr House estate was acquired by the Trustees of the Mechanics’ Institute in 1859. The house is still in existence, and forms a part of the premises of the Friendly and Trades Societies’ Hall (formerly the Mechanics’ Institute).
Reduced facsimile of circular calling a public meeting to consider proposal . to build Ramsden Street Chapel.
‘ying ysiy sem jadeyD jse1]1¢ uUspsweYy UsyM jSe9 pu 0} Usdo BUIMOYS YORg jo uel
RAMSDEN. STREET CHAPEL
g WILLIAM WILLANS APPOINTED FIRST SECRETARY.
The Committee appointed to carry out the scheme lost no time in getting to work. At their first meeting, held on March 15th, 1824, William Willans (father of J. E. Willans, LL.D.) was appointed Secretary. He threw his energies and talent whole- heartedly into the prosecution of the scheme, and all through played a conspicuous and leading part in the various transactions connected with the undertaking.
The site ‘‘opposite to the end of Queen Street’’ apparently could not be secured, but arrangements were ultimately made with the ground landlord for the leasing of a plot of land in another part of Back Green, as that locality was then called. The location of the site on which the new Chapel was to be built, described as south-east corner of Mr. Lockwood’s field,’’ affords some indication of the character of the surroundings a century ago, of what is now known as Ramsden Street. (See plan).
A succession of green fields, orchards and tenter-—crofts stretched with scarcely any break from New Street to Shore Head, and through these fields ran a country lane. This old road was the forerunner of our modern Ramsden Street.
An old inhabitant of Huddersfield, writing fifty years ago, states that he had often gathered mushrooms on the spot where Ramsden Street Chapel now stands.
The name ‘‘ Back Green ”’ persisted long after the Chapel was built. In the early days this locality was a favourite meeting—place and rendezvous for orators and agitators of every description. Chartist meetings were often held there. In ‘‘ Walks Round Huddersfield,’’ p. 11, Phillips refers to torchlight meeting's in Back Green, describing them as ‘‘ fearful enactments,’’ and gives a grim outline of one such meeting addressed by that erstwhile fiery reformer and Chartist, Henry Vincent. One can easily picture the weird surroundings of such a gathering when held on a dark and moonless night, the angry faces of the surging crowd fitfully illumined by the glare and blaze of torches, and lending added and lurid expression to the unrest and disaffection of those stormy times.
The erection of the Chapel in the fields of Back Green was one of the first moves in the laying out and subsequent development of the area in that vicinity, and from a mere by-way the present important thoroughfare of Ramsden Street has from that time been gradually opened up.
Such was the rural character of the environs that the scholars of Ramsden Street School were for many years in the habit of
playing on the green in front of the Chapel on the occasion of their Whitsuntide treats. I
Some years elapsed before the ‘‘ proposed new street past Ramsden Street Chapel ’’ was carried into effect, but it was the founders of the Chapel who actually gave the street its name by designating the building Ramsden Sireet Chapel, in anticipation of the thoroughfare which afterwards took that name.
SUBSCRIPTION LIsT OPENED.
There was an immediate response to the Committee’s appeal for funds. A subscription list was opened, and the following details of the first donations are on record. A gratifying feature of this list is the evidence it affords of the wide and generous sympathy extended throughout the town, in support of the move— ment, including as it does the names of many outside the ranks of the Independents—Episcopalians, Baptists and Wesleyans being represented.
£ s. d. Za’: John Oldfield ........:... 100 Dire; oe aks 5 5 John Winterbottom ...... 100 9 io 5 5 youn 100 Abm. Wilkinson ......... 5 5 Thos. Kilner, Junr. ... 100 Wm, ; ©2553 5 5 jehn: Hannah: 100 90 John Newhouse ........... 5 5 Schofield 100 Rev. Mr. Wilson E. Whitaker (Lane) ... 100 CRE BEI 5 5 Wiltam Cliffe: 50 Mrs. Tunnacliffe ......... 5 Wm. Livingstone ....... 50 Charles Spivey .......... 3.3 Wm. Leadbeater ......... 50 Thos. Vickerman ........ 3.3 em. CME ogc. jess 50 EO SCO: I 3.3 S. G. Sikes (Banker)... 50 Thos: Kdwards 3 3 Mrs. Starkey (Longroyd JOG... Bates. 3 3 Rape 50 pC 3 3 John Edwardes, Junr... 30 John Kaye (Woolpack).. 3' 9 William Willans ......... 30 Edwd. Henshall ......... 3 3 20 Wm. 5 3 3 DOME. ©. «eh cone resins 20 LES occ cadens cee 3.3 BE PURE ong 20 Dt. 2 Edward Johnson ......... 20 Phillip Mitchell .......... rs © Bo 15 15 Josh. Mitchell ..........:: SR EOFs i enc 10 10 Richd.. Thewlis Bed .0 SEONG. 10 10 Janas ts i+ © ee, a are 10 10 Wm. Waller Oo George “Hirst .....:::: 5... 10 10 J, i <9 William Moore ........... 10 Richd. Atkinson ......... rt Wm. Winterbottom ..... 10 ERE oo 5 5 we Miss Hannah ............. 5 5 £1305 11
Messrs. Watson and Pritchett, Architects, of York, were engaged to prepare plans and specifications for the intended Chapel, and after these had been approved, tenders were invited and contracts entered into for carrying out the work. Mr. J. P. Pritchett, who supervised the erection of the Chapel, was senior partner in the firm of Watson and Pritchett, and attained con-
siderable fame in his day as an Ecclesiastical Architect. He died at York in 1868. Mr. Pritchett was architect for several build— ings, public and private, in and around Huddersfield, including the Parish Church, Railway Station, Vicarage, Huddersfield College, &c.
LAYING OF FOUNDATION STONE.
On July 14th, 1824, the Committee and their friends met at the Rose and Crown Inn at three o’clock in the afternoon, and thence proceeded to the site in Back Green to take part in the ceremony of the laying of the first stone of the Chapel. A notice of this event had previously appeared in the ‘‘ Leeds Mercury,’’ and handbills had also been distributed in the town.
About 1500 people assembled to witness the proceedings. The venerable Dr. Boothroyd (Highfield) laid the foundation stone, and the Rev. Edward Parsons, of Leeds, delivered an address.* This address was subsequently printed, and from it we quote the following :—
‘**T rejoice that God has put it into your hearts to build Him a house, and that you this day publicly set your hands to execute the purposes and designs of your hearts. The growing population of your town and neighbourhood, and the long continued prosperous state of your present congregation, will more than justify the measures you have at last adopted to prepare a second Congregational Chapel. Indeed this very measure ought to have been adopted twenty years ago. It is, I believe, an indubitable fact that within that period, as many have been obliged to seek their accommodation for public wor- ship elsewhere, as would themselves form a numerous congregation.”’ 3 ** We this day lay the first stone of the building to be erected here in connexion with and in Prospect of that day, when the Saviour and Lord of the Church shall ‘ bring forth’ the head-stone of that wonder- ful structure with shoutings crying ‘ Grace, grace unto it ’—when the vast temple of the universe shall become the temple of his worship, when the whole earth shall be filled with the light of His glory, and the radiance of His truth; and when every heart shall beat responsive to the claims of His love, without division of opinion, or partiality of zeal, or intermission of enjoyment.”’
The inhabitants of Huddersfield are generally interested in the object now before us. The sanctuary to be erected on this site will add to the respectability of your town; will be viewed as a new proof of its increasing population and prosperity ; and which is the chief con- sideration, will contribute to the increase and security of its religious
A mournful circumstance attended the erection of the Chapel. On the 26th of April, 1825, while working at the roof, a sudden collapse of scaffolding caused seventeen men to be hurled some
*An Address delivered at Huddersfield on Wednesday, July 14th, 1824, on laying the first stone of a new Congregational Church, by Edward Parsons, Leeds. Published at the request of the Committee. Huddersfield : Printed and sold by William Moore. 1824,
fifty feet below. Two were killed on the spot, two died immedi— ately after, and the remaining thirteen were terribly injured.
There was no Infirmary in the town at that time, and the unfortunate victims of the accident had to undergo the painful ordeal of being conveyed by road to Leeds for surgical attention.
A small Dispensary existed in Huddersfield, but this was altogether inadequate to meet the needs and requirements which such a disaster called forth. The question of the establishment of an Infirmary had been mooted in the year 1824, but had not been seriously taken up. There is no doubt the Ramsden Street fatality did much to revive the proposal, and served as a strong impetus to the movement.
Public opinion in the town was awakened to a realisation of the woeful lack of adequate provision for the benefit of the suffer— ing and injured. The citizens of Huddersfield, generous and benevolent, rose to the occasion and were led to embark on a scheme which ultimately resulted in the founding of the Infirmary.
The Committee met regularly each week at the Rose and Crown Inn throughout the period in which the building operations were in progress. The minutes of these meetings are still in existence. We read that on February 16th, 1825, it was resolved—
That £3 be given to-morrow to the Masons for a Floor Pot.
July 29th, 1825. That £5 18s. 6d. be paid to Jo. Kaye for Beer to the workmen, and £1 14s. 0d. to John Edwards for payments to the Watchers (on Sundays) of the building.
Cost oF BUILDING CHAPEL AND PREMISES.
The cost of building the Chapel considerably exceeded the amount which the Committee had been led to believe would be required.
The following is a list of the various contractors with the amounts paid for the work :—
4s 8. Joseph Kaye, Mason and Excavator’s Work ... 2819 10 10 Greenwood & Co., Joiners ... ia aac .. 1306 8 Thos. Walker, Carpenter ... a in ee S. Mortimer, Ironfounder ... eo ye .. wei Wm. Preston, Slater es Sis os ao eee Wm. Crabtree, Plasterer ... ‘ag seh wa eee Thos. Robinson, Plasterer ... bes “as ais 114 Thos. Haley, Plumber jes Wo a .. 26813 John Newhouse, Glazier ... a Sea oa 67 10 J). Wilson, Painter ... i ove sve ‘as 65
£ s.d. Barker Bros., Gas Apparatus a ice AMS... 0.90 B. H. Brook, Gas Pipes ... ayy eas ES 15 12 6 Shaw & Crane, Locks ae a cee 8 John Hughes, Brass a yeu ee es 3 08 «4 ie ; Ke ‘ix 5 Flooring Pot and Rearing a ei ie 15 Thos. Lockwood (for the Cottage) is ins 68 3 Watson & Pritchett, Architects ... Se eee John Peace, Attorney ee wae ass ie 33 £6514 11 4
The minute book affords evidence, as the summer of the year 1825 wore on, of the resolution and energy with which the Building Committee fulfilled their responsibilities to the subscribers. Fre- quent instructions and admonitions to joiners, plasterers, slaters, etc., urging them to increased exertion in the prosecution of their labours, indicate the almost feverish anxiety with which the com— pletion of the work was anticipated.
On the 19th of October, 1825, they met for the last time at the Rose and Crown Inn—it was reported that the building was suffi- ciently advanced to allow of their meeting on the Chapel premises. It was resolved—
‘** That this Meeting adjourn to the Mezzanine Room at the Chapel, to Friday, the 28th inst.”’
MEMORABLE PRAYER MEETING.
Ere the last finishing touches were put to the building, and some weeks before it was ready to be publicly opened, an impres— sive meeting for prayer and thanksgiving was held at the Chapel. This took place on the evening of the 26th of October, 1825.
The realisation of their eager hopes and the approaching achievement of their designs was to this faithful band of workers a season of gladness and quiet rejoicing.
With longing eyes they had patiently watched the raising of those consecrated walls, and on the threshold of their new life, rejoicing in the bright prospects before them, they lifted up their hearts and voices in joy and thanksgiving. The sympathy and cordial co-operation of the Highfield people were touchingly and appropriately shown, several of its members being in attendance on that memorable occasion, and two of its oldest supporters, Mr. John Edwards and Mr. William Cliffe, took a prominent part in the proceedings.
At a meeting held in the Chapel Committee Room on Decem— ber 7th, 1825, with Thomas Kilner, Junr., in the chair, it was resolved—
**That the Building in which we are now met be called the Ramsden Street Independent Chapel,”’
So far as we are aware, no subsequent alteration or -modifica- tion of this Title has ever been officially made, but in common with other churches of the denomination the word ‘‘ Congregational ”’ has largely superseded the dignified and fine old historic term, Independent.
The formal public opening of the Chapel took place on Wed- nesday, the 28th of December, 1825. Three special services were held on that day, the Rev. James Parsons, of York, preached in the morning, the Rev. John Thorpe, of Chester, in the afternoon, and the Rev. Dr. Bennett, of Rotherham, in the evening. The social side of the celebration was signalised by a Dinner, arranged by the Committee, to take place on the opening day at one o’clock in the afternoon, at the Rose and Crown Inn. This was for the purpose of enabling the supporters to meet the various Ministers and others in attendance in friendly intercourse.
Contemporary records furnish us with a passing glimpse of the delight and gratitude felt by those earnest and sincere Christian folk in the attainment of their desires. The beautiful sanctuary which they had laboured so long to establish was now completed and ready for the great work they were so eager to begin, a work which was destined, as the years passed, to exert a powerful and far-reaching influence.
The new edifice, described as ‘‘ a noble and spacious building, capable of containing about 1400 persons,’’ was regarded with pride and satisfaction, and justly considered an ornament to the town.
Our views and conceptions in relation to ecclesiastical archi- tecture may have changed with the lapse of a hundred years, but the solid simplicity of form and style of Ramsden Street Chapel stands as a symbol and still serves to remind us of the grit and sturdy virtues of its founders.
The opening commemorative celebrations were continued on Sunday, the Ist January, 1826 (the first Sabbath-day services to be held in the new Chapel). The Rev. John Thorpe, of Chester, preached morning and evening, and the Rev. William Moorhouse (son of Moorhouse of Highfield) in the afternoon. The self- sacrifice and devotion of the people were strikingly shown in the measure of pecuniary support resulting from these meetings. Not-— withstanding the fact that the country was passing through a period of acute commercial depression, and this district was involved in unparalleled distress and suffering, the collections at the opening services amounted to £500,
15 ESTABLISHMENT OF A SUNDAY SCHOOL.
One of the first activities in connection with the newly—opened Chapel was the provision of a Sunday School. This was inau- gurated on the 5th of February, 1826. The School was well organised with a staff of 36 teachers, but on the opening day only 15 scholars presented themselves.
This disappointing start led to a vigorous canvas being carried out through the town and district during the following week, with the satisfactory result that on the next Sunday upwards of 300 children appeared as scholars. The Ramsden Street Sunday School soon became one of the largest and most successful in the town.
A long line of devoted men and women carried on the good work, and of those whose names are especially associated with the history of these schools we may mention a few who will long be held in affectionate remembrance—William Willans, John Moody, John Frost, William Shaw, James Shaw, John Brooke Greenwood, J. C. Moody, Charles Hirst, Junr., Edward Stott, Benjamin David Hill, John Whitfield, John Dawson, William Hirst, Enoch Sykes, Joel Arlom, Charles W. Ellis, Edwin Hartley, W. D. Halstead, W. W. Stott and Ezra Haigh.
FORMATION OF A CHRISTIAN CHURCH.
The actual formation and institution of a Christian Church at Ramsden Street took place on the 28th of July, 1826.
This important proceeding had been delayed in order to secure the help and guidance of that popular, sincere and experienced friend of the West Riding Independents, the Edward Parsons, of Leeds.
He came over to Ramsden Street on the first convenient occa—
sion, took charge of the meeting and superintended the organisa- tion,
The first twelve members to be enrolled were introduced by a letter from the Rev. Dr. Boothroyd, of the parent Church at Highfield, as follows :—
Highfield, June 29th, 1826. Brethren and Sisters, Having now for some time ceased to attend on the means of grace with us, the step you have taken is what we have anticipated. We trust we are equally concerned with you for the increase of our denomination as well as for the general interests of Zion, and shall rejoice if these ends be attained by your separation from us. We therefore comply with the request made and dismiss from our com- munion and fellowship for the purpose of forming another Christian Church, Philip Mitchell, Joshua Walker, James Hoyle, Thomas
Bradley, John Ashton, John Nelson, William Willans, Alice Winter- bottom, Sarah Burnup, Sarah Alderson, Ellen Watkinson, Sarah Walker, and while we cannot but desire the increase of our own Church, we hope we can most sincerely pray that you may increase in numbers and grow in grace, and that a spirit of peace may prevail among us.
Signed on behalf of the Church,
aa B. BOOTHROYD, Pastor. James Sykes,
John Edwards John: Moore; ’ Deacons.
George Broughton, To P. Mitchell and others.
In addition to the foregoing, Richard Senior and Elizabeth Senior were transferred from the Church at Park Gate, Bury, and Elizabeth Willans from the Moorbottom Church, Honley.
The following also were admitted to the Church at the same meeting :—Joseph Schofield, Benjamin Willans, Law Walker, John Frost, John Stead, William Denham, Henry Hirst, Edward Johnson, Hannah Rhodes, Charles Watkinson, Alice Schofield.
These twenty-six persons received into communion con-— stituted the first nucleus of the newly-formed Church, and it is an interesting fact that until a comparatively recent period the des— cendants of some of these original members were still associated with Ramsden Street. The first deacons to be appointed were Richard Senior, Joshua Walker, and John Nelson.
An early report states that ‘‘ the number of sittings which were let at the opening of the Chapel was very considerable,’’ and that the number increased with each succeeding quarter.
A period of twelve months elapsed before the Church appointed its first Pastor.
Rev. John Eagleton.
The First Pastor—Rev. John Eagleton. 1827 — 1832.
It was decided to celebrate the first Anniversary of the opening of the Chapel on the 17th of August, 1826. Although four months in advance of the actual date, this time was chosen for reasons of convenience in regard to the season of the year. The Rev. William Roby, of Manchester, and the Rev. William Thorpe, of Bristol, both preachers of considerable reputation and eminence, were engaged to conduct the services on that occasion.
Mr. Roby, however, was unable to keep the appointment, but sent as his substitute a minister then quite unknown to Hudders-— field, the Rev. John Eagleton, of Birmingham, who chanced to be staying in Manchester.
The appointment of a settled pastor was at this period engag— ing the serious thought and attention of the church officers, and they were on the look out for a suitable candidate.
Mr. Eagleton’s first appearance at Ramsden Street evoked a feeling of general satisfaction, and a desire that the Church should have further opportunity of hearing him was expressed, in accord— ance with which arrangements were made for him to preach on the first and second Sabbaths in September. Also a third visit was paid to Huddersfield in November, when Mr. Eagleton occupied the pulpit on the second Sunday in that month.
The result of these visits and the further acquaintance they _afforded of Mr. Eagleton’s ministrations, was to increase and deepen the favourable impression already produced.
Before finally inviting Mr. Eagleton to the pastorate at Ramsden Street, a deputation consisting of Mr. Joseph Batley and Mr. John Oldfield visited Birmingham, entrusted with the mission of obtaining information as to his general character and suitability for the office.
On the return of this delegation their report gave entire satis— faction, and it was definitely and unanimously decided to invite Mr. Eagleton to undertake the pastorate. The invitation was given at a meeting presided over by the Rev. John Cockin, and conveyed in a letter dated November 28th, 1826.
Mr. Eagleton accepted the call and commenced his ministry at Ramsden Street on Sunday, December 24th, 1826, he being then forty-one years of age.
The Church was especially fortunate and happy in the choice of its first pastor. Mr. Eagleton had already achieved some pro— minence as a preacher in the Midlands, but it was in Huddersfield that his mental powers were matured, and where he attained to that popularity and distinction which he afterwards enjoyed as a talented leader and original thinker.
The Recognition or Designation Service as it was called, took place on Wednesday, the 14th of February, 1827.
The Revs. R. W. Hamilton, of Leeds, John Cockin, of Holm- firth, and B. Boothroyd, of Highfield, were present and took part in the service, and according to the usual custom the celebration included a Dinner for ministers and friends.
In view of the subsequent connection with Huddersfield of the Eagleton family, some particulars relative to its first member to settle in the town may be of interest.
The Rev. John Eagleton was born at Coventry, October dlst, 1785, his father being a ribbon manufacturer and a respected local preacher in the Methodist Connexion. Even in his earliest years he seems to have had a predilection for pulpit exhortation. ‘*Attiring myself,’’ he says, ‘‘as nearly as possible in the clerical fashion; with the parlour for my Church, the two—armed chair for my pulpit, and the wide—opened folio Bible before me, I lectured the furniture that surrounded me on the terrors of death, the solemnities of judgment, and the prospects of eternity.”’
Lacking the means to provide for his education and training for the Christian ministry, his father duly apprenticed him to a trade.
After a period of youthful indifference he gradually came, he says, ‘‘ to entertain the thoughts of preaching the Word of God.”’
Applying himself with great energy to the study of the Scrip- tures, and to improving his general knowledge and education, his progress was such that on his seventeenth birthday he appeared in public to preach for the first time. ‘‘ His boyish appearance, warm passions, and a fine sonorous voice united to make him popular.’’ He was admitted on the local preachers’ plan and continued to preach, but he did not altogether escape a certain degree of adverse criticism, but this only served to quicken his desire for greater felicity of expression, and to fire his ambition to excel in the loftier flights of eloquence.
‘‘ After acquainting himself more perfectly with English grammar, he applied himself with much success to Latin and Greek, and soon left his judges behind in these matters. He afterwards attained some eminence as a Hebrew scholar, the study of that language being to him a source of the greatest pleasure.’’ During this time he continued in his business, punctual and dili-
gent, but on the expiration of his apprenticeship, being then twenty-one years of age, he removed to Birmingham.
Here he was engaged for a short season in reading, studying and preaching, and at this period a change came over Mr. Eagleton’s theological opinions, and he ultimately adopted ‘‘ the Calvinistic view of Divine truth.”’
At the age of twenty-one years we find him the minister of a small Church at Coventry, next he spent two years at Atherstone, where ‘‘ he had the unspeakable satisfaction of gathering many into the fold of Christ,’’ and ultimately returned to Coventry as the pastor of the Vicar Lane Chapel.
In 1819 Mr. Eagleton became minister of Livery Street Chapel, Birmingham, where he remained for seven years until his call to Huddersfield.
When he first settled in Huddersfield, Mr. Eagleton expressed the opinion that the Chapel at Ramsden Street was too large, having regard to the circumstances and size of the town, and evidently had doubts as to his ability to make adequate use of so spacious a building, but the large congregations which gathered in the first enthusiasm of his arrival were afterwards well main— tained. Gradually a strong and flourishing congregation was built up,
and minister and officers had the satisfaction of seeing the new interest firmly established in the town.
CRITICAL TIME AT HIGHFIELD.
Meanwhile the rise of a second Independent Chapel in the town led to an unexpected reaction at Highfield, which threatened for a time its interests and prosperity. All through this difficult and critical period there was something nobly heroic in the spec— tacle of the aged pastor of Highfield surrounded by his faithful deacons, chivalrously and honourably abstaining from placing any obstacle or difficulty in the way of those, who, labouring in the broader interests of Evangelical Nonconformity, were bent on Chapel extension in the town.
Dr. Bruce, in his admirable and well-written ‘‘ Centenary Memorial of Highfield,’’ refers to this season of adversity through which the Highfield friends passed.
““Ramsden Street Chapel was projected with Dr. Booth- royd’s consent in the first instance, though he felt painfully the sacrifice he was called upon to make for the good of the town. The loss of so many earnest and useful men who left to form the new Church was deeply felt here. The very pith and marrow of the congregation were gone; and few were left to carry on the work at Highfield, but old men and youths. It was no easy
virtue for the minister of the mother Church to witness, without of regret, the waning of the old glory here, and the uprising of a new and more splendid attraction yonder, and to say, in the language of the Baptist, ‘ He must increase, but I must decrease.’ ”’ ;
EAGLETON’S FAME AS A PREACHER.
Eagleton’s fame as a preacher spread, and ere long he took his place as one of the leading pulpit lights in the town and neighbourhood.
During his stay in Birmingham, as minister of the Livery Street Chapel, he first met and became acquainted with that some— what remarkable man, the Rev. William Thorpe, and between the two a close personal friendship sprang up. Thorpe was a brilliant exponent of Scripture Prophecy, and had ardently adopted the views appertaining to the Second Coming of Christ, His Millennial Reign on earth and the Final Judgment, which were much in favour among some sections of Evangelical Christians during the first half of the nineteenth century. An indefatigable Bible student, Mr. Eagleton, largely through his friend’s influence was led to embrace these peculiar views, and their advocacy became to him almost an obsession.
One of his best known sermons is on this subject, and was delivered in Ramsden Street Chapel on Sunday, December 20th, 1829. It is entitled ‘‘ The Probable Destiny of Great Britain,”’’ and in amplified form was subsequently printed and had a wide circulation.
Many of Mr. Eagleton’s hearers at Ramsden Street, inspired by his teaching, became imbued with these millennial ideas, and they survived and lingered among the older people long years after Mr. Eagleton’s pastorate.
The late Mr. William Hirst informed the writer that in his youthful days he well remembered how his father and mother (Mr. and Mrs. Henry Hirst) ‘‘ were in the habit of welcoming each Sunday evening to their humble home the Rev. Mr. Eagleton, sometimes accompanied by other friends, when they talked over their favourite theme, the Second Coming of their Saviour King to this favoured world of ours.’
THEOLOGY AND ‘‘CHURCHWARDENS.’’
Another characteristic vignette, exhibiting Mr. Eagleton as a serious but withal genial controversalist, represents him in the back parlour of a certain house in Buxton Road, where in com-— pany with a few like-minded friends who regularly met there, ‘sound doctrine ’’ was enunciated and the deep subtleties of
theology debated and thrashed out in the serene but smoky atmos- phere emanating from their churchwarden pipes.
The reader must not surmise from these diversions that Mr. Eagleton moved in a world of spiritual ease and repose. On the contrary his strenuous life and devotion to duty are shown in the arrangements for Christian work and worship which he carried out, including :—Each Sunday Morning a Prayer Meeting at six o’clock in Summer and seven o’clock in Winter, and Services in the Chapel morning, afternoon and evening; Monday evening a meeting for the practice of psalmody; Tuesday evening a young men’s prayer meeting; Wednesday evening Mr. Eagleton lectured in the Chapel; Thursday evening a meeting for instruction of elder scholars; Friday evening a public prayer meeting. Occa— sionally Mr. Eagleton preached in different parts of the town on Tuesday and Thursday evenings.
Dorcas SOCIETY AND PROVIDENT UNION.
Two eminently useful and benevolent organisations in connec— tion with Ramsden Street, which will ever keep green the memory of its first pastor, are the Dorcas Society and the Provident Union. Both these adjuncts of church life have been in continuous exist- ence from the time they were first originated by Mr. Eagleton, the Provident Union in the year 1829, and the Dorcas Society in 1830.
A VAGUE RUMOUR.
Mr. Eagleton had the joy and happiness while in Huddersfield of prosecuting his labours in an atmosphere of cordiality and affection, and harmony marked his ministry at Ramsden Street.
Whispered rumours have indeed feebly survived of a diver— gence of opinion between Mr. Eagleton and some of his sup- porters on the question of child labour in the factories, which was at that time stirring the public conscience.
Mr. Eagleton’s views were decided, as was to be expected of a man of his warm-hearted sympathy and philanthropic mind, and he was thought to be disappointed with the-attitude taken up by a few of his friends of the manufacturing interest in his con- gregation. The basis of these reports seems to be of the slenderest, but as to how far they have any real foundation, and whether any credence can be attached to them, it is now, after this lapse of time, almost impossible to say. i
It is, however, certain, if any strained feeling did exist it was not allowed to impair the friendship or mar the confidence which was reposed in him by his people.
A contemporary estimate of Mr. Eagleton’s ministrations is on record, which states that ‘‘ His discourses were regarded by
competent judges as marked by much originality of thought, as containing a luminous and often striking exposition of inspired truth, and while there were peculiar views which he firmly held and ably advocated, his preaching was ever distinguished by a full harmonious practical exhibition of all the more vital doctrines of the ‘ Gospel.’ So long as strength was imparted he was in labours abundant. Always a diligent student, he never gave his people that which cost him nothing.’’
ILLNESS AND DEATH.
To the distress and sorrow of his many friends, it became evident after about four years’ residence in Huddersfield that Mr. Eagleton’s health was suffering, and towards the end of 1831 signs of an imminent breakdown were manifest. A season of trial and affliction ensued, during which suitable medical treatment was perseveringly applied, but as no improvement in his health resulted, it was at length decided that he should try the effect of a change from the raw climate of the West Riding for the less keen air of his native city of Coventry, and accordingly he journeyed there in April, 1832. After a six weeks’ sojourn he returned to Huddersfield, cher- ishing the hope that at least a partial recovery had been effected.
But in this hope, he and his friends were doomed to dis— appointment, and ‘‘ the time now approached when he was called to decline his public labours. Although he felt such a step was absolutely necessary, it was with inexpressible regret that he gave up his pulpit exercises ; and only with the prospect of resuming his beloved work, after a stated time, could he be induced to yield to the solicitations of his friends, and the advice of his medical attendants.’’
During the time he was incapacitated from occupying the pulpit he was able occasionally to attend and join with the con- gregation as a hearer.
For the Anniversary Services in 1832, the Rev. S. Saunders, of Liverpool, had been engaged to preach. Mr. Eagleton looked forward with pleasurable anticipation to this visit, but another serious relapse in health deprived him of the joy of being present on that occasion.
Under keen disappointment, but with love and devotion to his people in his heart, he wrote the following touching letter, which was read from the pulpit on the Sunday preceding the Anniversary. My Dear Friends, I am exceedingly grieved and disappointed that I cannot per- sonally appear among you to-day as my design was, to stir up your pure minds by way of remembrance. I hope, however, that as my affliction is a sufficient apology for my absence, it will prove also an
occasion of exciting your liberality next Lord’s Day. Of the preacher who is expected on that day I need say nothing ; it is impossible that the name and talent of a Saunders should be forgotten at Ramsden Street; but what is still better, I believe the God of ministers is with you. The patience with which you have endured my long affliction, the Christian kindness with which my brethren have supplied the pulpit, and the many and fervent prayers put up by you for me, all testify that the Lord of Hosts is with us. I cannot but hope, therefore, that next Lord’s Day you will give bountifully, and of a willing mind, as a people indulged with the smiles of Providence, though greatly tried with Your afflicted affectionate Pastor.
‘“He never again occupied the pulpit. His last public act was the administration of the Lord’s Supper to his own people on the first Sabbath in August, about four weeks previous to his ‘death. At this solemn and deeply affecting service he took a last farewell of the scene of his labours, and the people of his charge.’’
He died on the morning of September 3rd, 1832, in his forty— seventh year. Striking testimony of the high regard in which he was held by the people of Huddersfield was shown on the occasion of his funeral, by the large, influential, and sympathetic gathering assembled to pay their last tribute of respect to his memory. The Vicars of Huddersfield and Almondbury were present as well as many ministers of the Independent, Baptist, Wesleyan and New Connexion denominations. His remains were interred in the burial ground at Highfield.
His beloved friend, the Rev. William Thorpe, of Bristol, preached his funeral sermon in Ramsden Street Chapel to a crowded and sympathetic gathering, from the text ‘* And his disciples went and took up the body and buried it and went and told Jesus.’’ Matt. xiv., 12.
During Mr. Eagleton’s residence in Huddersfield he published the following discourses :— ‘* The Revelation of Jesus Christ.’? A Pastoral Epistle. 1829. ** Thoughts on the Covenant of Works.’’ An epistolatory address to Junior Ministers of the Gospel of all Denominations. 1829. ‘*“Friendly addressed to the readers of the pastoral epistle on the Revelation of Jesus Christ. 1829. ‘* The Probable Destiny of Great 1830.
An interesting account of Mr. Eagleton’s life, written by his daughter, Mrs. James Hanson, of Bradford, was published in 1841. It is entitled :—
‘Memoirs of the Rev. John Eagleton, late Minister of Ramsden Street Chapel, Huddersfield, and formerly of Coventry, Atherstone and Birmingham” by his Daughter, and ‘‘ Recollections of his Ministerial Character and Labours.’? By a Member of his Church at Huddersfield. With his sermon on the Probable Destiny of Great Britain. Huddersfield: Printed by H. Roebuck, King Street. 1841,
Ministry of the Rev. John Thorpe. 1833 — 1836.
Bereft of their faithful and gifted leader, the sorrowing people did not easily surmount their feeling of grief and depression and the gloom cast over the church by its sad loss, and it was not until the following year that definite action was taken to fill the vacant pastorship.
The Rev. John Thorpe, of Chester, a man who was not altogether unknown to the people of Ramsden Street, he having taken part in the services at the opening of the Chapel in 1825, was engaged to preach the Sunday School Anniversary Services in April, 1833. Mr. Thorpe was a preacher of established reputation. He was the son of the well-known Rev. William Thorpe, of Bristol, and grandson of that famous John Thorpe, of Rotherham, whose remarkable conversion affords one of the picturesque and telling incidents in the Eighteenth Century Evangelical Revival, and to whom Yorkshire Independency owed so much in the early days.
A decidedly favourable opinion was formed of Mr. Thorpe and subsequently at a meeting presided over by the Rev. John Cockin, of Holmfirth, it was resolved to invite him to the pastorate, and on the 29th of April, 1833, an unanimous call was given to him.
Mr. Thorpe accepted the call of the church and congregation in a letter dated May 29th, 1833, and early in June a deputation consisting of Mr. Joseph Batley and Mr. William Willans visited Chester to wait upon him and make final arrangements for his coming to Huddersfield. He commenced his ministry at Ramsden Street on Sunday, August 11th, 1833, and his public settlement and Recognition Service took place on the 18th of September.
The charge to the minister on that occasion was delivered by the Rev. Dr. Raffles, and the sermon to the congregation was preached by the Rev. Dr. McCall. The customary Dinner which in those days invariably accompanied the Ordination or Recogni- tion of a new minister, was given and appears to have been a function of some importance.
The details are faithfully recorded in plain and somewhat laconic terms in the Minute Book. We read that provision was made for 200 persons, and that the price of the tickets was to be 3/6 for gentlemen and 2/6 for ladies Wine was furnished to the extent of three dozen bottles, half of which was port and half sherry. ‘‘ Mr. Moore to superintend the wine.’’
ev. John Thorpe
This would be Mr. William Moore, the precentor, a well- known character in Huddersfield a century ago.
The exaggerated view of our Dissenting forefathers as a mournful, gloomy and austere people, is not always borne out by the facts, but on the other hand, the life and activities of these apocryphal ‘‘kill-joys’’ were characterised by a cheerful zeal, and there was often a refreshing heartiness in their ways.
Mr. Thorpe was an attractive personality, and of commanding appearance, and was said to be ‘‘a man of unquestionable talents and possessed to an extraordinary degree the gift of eloquence.”’
His portrait appeared in the Evangelical Magazine in the year 1825, and marks him as a bluff, portly and rather handsome- featured man. In spite of his undoubted talent and ability his ministry did not lead to that degree of progress and success which was expected, and ere long a feeling of disappointment showed itself in the church.
There were some features of his life which did not inspire confidence and an occasional freedom and uncertainty of conduct, that was not looked upon with favour by his friends.
Disaffection spread among the members, some withdrawals took place, notably two deacons, and in this unhappy state of affairs, the officers, alarmed and anxious for the future prospects of the cause, made approaches to Mr. Thorpe with a view to avoid- ing further unpleasant developments. It is only fair to add, these overtures were carried through in a spirit of kindly restraint on both sides, and the church was happily spared the pain and distress of a serious rupture.
Mr. Thorpe resigned his charge on the 27th of April, 1836, and his ministry at Ramsden Street terminated on Sunday, June 26th of the same year.
A Pastoral Interlude.
Visit of the Rev. Richard Knill.
The troubles and vicissitudes through which the Church passed at this period threatened its progress and welfare, and it needed all the courage and devotion of those faithful ones who remained at their posts to guide it through the perils of disaffection and indifference which had so grievously sprung up. They never wavered in their faith, and their steadfastness and per- severance were rewarded, and they had the joy and satisfaction of seeing peace and harmony once more restored to the people.
The ministrations of the Rev. Richard Knill, whom the officers had the foresight to engage temporarily for a short period between the retirement of Mr. Thorpe and the appointment of a new pastor, were in no small degree instrumental in bringing about this happy improvement in the affairs and condition of the Church.
The career of Mr. Knill, now almost forgotten, was well known to a former generation, and he had at the time we refer to achieved wonderful results as a missionary in India and in Russia.
After undergoing many privations and much toil, he had returned to England about the year 1884 at the invitation of the directors of the London Missionary Society, with a request that he should devote some time to representing the Society at home, and apply himself to the object of stirring up a missionary spirit through the country. I The people of Ramsden Street, taking advantage of Mr. Knill’s stay in this country, secured his services for a limited period, an arrangement which was generally appreciated.
Mr. Knill’s biographer says: ‘*‘ Wherever he laboured, whether in the villages of Devon, in India, in Russia, or in the various parts of England, he was instrumental in awakening the impenitent and careless to a deep concern for their eternal welfare. He entered every place with that object in view, and in very few instances left without having in some measure accomplished it. His usefulness lay not exclusively among the poor; many persons of education, intelligence, and station were brought through him, under the influence of evangelical religion.’’
This able and sincere Christian worker, on coming among the people at Ramsden Street in those clouded years of 1836 and 1837,
set about to heal their troubles, smooth their difficulties, and generally promote the interests of the Church, and his brief but earnest labours in that field were productive of much good, and of signal service to the cause, and his sojourn in the town was long remembered as “‘a time of refreshing from the presence of the Lord.’’
His affection for the people of Ramsden Street was exhibited in a pastoral letter which he addressed to the Church. It was entitled ‘‘ The Working Church,’’ and was extensively circulated and much appreciated by a large circle of grateful friends and admirers.
CHRISTIAN INSTRUCTION SOCIETY.
A mode of religious activity formerly much in vogue, was the free distribution of moral and religious literature in the form of tracts.
There is no doubt this branch of Christian service ‘‘ in scat- tering Gospel seed and diffusing Gospel light’’ was an immense factor for good.
The management and distribution of this literature was con- ducted by members who had banded themselves together into an organisation known as the Ramsden Street Christian Instruction Society. This Society was formed at a meeting held on the 11th of January, 1838, and appears to have been directly inspired by the Rev. Richard Knill, to whose brief visit to Ramsden Street pre- vious reference has been made. At this meeting it was resolved— ‘That to commemorate the interesting visit of the Rev. Richard Knill, an Association be now formed for the purpose of visiting the poor in this town and neighbourhood—to communicate Religious instruction; and that it be called ‘‘ The Ramsden Street Christian Instruction Society.”’ A similar association in connection with Highfield Chapel was already in existence, and in order to avoid overlapping an arrange- ment was come to with the Highfield friends to divide the town into two general districts. ‘‘ The upper, or west side of New Street and all the streets above it, including Longroyd Bridge, Paddock, etc., on the one hand, and Newtown on the other, be considered as under the care of the Highfield association. And that the lower or east side of New Street, and all the streets below it, including Kirkgate, Northgate, the Lane, etc., in one direction, Moldgreen, Almondbury, etc., in another, with Chapel Hill, Folly Hall, and all in the direction of Lockwood be considered as appro— priate to the Ramsden Street association.’’ The spread of popular education, the phenomenal growth of cheap literature in the form of books and newspapers during the last fifty years have rendered this aspect of religious work entirely obsolete,
It cannot be denied that the composition of these tracts was often in a style that was crudely emotional, and they frequently exhibited a tone of exaggerated piety which no longer appeals.
The time came when they had fulfilled their mission and achieved their purpose, and a later generation losing interest in this form of ‘‘ profitable reading,’’ ceased to be moved by the touching scenes and incidents recorded in their pages.
Probably no department of Christian effort has more fre- quently been held up to popular ridicule than the inoffensive religious tract, but the sneers of the irreverent and the disparaging criticism of the unsympathetic should not blind us to the invalu- able service once rendered to the cause of religion through its agency. Quietly and unobtrusively it carried a simple message of hope and gladness into many a lowly cottage home, and was a solace and comfort to multitudes of weary souls.
Rev. W. A. Hurndall.
The Ministry of the Rev. William A. Hurndall. 1838 — 1845.
In the early part of the year 1837, the Rev. W. A. Hurndall, of Devonport, ‘* having supplied the pulpit with great satisfaction to the church and —— it was resolved to invite him to accept the pastorate.”’
The call was transmitted in a letter dated April 22nd, 1837.
To the intense disappointment of the Church this invitation was declined by Mr. Hurndall in consideration of the claims of his people at Devonport. Some months elapsed, during which time no further steps were taken to fill the vacancy, but it was evident the hopes of the people at Ramsden Street were still centred on Mr. Hurndall, and eventually a second urgent and more insistent call was given to him on January 4th, 1838.
Mr. Hurndall no longer felt justified in refusing this renewed appeal, and he therefore accepted the call, and commenced. his ministry at Ramsden Street in March, 1838.
The new pastor was in the thirty-third year of his age when he settled in Huddersfield. He was born in London in 1804, and at the age of sixteen removed to Bristol. Starting on a business career he soon found it was not congenia! to his tastes, and about the year 1823 he was admitted to Cheshunt College, where he underwent his preparatory training for the ministry. His first pastorate was at Basingstoke, where he remained about three years.
Mr. Hurndall was a great lover of books and of a cultured and superior intelligence. His preaching was said to be instructive and edifying, and characterised ‘‘by an ardent attachment to evangelical truth.’’ ‘‘ He was pre-eminently wise and prudent, distinguished above most men by a meek and gentle spirit.’’
It was during Mr. Hurndall’s ministry, in the year 1840, that an organ was first placed in the chapel. A recess was built out, which in addition to providing a suitable place for the instrument, also gave improved and much needed accommodation, in vestries, etc., for the use of minister and others.
Mr. HuRNDALL’S INTEREST IN EDUCATION.
Mr. Hurndall was an ardent educationist, and the cause and interests of education always had in him a warm advocate and supporter. In 1844 he recommended the establishment of an evening school in connection with Ramsden Street.
Incidentally the establishment of the Huddersfield College (now Municipal Secondary School) can be traced indirectly to Mr. Hurndall’s efforts.
On his removal here in 1838 he had to leave his young son in Devonport, where he was then attending a proprietary school. Desiring to have the boy in Huddersfield, his enquiries were directed to a consideration of the educational facilities afforded by the town, and he was disappointed to find they were not of a very high order. This deficiency he discussed with Mr. William Willans, deploring the fact that many parents were compelled to send their sons away from Huddersfield to complete their education.
That interview with Mr. Willans was the germ, the develop- ment of which led to the founding of the Huddersfield College.
Mr. Willans becoming warmly interested in the scheme, approached certain influential gentlemen in the town, a company was formed, and the College inaugurated. Both Mr. Hurndall and Mr. William Willans were members of the first council of that institution.
Many notable Yorkshiremen received a part of their educa— tion at the College, including one who afterwards became Prime Minister of England, the Right Honourable H. H. Asquith, now Earl of Oxford and Asquith.
LICENCE FOR CELEBRATION OF MARRIAGES OBTAINED.
A license was obtained for the celebration of marriages in the Chapel, and registered December 13th, 1843.
The new Registration Act, granting permission to Dissenters to be married in their own places of worship, was passed in 1837, but a technical point of law arising out of the delay in the appoint— ment of trustees for the Chapel prevented the exercise of this right at Ramsden Street until the year 1843.
THe Huncry Forrtigs.
Mr. Hurndall’s ministry at Ramsden Street was not marred by any disagreement, and the utmost cordiality and friendship were maintained between pastor and people. There were, however, many troubles and difficulties with which the Church had to con— tend during those trying years. A debt of over £2000 pressed heavily on the Church, and it was well nigh impossible to make any serious reduction in that heavy burden in those years of hardship and distress which marked the early forties, Macaulay, the
historian, has drawn a vivid picture of the social conditions, the sufferings, and the sore straits through which the population passed in that terrible time of the ‘* hungry forties.”’
**So visible was the misery of the manufacturing towns, that a man of sensibility could hardly bear to pass through them. Every- where he found filth and nakedness and plaintive voices and wasted forms and haggard faces. ... First the mills were put on short time. Then they ceased to work at all. Then went to pledge the scanty property of the artizan; first his little luxuries, then his comforts, then his necessaries.”’ A significant hint as to the prevailing distress of the period occasionally creeps out from the unimpassioned pages of the minute book.
‘** Resolved that the Seatholders’ Annual Meeting be held on Wed nesday evening next, but that Tea be dispensed with on account of the badness of the times.”’ But if the times were ‘‘bad,’’ the people were not dis-— heartened, and the many difficulties with which the work was beset only served to stimulate them to greater effort and to increase their devotion.
There was no lack of enthusiasm and inspiration in a cause which had such leaders as William Willans, John Moody, Joseph Batley, William and James Wrigley, John Frost, William Green- wood and Henry Hirst, to mention but a few of the names of those devoted ones who laboured diligently and incessantly for the cause they loved so dearly. These were all men who had
** Great hearts, strong minds, true faith and willing hands.’’
How remote these men of the thirties and forties seem from our day and generation, separated not only by the passage of long years, but also by the great gap between their outlook and ours.
We can hardly fail to admire their moral stamina and spiritual robustness, and while we cannot go back to the conceptions and expressed faith of those devout and godly folk, we may be per— mitted to feel wistfully envious of their plain delights and holy enjoyment.
Mr. Joseph Batley, whose name appears so frequently in the early records of the Chapel, was a conspicuous example of that type of solid, upright, and sterling character so peculiarly asso— ciated with those days. He carried on business as a dyer at the Armitage, Netherton, at which place he resided. He was the father of the late Mr. Joseph Batley, first Town Clerk of Hud- dersfield. :
Long before what has been termed the ‘“‘ carriage and pair days’’ of Ramsden Street, it is said this worthy man and his family were conveyed each Sunday from their home at Netherton in the large covered cart ordinarily used for his business, to the Chapel at Ramsden Street. Such were the plain unostentatious habits of the typical better-class Independents of the period,
82 REDUCTION oF CHAPEL Dept.
Following on the period of ‘extreme depression to which we have referred, a determined effort was made at the end of the year 1844 to bring about a substantial reduction in the Chapel debt.
The impression hitherto made on this burden, for some years past had been slight, and its continued pressure was now felt to be detrimental, and seriously hampered the work of the Church.
The Rev. James Sherman, of Surrey Chapel, London, a man of recognised ability and commanding position, then at the height of his popularity as a preacher, had been secured to conduct the anniversary services on Sunday, October 20th, 1844. At the annual meeting which took place on the following evening, Mr. Sherman was again present, and was the means of rousing the large audience to the utmost enthusiasm. He pleaded eloquently for a special effort to be put forth to effect a large reduction in the outstanding debt on the Chapel, and appealed for a collection of one thousand pounds in aid of that object. The response was so noble and generous that it was possible to announce as a result of those services that the magnificent sum of £1223 9s. 6d. had been raised.
Itt HeaLttTH CompELs Mr. HuRNDALL TO RESIGN.
Mr. Hurndall laboured for seven years at Ramsden Street and was universally beloved. His generous disposition, dignified bearing, and old-fashioned courtesy won the hearts and affection of all his people.
His health, which had never been robust, unfortunately began to fail. For some time be battled courageously with his trouble, but ultimately the conclusion was forced upon him that his delicate constitution was unequal to the rigours of the north, and it was deemed necessary for him to remove further south where he could enjoy the benefit of a milder climate. He accordingly accepted an invitation to the Church at Bishops Stortford, whither he removed in 1845, carrying with him the fervent prayers and good wishes of his grateful and admiring friends in Huddersfield. Mr. Hurndall held his farewell services on Sunday, May 18th, 1845. In the evening he preached from the text, ‘‘ For I have not shunned to declare unto you all the counsel of God.’’ Acts XX., 27.
One who was present on that occasion described it as a most affecting scene, when large numbers bade a last farewell to their beloved pastor. The removal to Bishops Stortford so far restored Mr. Hurndall’s health that he was enabled to labour acceptably in that sphere for the-space of seventeen years.
He died at Notting Hill, London, on the 19th August, 1875.
Rey. Richard Skinner.
me ce ymca at
The Ministry of the Rev. Richard Skinner. 1845 — 1877.
Immediately after the conclusion of Mr. Hurndall’s ministry, a letter was received from the Rev. John Kelly, of Liverpool, bringing to the notice of the church the name of the Rev. Richard Skinner, then of Hadleigh, Suffolk, and in case they had no one else in prospect for the vacant pastorship, warmly commending him as being in every way suitable to the needs of Ramsden Street. He described him as ‘‘ a man of very decided piety, of good pulpit talents, and of great pastoral fidelity.”’
Mr. Kelly’s position and standing in the Independent body and his eminence as a preacher gave authority to his reeommenda— tion, and although Mr. Skinner was quite unknown to the people of Huddersfield, the testimony of so competent a judge created a strong disposition in his favour and a desire to make his acquaint-— ance.
Accordingly arrangements were made for Mr. Skinner to visit Huddersfield and preach on two successive Sundays. His minis- trations produced an entirely favourable impression at Ramsden Street, with the result that an unanimous and pressing invitation was sent from the members and seatholders to him to become their minister.
This was conveyed in a letter dated August 7th, 1845.
Although his Church at Hadleigh was in a prosperous condi— tion, and consisted of a large and influential congregation of some 1500 persons, Mr. Skinner thought fit to accept the call from Ramsden Street, and he entered upon his duties in Huddersfield on the 12th of October, 1845, he being then 38 years of age.
Mr. Skinner was in the prime of early manhood when he first settled in Huddersfield. Those who only remember him in his declining years, dignified and venerable, can have but a slight conception of the fine vigorous presence and superior bearing of his earlier days.
His portrait is familiar to many, in the well-known engrav— ing, after the painting by William Bonnar, R.S.A., done in the early fifties, and reveals him as a man of character and uncommon personality.
Mr. Skinner did not attend any of the recognised training colleges for his preparation for the ministry, but he had the advan— tage of a sound and liberal education, and was a hard student and a good classical scholar.
EXTINCTION OF CHAPEL DEBT.
Reference has been made to the visit in 1844 of the Rev. James Sherman, of London, and the part he took in helping to further the efforts then made to reduce the debt on the Chapel. Such was the enthusiasm produced on that occasion, that his services were again bespoken for the anniversary in the following year, and a promise made that if he would undertake to renew his visit in 1845, they would endeavour to wipe out entirely the remain— ing balance of debt, which then amounted to about £1200.
The anniversary in the month of October, 1845, synchronised with the commencement of Mr. Skinner’s pastorate at Ramsden Street. The people were determined that no obstacle or hindrance arising out of the debt should stand in the way of the new minister’s success.
Mr. Sherman came to Huddersfield at the appointed time, and having fulfilled his promise called upon the people to honour theirs. They responded nobly and generously, and promptly subscribed a sum more than sufficient to effect the total liquidation of the debt.
After years of patient and self—denying effort the financial load, which had oppressed but never disheartened the people, was at last removed, and at the yearly gathering held on November 4th, 1846, being the twenty-first annual meeting, it was reported that all claims on the Chapel had been paid.
In such happy and joyful circumstances was the ‘* Coming of Age ’’ of the Church appropriately signalised.
On that interesting occasion a resolution was moved by Mr. Joseph Batley, and seconded by Mr. William Wrigley and enthu- siastically adopted— ‘* That this Meeting rejoices in the extinction of the debt upon the Chapel, as removing a great obstacle to ministerial comfort and use- fulness, and pledges itself to continued liberality in the support of the Gospel in connection with this Chapel.” 3 How faithfully the people carried out the spirit of that resolu- — tion was abundantly proved in the subsequent history of the Church.
The liquidation of the debt was made no pretext for slackened effort, but on the other hand was the prelude to increased useful- ness, and the step which opened up a glorious future.
Henceforth, the history of Ramsden Street Chapel, through the next three decades, coinciding with Mr. Skinner’s long pastor- ate, is a record of steady and unbroken progress, and all through the fifties, sixties and seventies it constitutes a romance of religious achievement. I
Blessed with leaders of rare courage and devotion, the Church was gradually brought to a position of security and strength.
It became a distinct force in the town and district, exerting a strong influence for good, and was associated with all the great religious, philanthropic and educational enterprises of the time.
Although its congregation included some of the leading citizens of the town, and many who were classed as ‘‘ rich men,”’ it could never be said that it became merely a ‘‘ fashionable Church ’’ in the sense of being exclusive. During the time of its greatest prosperity it remained essentially a people’s sanctuary, and although a family Church in the truest sense it was never allowed to degenerate into a mere social institution, that comfort— able pitfall into which some so-called prosperous Churches so easily sink.
COTTAGE OR District MEETINGS.
An important adjunct of church life and work of the period we have under review, was the Cottage or District Meeting. From the fifties to the seventies this department of religious effort was carried on with great success.
The various districts were carefully mapped out and a pro- gramme of speakers or leaders appointed, entailing an amount of self—denying labour and devotion, which in these days of religious indifference would astonish the modern apathetic church member.
Elaborate plans or schedules of these meetings were printed, and one such plan now before us sets forth a section of the work comprised in a large area, including Primrose Hill, Jackroyd, Ashenhurst, Gledholt and Crosland Moor. On this sheet no less than 135 district meetings are planned, covering the period of twelve months from May, 1871, to April, 1872.
Many familiar names appear in the list of district leaders, among them Stephen Arlom, Thomas Bland, John Conacher, William Dawson (Lindley), William Dawson (Longley), B. Halstead, Charles Hirst, Junr., Alfred Hirst, James Hartley, John Mitchell, J. C. Moody, Henry Revell, Edward Stott, S. B. Tait, Joshua Whitworth, and John Whitfield.
All these were young men at the time they were engaged in that useful and self—sacrificing work. Many of them lived to ren— der long and useful service to the Church in after years.
These district meetings met a well—defined need of the period. By their means the message of the Gospel was brought to the secluded hamlets and outlying parts of the town, and they provided a medium for getting in touch with people who had few oppor- tunities for attendance at the regular services of the Chapel. The practice of holding the meetings in the home of some sympathiser, or member of the Church residing in the locality, placed a limit to the accommodation, and the gatherings were small in consequence, a feature which, however, involved no disadvantage but rather contributed to their success and usefulness,
About this time (1850—1860) certain areas bordering on, but now forming a continuous part of the town, were undergoing a process of rapid development. These outside districts, including such places as Moldgreen, Fartown, Hillhouse, etc., were formerly little more than rural suburbs, but a gradual change was in pro-— gress and a new population was springing up in those localities.
Quickly recognising the need and opportunity for religious effort and Christian service in these areas, the people of Ramsden Street were early in the field, and became pioneers in missionary enterprise and Chapel extension. The small district meetings, to which we have just referred, had long been carried on with satis— factory and encouraging results, but the time had arrived when larger and bolder efforts were needed to keep abreast of the grow- ing requirements of the times.
The first move in the endeavour to cope with these new condi-— tions was the formation of a Congregational Mission, undertaken by the Ramsden Street people on their sole initiative and respon- sibility. The origin and object of the mission have been so clearly stated that we cannot do better than quote from the first printed report, which states that sprung from the conviction entertained by several earnest members of the Church, that as a people we were not adequately carry- ing out the injunction of the Saviour to his Disciples, ‘ Go ye into all the world and preach the Gospel to every creature.’ They felt that while helping to send missionaries abroad, there was work for the missionary at home, and in our own neighbourhood; that many of the inhabitants of the town seldom, if ever, attended any place of worship, and were living regardless of the command, ‘ Remember the Sabbath Day to keep it holy.’ ”’ Cherishing these impressions, it was decided to support a Missionary whose sole duty it should be to go into the streets and alleys—wherever the neglected and neglectful might be found— visiting from house to house, giving the word of exhortation, and praying with the sick and afflicted.
From the outset success attended the enterprise, and a man peculiarly qualified for conducting the mission was found in Mr. William Hotchkiss, whose previous knowledge and experience in that department of religious work marked him as eminently fitted to undertake its duties, he having been engaged for fourteen years in a similar capacity in Manchester.
He was appointed to the post and entered upon his duties in Huddersfield as Town Missionary for the Ramsden Street Con- gregational Mission in October, 1854.
The district chosen for the first missionary operations on a systematic scale was the west side of the town, of which South
Rev. William Hotchkiss.
Rev. R. H. Dugdale.
Street formed the centre. South Street was at that time com- paratively new, and its environs, hitherto sparsely inhabited and represented by isolated houses and buildings, were rapidly becom- ing transformed into a compact and populous area.
In this promising field of service, the new missionary prose— cuted his labours with much energy.
The high hopes entertained of the ultimate success of the movement were quickly and abundantly realised, and the earnest, patient and faithful efforts of Mr. Hotchkiss soon led to the erec— tion of a small Chapel or meeting house, ‘‘ that suitable accom— modation might be afforded to the increasing numbers disposed to listen to the truth from his lips, and that the means of grace might be regularly administered to them.”’
SouTH STREET MEETING HOUSE.
On the 29th of May, 1856, while the restoration of peace after the Crimean War was being publicly celebrated, and the inhabit- ants of Huddersfield, in common with our countrymen throughout the length and breadth of the land were in the midst of rejoicings on a scale such as had never before been witnessed in our town, a simple ceremony was taking place on the morning of that memor-— able day when William Willans, Esq., laid the first stone of the new meeting house in South Street.
The building was erected at a cost of about £400, and was opened for public worship on the 8th of October, 1856.
A Sunday School was commenced, and its growth was so satisfactory and rapid that the meeting house soon proved too small for its accommodation, and after the lapse of a few years an enlargement was made at a further cost of £400, which together with the amount originally expended, made a total outlay of about £800.
ORIGIN OF THE HILLHOUSE AND MOLDGREEN CONGREGATIONAL CHURCHES.
The labours of Mr. Hotchkiss among the people of Hudders— field, as Town Missionary for the Ramsden Street Church, were the first definite and organised efforts which ultimately led to the formation of Hillhouse Congregational Church in 1863, and indirectly also of the Moldgreen Congregational Church in 1868. While Mr. Hotchkiss was still in charge of the South Street Mission, he was requested by the Ramsden Street Mission Com— mittee to turn his attention to the district of Hillhouse, a growing suburb where it was thought much good might be accomplished. He accordingly began to conduct cottage meeting's in that locality, and from these humble beginnings a small interest was drawn together, forming the starting—point of the future cause at Hill- house, :
Along with Highfield Chapel, the people of Ramsden Street took a prominent part and were liberal supporters of the building scheme for that Church. In May, 1865, a proposal was made to Mr. Hotchkiss ‘‘ by a benevolent friend unknown except to him- self, that he should commence a new Mission at Moldgreen, engaging that in the event of his undertaking it she would pro- vide his salary for five years, with a donation of £1300 towards the I building of Chapel and Schools in that locality. Mr. Hotchkiss saw it right to accept this liberal offer, and the Mission Committee felt that they would not be justified in placing any obstacle in the way of his so doing. His resignation was therefore tendered and received with sincere regret at losing his services, and with earnest prayers that the same blessing which had hitherto attended his labours might yet more abundantly accompany them at > Moldgreen.’’
Meanwhile the choice of a successor to Mr. Hotchkiss at South Street fellon Mr. R. H. Dugdale, who came from Bolton to Hud- dersfield in 1866 with high recommendations, and under his leadec- ship the work of the Mission was efficiently carried on, A memorial subsequently drawn up and presented to the parent body at Ramsden Street, urging the provision of additional accommoda-— tion, affords sufficient evidence of its growth and prosperity.
A deputation from South Street waited on the Mission Com— mittee, and stated that it had long been felt that their place of worship was too small to meet the requirements of the congrega— tion and Sabbath School, and having heard that George Street Chapel was being offered for sale, expressed the desire that it should be purchased for the use of the Mission, promising on their part £150 of the amount needed.
The application was brought before a special meeting of the Church at Ramsden Street in December, 1870, at which the fol- lowing resolution was passed : *‘That this meeting approves of the proposal to purchase George
Street Chapel, and recommends the Congregational Mission Committee to obtain the same for the use of the Mission.”’
Immediately steps were taken to carry this resolution into effect, and the purchase was completed and the building equipped for the needs of the Mission at a total cost of £1200, which included the sum of about £200 expended on alterations.
GEORGE STREET MISSION CHAPEL.
The opening of George Street Mission Chapel took place on Sunday, May 21st, 1871, when services were conducted in the motning by the Rev. R. Bruce, M.A., in the afternoon by the Rev. Marmaduke Miller, and in the evening by the Rev. Richard Skinner,
We may anticipate, at this stage of our narrative, by remark- ing that the interest at George Street continued to prosper, and the time arrived when the worshippers there felt the cause was firmly established, and judged themselves sufficiently strong to warrant their being formed into a separate Church (hitherto those gathered by the Mission and who had made open profession of their faith had been received into membership at Ramsden Street), and in 1872 representations were first made to the Ramsden Street Church seeking their approval and co—operation in that object.
The request was sympathetically entertained, but a decision on so vital a consideration was not hurriedly or lightly made, and the matter received prolonged and careful consideration by the Ramsden Street friends. Ultimately, at a special Church Meeting held on September 2nd, 1874, it was unanimously resolved— ‘* That this Church cordially consents to the request now presented by the 83 members worshipping at George Street Chapel to be allowed to withdraw from our fellowship in order to form themselves into a separate and independent Church, and it commends them to the care ef the Good Shepherd with the best wishes and sincere prayer that the Divine blessing may ever rest upon their future efforts to promote the interests of the Saviour’s Kingdom.”’
Mr. B. Halstead, a member of Ramsden Street Church, who had acted as Secretary to the Mission for twenty years, voiced the kindly feeling of the meeting towards the retiring members, and expressed the hope that, although separated from it, they would never forget the Church which had done so much for them.
On the 2nd of October, 1874, a service was held at George Street for the formation of the New Church, and the ordination of Mr. Dugdale as its pastor. The Rev. Richard Skinner, minister of Ramsden Street, presided, and the following ministers were also present and took part in the proceedings, the Revs. R. Bruce, M.A., J. E. Jones, J. T. Stannard, W. Hotchkiss, and H. J. Boyd.
“‘ Congregationalists,’’ said Dr. R. W. Dale, ‘‘ were among the most ardent advocates of popular education at a time when large and powerful classes of English society were sincerely afraid that if the children of the great masses of the people were taught to read and write they would become a serious peril to the state.”’
By the establishment of School Boards in the year 1870, the cause of national education was greatly strengthened and fur-— thered, but up to that time, notwithstanding the useful and valu— able work hitherto carried on by voluntary schools of different denominations, there was a large percentage of young people who remained entirely uneducated.
Amongst the poor the opportunities for acquiring even the rudiments of education were often lacking, and to meet this
deficiency night schools were inaugurated and carried on by various agencies, secular and religious.
In the forefront of those who engaged in this admirable and beneficent work the people of Ramsden Street were to be found.
Illiteracy among young people attending the Sunday School constituted a problem, their deficiency and ignorance sadly hin- dering the real work of religious instruction. This was an import- ant factor and a consideration which led to the prosecution of this branch of service, as well as the promotion of the general interests of educational progress.
Indeed, at first, reading and writing were definitely taught on the Sabbath, but this practice became unnecessary as other facilities for purely secular education increased.
There is some ground for assuming that instruction on week nights in reading and writing was carried on in connection with Ramsden Street Chapel during the earliest years of its history. The arrangements were, however, at first, of an uncertain and intermittent character, and to the Rev. W. A. Hurndall belongs the credit for the establishment in the year 1844 of the first regular week—night school.
The school was held on the Chapel premises, and three evenings per week were devoted to the teaching of reading, writ- ing, arithmetic, etc.
The work of the school was remarkably successful, and a goodly number of pupils took-advantage of the classes to gain their first modest acquaintance with the fruits of learning, or to improve and increase the limited scholarship they already possessed.
The school was continued, and in later years, right on through the fifties and sixties, it was conducted with unusual vigour and efficiency.
It owed much to the fostering care, public spirit, and generous encouragement bestowed upon it by the minister and office—bearers of the Church and Sunday School, and especially to the self- denying labours of a competent staff of voluntary teachers recruited from the congregation.
Chief among those who gave unstinted service in this field of usefulness, particular mention should be made of Mr. John Brooke Greenwood. The son of Dr. William Greenwood, a leading physician in the town, and one of the founders of Ramsden Street Chapel, he was a man of considerable literary attainments and culture. se
For many years he superintended the work of the evening school, and for a time had as colleagues, Mr. William Shaw (who later removed to Rochdale) and Mr. J. D. Piper.
Over a hundred pupils were in regular attendance, and Mr. Greenwood had all the lesson papers to go through each night after he reached home, and prepare them for the next evening.
The work of the week—evening school attained to the meridian of its usefulness during the middle period of Mr. Skinner’s pastor- ate, and such was its progress that in the late fifties it was deemed necessary to supplement the voluntary character of the institution by the appointment of a professional master, and accordingly Mr. Alfred Jones, who was then Master of the British School, Outcote Bank, was secured to take charge. A small handbill which has been preserved of this period conveys the following interesting announcement.
Hamsder Street Sabbath Schools.
The Teachers of these Schools, anxious that a good useful Education should be placed within the reach of such of their Scholars as have'not the opportunity of obtaining it in the day-time, have, for some years back, conducted a
and have latterly secured for it the valuable services of Mr. JONES, the excellent Master of the British School.
Open on Monday, Wednesday and Friday Evenings.
Charge, One Penny per Week, to be paid on the Monday Evening.
GIRLS will attend punctually at half-past 7, and BOYS at 8 The Girls being dismissed half an hour earlier.
G. AND J. BROOK, PRINTERS, WESTGATE, HUDDERSFIELD.
In addition to the maintenance of their own evening schools, the people of Ramsden Street were liberal supporters of unde— nominational education generally in the town.
The British School at Outcote Bank numbered among its. founders two devoted Ramsden Street workers in Mr. William
Willans and Mr. John Moody, and Mr. C. H. Jones also took an active interest in the school. This and the Infant School in Spring Street were systematically and generously supported.
Notwithstanding the provision of reasonable facilities for securing the spread of education, and all the efforts put forth in that cause, it is interesting to find that the people of Ramsden Street contemplated even bolder and more ambitious schemes in that direction. :
A significant hint was given in the report presented at the annual meeting of seatholders in November, 1868, in which occur the following words,— ‘““It is very likely that the subject of Education will ere long become a very prominent topic in the councils of Parliament. Does it not become a question of vital importance whether it is not the duty of © every large congregation to originate and sustain in connection with their places of worship, or otherwise, Day Schools, of good standing, under well-trained Teachers, to provide for the secular education of the youth, who receive Scriptural instruction in our Sabbath Schools.”’
The passing of the epoch—making National Education Act of 1870, wrought a complete change and rendered unnecessary such efforts on behalf of popular education as were here foreshadwed.
ASSOCIATION FOR MENTAL IMPROVEMENT.
In addition to the purely educational work of the Church which as we have seen was sedulously carried on, other agencies were in existence, the object of which was ‘‘ to enlighten the mind or improve the heart.’’
The intellectual side of religious life was carefully fostered, and the habit of healthy enquiry encouraged. Among the young men, especially, various outlets for mental activity were from time to time afforded. 7
Apart from the distinctly religious ‘‘ Bible ’’ classes, meeting week by week, there was an Association of Young Men for Mental Improvement, the members of which discussed and debated every variety of subject, historical, literary and philosophic.
The diary of an old Ramsden Street scholar and teacher, kept by John Henry Crossley, a young man of ability and promise, but who died at a comparatively early age in 1863, has recently come under our observation.
It affords an interesting glimpse of social life and activity among the younger men at Ramsden Street from the early forties and onwards. The Mutual Improvement Society and its affairs loomed large on the mental horizon of the scrupulous diarist, and we may doubtless regard him as typical, in sympathies and out- look, of many Ramsden Street young men of his day.
Monday Evening Class.
John Dawson, Thomas Metcalfe, David Kirk, Thomas Mallinson, W. H. Haigh, S i alfe, 1 , ae. George Pickering, Henry Mitchell, W. H. Woodcock, Mitchell ota
There are frequent references in the diary to these young men’s meetings, and there was a commendable catholicity in the range of subjects brought under discussion.
The activities of the Society were not exclusively confined to its own circle of members, for they occasionally called in and sat at the feet of some chosen Gamaliel of repute and authority, whose riper mind and judgment no doubt opened up to them new fields of knowledge and learning. In this category we may cite, merely as examples, a lecture on ‘‘ Education’’ by the eminent and scholarly Dr. R. W. Hamilton, of Leeds, in 1847. Also one on ** The State and Progress of Religion during the Reigns of the Tudors,’’ by Mr.. John Moody, in 1848, and in the same year Mr. Phillips lectured on ‘‘ Divines of the Commonwealth.’’ This Mr. Phillips was J. S. Phillips (January Searle), Secretary of the Huddersfield Mechanics’ Institute from 1846 to 1854, and the gifted author of a scarce little volume entitled ‘‘ Walks Round Huddersfield,’’ published in 1848.
Monpbay EVENING CLASS.
An important off-shoot arising from, and in conjunction with the work of the Mental Improvement Association was begun in
This was the Young Men’s or Monday Evening Class as it was afterwards known. It was a debating class retaining a dis— tinctly devotional character, and carried out the idea in which social and intellectual activity was focussed and built up on a religious basis.
For over twenty years this class was in active existence, and exerted a profound influence on the lives of many who were closely connected with it. The Monday Evening Class became one of the recognised institutions of Ramsden Street, and of the large num— ber of young men who were associated with it, we may mention Joel Arlom, Thomas Bland, Eli Hallitt, William Revell, John Mitchell, Henry Mitchell, John Dawson, B. D. Hill, J. C. Moody, David Kirk, W. H. Haigh, Thomas Metcalf, Thomas Mallinson, S. B. Tait, W. H. Woodcock, and Chas. Vickerman.
The class afforded an excellent training ground for its mem— bers, many of whom passed into long, active and honourable service in the Church.
PURCHASE OF GUILD HALL PROPERTY.
Notwithstanding the provision of commodious and convenient premises in the original scheme of Ramsden Street Chapel, the time came when the steady growth in the attendance both at Church and Sunday School rendered some adaptation necessary in order to keep pace with the process of expansion which was going on,
In the year 1848, arrangements were made with Mr. Joseph Kaye, the owner of the adjoining Guild Hall property, for the occupation of that building on Sundays for the purposes of an Infant School, and twelve of the lowest classes were accommo-— dated there.
This served for a time to overcome the difficulty, but mean— while the number of scholars still further increased, and at last, in the year 1860, it was felt that the issue could no longer be delayed, and definite steps were taken to provide additional accommodation.
A printed appeal for funds which was made to the Church and congregation at this time states—
**God has greatly prospered our Sabbath Schools. Our noble school-rooms have become too strait to contain us; our energies are cramped, and we cannot put forth half our strength. We number at present 107 Teachers and 825 Scholars—of whom above one-fourth are senior scholars of the age of 18 and upwards. Seventy of these occupy and pay for seats in the Chapel, and thus contribute towards the per- manent income of the place. Most important adjuncts of our Sabbath Schools are—the Evening School, for instruction in the elements of an English education, which is attended by above 100 scholars; the Sick Club with a roll of 88 members; and the Clothing Club, which numbers 108.”’
‘* By the death of Mr. Joseph Kaye we have been deprived of the use of the Guild Hall, which for the last 12 years he had placed, gratuitously, at the service of our Infant Classes; whilst our Senior Classes have so multiplied and increased that for their greater effici- ency, and to augment their usefulness, it is essential that we should provide extra class rooms.
“With this view, plans have been prepared for the erection of suitable buildings in the rear of the Chapel, which shall provide accommodation for our infant and elementary classes, and eight good sized class rooms for our senior scholars, ‘The estimated expenditure would be about £1200.
** Again, therefore, we are constrained to appeal to the liberality of our friends. The Teachers and Scholars have taken the initiative by promoting a subscription among themselves towards this object, and as an earnest of their sympathy have raised in their own ranks about £600. They can now, therefore, Ppa appeal to you to second their
This appeal was signed on behalf of the Teachers by Wm. Hirst and J. Moody, Superintendents, and J. B. Greenwood, Secretary.
The scheme for erecting new premises, as suggested in this appeal, was not however carried out, a favourable opportunity for acquiring the Guild Hall property having presented itself while the plans for building were under consideration. ‘The Committee resolved to purchase the property, having first satisfied itself that interior alterations in the building could be effected which would ensure the accommodation required.
The sum of £525 was paid for the Guild Hall building, and the various alterations and adaptations, including the provision of
a commodious lower room, and seven convenient class rooms above, were made at a cost of £480, making a total expenditure of £1005.
A generous response to the appeal for funds on behalf of this special outlay was speedily given, and the entire amount required was quickly subscribed.
Other improvements and additions to the property were made about this time, 1860—1861, the chief of which was the erection of the present house for use of the Chapel-keeper. This superseded a small dwelling—house formerly used by the caretaker, which had long been unsuitable, being, in fact, an old cottage which stood on the ground when it was first leased for the Chapel.
It was bought from the owner, Thos. Lockwood, for the sum of £68 3s. Od., and a resolution entered in the minute book October 4th, 1825, with a request that— Schofield do see about the Chapel-keeper’s House being got into habitable repair,”’ seems to indicate it was in a dilapidated condition when the Ramsden Street people came into possession.
In the year 1863 the Church suffered irreparable loss by the death of a loyal, steadfast and devoted friend and benefactor, in William Willans, who died at Harrogate on the 4th of September, 1863.
In 1870 another active and beloved worker in the person of John Moody was removed. His death occurred on January 27th of that year.
These losses were followed by the death of John Frost in 1872, and of William Wrigley in 1873.
These early fathers of Ramsden Street, men who were pillars of the Church and whose names are imperishably associated with the glory of the former days of that now historic cause, left an abiding influence and a sanctified memory. Inspired by their noble lives and example, the Church has been abundantly blessed and enriched.
A fuller and more adequate reference to their activities is given in a later chapter dealing with some representative men who were associated with the work at Ramsden Street Chapel.
ALTERATIONS AND IMPROVEMENTS.
In the early part of 1869, the Chapel was closed for a time in order that some further needful improvements and alterations of the property could be carried out. The chief of these was the reconstruction of the vestries behind the pulpit, necessitated by the
enlargement of the organ. Also a more up-to-date arrangement of lighting was installed.
Ramsden Street was the first place of worship in Huddersfield to be lighted with gas, and as this method was only in its infancy when it was originally installed in 1825, and many improvements had been made in the interval, it was considered fitting and appropriate that the Church should maintain its reputation for progressive ideals by taking advantage of later inventions.
TESTIMONIAL TO THE Rev. R. SKINNER.
In October, 1870, Mr. Skinner completed the twenty-fifth year of his pastorate at Ramsden Street.
During his ministry the Church had made rapid strides and been brought to a state of great prosperity and usefulness.
Those were, indeed, the ‘‘ palmy days ’’ of Ramsden Street Chapel, and its widespread influence throughout the town and neighbourhood of Huddersfield was in no small degree owing to the faithful and zealous labours of its able and valued pastor.
A grateful and admiring people, anxious to do honour to their beloved friend and leader, and to give suitable expression to their high regard for his services, signalised the event by a presentation which took place on the 13th of January, 1871.
A public Tea was given, after which a Meeting was held in the Chapel. The Mayor of Huddersfield—C. H. Jones, Esq., a Deacon of the Church—presided. The sum of £650 was pre— sented to Mr. Skinner, £50 of which was given in a purse, and £600 invested and conveyed to trustees for the benefit of Mr. Skinner and his family.
In an Illuminated Address which accompanied the gift, it was stated that—
** To but few men is it given to labour with so much honour for so long a period among one people; and we would esteem it no mean privilege to possess in you one whose faithful proclamation of the truth, whose earnest and persevering efforts to advance the interests of the Great Master’s cause, and whose honest and consistent life have in so large a measure contributed to the growth of true piety, the salvation of precious souls, and the preservation of peace and good feeling in our midst.”
Mr. John Frost, the oldest member of the Church, on behalf of the congregation, presented a time-piece to Mrs. Skinner.
The meeting was afterwards addressed by the Rev. R. Bruce, Mr. J. W. Willans, and others. In the course of his reply Mr. Skinner said— ““They had to thank God that the two Churches of twenty-five years ago (Highfield and Ramsden Street) had multiplied into five.
That had been done without any material weakening of the Churches from which the others had sprung. It had not been the result of
Charles Henry Jones, J.P.
er ee a ae oe a
division, or split, but had taken place with the most entire agreement. and co-operation of the older Churches, from pure motives, with a sincere and earnest desire to extend God’s Kingdom, and to benefit their fellow men. They also thanked God that all those Churches were now living in entire harmony with one another, seeking the glory of their blessed Saviour and Lord.”
Assistant MINISTER APPOINTED.
The exacting duties of pastoral work in a large and progres— sive Church, and the natural decline, by reason of long years of faithful service, in the wonted vigour of its pastor, led early in 1872 to steps being taken to procure suitable assistance for Mr. Skinner during the remaining years of his ministry.
Many excellent and promising men were brought to the notice of the Church, among others the Rev. J. P. Wilson, who declined an invitation to Ramsden Street as co—pastor, but who afterwards became the minister of Hillhouse Chapel. Finally the choice fell on Mr. J. T. Stannard, a student from Spring Hill College, Birm— ingham, and in December, 1873, an invitation to become Assistant Minister, definitely for one year, was sent to him, with the ex-— pressed understanding that should the connection prove satis— factory he should be submitted for election as co—pastor. This invitation Mr. Stannard accepted, and entered on his year’s labours February Ist, 1874. At the expiration of the appointed term, special meetings were called which resulted in the election of Mr. Stannard as co—pastor, and he commenced his ministry in that capacity on Sunday, February 28th, 1875.
New Dorcas Room.
The rapid growth of the school and congregation continued, and the need for suitable accommodation again began to be seriously felt, so in the year 1874 it was decided to make further additions to the premises, and the building on the east side of the chapel yard, known as the new Dorcas room, was erected from plans supplied by Mr. Heeley, architect, of Bradford. The new building provided a small assembly room with an Infants’ class room below. The total cost of the undertaking was about £1400.
Visit of CONGREGATIONAL UNION OF ENGLAND AND WALES.
The year 1874 was a memorable one for Huddersfield Inde- pendents by reason of the visit of the Congregational Union of England and Wales, when the Autumnal Meetings were held in the town, and some 900 ministers and delegates attended. Among notable Nonconformist divines who attended may be mentioned the Revs. J. Guiness Rogers, B.A., of London, Chairman, Dr. H. Wilkes (Montreal), A. Thomson, M.A. (Manchester), G. W. ‘Conder (London), George Barrett, M.A. (Norwich), E. Paxton
48 Hood and Wm. Dorling (London), R. W. Dale, M.A. (Birming-
ham), and the following eminent laymen were also present: E. Butler, Esq., Edward Crossley, Esq., H. Lee, Esq., Henry Richard, Esg., M.P., and James Spicer, Esq., M.-P. Some of the principal gatherings in connection with this conference were held in Ramsden Street Chapel.
The preliminary meeting took place in Ramsden Street Chapel on Monday evening, October 12th, when the proceedings com— menced with a prayer meeting at seven o’clock, at which the Rev. J. C. Harrison presided. !
At eight o’clock a sermon was preached by the Rev. H. Wilkes, D.D., LL.D., of Montreal. There was a large attendance of delegates and others, the Chapel being filled to its utmost capacity. On Tuesday morning, October 13th, the delegates again assembled at Ramsden Street at ten o’clock, for the transaction of business, and later the inaugural address was delivered by the Rev. J. Guiness Rogers, B.A., who in his capacity as Chairman of the Union, spoke on ‘‘ The Age and our Work in it.’’
The delegates afterwards adjourned to the Armoury (now Hippodrome) where a Dinner was provided and partaken of by 850 guests.
The dull monotony of the spacious hall had undergone a com— plete transformation. Elaborate decorations had been tastefully carried out by Messrs. Knight & Jackson, the walls and ceiling being concealed by soft drapery of delicate shades, and an arrange— ment of plants and flowers with large mirrors at intervals com- bined to produce a beautiful and striking effect. The platform was hidden from view by a screen of plants and coloured drapery, and in front were displayed a number of portraits of leading Huddersfield Independents, including Rev. John Eagleton, William Willans, John Moody, etc. The tables were well laid out and adorned with flowers, and the whole formed a very brilliant scene.
C. H. Jones, Esq., presided, the Rev. J. G. Rogers, B.A., sitting on his right, and the Mayor of Huddersfield, H. Brooke, Esq., on his left hand.
A Conversazione which was held in the Armoury on October 15th, brought the conference to a successful close.
Wright Mellor, Esq., J.P., D.L., presided. Miss Crossland, Miss McGowan, and Mr. Stocks were the vocalists, and the famous Meltham Mills Band, conducted by Mr. Gladney, was in attendance and rendered selections.
A local Committee appointed to carry out the necessary arrangements for these meetings included twelve gentlemen from
Ramsden Street, and the Church subscribed the liberal sum of £250 as its share towards the expenses of the conference.
The year 1875 marked the fiftieth anniversary of the opening of the Church, and brought a season of joy and thanksgiving on the attainment of its jubilee. This gratifying event was com— memorated by a series of interesting meetings, all of which were characterised by great enthusiasm and rejoicing.
The celebrations commenced on Tuesday, the 28th of Decem— ber, 1875, when the Rev. James Parsons preached in the evening. Exactly half a century before, on December 28th, 1825, the same preacher had addressed the people from the same pulpit on the first Sunday the Chapel was opened for public worship.
On Sunday, January 2nd, 1876, the Rev. John Stoughton, D.D., of London, preached in the morning, and the Rev. Alexander Hannay, of London, in the evening. A united Communion Service was held in the afternoon of the same day, in which the sister Churches of Highfield, Hillhouse, Moldgreen and George Street had been invited to take part.
On Monday afternoon, January 3rd, 1876, a congregational tea was given in the schoolroom, to which a large number of persons sat down, and this was followed by a meeting held in the Chapel.
Mr. Edmund Eastwood was in the chair, and he was sup- ported on the platform by the Revs. J. Stoughton, D.D., Alexander Hannay, of London; W. F. Hurndall, M.A., Ph.D., of Rickmans- worth; and Robert Bruce, M.A., of Huddersfield; John W. Willans, Esq., of Leeds; Charles Mills, Esg., and others. The chairman stated that he occupied that position in the absence of C. H. Jones, Esq., J.P., and after paying a warm and generous tribute to their pastor, Mr. Skinner, he said he was one of the very few surviving ones who were present at the opening of the Chapel fifty years ago.
Mr. Skinner had prepared a brief record of the history of the Chapel, and he now called upon him to read it.
Dr. Stoughton next addressed the meeting. He said it was very important that Churches should be in possession of a detailed history of the place, for the use of future members and historians. During his ministry he had found such a thing of the greatest value. In the course of some interesting reminiscences he re— marked upon the kind of ministers who had been connected with that place. He said he knew Mr. Thorpe well—he was not the kind of man who would be very popular at the present day, for
although a Nonconformist, he was a Tory and opposed to Catholic emancipation. The Rev. Mr. Hurndall he had the pleasure and the satisfaction of knowing, and greatly loved and respected him. He was a thorough Christian gentleman, as they all would remem- ber, and there was that kindness and urbanity about him which seemed to make him peculiarly suitable to occupy the position of pastor at the time he did.
The Rev. R. Skinner was a man whom he loved and and he congratulated him upon fulfilling his position so long and with such success.
On Monday, January 10th, 1876, one of the most successful of the gatherings in connection with the Jubilee took place, when old friendships and byegone associations were pleasantly revived at a meeting of Old Scholars and Teachers. There was a crowded attendance. Previous to the meeting a tea was served in the schoolroom, and was partaken of by about 1200 persons, of whom 1100 were old scholars.
Mr. John C. Moody, Secretary of the Jubilee Committee, pre- sided over the meeting, and the following old scholars and teachers were present and spoke of their happy associations with that place of worship :—Messrs. Alderman Joseph Byram, Councillor Joseph Whitworth, Councillor Wm. Boothroyd (Leeds), Mr. William Shaw (Rochdale), Mr. Kinder Liversedge (Liverpool), Mr. D. Ineson (Settle), Mr. W. Lodge (Bradford), Mr. John Senior (Dalton), Mr. John Thornton, Mr. James Bowes, Mr. Benjamin Halstead, Mr. W. H. Woodcock, Mr. Charles Hirst, Junr., and Mr. John Rhodes.
RETIREMENT OF MR. SKINNER.
Early in the year 1876, Mr. Skinner intimated his desire to relinquish his ministerial duties on the completion of the seventieth year of his age, and on the 1st of November of that year tendered his resignation, and announced that his pastorate at Ramsden Street would be terminated on the second Sunday in April, 1877.
Mr. Skinner occupied the pulpit on Sunday morning, April 8th, and concluded his ministry as pastor of the Church.
There was a very large congregation. He preached from the text, ‘‘ The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you,’’ I. Corinthians xvi., 23. On the following Wednesday, April 11th, a tea was given, followed by a public meeting held in the Chapel, for the purpose of presenting Mr. Skinner with a testimonial in recog- nition of his ministry of over 31 years at Ramsden Street. The Chapel was densely crowded, and Chas. Henry Jones, Esq., J.P., occupied the chair. On the platform were the Revs. R. Skinner, George Hough (South Crosland), W. Ridley (St. Paul’s), James Parsons (Harrogate), John Barker (Lockwood),
R. Bruce, M.A., J. T. Stannard, W. Hotchkiss, A. Holiday; Messrs. A. Crowther, J.P., John W. Willans (Leeds), William Shaw (Rochdale), J. Whitworth (London), and othérs.
Mr. Wm. Dawson, Secretary to the Committee, stated that Mr. Skinner had been in the ministry for 45 years, 31 of which he had spent at Ramsden Street, and during that period more than 1100 members had been received into Christian fellowship. He had been a kind, courteous and sympathising pastor and friend, and gained the esteem and love of everyone. In grateful acknow- ledgment of his long and faithful service, it had been resolved to present him with a substantial pecuniary testimonial, and on this being made known to the friends, met with a generous and ready response. As a result a sum approaching £1800 had been sub- scribed in amounts varying from 6d. to fifty guineas, and it was proposed to invest £1000 of this in trust for Mr. Skinner, and hand the balance over to him in cash.
The Chairman said he remembered the day when Mr. Skinner came to Huddersfield ; he was present when he was nominated, and he had watched his course of action for more than thirty years, and he could say with great truthfulness that a more faithful, devoted, and irreproachable man of character never existed in this town. He would assume that many of those present had known Mr. Skinner for a very long time. Many of them had been baptised by him, many had been married by him, many of them had been received into church membership by him. During the period he had referred to there had been three off-shoots, namely Hillhouse, Moldgreen and George Street, and on each of those occasions when the Churches had been formed, they had had to draft members from the Church at Ramsden Street. Therefore they would see he had been labouring to build up three Churches and not to pull them down. They were all voluntary Churches, and established to promote the welfare of the community around them; therefore there had been no jealousy, and nothing to cause anxiety amongst them.
In conclusion he would say that he held in his hands a banking book, and the audience would be pleased to learn that nearly every pound had been paid in. He had the pleasure of presenting the book to Mr. Skinner, and hoped it would add to his comfort, and the comfort of his family, and his happiness.
Mr. Skinner in acknowledging the gift said he would be less than man if he did not feel, and more than man if he were not oppressed, nay, well-nigh overpowered by the noble testimonial which had been presented to him. He accepted it with deep gratitude, and the value of it was greatly enhanced by the fact, that, as he had been informed, the contributors to it had been so numerous among his own people, even many of the poorer and of the young wishing to add their little to the larger gifts of others.
And that the contributions had come from many beyond them- selves, not merely individuals connected with communities of their order, but other Nonconformist Churches, and not a few from members of the Established Church. The union of thirty-one years and a half had reached its close. In looking back on a ministry so extended there must needs be strong and mingled emotions. The review brought before him cause for profound humility. He was painfully conscious how far he had been from reaching his own ideal of what a Christian pastor should be. At the same time he was aware that there was demand for fervent gratitude. He owed gratitude to those of whom he had had the ‘ oversight,’’ that they had borne with him all those years, and that they had not as a people, so far as he knew, wearied of him; that he had had proofs of their continued confidence and affection and that they had esteemed him highly in love for his work’s sake.
The Rev. George Hough, Vicar of South Crosland, spoke of his association with Mr. Skinner in the work of the Hudders- field Auxiliary of the British and Foreign Bible Society, and said that during a quarter of a century’s intercourse with him there had not been a jarring word between them.
The Rev. R. Bruce, M.A., referred to his long friendship with Mr. Skinner, and congratulated him upon having been the minister of what had, he thought, been substantially the largest Church— or at any rate one of the largest Churches—in the town, and pre- sided over the largest Sunday School in the town.
The Rev. W. Ridley, of St. Paul’s, the Rev. James Parsons, the Rev. A. Holliday (United Methodist Free Church), and the Rev. J. T. Stannard also addressed the meeting.
After his retirement in 1877, Mr. Skinner lived at Greenheys, Manchester, and during his residence there was always a willing helper and friend to the Churches in that district. Some of his leisure time he devoted to painting and drawing, an agreeable form of diversion which afforded him much pleasure and enjoy- ment in his declining years. He was extremely facile with brush and pencil, and his style bore evident traces of artistic training.
On the very few occasions on which he revisited Huddersfield, his reappearance in the Ramsden Street pulpit was always antici- pated with the greatest pleasure and satisfaction by his former friends and admirers. He died at Greenheys, April 14th, 1885, in his 79th year. A special service in his memory was held in Ramsden Street Chapel on May 3rd, 1885, and was conducted by the Rev. R. Bruce, M.A., D.D.
Dr. Bruce contributed a brief sketch and an appreciation of him to ‘‘ The Manchester, Salford and District Congregational Magazine,’’ from which we quote the following :—
‘* Mr. Skinner was an earnest, powerful, and scriptural preacher of the gospel. Though not educated at any of our colleges, he had
Mrs. C. H. Jones.
privately studied hard to prepare himself for his work, and was always very particular about the composition and arrangement of his sermons, specially as to lucidity, emphasis, accuracy, and fulness. Though very fluent and ready of utterance, he seldom trusted to extemporane- ous effort, but prepared with utmost care and committed to memory.”’
** He received me on leaving Lancashire College with an open and trustful heart, and for the thirty-one years I have known him, and the twenty-four years we were colleagues, we never had the slightest coolness or misunderstanding. A more brotherly man, one freer from jealousy or self-seeking, more generous and considerate of the feelings of others, could not be found.”’
**Mr. Skinner won the esteem of the clergy and ministers of all denominations by his eminently Catholic spirit, and by his beautifully consistent character. Though a staunch Nonconformist, he was con- ciliatory in his advocacy of his principles, He was universally beloved throughout Yorkshire, and in 1860 was Chairman of the West Riding Congregational Union.’
MOTHERS IN ISRAEL.
It would constitute a serious omission were we to close this chapter without some reference to the remarkable series of worthy and eminently Christian women, who in connection with the work at Ramsden Street have rendered such useful and conspicuous service. It is impossible to name all those who by their devotion and unwearying efforts have so nobly helped the work in various ways. In the sphere of teaching and instruction, and in visitation of the sick and afflicted, a foremost place among those who have distinguished themselves in these labours should be given to Mrs. Wm. Willans, Mrs. J. Moody, Mrs. J. Frost, Mrs. C. H. Jones, Mrs. Charles Hirst, and Mrs. B. Halstead.
54 CHAPTER VIII.
The Ministry of the Rev. J. T. Stannard. 1874 — 1881.
Doubts seem to have existed in the minds of some members of the Church when Mr. Stannard first appeared among them as to his ability to carry the undivided sympathies of the people with him. Notwithstanding the warm and loyal support of his friends, he did not succeed in winning the entire confidence and approval of all sections of the congregation and although this minority refrained at the time from any stated expression of its conviction, its point of view, however, was reflected in the agreement entered into with Mr. Stannard whereby it was stipulated that he should be engaged for the period of one year with the understanding that should the connection prove satis- factory, he should then be definitely submitted for election as co-pastor.
This divergence of opinion, based chiefly on doctrinal grounds, was partially overcome by a written statement which Mr. Stannard submitted to the trustees in which he set forth his views on the doctrines scheduled in the trust deed of the church.
At the end of twelve months, when Mr. Stannard’s election to the co-pastorate became due for consideration, some anxiety still existed in the minds of those who had for the time withheld their active support of him, but, in the interests of peace in the Church, these for the most part adopted either a passive attitude or formally supported the appointment of Mr, Stannard, still cherishing the hope that friction might be avoided, and an amicable and honorable way out of the difficulty found.
These proceeding's led to a rather complex situation, and when at the conclusion of Mr. Skinner’s long and historic pastorate, the Church was faced with a vacancy in the sole pastorate, the task of choosing a successor proved to be an exceedingly difficult and delicate one.
In these circumstances a section of the congregation, who constituted a rather considerable minority, and who had with some reluctance acquiesced to Mr. Stannard in the capacity of assistant to the late minister, were averse to his appointment to the position of sole pastor, and respectfully demurred to his name being put forward as a candidate for that office.
In April, 1877, the trustees appealed to Mr. Stannard sug- gesting the propriety of withdrawing from his candidature. To
Rev. John Turner Stannard.
this he replied, very wisely stating that he would leave himself in the hands of the Church and congregation.
A special Church meeting was convened, and held on May 9th, 1877, with Mr. William Atkinson in the chair, for the purpose of electing a pastor, but Mr. Stannard did not obtain the requisite majority according to the provisions of the trust deed, the votes being 233 in favour, and 121 against.
From this time Mr. Stannard continued to occupy the pulpit, being appointed from Sunday to Sunday as if the pastoral office were vacant, and partly arising out of this procedure five of the deacons retired, and several members also temporarily withdrew from the Church.
In May, 1878, a request from the seatholders to the Church to reconsider the question of Mr. Stannard’s candidature, brought the response that ‘‘the Church deemed it inadvisable to proceed to a vote upon the question then.’’ Between May, 1878, and October, 1879, the Church proceeded to revise the church roll, and on the ground, chiefly of non-attendance, a total number of 67 persons were excluded from membership.
Mr. Stannard’s candidature came before the Church a second time, and at a special meeting which took place on the 14th of January, 1880, to elect a pastor, Mr. J. E. Willans being in the chair, the question was put to the vote, with the result that 184 votes were recorded for Mr. Stannard and 69 against, and he was there- fore elected pastor by the requisite majority.
It is hoped the mere recital of the foregoing details will not have wearied the patient reader. They are given solely in the interests of historical accuracy, and for the benefit of the stickler, and the curious, in such matters.
ORDINATION OF MR. STANNARD.
Mr. Stannard’s ordination took place on Friday, February 20th, 1880, in the presence of a large congregation. The Rev. J. Baldwin Brown, B.A. (London), gave an address on ‘‘Congrega- tional Principles,’’ and the charge was given by the Rev. Dr. Simon (Principal of Spring Hill College, Birmingham). Other well known ministers present included the Revs. J. Hunter (York), P. T. Forsyth, M.A., J. Thomas (Unitarian) and E. Whitehead (Dalton). At the close of the afternoon proceedings a tea was provided in the large schoolroom to which between 500 and 600 persons sat down. !
In the evening the Rev. John Hunter preached the sermon to the church and congregation when there was again a very large attendance,
Mr. Stannard had by this time gathered round him at Ramsden Street a large circle of sympathetic and admiring friends, and it
is but the barest justice to state that his gentle, unassuming} manner, his brotherliness, his noble ideals and broad intellectual outlook won him a large measure of popularity and esteem, which extended far beyond the limits of his own congregation.
No truer estimate of his character and work could be given than that which was made by his close and dear friend, the Rev. John Hunter, who wrote :—
*‘Mr. Stannard was not strictly speaking, a scholar; but he was, what many scholars are not, a man of genuine and wide culture. He was learned in the best things, and was constantly adding to his treasures of wisdom and knowledge. He was all through his life an indefatigable student in many directions. He kept himself familiar with the general results of scientific and philosophical advancement, and he knew something about every book of importance that was published.’’
‘‘His sermons were regarded by some as too invariably thoughtful and literary, but the truth was that he never lost sight of the ideal of his work, and never forgot the dignity of the pulpit. Mr. Stannard was most at home in enforcing the devotional and practical aspects of religion. His public prayers were remarkable for the qualities of reality, devoutness, and helpfulness.”’
Meanwhile the blight of disaffection and disruption began to creep over the life and activities of the church. The opposition of that section of the people, whose dissatisfaction with Mr. Stannard’s theological views had never been overcome, now assumed a more definite shape, and was _ pressed with increased force, and the unfortunate church became involved in a doctrinal disputation which subsequently developed into a controversy of almgst classic importance among the Free Churches.
There is no doubt, sincere efforts were made to bring about a peaceable settlement, and both parties were honestly desirous of ending the long and tiresome controversy, which for years had been so seriously inimical to the welfare and interests of the church.
Mr. C. H. Jones, the shrewd and able protagonist of the ‘‘sound and undiluted doctrine ’’ party, on behalf of his friends suggested that the matter should be referred to arbitration. We believe no difficulties were intentionally placed in the way of this proposal by either side, but owing, apparently, to a lack of agreement between the parties in regard to the details and exact scope of the enquiry the proposal failed to secure adoption.
Henceforth the dispute, carried on in a somewhat hectic atmosphere, pursued its unhappy and tragic course, in which strong opinions were vigorously upheld and maintained by the disputants on both sides.
Some bitterness and recrimination inevitably crept in, but it is necessary to state that in its least edifying and most embittered phases it never quite reached the ‘‘ unseemly ’’ stage to which some cynical onlookers with a morbid exaggeration, would have had us believe.
All negotiations to bring about a friendly settlement having broken down, a majority of the trustees acting in the belief that the conditions laid down in the trust deed had not been complied with by Mr. Stannard, appealed to the High Court of Judicature to enforce the terms of the deed.
The plaintiffs in the suit were Charles Henry Jones, William Atkinson, James Thompson, James Hartley, William Shaw, Edward John Sinclair Couzens, Joshua Whitworth, Benjamin Halstead, John Whitfield, Charles Walton Ellis, and Edward Stott; and the defendants were the Rev. John Turner Stannard, James Edward Willans, Charles Hirst the younger, William Henry Woodcock, Thomas Kettlewell, John Catton Moody, Stephen Arlom, Frederick Eastwood, John Joshua Brook, George Maitland and Walter Turner.
The case came before Vice-Chancellor Hall in January, 1881, and occupied the Court for the space of seven days, with the result that it decided against Mr. Stannard and he was inhibited from preaching in the Ramsden Street pulpit.
It is not desirable that we should dwell on the incidents of this painful episode in the history of a great church, but it would be idle to deny that its results were lamentable and disastrous. A powerful and hitherto united church, enjoying a position of considerable prestige, not only in the town, but throughout the West Riding of Yorkshire, which had undoubtedly exercised a profound influence for good in the social and religious life of Hud- dersfield, in the height of its prosperity and usefulness, became paralysed through internal strife.
The conflict cut clean across the ordinary amenities and social life of the people—long friendships were imperilled—even families were divided and felt the blighting effects of disagreement.
On Sunday evening February 8th, 1881, Mr. Stannard preached his last sermon in Ramsden Street Chapel to a crowded congrega- tion. After the sermon he I complete the seventh year of my ministry in this church. Of its shortcoming’s and immaturities none can be more conscious than myself. Still, with ali its defects, its keynote, its substance, its spirit has been this—the living Christ, how to realise and follow Him. And now the call has come to me, and I count it one of the highest privileges and honours of my life still further to follow my Master, even to follow Him without the camp, bearing His reproach. The saddest thought I have on leaving this pulpit is this: that all my toil and
suffering to keep it free—free to the living Christ, free to the continual inspiration of the living Spirit, free to meet the living needs of living men, have been in vain.’’
In a spirit of noble and generous loyalty to Mr. Stannard, a large and influential section of the congregation seceded from Ramsden Street and ultimately founded Milton Church, where in handsome and up-to-date premises the work inaugurated by him has since been successfully carried on.
For a period of eight and a half years after leaving Ramsden Street, Mr. Stannard ministered faithfully to his people and con- tinued his pastorate at Milton Church until the year 1889.
He died in tragic circumstances at Blackpool on September 11th, 1889.
Happily there is no disposition or inclination in any quarter either at Milton or Ramsden Street to revive feelings of bitterness, or dwell on the troubles and differences of the past.
We are bound to honour and respect alike the men who fear- lessly and courageously upheld the orthodox and traditional faith as they conceived it, and those who in obedience to the dictates of their consciences were ready to go out and, at great sacrifice, found a new church on more liberal lines. I
The lesson and significance of this now obsolete and barren controversy of past days will not be lost to us, if forgetting the strife between those devout and well-meaning men, we realise that ‘“‘that in which they agreed was far holier and lovelier than that in which they differed.”’
A message of goodwill and congratulation, sent to the Milton friends on the occasion of their semi-jubilee in March, 1907, marked the official and complete reconciliation of the two churches. The letter was as follows :—
From the Ramsden Street Congregational Church, assembled wun January 3lst, 1906, to the Milton Congregational Church—greeting :—
Dear Brethren,—It gives us great pleasure to send to you our sincere congratulations upon the attainment of your twenty-fifth anniversary. The past twenty-five years have meant for you persistent and consecrated effort in the accomplishment of so much and we join with you in praise to God for all that He has enabled you to be and to do. It is our earnest prayer that God will pour out upon you abundantly the riches of His grace, and graciously crown with success all your efforts for the extension of His Kingdom. It is also our earnest hope that the churches of Huddersfield may every year be bound by closer ties “f fellowship, sympathy, and service in the work of Christ our Lord
Signed on behalf of the Church, JosEPH PLEASANTS, Pastor,
Incidents and Events during Pulpit vacancy. 3
The momentous upheaval in the Church in 1881 left it sadly weakened and disorganised, and the depleted remnant was faced with a hard and difficult task. It must be admitted they entered upon their arduous undertaking with courage and ability.
In their recent trouble the Press had been largely unsym- pathetic, a factor which probably hindered and delayed the work of recovery. Even the ‘‘ Nonconformist,’’ in its otherwise sane and well—balanced comment on the ‘‘ Huddersfield Chapel Case,’’ per— haps unthinkingly, hinted at difficulties in obtaining a pastor for Ramsden Street, and of finding a man of ‘‘ intelligence and inde- pendence ’’ who would submit to the restrictions imposed by the trust deed. .
Fortunately this unfair and indiscreet forecast was soon to be falsified. I
The Annual Report presented to the Church Meeting held on January 2nd, 1882, states—
** After the decision of Vice-Chancellor Hall, a large number dis- missed themselves from our fellowship and left us with 111 members. With some degree of fear, because of our diminished numbers, but with very strong hope, we held our Church Meeting in April, when we increased our number by 46 members. From April to December we received by transfer and the vote of the Church 31 members, making a total of 188 members at our December Church Meeting.”’
A NOTABLE BAZAAR.
In June, 1883, it was decided to make a vigorous effort to free the Chapel from debt and provide funds for successfully carrying on the work, and it was decided to hold a Bazaar for that purpose.
It was stated that the precise object of the Bazaar was
** To raise the sum of £800, to extinguish a debt upon the trust property, to discharge the cost of obtaining a new lease of part of the premises, and to raise ample funds to meet all the extra and incidental expenses for efficiently carrying on the affairs of the Chapel for the current year, ending October 3lst,
The Bazaar was organised on a novel plan, and from an artistic point of view was greatly in advance of anything of this character that had ever before been attempted in Huddersfield.
A complete transformation of the large schoolroom had been effected, and it was made to represent the Inner Court of a Moorish Palace. The elaborate decorations had been designed and super- intended by Mr. J. T. Spratt (then a young man who had recently come to Huddersfield and joined Ramsden Street Chapel). There was a wealth of plants and flowers, fountains played in the room, and the whole was brilliantly illuminated by electric light— in those days there was no current laid on from the Corporation Works—a large steam engine in the school yard generated it specially for the purpose.
The Bazaar was opened on Thursday, April 3rd, 1883, by Henry Lee, Esq., M.P. for Southampton. Mr. C. H. Jones, |.P., occupied the chair, and on the platform were the Rev. Dr. Bruce; Professor Harley, E.R. S., Principal of Huddersfield reese the Revs. R. Skinner, Dr. Stock, and others.
The people had thrown their energies whole-heartedly into the work of the Bazaar, it achieved a remarkable. and phenomenal success, and at its conclusion the large amount of about £1400 had been raised, a result which was intensely gratifying and afforded splendid encouragement to those engaged in the work of the Church.
Throughout the period during which there was no settled pastor the pulpit was well supplied, and among those who fulfilled engagements may be mentioned Rev. Prof. Harley, F.R.S., of Mill Hill College, London, who was a frequent visitor, and en- deared himself to the Ramsden Street people by his sympathy and help; Rev. James Wayman, of Blackpool; Dr. W. F. Hurndall; Rev. Bryan Dale, M.A., of Halifax; and many others. Some hesitancy and delay occurred ere the Church was brought to a decision as to a suitable man for the pastorate, but finally a choice was made, and very warmly taken up by the people.
The Rev. James Wayman, of Blackpool, had paid many visits to Ramsden Street, and on each succeeding occasion the impres- sion in his favour was deepened, and at a meeting held on Decem- ber 5th, 1883, Mr. C. H. Jones proposed that a call be given by the Church to him. This was unanimously and enthusiastically carried. Mr. Wayman was popular, eloquent and evangelical; he had expressed himself as being in full sympathy with the work and aims of Ramsden Street, and it was earnestly hoped he would accept the invitation. He took four months in which to come to a decision—in February a deputation reported that he had ‘‘ not yet decided ’’—but finally, on April 9th, 1883, he reluctantly intimated that there was no hope of his being able to say ‘‘ yes’’ to the invitation. It was understood that Mr. Wayman was eager and
anxious to take up the work at Ramsden Street, but there were family difficulties which stood in the way of his leaving Blackpool. This decision was profoundly disappointing to the people of Ramsden Street. Deatu oF C. H. Joness.
In August, 1884, the death of Charles Henry Jones deprived Huddersfield of one of its foremost, best known, and most useful citizens.
The grief and gloom cast over the town by this great loss was especially felt by the people of Ramsden Street. Through many troubles and difficulties he had been their veteran leader and friend, a true guide and counsellor in all the affairs of the Church. Truly could they say ‘‘a prince and a great man’’ had fallen in Israel.
The Ministry of the Rev. Samuel R. Antliff, 1885 — 1891.
After the lapse of a few months the hopes of the congregation were again revived and brightened when it was known that the name of a minister could be submitted to the Church, who would command a wide acceptance and a man of “‘ intelligence and independence ’’ who was well suited to their needs. At a Special Church Meeting held on October 29th, 1884, with Mr. John Whitfield in the chair, it was resolved— having heard the ministrations of the Rev. S. R. Antliff, of Preston, and also heard the recommendations of the deacons, this Church hereby instructs the deacons to take the necessary steps to secure his services as minister and pastor.”’ Mr. Antliff was unanimously chosen, and the call to him was given in a letter dated January 10th, 1885. This invitation he accepted, and commenced his ministry at Ramsden Street on the first Sunday in the following April. The Rev. Samuel Robert Antliff is the youngest son of the late Rev. Dr. Antliff, formerly Principal of the Sunderland Primitive Methodist College. Brought up a Primitive Methodist, he, how- ever, early in life joined the Independents. He underwent his preparatory training for the ministry at Owens College and Lan- cashire Independent College, Manchester. At Owens College he took certificates of honour in Hebrew and in English literature. At twenty-four years of age he was ordained and became pastor of Oak Street Chapel, Accrington, where he spent five years. His next charge was at the Cannon Street Church, Preston, from which place he came to Huddersfield. .
‘THE CLOISTERS ’’ BAZAAR.
Mr. Antliff’s arrival at Ramsden Street was the signal for increased interest and effort among the people, and there was abundant cause for rejoicing at the progress which was made.
With a view to provide the means for carrying out a long cherished scheme for renovating and beautifying the Chapel, a Bazaar, “‘ The Cloisters,’’ was held on October 4th, 1887, and two following days.
The large schoolroom had been arranged and decorated as ancient Norman cloisters, specially designed by Mr, J. T. Spratt
Rev. Samuel R. Antliff.
ae The Mayor of Huddersfield, Alderman Wright Mellor, J.P., D.L., opened the bazaar. The Rev. J. W. Bardsley, M.A., Vicar of Huddersfield, wrote expressing regret that he could not
be present on account of his attending at the consecration of the new Church of Saint Mark’s. that day.
The bazaar evoked general interest throughout the town and district and was successful in attaining its object, and the pro- moters had the satisfaction of reporting that a sum of over £500 had been raised.
Following this effort various structural alterations and improvements in the Chapel were carried out in the early part of 1888, the chief of which were the re-arrangement of the pews, making them more comfortable and commodious, the removal of the old small paned windows which had done duty ever since the Chapel was built, and replacing them by new windows having two large panes of white glass, with margins in the outer frames of tinted cathedral glass. The singing pew was considerably altered and enlarged, and the interior of the Chapel re-painted and decorated. Mr. J. H. Stuttard designed and carried out the decorations which were in the best taste, their general effect of being artistic and restful.
During Mr. Antliff’s ‘‘ oversight ’’ of the Church, it advanced steadily and there was a gradual recovery to a position approxi- mating to its old strength and prestige. At the conclusion of five years’ work as minister of Ramsden Street, Mr. Antliff acknow- ledged the earnest co-operation of his people and stated that his pastorate so far had been the most successful in the history of the Church—the annual growth being more rapid than under any of his predecessors. He thanked them for the kindly and affectionate spirit which had been shown, and said he thought they had worked together in such a way as to make themselves feel thankful to God for the peace and union they had enjoyed. He was not aware that anybody could wish for greater freedom of utterance and personal freedom of action in all matters concerning conscience, than had been accorded to him.
Mr. ANTLIFF’S POPULARITY.
As a preacher, Mr. Antliff was thoughtful, inspiring and evan- gelical, and was deservedly popular. Blessed with a rich pleasing voice of much sweetness and power, he had a quiet but effective delivery. His charm of manner appealed to all, and he was in all things a kind and cultured Christian gentleman.
The various organisations in connection with the Church and Sunday School had in him a congenial and sympathetic helper, he was particularly active in all efforts designed for the welfare of
SL TT TT TT rere
the young people. The congregational library probably attained to its period of greatest usefulness about this time. There was an excellent collection of books which was revised and extended from time to time, comprising about 1000 works on _ bio- graphy, travel and general literature, with a carefully selected assortment of the best fiction.
Also a Mutual Improvement Society and a Scientific Society flourished during Mr. Antliff’s pastorate, and neither of these institutions ever lacked encouragement and inspiration from him.
As an author, Mr, Antliff published in 1879, while at Accring- ton, a sermon on the subject of ‘‘ Gethsemane,’’ of which two thousand copies were sold.
In Preston he wrote and published in 1880, at the request of his Church on the occasion of its centenary, a valuable little history entitled ‘‘Independency in Preston,’’ and in Huddersfield, a sermon preached by him on April 13th, 1890, on the subject ‘of ‘* Football and Athletics’’ was printed by request, and widely circulated.
Mr. Antliff thought fit after nearly seven years of active and useful service at Ramsden Street to terminate his ministry, and he intimated that his pastorate would be concluded at the close of the year 1891.
There had been a marked increase in the congregation during his ministry, and the number of Church members had _ been brought up to 315 as compared with 198 when he first came to Huddersfield, and the Sunday School had increased from 296 to 415 scholars.
In the meantime he had been invited to become the Secretary of the Congregational Fire Insurance Company, a position which he afterwards accepted, feeling it his duty to serve the denomina- tion in that capacity. His successful work in that important branch of service is now well known, and only last year did he retire from that position.
He is at present living in retirement at Southport, where the good wishes of all his old friends at Ramsden Street follow him.
Rev. Eben Evans.
The Ministry of the Rev. Eben Evans, 1893-1890.
In September, 1892, an invitation to become pastor of the Church was given to the Rev. Henry William Smith, of Lancaster, whose ministrations at Ramsden Street had been highly appre- ciated. Mr. Smith asked for time to be given him for careful consideration, and it was confidently hoped he would accept the call, but ultimately he thought fit to decline the invitation,
Within a very short time, however, the Church was provi- dentially led to a suitable man elsewhere, in the person of the Rev. Eben Evans, of Great Yarmouth, and proceeded without delay to take steps to secure his services. The call was given to Mr. Evans in a letter dated November 30th, 1892. The letter states— ‘*'We believe that your ripened experience, your long successful ministry at Colchester, in London, at Poole, and now at Great Yar- mouth, have eminently qualified you for the position we desire you to, hold with us. We are confident that a large sphere of usefulness is open in our midst and in this town. We have numbers of promising young people about us, and many earnest workers.”’ Mr. Evans accepted the call of the Church, and commenced his ministry at Ramsden Street on Sunday, January 8th, 1893.
Mr. Evans received his training for the ministry at Hackney College.
In all the Churches with which he was associated he showed marked ability as a preacher and as an organiser. His aims and energies were always directed to the social as well as the spiritual welfare of the people, and in this respect he gave all possible sup- port to the movment for lessening the gambling and betting evils, for encouraging thrift, for increasing regard for high morality, and for providing rational and educational amusement for the people. Immediately on coming to Huddersfield, Mr. Evans instituted at Ramsden Street a Monthly People’s Service. These services achieved considerable popularity, and were continued from 1893 to 1895. They were well attended, and undoubtedly had the effect of breaking up new ground for Christian activity. Mr. Evans’ preaching, although earnest and evangelical, was not of the merely emotional type. He was always logical and able to give a sound reason for the faith that was within him.
Mr. Evans was a lucid and effective platform speaker, and excelled as a public lecturer. While in Huddersfield he gave many lectures of a high order, including such subjects as ‘‘ The Story of the Bank of England,’’ ‘‘ Marriage in many Lands and Ages,’’ ‘‘ John Williams, the Martyr of Erromanga,’’ which will not readily be forgotten by those who heard them, and his ‘* Evening with Tennyson,’’ while retaining a popular aspect, was a model of literary exposition and insight.
Mr. Evans was deeply interested in and actively associated with the Christian Endeavour Movement. He held the position of President of the Huddersfield and District Christian Endeavour Union.
APPOINTMENT OF Miss ABBS AS BIBLE WomMAN.
In the year 1893, Miss L. E. Abbs was appointed to the post of Bible Woman in ‘connection with the Church. The annual report presented on December 27th, 1893, states ‘‘ we entertain a high opinion of her Christian character and anticipate much good from her domiciliary duties.’’
She devoted herself assiduously to this good and useful work, and became a welcome and familiar figure in many of the homes of the poor and afflicted in the town, and laboured acceptably in that sphere for many years. Her esteemed services as Bible woman terminated in October, 1908.
THE ‘‘ OrrENT ’’ BAZAAR.
In December, 1895, a three days’ bazaar, ‘‘ The Orient,’’ was held. Its object was to raise funds to be devoted to the purpose of painting and decorating the Chapel, and to pay for the cost of installing a system of electric lighting, which had recently been carried out. William Shaw, Esq., J.P., of Rochdale, a former worker and teacher in Ramsden Street School, opened the bazaar on the first day. A sum of about £400 was raised by this effort.
Visit oF Dr. NEwMan HALL.
In October, 1898, the anniversary sermons were preached by the Rev. Newman Hall, LL.B., D.D., of London. The offertories amounted to £255, a considerable i increase on the previous year’s services.
These services were characterised by much enthusiasm. Dr. Hall attended the annual meeting held on the following day, and gave a stirring address. The report which was read of the past year’s work made mention of two pleasing and notable events that had happened during the year—the ordination of Mr. Christian Evans, son of the pastor, and of Mr. J. H. Halstead, B.A., son of their late deacon, Mr. B. Halstead.
67 RETIREMENT OF Mr. Evans.
In December, 1898, Mr. Evans announced his intention to retire from the pastorate on the 26th of March following. He gave a brief and interesting history of the Church during the six years of his ministry.
The Church passed the following resolution—
*‘In accepting our esteemed pastor’s decision to close his ministry of over six years with us, we desire to express our thanks for his efficient services and to bear testimony to his high Christian character and earnest labours in the cause of Christ. We would also express our grateful appreciation of Mrs. Evans’s valuable work in connection with the Mothers’ Aid and Dorcas Societies, as well as Miss Evans’s highly valued services in her Women’s Class and the Christian Endeavour Society.”’ To mark the regard and esteem in which Mr. Evans was held, a parting gift of £100, subscribed by the members of the con-— gregation, was presented to him on the occasion of his farewell service.
On leaving Huddersfield, Mr. Evans lived for a short time at West Wickham, in Kent, and took charge of a small church there. After a life full of labours and service he retired to the ‘‘sunny seaside town of Bognor,’’ where the quiet and peaceful eventide of his life was passed, and where he died in January, 1911.
He gained the esteem and affection of a wide circle of friends in this town, and his memory is still fragrantly cherished.
The Ministry of the Rev. Joseph Pleasants
In the Summer of the year 1900, the name of Mr. Joseph Pleasants, then a student at Cheshunt College, was brought to the notice of the people of Ramsden Street, and on the 18th of July a Special Meeting of the Church, held for the purpose of electing a pastor, with Mr. John Whitfield in the chair, when the following resolution was moved by Mr. William Dawson, and seconded by Mr. Arthur I. E. Smith— I ‘“‘That having had the services of Mr. Joseph Pleasants for two Sabbaths with very gratifying results, and having received very satisfactory testimony to his high Christian character and ability, the Church elects him to be their pastor and affectionately requests him to accept their earnest call.”’ The Chairman, Mr. John Whitfield, gave an account of his visit to Cheshunt, where he had received excellent recommenda- tions from the Principal of the College, and from others, and’ pleaded earnestly that a very kindly feeling should be shown to him, and a hearty co-operation given with Mr. Pleasants in hig work, should he accept the call.
The Church and congregation unanimously adopted the resolu- tion, and the call was conveyed to Mr. Pleasants in a letter dated July 19th, 1900. Mr. Pleasants intimated his acceptance of the call on July 31st, 1900, and wrote— I ** Let me say, that in making my. decision I am deeply conscious of the great responsibility which the acceptance of your invitation lays upon me, but the unanimity of your vote, and the cordial way in which I have been received in your midst, lead me to hope that in the work I undertake I shall not only have your sincere sympathy but also your hearty co-operation. It is only under such conditions that I can hope for my work to be in any way successful or helpful.”’ Mr. Pleasants commenced his ministry at Ramsden Street in September, 1900.
His ordination took place at Ramsden Street on November 7th, 1900. A service was held in the afternoon with the Rev. Dr. Bruce, M.A., in the chair, and the following ministers and friends were present :—The Revs. A. Goodrich, D.D. (Manchester), Pro- fessor H. T. Andrews, B.A. (Cheshunt College), J. S. Drummond (Milton Church), A. Phillips (Hillhouse), G. Sanderson (Buxton Road Wesleyan), F. J. Benskin (New North Road Baptist), W. Glassey (Penistone), E. Slater (Great Northern Street), F. R.
Rev. Joseph Pleasants.
Swan (Marsden), G. Bennett (Holmfirth), W. H. Dyson (formerly of Wakefield), T. M. Rees (High Street Methodist New Con- nexion), W. L. Carter (Mirfield), R. H. Morgan (Honley), E. J. Sanderson (Shelley), W. D. Thomas (Altrincham). Messrs. J. Whitfield, William Dawson, C. W. Ellis, Dr. Scott, and others.
An address and exposition of Congregational principles was given by the Rev. A. Goodrich, D.D., of Manchester. The ordination prayer was offered by the Rev. Prof. H. T. Andrews, B.A., Cheshunt College, and an address given by J. Johnson Evans, Esq., of the Stepney Congregational Church, London, with which Mr. Pleasants had been actively associated.
At the evening service, which was largely attended, the ordination charge to the new minister was given by the Rev. E. Hamilton, of Southend, and the charge to the people delivered by the Rev. Martin Anstey, M.A., Dewsbury, and addresses were given by the Rev. Prof. H. T. Andrews, B.A., Cheshunt College, and the Rev. F. J. Benskin, pastor of New North Road Baptist Church, Huddersfield. Mr. benskin said he was glad to have the opportunity of welcoming Mr. Pleasants to Huddersfield, and con- gratulating the Church on having secured a young man so gifted and so full of promise. Mr. Pleasants came to a Church full of excellent traditions, and to a town that would afford him ample scope for the exercise of all his gifts and varied energies. He asked the members to remember that the Church did not exist for their own edification, but was a garrison from which aggressive warfare should be waged.
DEATH OF WILLIAM DAWSON.
The Church lost a respected and beloved leader and one of its oldest members in the death of Mr. William Dawson, of Portland House, Huddersfield, which occurred on July 11th, 1901. The following resolution was passed at the Church Meeting held on July 3ilst. ‘** That we, the members of the Church worshipping at Ramsden Street, desire to place on record our deep sense of personal loss occa- sioned by the death of our esteemed friend and brother, Mr. William Dawson. We desire to bear testimony to the unfailing faithfulness and courtesy with which he ever performed his duties as a member for forty-one years, and as a deacon during the last thirty-two years— and to his high character as a Christian gentleman.”’
. Boys’ GUILD.
Mr. Pleasants commenced in the year 1901 a special work among boys of the poorer class, the Ramsden Street Boys’ Guild, which was very successful. The Guild rose to a membership of about 150. They met on Saturday evenings for clean and healthy recreation and amusement, which took the form of games, with occasionally a lantern entertainment suited to their age and needs.
For a number of years these boys were annually taken by Mr. Pleasants, assisted by a few Guild Wardens—the elder boys of the age of 16 years and upwards—to spend a day at the seaside, con- stituting a red-letter day in their otherwise drab lives.
STRUGGLES AND DIFFICULTIES.
In common with other Churches in the centre of the town, Ramsden Street at this period began to feel the effects of the con- stant removal of their regular supporters and friends to outside districts, where they often became attached to suburban Churches in the vicinity of their homes. The ‘‘down-town’’ Church prob- lem became a very pressing one and demanded earnest, thoughtful and serious consideration. Various proposals and attempts were made to cope with the difficulty.
In order to draw into the Church from the streets the crowds of young people who flocked into the town on Sunday evenings, a series of popular Lantern Displays were instituted and held during the Winter months at the close of the regular evening service. Many friends assisted in this effort, and a series of high class pictures were shown at each meeting, consisting of the very best examples in photographic art that could be produced. — Short comments and descriptions were given of the pictures, but no attempt was made to give the gatherings a set devotional character. From 600 to 800 people on an average assembled at these meetings and it is impossible to believe they were not productive of much good. Later the experiment was tried of a Monthly Lantern Service in place of the regular evening service. Usually a scrip- ture subject was taken. The attendance was good, but ultimately it was found that they did not reach the people for whom they were intended, and that the audience was largely augmented from other Churches. This and the difficulty of obtaining good lantern slides for scripture subjects led to the abandonment of the series.
RESIGNATION OF MR. PLEASANTS.
The increasing difficulties in which the Church was involved led Mr. Pleasants to re—consider his position in regard to the pastorate, and to intimate with great sorrow and regret his desire to relinquish his charge. The strain of the work had been too great for him. He had reluctantly come to the con- clusion that a scheme which had been promulgated for solving the very difficult problem of making the work successful, was impos- sible for him to undertake single-handed, and on May 31st, 1908, he informed the Church of his intention of retiring from the Ramsden Street pastorate at the end of September, 1908. He generously acknowledged the warm sympathy and support of so many of his friends at Ramsden Street, and said their faithful
service and help would ever be held in thankful and affectionate remembrance by him.
At a meeting held on June 3rd, 1908, the Church passed the following resolution— ‘** It is with deep regret that we received the letter dated May 3lst, 1908, from our pastor, the Rev. J. Pleasants, intimating his desire to retire from the pastorate of this Church at the end of September next. We wish to place on record our appreciation of his faithful services in the many and trying circumstances under which he has laboured, and to bear testimony to his high Christian character and devotion to the cause of Christ, and we pray that God will open out a field where he may do still better service.’ Mr. Pleasants concluded his ministry at Ramsden Street on Sunday, September 27th, 1908, and at the close of the evening service he was presented with a cheque, subscribed by the people, as a token of their affectionate regard for his services.
Mr. Pleasants accepted a call to the Grove Congregational Church, Gomersal, and began his ministry there in January, 1910.
A NEW ERA.
Joint Pastorate of the Revs. Sydney R. Laver and J. Alexander Booth.
The year 1909 was probably the most critical in the long and chequered history of the Ramsden Street Church. The con- gregation, in spite of the heroic sacrifices of a few faithful supporters, and the earnest and sincere labours of its late pastors had, for reasons common to many of our town Churches and which are well understood, gradually dwindled until it was felt that the continuance of the cause was hopeless and well nigh impossible. All through this trying period, wise counsel and invaluable assist- ance was rendered to the Church, notably by the Rev. E. Johnson Saxton (Secretary of the Yorkshire Congregational Union), the Rev. Bertram Smith (Leeds), the Rev. W. G. Jenkins (Highfield), the Rev. D. C. Tincker (Hillhouse), and the late Mr. James Sykes (Honley). .
With a view to the formulation of a scheme for carrying on the work of the Church, and re-organising it on Institutional lines, it was decided at a Church Meeting held on November 5th, 1908, to appoint an advisory Committee composed of five members of the Ramsden Street Church, three representatives of the Huddersfield Congregational Council, and two from the Yorkshire Congrega- tional Union, and also that a new trust deed* be prepared by a Sub-Committee appointed by the advisory Committee.
On February 3rd, 1909, at a Special Church Meeting, under the presidency of the Rev. E. J. Saxton, it was resolved—
That the Church assembling for worship in the Ramsden Street Chapel, Huddersfield, being unable to continue the work at Ramsden Street, is of opinion that the Church should be dissolved, and the same is hereby dissolved accordingly, and the Committee which is now acting as a Chapel Committee, consisting of Messrs. T. Armitage, F. Booth, V. Brook, J. W. Brook, T. Clarke, A. Dransfield, G. Hadfield, L. Haigh, B. D. Hill, A. E. Jones, W. E. Peace, J. T. Prentis, T. Richardson, A. I. E. Smith, J. T. Spratt, B. Sykes, A. W. Sykes, and L. N. Wilson, is hereby authorised and requested to deal with the property and assets of the Church in such manner as the Committee shall in its discretion think fit for the benefit of Congrega- tionalism, first making provision for discharging the liabilities and obligations of the Church.”’
Rev. Sydney R. Laver.
The question of the pastorate was for some months the subject of careful and lengthy consideration by the advisory Committee, and it was not until the beginning of October, 1910, that the Church was led to a.complete and satisfactory decision on the matter. I
The Rev. Sydney R. Laver, of Roundhay, Leeds, and the Rev. J. Alexander Booth, of Wortley, were unanimously invited to accept the joint pastorate, and they signalised their willingness to undertake the work. ,
Their joint letter accepting the call was as follows—
October 29th, 1910.
To the Deacons and Members of the Ramsden Street Congregational Church.
You have given us a unanimous call to become your ministers, and we both wish to express our sincere appreciation of the cordiality and earnestness of the invitation. We have given very careful and prayer- ful consideration to the matter, and in making our decision we have been guided by many considerations. The very difficulty of the prob- lem before the Church, together with the loyalty of the few members who remain have appealed to us. You as a Church have promised to give us your whole-hearted support in our efforts to make Ramsden Street Congregational Church a centre of spiritual activity and power, and have accorded to us a large measure of liberty in regard to methods of teaching and the services of the Church. In addition to this we are assured that the Huddersfield Congregational Council will not only accord to us a cordial welcome, but will give us real practical assistance in the carrying out of work on Forward Movement lines. We feel that God has led us in an unmistakable manner and the con- fidence we have in Him, and in the promises of the Church, have induced us to accept your invitation. We earnestly pray that our association together as ministers and people may be abundantly blessed, and that the future of Ramsdén Street may be a happy and prosperous one. — We are, Yours very sincerely,
(Signed) SYDNEY R. LAVER, I J. ALEXANDER BOOTH.
At the Church Meeting held on November 30th, 1910, a letter of congratulation was received from the Huddersfield Congrega- tional Council, as follows—
November 18th, 1910. My Dear Mr. Prentis, At our Council Meeting on Wednesday, great was the rejoicing and congratulation at the fact, that after two years’ long waiting, with many disappointments, your Church at Ramsden Street has now secured such admirable men as Messrs. Laver and Booth to lead you. Needless to say we wish you God speed in all vou do, and trust the brightest day of the past may pale before the glory of the days that are to come. On behalf of the Council and myself I wish you great success numerically and spiritually. Sincerely yours,
(Signed) D. C, TINCKER, Hon. See.
Mr. Laver was trained for the ministry at Hackney College, London. He became pastor of the Roundhay Church, Leeds, in 1903, and during his ministry, fine Church premises were erected at a cost of £12,000. His genius for organisation found ample scope in the Leeds district, and the Congregational Council of that city lost a valuable worker when he removed to Hudders— field. Mr. Booth is the son of the Rev. Joseph Booth, formerly minister of the Congregational Church, Ossett. He received his training at the Lancashire College, Manchester, and in 1903 became minister of the Wortley Congregational Church, Leeds, where he did splendid WON and founded a flourishing men’s institute.
Neither Mr. Laver nor Mr. Booth was under any illusions as to the arduous nature of the work to be undertaken at Ramsden Street. They did not come expecting to find easy or comfortable posts, or for monetary considerations. Their acceptance of the call to Ramsden Street involved a considerable pecuniary sacrifice for each of them. They entered upon their dual pastorate at Huddersfield in November, 1910.
The eighty-fifth anniversary services, held on Sunday, October 30th, 1910, marked the beginning of a new era in the history of the Church. The Rev. F. H. Blanchford, of Ilkley, preached, and there were unusually large congregations both morning and even- ing, auguring well for the prospects and success of the new enter— prise. At the annual meeting which took place on the following Monday evening, the newly—appointed ministers were welcomed and accorded a most enthusiastic reception. Mr. James Sykes, of Honley, presided. The Rev. Sydney R. Laver, referring to the enthusiasm of the meeting, said that if that spirit could only be continued, by the grace of God and relying upon His help, there was nothing that Ramsden Street would not be able to do. He urged them in the joy of that meeting not to despise the past.
The Rev. J. A. Booth said his colleague and himself came there as optimists, but they recognised that in connection with that Church there was a tremendous problem to solve. Mr. Laver and himself felt greatly encouraged by the large audience and the enthusiasm of that meeting.
INTERIOR OF CHAPEL REMODELLED.
It had been suggested by the new ministers, and made a con- dition of their acceptance of the call to Ramsden Street, that important improvements should be carried out in the Chapel premises, including the complete renovation and re—modelling of the interior of the Church. These alterations were immediately set on foot and carried through with the utmost expedition,
Interior of chapel after remodelling in 1911, showing rostrum and
75 The structural improvements in the interior of the Chapel, which were deemed needful in order efficiently to prosecute the work of the new movement, were carried out under the superin— tendence of Mr. J. T. Spratt, of Huddersfield. The pulpit and the old box pews which had done duty for eighty-five years were removed and replaced by a rostrum and tip-up chairs, a proceed- ing not unnaturally viewed by some with feelings of regret at the disappearance of these familiar old landmarks, a_ sentimental regard for which had grown up through long association.
The rostrum is of fumed oak with a curved staircase on each side, and behind the rostrum is ample accommodation for the choir, with tip-up seats arranged in crescent formation. The organ was renovated and extended on each side in order to fill up entirely the arch in which it is placed. Two new vestries were provided, one at each end of the rostrum, and the two old stair- cases which formerly led to the old singing pew were removed, thereby giving additional accommodation in the minister’s vestry and offices. The old windows were taken out and replaced by leaded lights in cathedral glass with stained glass ornamentation. At the entrance of the Church an inner vestbule, to be used for the purposes of a cloakroom, was made. The electric lighting instal- lation was renewed throughout, and the premises were re-fitted with a new hot water heating apparatus. The whole of the interior was painted and decorated in tasteful and effective style. The total cost of the alterations and improvements was about £1700.
INAUGURATION OF FORWARD MOVEMENT.
On Wednesday, January 11th, 1911, the Forward Movement was inaugurated at two successful meetings. In the afternoon a service was held at which the Rev. W. Evans, of the Salford Central Mission, preached. At the conclusion of the afternoon service a tea was given in the large schoolroom. In the evening a great public meeting was held in the Chapel, when there was a large attendance, nearly every seat in the building being occupied. The Mayor of Huddersfield (Councillor G. Thomson) was in the chair, and he was supported by the new ministers (the Revs. Sydney R. Laver and J. A. Booth), Revs. E. J. Saxton (Secretary of the Yorkshire Congregational Union), Bertram Smith (Salem, Leeds), J. G. Sutherland (Belgrave, Leeds), W. G. Jenkins (High- field), D. C. Tincker (Hillhouse), W. G. Jervis (Honley), B. Gregory (Queen Street Mission), and others.
Mr. J. T. Prentis, the Church Secretary, read several letters of apology for non-attendance. The Rev. T. Allcock (Superin- tendent Minister of Buxton Road Wesleyan Circuit) in the course of his letter said, ‘‘ As the minister of the Church that is one of the _ nearest neighbours to Ramsden Street, and as representing the Wesleyan Methodists of the Buxton Road Circuit, I wish to express
our most cordial greetings to your new ministers, and to assure you and them of our sincerest hopes and fervent prayers for the Divine blessing to richly rest upon your work.’’ The Rev. A. W. Keeley (Vicar of St. Paul’s) wrote from Whitehaven : ‘‘Thank you for sending me an invitation to the opening services. I am not able to accept your invitation, but I hope the effort you are making will do good.’’ Similar letters were sent by the Rev. A. Bage, Romsey, and the Rev. E. Evans (a former pastor), Mr. Charles Hirst, and Mr. John Henry Hirst.
The Rev. Sydney R. Laver, in a most inspiring address, said that as one of the ministers of that Church his first word must be one of profound gratitude to God for all the work done within those walls in the past. He would not give much for a congregation that was at fever heat when a new minister came, and forgot all about the grand and glorious work of ministers who had gone before. He thanked God for the men of the past. They might have been fussy and their doctrine now out of date, but if they were brave and true and strong, and looked into the face of God, and preached the message they believed God gave them, they thanked God for their memory and for the work they did. He hoped the Congregationalists of Huddersfield recognised the heroic services of that little band of people who had held the fort at Ramsden Street in the days of darkness, storm and difficulty. They ought to be more grateful than they could express to the faithful few who had borne the brunt and the burden of the dark days. That Church must stand as a true Church to see what it could give, and not to exist for what it could get. It was not going to be called a Mission or an Institutional Church, but ‘‘ Ramsden Street Con- gregational Church.”’
The Rev. E. J. Saxton spoke in high terms of the men and women who had remained faithful to Ramsden Street. If ever a band of men and women had cheered his’ heart it had been those he had preached to on many a Sunday morning there, and met on many an occasion in Committee and other meetings.
The Rev. J. Alexander Booth said that his colleague and him- self thanked them for the cordiality of the welcome which had been given to them. They started their work under very happy auspices. They were there with the sympathy and support of the Yorkshire Congregational Union and the Huddersfield Congrega~- tional Council. Then they had that beautifully renovated Church, and altogether he thought that no two men ever had a more favourable start than they were having. They desired to build up a strong Church. The people were in the neighbourhood, and the gospel was there, and what they wanted to do was to bring the two together.
It was soon recognised that a new spirit was being breathed into the life of Ramsden Street Church, and a revived interest shown in the work, which astonished even those who had always been most hopeful and confident of ultimate success. An intensive campaign was undertaken throughout the town, entailing an amount of labour and self-sacrifice which can scarcely be appre- ciated by those who were not actually acquainted with the work. To form some idea of the nature and extent of this cam- paign, it may be stated that in the first year of the joint pastorate of Mr. Laver and Mr. Booth, a house-to-house visitation was carried out, conducted by Mr. and the late Mrs. Laver and Mr. Booth, and some 20,000 personal invitations on behalf of Ramsden Street were given. The large crowds attending the Football Matches at Fartown and Leeds Road also afforded suitable oppor— tunities for these appeals, advantage being taken of these occa- sions to distribute many thousands of invitations. I For three years the town was visited twice over each year, once in April, and again in the month of September. The ‘‘ Men’s Own’”’ and the ‘* Women’s Own,’’ two large, successful and useful organisations of the Church, were inaugurated, principally as a result of this system of visitation and personal invitation.
MEN’S Own AND WOMEN’S Own MEEBTINGS.
The Men’s Own Meeting was held every Sunday afternoon. It reached a membership of 800 men. A feature of these meetings was the hearty singing which was led by the Huddersfield Military Band, with Mr. J. Fletcher Sykes as conductor.
The Women’s Own, held every Monday evening, attained to a membership of about 1200 women. A band of enthusiastic women workers drawn from the regular Church congregation assisted in the work of this meeting. Its organisation was very efficient, and it owed much to the valued help so freely given by the late Mrs. Laver, who with characteristic energy threw herself whole-heartedly into the work.
Both these organisations were not only self-supporting, but also contributed to the funds of the Church.
The crowning glory and achievement associated with the labours of Mr. Laver and Mr. Booth, was the renewed vigour and remarkable success of the Sunday Evening Service. This was accomplished not by methods of cheap popularity or sensational advertising, but by patient and strenuous effort and by personal contact with the people, and it is no exaggeration to say that the names of ‘‘ Laver and were at that time ‘‘ household words,’’ on the lips of thousands of the people of Huddersfield.
78 Sunday by Sunday from 800 to 1000 persons regularly,
attended, and on special occasions, which were fairly frequent, 1500 persons were often assembled in the Chapel. Even the upper gallery, which for at least three decades had been partitioned off and not used, had to be re-opened and again brought into use to provide the needed accommodation.
It was a grand and inspiring sight to see that great building filled to overflowing with men and women who came, not to hear *‘popular ’’ sermons, or cleverly manipulated topical addresses, but for the simple gospel, broad and evangelical, delivered in direct but homely fashion suited to the honest needs of the plain man. ‘To these people, who week by week entered that haven of rest, it was like ‘‘ meeting a fresh breeze from the heavenly hills.’’
No wonder the hearts of the people were cheered and gladdened as they saw the power and usefulness of that old sanctuary again restored. Among the faithful few who had stood by the cause through its darkest days there was joy and thankful— ness, and many an eye was dimmed with emotion as it beheld the constant throng of worshippers who gathered even as in the palmy days of that venerable house of prayer, reminding them not only of the glories of the past, but pointing also to a bright and glorious future for Ramsden Street.
BENJAMIN Davip HILL.
In the early part of the year 1913, the Church sustained a great loss by the death of Mr. B. D. Hill. No man was more respected or looked up to at Ramsden Street, and his long and honourable association with the Church, his lovable and saintly character, brought him many close friendships of young and old alike. He was a safe and trusted leader, a member of the Church for forty-three years, over twenty-eight of which he served as a deacon. He was a teacher in the Sunday School for many years, and was always ready to undertake any work to further the interests of the Church. . He took a deép interest and no small part in promoting the ‘‘ Forward Movement,’’ and it had been to him a source of great joy and happiness to witness the progress and success of the scheme. .
THE SHADOW OF THE GREAT WAR.
At the annual Church Meeting held on December 30th, 1914, it was reported that ‘‘ The Men’s Own and Women’s Own are still in a flourishing condition, though both have been affected by the war, many of the men serving in the Army and Navy, and some of the women working overtime making clothing for the soldiers.’
It was stated that the Men’s Own numbered 553 members, and the Women’s Own 1050 members. In reference to the war,
Benjamin David Hill.
Alfred E. Jones.
the report continues, ‘‘ We believe that for us as a Nation, this is a righteous cause, and the is in duty bound to do all in its power to help to bring it to a successful issue, both by sending its adherents, of whom we are glad to know a good num- ber have gone from this Church, and by each one doing his or her duty in every way possible.”
RESIGNATION OF THE Rev. S. R. LAVER.
On Sunday, February 7th, 1915, the Rev. S. R. Laver intimated that he had received a call to the Chapel—in-the—Fields Congregational Church, Norwich, which demanded his serious consideration. This unexpected announcement was received by the Church with consternation and unfeigned regret. . Hurried consultations took place, and at the close of the evening service on the same day, an informal meeting of the Church was held, when the following resolution was passed unanimously—
** That we the members of Ramsden Street Congregational Church, have received the news of the Rev. S. R. Laver’s call to Norwich with feelings of deep anxiety. We would hereby place on record our hearty appreciation and thankfulness for the splendid work which has’ been done by the Rev. S. R. Laver and Rev. J. A. Booth, and would assure them of our unswerving loyalty and devotion. We feel that while much has been accomplished, a great work yet remains to be done. We would therefore most earnestly urge Mr. Laver to consider the great claims of the work at Ramsden Street, and sincerely hope that he may see his way to remain and continue his work with us. We shall most earnestly pray that God will guide Mr. Laver in making his decision.”
A similar resolution was passed by the congregation on February 14th. Reference has already been made to the devotion and valued assistance in the arduous work of visitation, and par- ticularly in the inauguration of the Women’s Own Meeting in its earliest stages, given by Mrs. Laver. It was truly said the ‘Women’s Own was a monument to her energy and enthusiasm. There is no doubt the strenuous and exacting work of the cam— paign seriously overtaxed. her strength, the strain of which ultim— ately brought on a serious decline in her health and a complete breakdown ensued. To the last she evinced a keen interest in that organisation, to the success of which she had so abundantly contributed. All through this season of affliction Mr. Laver bravely struggled and bore his trials with patience and Christian fortitude. Mrs. Laver’s failing strength, notwithstanding all the care and skill which could be given, was not re-established, and medical advice ultimately suggested her removal and residence in more favourable surroundings than were afforded in this district.
On Sunday, February 21st, 1915, Mr. Laver announced that he had accepted the call to Norwich, and suggested that his ministry at Ramsden Street should terminate at the end of April.
DEPARTURE OF Mr, LAVER.
The dual pastorate of Mr. Laver and Mr. Booth at Ramsden Street came to an end on the last Sunday in April, 1915. On Saturday evening, April 24th, a large farewell meeting was held. Mr. James Sykes, of Honley, who presided, said that the work at Ramsden Street had prospered in a manner nearly beyond belief. Congregationalism in the district was very much indebted to Mr. Laver and Mr. Booth. Mr. Laver was a true man—a man with a true statesmanlike grasp of affairs, and his guiding hand in the Church and the denomination in the town would be much missed. Mr. Laver had left an impression on the Church and on the town which could never be effaced, and all would watch with deepest interest his future career at Norwich.
The Rev. F. W. J. Merlin (Highfield) said some of them were very cross with Mr. Laver for going. At the Congregational Council one delegate said he felt like passing a vote of censure on him, but after all that crossness was the finest compliment that could be paid to Mr. Laver. It was a bad thing for minister and Church when they were all glad when the minister left. Mr. Laver had given them something like four and a half years of his life to them, and had done a splendid work. ‘So had Mrs. Laver. They deplored the price Mrs. Laver had had to pay for her work, and they trusted that the change of air would do her good. He rejoiced in the success of the Ramsden Street Church.
The Rev. J. A. Booth said when Mr. Laver and himself on their first visit saw the huge crowds in the streets they felt there was a chance for a great work in Huddersfield. They did not regret coming. It had been a real joy to see the congregation grow week by week, and the work consolidated month by month and year by year. As ministers they did not claim full credit, for they felt it was due to the strenuous loyalty of the people who had supported them.
Mr. A. E. Jones, deacon and Church treasurer, presented Mr. Laver with a purse of gold. In doing so he said their sorrow and regret proved how thankful they were that Mr. Laver and Mr. Booth came to help them to re-build their Church. If their pockets had been as large and as full as their hearts were, the purse would not have held their token of love. Mr. J. Fletcher Sykes, con— ductor of the Huddersfield Military Band, which played each Sunday at the Men’s Meeting, presented Mr. Laver with a hand- some umbrella. Speaking on behalf of the members of the band, he could truly say that they all felt the better for having known Mr. Laver and Mr. Booth.
The Rev. S. R. Laver, who was warmly received on rising to acknowledge the presentations, said that a full share of the suc- cess of the work belonged to his colleague, Mr. Booth, and as far
Rev. J. Alexander Booth.
as he was concerned the work would have been impossible but for the pluck and heroism of his wife. During the four and a half: years he had been co—pastor at Ramsden Street, he had never had a single unkind word, let alone criticism, offered to him, and that was a tribute to the loyalty of Yorkshire people, of Huddersfield, and of Ramsden Street. Mr. Laver spoke of the happy relation- ships he had had with everyone, and asked them, if they had appreciated his ministry, to show it by absolute loyalty to Mr. Booth.
Rev. J. A. BooTH aAcCEPTS SOLE PASTORATE.
During the brief period of his ministry in Huddersfield Mr. Laver made a multitude of friends, his roots had struck deep in the hearts of the people, and the prospect of the separation of the two men whose association together had proved of so ideal a char- acter, and whose joint labours had been so fruitful and richly blessed, was viewed with feelings of the deepest anxiety and concern. Mr. Booth, therefore, in order that the whole question of the pastorate might be re—considered in the best interests of the Church, deemed it right to tender his resignation, which he accord- ingly did on March 3rd, 1915.
Subsequently a meeting of the Advisory Committee, consist— ing of representatives from the Yorkshire Congregational Union, the Huddersfield Congregational Council, and the Ramsden Street Church, was held, at which it was resolved— ** That we recommend to the Church that the Rev. J. Alexander Booth be invited to accept the pastorate, he having intimated that he thought it possible, by the help of the members of the different organ- isations, to undertake the work.”’ At a Special Church Meeting on March 31st, 1915, held for the purpose of electing a pastor, the Rev. J. A. Booth was unani-— mously elected, and the members pledged themselves to do every-— thing in their power to assist Mr. Booth in his work if he should undertake the sole pastorate. Mr. Booth in accepting the invita— tion, said— ‘You have done me a great honour in thus expressing your con- fidence in me. It is no light task that you are asking me to undertake ; the burden will be a heavy one, and I should not think of undertaking it were it not for the fact that you have assured me of your willingness
to co-operate in the work, and to give me the same loyal support and encouragement that characterised our past relationship.”’
The ensuing months brought grave and difficult problems not only to Ramsden Street, but to all the Churches alike. The upheaval of the great war, with its ‘‘ din of drums and trumpets,’’ was being felt in every home and in every sphere of life. When we read in the Church minute book (1917) that the pastor sug— gested that the usual week night service be discontinued owing to
the darkened streets, it is but one of many reminders of that grim struggle, now happily passed like a nightmare from our disturbed memories, when the whole nation was fighting for its very life and existence.
Mr. Booth, backed up by his faithful followers, pluckily held on, faced as the work was on every side by unknown difficulties, such as had never before been experienced in the religious world.
Numbers of men were being constantly withdrawn from the ranks of the Church to join the forces, and Church life generally was rudely interrupted and disorganised. At a time when every true Englishman was being called upon to do his part in the great cause of righteous dealing, and to ‘‘ free our civilisation from the malevolent and unscrupulous pride of military despotism,’’ it was no surprise when Mr. Booth, with his vigorous and versatile nature, felt it his duty to take up some definite work in the great struggle.
RESIGNATION OF REv. J. A. Bootu.
In a letter to the Church, February 24th, 1917, Mr. Booth announced his resignation of the Ramsden Street pastorate, intim— ating that his chief reason for that course was that the desire to go out to France or elsewhere and work among the troops had long been pressing upon him. This announcement was received by the Church with deep regret, and it recorded its high appreciation of his six and a half years’ ministry among them, and assured him of its best wishes for his future welfare. Mr. Booth concluded his ministry at Ramsden Street at the end of May, 1917. He pro- ceeded to the Ripon Camp with the Y.M.C.A. in June, 1917. In August, 1917, he went out to Tilques, near St. Omer, 2nd Army Artillery School, where he remained until January, 1918. On his return to this country he took charge of his old Church at Wortley, near Leeds, where he is at present stationed. At the present time he is also Secretary of the Leeds Congregational Council.
dee He Ey wate
Rev. F. Wheatcroft.
ne, ee ae
The Ministry of the Rev. F. Wheatcroft. 1917-1925.
At a meeting of the Advisory Committee held on April 26th, 1917, the question of the amalgamation of Ramsden Street and a neighbouring Congregational Church was mooted. A committee was appointed for the purpose of a round-table conference to dis— cuss the possibilities of such an arrangement being agreed upon by the two Churches. At the conference which subsequently took place, we believe the proceedings were cordial, and the proposal was carefully and thoroughly explored in the most friendly way, but doubt was expressed as to the chances of success of such a scheme, and no agreement was come to, and in view of the special work carried on at Ramsden Street it was felt to be inadvisable to proceed further with the proposal at that time.
The Church having at this time enjoyed the ministrations of the Rev. Fred Wheatcroft, of Bury, and his services having pro— duced a very favourable impression, it was unanimously decided at a special Church Meeting held on October 10th, 1917, to invite him to undertake the pastorate. The call of the Church was given to him in a letter dated October 11th, 1917.
In intimating his acceptance of the invitation, Mr. Wheatcroft in a letter dated October 19th, 1917, said he had given the matter very careful and prayerful consideration and sought the best advice. He realised the greatness of the opportunity which the Church at Ramsden Street offered, and would do his best to use such an opportunity to the full, and he remarked, ‘‘ We are living in great times, but we have a great Gospel to meet the needs of our age.”’
Mr. Wheatcroft commenced his ministry at Ramsden Street in the early part of December, 1917.
SUCCESSFUL EFFORT TO REDUCE DERT.
Just previous to Mr. Wheatcroft’s settlement at Ramsden Street, a three days’ Bazaar was held on November 22nd, 23rd and 24th, to raise funds for the purpose of reducing the remaining
balance of debt incurred by the extensive alterations and improve- ments carried out in the Chapel in 1911. The result of this deter- mined effort was in every way satisfactory, and on Mr. Wheatcroft’s coming to take up his work at Ramsden Street, it was possible to signalise his arrival by the happy announcement that a sum of £500 had been raised on behalf of the object referred to, thereby effecting a substantial reduction of the debt.
INTERESTING LINKS WITH THE PAST.
In the report presented to the Church at the Annual Meeting on January 2nd, 1918, the death of the oldest member, Miss Alice Mitchell, was recorded. She was the granddaughter of Philip Mitchell, the first member of Ramsden Street, forming an interest— ing link with the early history of the Church.
At the formation of the Church in June, 1826, Philip Mitchell was the first name on the list of twelve persons who were transferred from Highfield to Ramsden Street.
Further serious losses to the Church at this period were the deaths of Mr. John Eagleton, which occurred in March, 1918, and Mr. Eli Whitwam, who died on September 13th, 1918. Mr. Eagleton, who was widely known in Huddersfield, especially in was the grandson of the Rev. John Eagleton, first pastor of Ramsden Street Chapel. Mr. Eagleton was closely associated with Ramsden Street in the sixties and seventies, and was a member of the choir. He took a deep interest in the for— ward movemient instituted in 1910, and was a frequent attender at the Chapel during that period.
Mr. Eli Whitwam was a life-long attender at Ramsden Street, and was always a generous supporter of the Church. He was formerly a trustee, and at the time of his death was a member of the Management Committee. He was Chairman of the Hud- dersfield Board of Guardians, and in matters connected with the poor—law system he rendered conspicuous public service.
PURCHASE OF A MANSE.
The difficulty of securing a suitable residence for the use of the minister on account. of the shortage of house accommodation which had become so acute since the war, led to the purchase of a manse in July, 1919, and No. 24 West Hill was acquired for that purpose, a decision the wisdom of which has since been amply justified.
It was decided to provide and erect a Brass Memorial Tablet in the Chapel in commemoration of those connected with the
Church who made the oreat sacrifice for their country and fell in the great war. A Memorial Service was held, and the Tablet unveiled on October 10th, 1920.
To the Glory of God and in affectionate remembrance of the Men of this Church and Congregation who fell in the Great War 1914—1918.
“et those foho come after see that thep are not forgotten.”
Mr. WHEATCROFT’S MANY-—-SIDED ACTIVITIES.
Mr. Wheatcroft’s ministry at Ramsden Street has been con- ducted throughout with spirit and energy. His boundless activity and his enthusiasm have found ample scope in the arduous duties associated with his pastoral work, but his energies have not been exclusively confined to that sphere, for he has given unstinted service to the general interests of the denomination throughout ‘the town and district.
His assiduity in work, and his keen business spirit made him an ideal Secretary of the World Service Exhibition held in Hud— dersfield some years ago, and his unflagging and efficient efforts in that capacity will be long remembered by the Congregationalists of Huddersfield. The modern and regrettable tendency to decline in the influence and work of the Sunday School he has strenuously sought to arrest by the practical and continuous assistance he has given in that department of Christian work, and during his ministry at Ramsden Street he has maintained a close and per-— sonal interest in the Sunday School. His labours in connection that institution have been greatly appreciated. Mr. Wheatcroft is a firm believer in the power of preaching—brushing aside all non—essentials, he has a definite message, which he forciby imparts without recourse to adventitious aids.
It stands to the credit of both pastor and people, that, during the first years of his ministry at Huddersfield, the heavy balance of debt incurred by the renovation of the Church for the forward movement of 1911 was entirely wiped off. 7
CONCLUSION OF REv. F. WuHEATCROFT’S PASTORATE.
In the early part of the present year (1925), Mr. Wheatcroft received a call to Abingdon Road Congregational Church, North— ampton, and shortly after an invitation reached him to become pastor of the Ryecroft Church, Ashton—under—Lyne. After due consideration he intimated his decision to accept the invitation to Ashton-under-Lyne, and closed his ministry at Ramsden Street on Sunday, July 26th, 1925.
A meeting to bid farewell to Mr. Wheatcroft was held in the Chapel at the close of the evening service, when Mr. J. T. Ellis, Church Secretary, presented on behalf of the congregation an envelope containing treasury notes, in appreciation of Mr. Wheatcroft’s seven and a half years’ labours at Ramsden Street, and wishing him God speed in his new sphere at Ashton—under— Lyne. The Revs. J. W. G. Dew (Milton) and W. Medhurst (Paddock), and Mr. P. W. Sykes, Chairman of the Huddersfield Congregational Council, spoke sympathetically of ~ Mr. Wheatcroft’s valued services to the cause of Congregationalism in Huddersfield.
Wiliam Moore, Precentor.
Bass Viol used at Ramsden Street Chapel, 1825 to 1840.
‘¢Music and Musicians.’’
In a music-loving town like Huddersfield, it is not sur— prising that at Ramsden Street music and the ministry of praise should, from the earliest days of its history, have played a striking and important part. The influence of music has been recognised and encouraged to a degree rarely surpassed in any of our Churches, and it may be truly said Ramsden Street Chapel has always been one of the leading homes of psalmody in the town.
THE First PRECENTOR : WILLIAM MOORE.
Upon Mr. William Moore, that officially sententious but genial character, well known to a former generation of Hudders— field people, who for fifty years enjoyed a remarkable notoriety in the town, devolved the work of first organising the musical arrangements in connection with the Chapel. The Committee on January 20th, 1826, resolved— Mr. William Moore be requested to accept the office of Clerk or Precentor, pro There is no doubt this exalted office admirably suited Mr. Moore’s bent for public usefulness, and he continued to fill it for some years with becoming pride and dignity. He officiated as clerk, and from I his desk within the communion rails gave out the hymns in the good way. The office of ‘‘ was afterwards held by James Hoyle. It had been decided—
‘**That the Leeds Selection of Hymns, in addition to Dr. Watts’ shall be used in the services of the Chapel.”’
On January 27th, 1826, it was further resolved—
““That Mr. Moore be requested to provide a Bass Viol against next Sabbath.”’ Mr. Moore appears to have carried out the Committee’s instruc— tions and procured a suitable instrument. The late Mr. John Eagleton, of Dalton, grandson of the first minister of Ramsden Street, informed the writer that this same instrument had formerly been in use in the private band of King George the Third, and had been acquired by Sir George Armytage, of Kirklees, from whom the Ramsden Street Chapel Trustees purchased it for the sum of forty guineas. When the Rev. John Eagleton first came to Huddersfield in 1826, his son John, who was then sixteen years of age, was appointed violoncellist or ‘‘ bass player.’’
Rev. JoHN EAGLETON As A MUSICIAN.
The Rev. John Eagleton himself was a musician of no mean attainment. From his early youth he had been much devoted to its study, and it is said he was a competent performer on several instruments, both wind and stringed. Mr. Eagleton’s taste for music, and his keen appreciation of the power of sacred song, led him to make efforts on behalf of a higher standard of congrega-— tional singing, and through his influence and encouragement an improvement was soon effected in the psalmody at Ramsden Street. Realising the inadequacy of the hymnal then in use, he compiled and published, in 1828, a ‘‘Manual of Hymns for Family, Social and Public Worship ’’ as a supplementary collection.
The ‘‘ Manual ’’ was in use at Ramsden Street over a long period, and so late as 1855 a new edition was printed. As a composer of hymn tunes and anthems Mr, Eagleton achieved more than local distinction, and some of his compositions were generally adopted, not only by Congregationalists, but by other denominations also. Among these tunes probably the best known is ‘‘Justification,’’ which is included in ‘‘Houldsworth’s Psalmody.’’
Musical efficiency at Ramsden Street so carefully fostered and encouraged by the Rev. John Eagleton, has been kept up through— out the long period of the Church’s history. <A succession of gifted organists, able choirmasters and singers have nobly main— tained the tradition for good music and singing which came to be associated with the work at Ramsden Street.
‘* O_p GEORGE ARMITAGE.’’ In December, 1830, the Committee resolved—
‘‘ That George Armitage be engaged at a salary of £10 per annum to lead the singing in the Chapel, and to teach singing once a week.” Under the training and leadership of George Armitage much pro- gress was made and a high degree of proficiency attained in the musical part of the service. For a period of thirty years this faithful and devoted servant of the Church, affectionately known as ‘‘ Old George Armitage,’’ diligently discharged his duties and regularly occupied his accustomed place in the singing pew at Ramsden Street. He was a sterling musician, one of the finest bass singers in Huddersfield, and indeed, as a vocalist was well- known throughout the West Riding. During a period of forty years, Mr. Armitage sang at many of the principal musical fes— tivals, including the ‘‘Great Handel Festival’’ in London, in June, 1859. 3
He died at the post of duty with tragic suddenness on Sunday, November 20th, 1859. Calling at the chapel—keeper’s house, as was his custom before the evening service, he complained of dizziness. Mr. Greenwood, surgeon, who lived close by in Ramsden Street, was sent for. He came at once, but before
reaching the house the old man was dead. He had been a great favourite with the people of Ramsden Street. On the following Sunday evening, a special service occasioned by his death was held in Ramsden Street Chapel. The building was crowded long before the service commenced, and many had to go away unable to gain admission. The Rev. R. Skinner preached an appropriate and impressive sermon. ‘The choir, numbering about thirty, augmented by friends from other Churches, gave special selec— tions from the ‘‘ Messiah,’’ and a collection taken on behalf of the widow realised £39.
Exit THE Bass VIOL.
A momentous decision affecting the musical dispositions of the Church was made in 1839, when it was decided to introduce an organ, a proceeding which, of course, meant the disestablish— ment of the old stringed instruments then in use. So far as we are aware there was no marked opposition to this measure of reform as was the case in many of our older Independent Churches, where a lingering prejudice against organs still survived, but the relegation of the time-honoured bass to a dim and oblivious past, of ‘‘ far away and long ago’’ would doubtless be viewed by a faithful few, to whom it was no easy matter to accommodate themselves to ‘‘ innovations,’’ with feelings of apprehension and regret. The passing of the precentor with his stentorian voice— the faithful John Eagleton and his trusty bass viol—would be sure to have a pathetic significance to those who disliked the uprooting of old usages and old ways.
At a meeting of the Committee held on October 13th, 1840, it was resolved— ‘* That the thanks of the Committee be given to Mr. John Eagleton for his services in playing the Bass at the Chapel, and that the said instrument be presented to him in recognition of those services.”’ Henceforth, the old-time familiar sights and sounds—the tuning up of the bass before service began, and the grave and decorous bearing of the bass player—were to be things of the past, and their disappearance marked the coming of a new musical dispen— sation, which, if more up-to-date, was certainly less quaint and romantic.
THE NEw ORGAN.
The new organ was built by Wren, of Manchester, and cost about £400. The Ramsden Street people were justly proud of their fine instrument, which was said to be one of the best organs any— where in the district at that time. The celebration of the public opening of the organ took place on Wednesday, July 8th, 1840, when special services were held morning and evening, addressed by the Rev. R. W, Hamilton, D.D., of Leeds.
Mr. Thomas Parratt, Organist of the Huddersfield Parish Church, officiated at the organ.
Mr. Richard Mellor was appointed organist in October, 1840. He had previously officiated in a similar capacity at St. Patrick’s Church, Huddersfield, but the new organ installed at Ramsden Street, a superior instrument embodying many advantages, proved a strong attraction and induced him to apply for the vacant post. Mr. Mellor carried on the business of Pianoforte and Music Seller in Cross Church Street, and when he retired in 1875, Messrs. Wood and Marshall succeeded to the business.
He exercised a wide influence as a musician, but it was in connection with Ramsden Street that he rendered his greatest services to the cause of music in this district. In conjunction with Mr. George Armitage, who skilfully trained the scholars in sing— ing, Mr. Mellor achieved wonderful results, and brought Ramsden Street to the front rank as a recognised home of musical talent. The singing at the anniversaries of the Sunday School eighty years ago began to excite a considerable amount of interest—it was considered the best in the town or district—and has probably never since been surpassed. The quality of the music which was sung in those days was on a level with the general efficiency and excellence of the singing—all flimsy and popular melodies being tabooed in favour of such sterling music as Handel’s grand com— positions, etc.—the grandeur and the frequency with which ‘‘How beautiful upon the mountains ’’ was sung caused it to be long known in local musical circles as ‘‘The Ramsden Street Anthem.’’
Of the occupants of the singing pew at this time mention should be made of the Misses Rhodes, daughters of William Rhodes, the old chapel—keeper, all three of whom were useful and creditable members of the choir, Mark Clegg, John and William Challand, and at a later period John Eagleton, Thomas Kettlewell, Miss Drake and Miss McGowan (afterwards Mrs. Kaye, mother of Mr. Arthur W. Kaye, of orchestral fame),
‘** ELEVATION.”’ Mr. Mellor composed many tunes for Sunday School Anniver- saries, some of which became very popular. ‘‘ David’s Harp,’’
he wrote for an anniversary at the Wesleyan Chapel, Linthwaite; ‘Evening Star’’ for the Baptist Chapel, Golcar; and ‘‘ Recon- ciliation ’’ for the Baptist Chapel, Salendine Nook. His most popular tune, however, is the well known ‘‘ Elevation,’’ composed about years ago, to Binney’s inspiring hymn, ‘‘ Rise my soul, and stretch thy wings.’’ This time-honoured and inspiring tune, sung by generations of reverent worshippers in its original home at Ramsden Street, has become a universal favour- ite, and still wields all its ancient power. It is sung, not only
‘Thomas L. Gledhill. TWO ORGANISTS OF LONG SERVICE.
Charles Walton Ellis.
Ramsay Bower. TWO NOTABLE LEADERS IN THE SERVICE OF PRAISE.
throughout our own country, but has achieved world-wide fame, being known in America, Australia and New Zealand.
ENLARGEMENT OF ORGAN.
We have previously referred to alterations in connection with the organ carried out in 1869. Under Mr. Mellor’s direction and supervision, such additions and improvements were made as gave to Ramsden Street an organ which was equalled by few in all points for effectively accompanying congregational psalmody. A contemporary description of the instrument says, ‘‘ It is a perfect double C organ—with three stops in the pedals, while the scale of. double G notes, in the original plan of the organ builder, Mr. Wren, has been preserved, and when these fine rich-toned bass notes are coupled to the other, it has the effect of 13 stops in the pedals in these lower bass notes; an invaluable aid in psalmody. It is the only organ in the town (1874) possessing all these advantages.’’*
FAREWELL SERVICE TO MR. MELLOR.
In the Spring of 1874, Mr. Mellor resigned his office as organist at Ramsden Street, after holding that position for nearly thirty-four years. On the Sunday evening on which he officiated as organist for the last time, a number of friends attended to assist and take part in the service. There was a very large congregation, the Chapel being filled. Some well known musicians, including Mrs. Johnson (Parish Church Choir), Miss Moseley, Miss McGowan, Mr. Richard Garner, Mr. George Milnes, and Mr. J. Varley, took part in the farewell service. The Rev. J. Stannard preached an appropriate sermon.
On accepting Mr. Mellor’s resignation the Chapel Committee adopted the following resolution which was forwarded to him—
‘* The Committee recognising with the warmest appreciation and gratitude the long and valuable services of Mr. Mellor as Organist of Ramsden Street Chapel during a period of more than thirty years, accepts with reluctance the resignation tendered in his communication of 13th inst., and hereby presents to him sincere thanks, trusting that the tie which has so long bound them together, though formally severed by his relinquishment of office, will continue to live among the pleasant memories of his later days, and that he may be spared to enjoy for many years the fruits of a life spent largely in the promotion and culture of the science of music to which he has so ardently devoted himself.’
CHARLES WALTON ELLIS: A PIONEER IN MODERN MUSICAL CULTURE.
In the early seventies, Mr. C. W. Ellis commenced, in connec- tion with the Sunday School, classes for teaching singing in the
*Incidents in the Life of a Veteran Organist, with recollections of local musical celebrities, Reprinted from the ‘* Huddersfield 1874,
Tonic Sol-Fa notation. These classes developed in a wonderful degree a taste for musical efficiency in singing, and helped to maintain and consolidate a high standard of praise in the Church -and Schools. Mr. Ellis enjoyed the personal friendship of John Curwen, and he had caught much of his enthusiasm for the system associated with his name.
For a period extending over many years, Mr. Ellis conducted very large and efficient classes. He took up the voluntary teaching of the new method with great enthusiasm, and the facilities which he so ably inaugurated undoubtedly provided the means for train— ing of a very large number of young men and women, many of whom attained to a high degree of proficiency in singing and music generally.
Mr. Ellis accomplished a great and lasting work by his efforts on behalf of the service of praise—he was an able musician, alike in his knowledge of theory and practice, and although a rigid _disciplinarian he had a magnetic and human personality which endeared him to every single of the many hundreds who passed through his classes. :
An interesting side of his nature was revealed in the ease and freedom with which he could turn from the formal and systematic teaching of music to its broader aspect and purely educational side, and he occasionally gave lectures on musical topics which revealed his masterly insight in this direction. The history of psalmody was a favourite study in which he revelled, and those who were privileged to hear him lecture on these topics still remember the brilliant exposition and survey of psalmody from the earliest times of the Hebrew and Gregorian chants, to Re- formation and Elizabethan, down to fugal and modern psalmody.
Mr. Bower was a scholar in Ramsden Street Sunday School very early in life, and at the age of seventeen he became a teacher in the school, of which for a short time he was Secretary. He joined the singing class taught by Mr. Ellis, and quickly acquired his teacher’s enthusiasm for the Tonic Sol- Fa notation, and a love for music generally. Painstaking and persevering, he soon gained a thorough acquaintance with the system. He continued in the class so long as it existed, and after it was broken up, he formed and taught one of his own at Ramsden Street, and in that class Miss Wilkinson, Miss Ada Burton, and several other good singers obtained their first knowledge of music.
After Mr. Mellor’s retirement from the post of organist, his successor, Mr. Henry Baker, held the joint position of organist and choirmaster. When Mr. Baker left Huddersfield, an invitation was given to Mr. Bower to accept the post of choirmaster. This duty he undertook on the understanding that the choir was to be
William Henry Haigh.
Three Sunday School Superintendents. Joel Arlom, John Dawson, J. C. Moody.
entirely voluntary. To his great credit he brought Ramsden Street choir to a first position among the churches in the town and district, and maintained its high reputation, on a voluntary basis, equal to if not surpassing anything in its previous history. He also succeeded Mr. Ellis in training the scholars for the Sunday School Anniversary, a work which he did very satis— factorily and efficiently.
On the formation of the interest at Milton Church, Mr. Bower joined that cause, and as choirmaster there, he made the choir most efficient and artistic, adding greatly to the beauty and impressiveness of the services, and also by the choice of the best music.
His death from pneumonia on Wednesday, December 20th, 1893, at the early age of thirty-eight years was a severe blow to his many friends and admirers, and his loss deprived Huddersfield of a brilliant and talented choirmaster, and conductor of choral music,
Among the lasting names which will ever stand out in the musical annals of Ramsden Street Chapel, those of George Armitage, Richard Mellor, Charles Walton Ellis and Ramsay Bower constitute a separate hierarchy and will never be for— gotten. :
CHOIRMASTERS AND ORGANISTS.
In the year W. H. Haigh was appointed organist, the duties of which office he faithfully and voluntarily discharged for many years. The position has since been held by Mr. Arthur Sykes, Mr. Wilfred Bate, Mr. Arthur Nettleton, Mr. T. L. Gledhill, and at the present time the Church has the competent services of Mr. E. Lucas in that capacity. In the matter of long -service, Mr. T. L. Gledhill comes near to rivalling Mr. Richard Mellor as organist. In February, 1921, he retired from his official position as organist at Ramsden Street after over thirty years’ service. On the evening of March 9th, 1921, a large gathering of members of the congregation and the choir met in the schoolroom for the purpose of marking their appreciation of Mr. Gledhill’s faithful services by making him gifts as an indica— tion of the esteem with which they regarded hm. After tea a ~ musical evening had been arranged, presided over by the pastor, the Rev. F. Wheatcroft. Several speeches were made, and high tribute paid to the ability and urbanity with which Mr. Gledhill had discharged his duties. Mr. Gledhill was presented with an illuminated address and a travelling bag on behalf of the con— gregation. A music cabinet was given by the choir, and Mrs. Gledhill received a handsome silver tea set. I
Mr. Gledhill in acknowledging the gifts said he could not have wished for happier times than the thirty years he had spent
as organist of that Church. He would ever look back with happy memories of the days he had spent with them. He remarked there were three ladies present that evening who were in the choir when he first came to Ramsden Street forty years since. They were Mrs. Bower, Mrs. Allen Sykes and Mrs. Sayles.
Of choirmasters since 1881, the following have held office— Mr. W. Crossley, Mr. C. F. Arnold, Mr. John Ellis, Mr. H. Atkinson, Mr. Albion Hartley, Mr. James McL. Whitfield, Mr. L. N. Wilson, Mr. Osborne, Mr. W. S. Beaumont, Mr, Hubert Sykes, and Mr. N. Hellawell. Special mention should be made of Mr. J. McL. Whitfield, who during his term of office as choirmaster spared no effort, not only for the training and efficiency of his choir, but also in the interests of general musical education. His lecture concerts on ‘‘Mendelssohn,’’ ‘‘Sir Arthur Sullivan,’’ and other subjects, possessed more than a passing interest, and were much appreciated. I
William Willans, J.P.
Some Leaders and Representative Men associated with the Past History of Ramsden Street Chapel.
William Willans, a native of Leeds, was born on the 27th of April, 1800. He came to Huddersfield in the year 1823, and joined Highfield Chapel, then the only Independent interest in the town. Realising the need for a second Chapel, he, along with other progressive spirits at that Church, strongly advocated the establishment of a new Chapel in the centre of the town—a project to which he devoted his energies and ability—and was actively associated with all the various proceedings which led to the founding of Ramsden Street Chapel. He was appointed first Secretary to the Committee which successfully carried out the project, and from that time to the day of his death Ramsden Street Chapel was the place nearest to his heart. In the year 1833 he was unanimously elected a deacon of the Church, and throughout his long period of office proved himself a wise coun-— sellor and a true friend. The Congregational Mission in con- nection with Ramsden Street Chapel, established in the year 1854, largely owed its origin to his zeal and enterprise, and the progress of the work at the South Street Meeting Room was to him a cherished sphere of Christian labour in which he took a deep and fatherly interest.
His enthusiasm for Church extension was the main inspiration which led to the building of Hillhouse Congregational Church— the completion of which he was not spared to witness—but he had ‘“ devised very liberal things’’ on its behalf, in fulfilment of which the ‘‘Willans’’ family supported it with a noble generosity.
For many years Mr. Willans conducted a Sunday Morning Bible Class at Ramsden Street, and by those who delighted to sit at his feet, most, if not all of whom have long been gathered to their last rest, it is still remembered with what feeling and zest they testified to his ability of character, and his Christian example. He was loved and honoured by all, and many of those who came under the influence of his magnetic personality owed their bent in life to his fatherly guidance and counsel.
A man of handsome presence, an accomplished platform speaker with a cultured and fluent style, Mr. Willans early in life distinguished himself as a leader in all the great movements of his day in the cause of civil and religious liberty.
In the general interests of education Mr. Willans took a prominent and active part, and his efforts on behalf of that cause in connection with the British School and the Huddersfield College have already been referred to.
Diligent in business, he achieved a position of great useful- ness and success in the mercantile world, but his commercial prosperity never deadened his soul—he was generous and philan— thropic, and unwearying in his efforts for the public good. He gave liberally of both money and personal service to the promo— tion of religion, and to the cause at Ramsden Street he contri— buted bountifully from time to time.
At the General Election of 1852, Mr. Willans stood as a candidate for the representation of Huddersfield. He was defeated by the narrow majority of 33, and although his opponent was afterwards unseated as a result of a Parlia- mentary enquiry, he firmly declined the pressing invitation to stand again, and retired from the field.
Mr. Willans was placed upon the Commission of the Peace, and qualified as a Magistrate in 1856.
In 1861 he was elected President of the Chamber of es and continued in that position until his death.
One aspect of his character which will shed an interesting light on his brotherly and benevolent nature, and his tender solicitude for the unfortunate and the outcast, was the institution of Sunday Evening Services, which he conducted, at the Model Lodging House. He also presented a small library of books for the use of the frequenters of that institution, and for many years provided a Christmas feast for their benefit. His son, J. E. Willans, Esq., J.P., LL.D., has continued and kept up this good work at the Model Lodging House, inaugurated by his honoured father.
His death took place at Harrogate, on September 4th, 1863.
- ** In Huddersfield the day of his funeral was a day of sincere mourning. The procession on that occasion was one of the largest ever witnessed at such an event; and nearly every shop was voluntarily closed along the long line of progress to the Cemetery where his remains were interred.’’
It is scarcely necessary to recall or emphasise the devotion, and the long continued and distinguished services of the Willans family on behalf of the interests and welfare of Ramsden Street Chapel. Prompted by the noble and Christian example of a sainted father, members of that family have been closely associated in the work to which he gave so much thought, and which he loved 7 so well.
His eldest daughter, the wife of William Shaw of Rochdale, and Miss Emily Willans, afterwards Mrs. Asquith and the mother of Lord Oxford, were both, in their early days, active workers in the Church and Sunday School.
Of the sons, the late J. W. Willans, formerly proprietor of the ‘*Leeds Mercury,’’ was ever ready to help and encourage, and our respected and honoured townsman, James Edward Willans, J.P., LL.D., has a record of great usefulness in the same cause. JOHN MOODY. Next to that of Willans, the name of Moody is most deeply and affectionately enshrined in the hearts and memories of Ramsden Street folk. It is a name that will live in the annals of a church which has been abundantly enriched by the worthy and zealous labours of bygone members of that family.
John Moody was born in the city of Hull, on the 25th of May, 1801. His parents removed to Leeds while he was still young, and he resided there until the year 1826. With patience and industry he soon attained to a position of competency in business, and became cashier in a large mercantile house at the early age of sixteen years. In Leeds he first became acquainted with William Willans, and between the two a long, intimate and hallowed friendship grew up, which continued to the end of their lives. Some changes in Mr. Moody’s prospects, brought about by the commercial crisis of 1825, led him to Huddersfield, where he arrived in the year 1826.
‘“ About two years after Mr. Moody became a resident in Huddersfield, he entered the marriage state. His wife was the daughter of Mr. John Catton, of York; she was a woman of eminent piety, and proved a true helpmate.’’
It was in the autumn of 1826 that he made his appearance at Ramsden Street. ‘‘ There was then no minister, the church com— prised very few members, but there was a Sabbath School, and into this field of usefulness Mr. Moody soon found his way. Very unlike many in the Church of Christ, he did not wait till some one gave him a pressing invitation, but, in his quiet unassuming manner, he came and asked if he could have some work given him to do. Little did those who listened to his almost amusing inquiry think of the service he was to render in the future history of the school and the church.”’
Mr. Moody was an able and devoted worker in Ramsden Street Sunday School during the long period of forty-three years, for over thirty years of which he was a superintendent. He had a special genius and aptitude for teaching the very young, over whom he exercised a wonderful power, and whose minds he had
the faculty of interesting to a remarkable degree. He was one of the founders of the Huddersfield Sunday School Union, and in connection with that organisation he gave unwearying service. An address which he delivered at a united meeting of Sunday School Teachers in Huddersfield was so highly valued, that it was subsequently issued in pamphlet form with the title of ‘‘ The Sabbath School as a Pastorship,’’ and 15,000 copies were printed and sold. His thorough acquaintance with the Bible and scripture history, the ease and felicity with which he could expound and illustrate the truths of the Gospel placed him in the front rank of those engaged in Sunday School work throughout the town and district. Mr. Moody possessed some ability as a writer both of prose and verse, and he composed many beautiful hymns. As a deacon of the church he held office for the space of thirty-four years. He died on January 27th, 1870, in his sixty-ninth year.
On Sunday evening, February 6th, 1870, a service to his memory was held in Ramsden Street Chapel, when the Rev. R. Skinner preached from the words, ‘‘He being dead yet speaketh.’’ Mr. Skinner’s address on that occasion was afterwards printed, and from it many of the foregoing details have been extracted.
At the institution of a Christian Church at Ramsden Street in July, 1826, the name of John Frost appears in the first list of twenty-six persons constituting the original body of church mem— bers. Mr. Frost took a prominent part in the establishment of a Sunday School at Ramsden Street, and it was principally in this branch of service that he is remembered. In early life he became a teacher in the school, soon afterwards accepting the office of Secretary, a position he held for thirty years. The annual reports which he carefully prepared bore ‘‘ evidence of great intelligence and businesslike accuracy.’’ Mr. Frost was also chosen superin— tendent of the Girls’ School, and filled that office for a period of twenty years. He was elected a deacon of the church in 1858, which office he held up to the time of his death. The Provident Union from the time of its formation was an institution in which he took especial interest, and it was greatly indebted to his faith— ful and unremitting labours on its behalf. He was described as “‘a man of general information and considerable culture, and was marked by high integrity of character.’’
His death occurred on October 9th, 1872, at the age of sixty— seven years. WILLIAM WRIGLEY.
In the late thirties William Wrigley came from Netherton to reside at Springdale, Huddersfield, when he immediately connected himself with the church at Ramsden Street. He was transferred from membership of the Moorbottom Chapel at Honley to that of
William Shaw, J.P.
Ramsden Street in the year 1839. Within two years after his ‘settlement at Ramsden Street he was appointed a deacon of the church, an office which he retained for a period of thirty-two years. He was identified with all the prominent philanthropic enterprises of his time, and his liberality was displayed in promoting the physical comfort, educational advantages, and religious life of the people. He was especially interested in the work of the London Missionary Society, of which he was a generous supporter, and whose claims always found in him a warm advocate.
He died on February 28th, 1873. JOSEPH BATLEY.
Joseph Batley took an active interest in the cause at Ramsden Street in its earliest years. He was.a man of high character and superior intelligence, and in all the affairs of the church for many years took a prominent part. At the various meetings held in connection with Ramsden Street Chapel he was ever ready and willing to be associated, a sphere in which he was eminently quali— fied to serve as a leader, by his easy and graceful speech. He was a deacon from 1832 to 1856. Ultimately, with his family, he left the town and resided in the neighbourhood of Bristol, where he died in 1872, at the age of eighty—four. years.
He was the father of the late Mr. Joseph Batley, first Town Clerk of Huddersfield.
William Atkinson at the time of his death was the oldest member of Ramsden Street Church. He was a well-known and familiar figure sixty years ago in the business life of Huddersfield. He was a draper in Kirkgate, and afterwards occupied a shop in John William Street. He was a deacon of the church for upwards of thirty years, being first appointed to that office in the year 1847. He was one of a band who rallied round the beloved and vener- ated Mr. Skinner in the palmy days of Ramsden Street.
He died in the year 1889, having attained unto a ripe old age.
CHARLES HENRY JONES, J.P.
Charles Henry Jones was born at Buxton on the 12th of May, 1800. He came to Huddersfield in 1841, and in the following year joined the Ramsden Street Church. He had a long and honour- able record of public service in the town of Huddersfield, and whether he engaged in matters political, municipal or educational, in the official administration of justice, or in what related directly to religion, he was governed by a conscientious and loyal devotion to what he held to be true, just, and good,
In 1853 he was elected a member of the Improvement Com- mi.sioners, of which he afterwards became chairman, serving on that body until the year 1857. When the town was incorporated in 1868, Mr. Jones was elected the first Mayor. He was a tower of strength in the early years of its incorporation, and the borough owed much of its vitality and efficiency to his practical business habits, indomitable energy, and strong will. ‘‘ His career as Mayor and Alderman was marked by unremitting zeal and hard work in the interests of the borough, particularly in cornection with parliamentary business, which was very heavy and exact- ing in the early days of the Corporation, and for the successful carrying out of which his acquaintance with parliamentary com- mittees and their forms and procedure peculiarly fitted him. He was especially zealous in his labours in connection with the Water- works Act, the obtaining of which was the great event of his life, and, as regards the inhabitants, the greatest boon which has been conferred upon them by the Corporation. In matters of finance he was exceedingly useful to the new Corporation, having a won- derful command of figures and great calculating power. He presided over the deliberations of the Council with firmness, com- bined with ability, tact, and good humour, and thus made an excellent chairman.’’
Mr. Jones was an enthusiastic supporter of the cause of edu- cation for all classes. I He was President of the Council of the Huddersfield College for many years, and a trustee of the British School, Outcote Bank. From 1874 to 1877 he was Chair- man of the Huddersfield School Board, and for many years was a member of the Council of the Chamber of Commerce. It can truly be said he was one of Huddersfield’s greatest citizens. Mr. Jones was a sturdy Nonconformist of the type. He was a man of strictest rectitude and probity, firm but courteous, and hid beneath an austere manner a kind and brotherly heart. He was a member of the Ramsden Street Church for forty-two years, and as deacon, trustee and treasurer, faith— fully served the church. He died on the 28th of August, 1884, at the age of eighty-four years.
Stephen Arlom was born on the 5th of October, 1806. He was admitted to the fellowship of the Independent Church at Dogley in 1829, where he successively served in the School as Teacher, Secretary and Superintendent. He was transferred as a member to Ramsden Street Church in 1841, and was appointed deacon in 1858. In later years Mr. Arlom was prominently asso— ciated with the cause at Milton Church, of which he was a valued and devoted supporter. He died on the 28th of March, 1889. ‘“A Memorial Sermon ’’ preached by the Rev. John T. Stannard
in Milton Church on Sunday, April 14th, 1889, afterwards pub- lished by request, pays a fitting and beautiful tribute to his Christian example and usefulness.
Benjamin Halstead was admitted a member of Ramsden Street Church in April, 1851. He had a life-long connection with the chapel and school, and was for many years a teacher, and some— times acted as superintendent. He was appointed a deacon of the church in 1869, serving in that capacity for the space of about twenty-three years. For a long period he acted as a trustee and as treasurer of the church. He took a special interest and was very active in connection with the George Street Mission during the time it was run in conjunction with Ramsden Street. In public affairs he served on the Huddersfield Town Council, and for a time was a member of the Board of Guardians. His death occurred on the 28th of June, 1896, at the age of seventy—one years.
Charles Vickerman was born at Magdale, Honfley, in the year 1822. His connection with Ramsden Street Chapel dated back to the fifties—he was a well-known member of the ‘‘ Monday night class,’’ and was admitted as a member of the church in March, 1861. For a time he represented the Moldgreen Ward on the Huddersfield Town Council, and was also a director on the board of the Huddersfield Building Society. Mr. Vickerman was a man of sterling worth and ability, and was an authority on some special branches of textile manufacture. I He published some valuable works on woollen spinning. He died on January 26th, 1895.
WILLIAM SHAW, J.P.
William Shaw was born on June 23rd, 1821, at Lockwood, and was the eldest son of Mr. John Shaw, one of the best known men of his generation in Huddersfield, and head of the old estab— lished firm of John, William, and Henry Shaw, woollen manufac- turers. Mr. Shaw was brought up in the atmosphere and tradi- tions of Congregationalism. He was the son of a Congregational_ ist, and early in life he became connected with Ramsden Street, being admitted a member of the church in 1847. He was a devoted Sunday School worker, and for thirteen years was joint superintendent of the school—-at that time the largest in Hud- dersfield, with about 800 scholars. In September, 1850, he married the eldest daughter of Mr. William Willans, a lady who was also a zealous worker in connection with the Ramsden Street school. While in Huddersfield, Mr. Shaw gave not only unre— mitting personal service to the cause at Ramsden Street, but also subscribed liberally and handsomely on its behalf. In the year
1863 he went to reside at Rochdale, where his religious and philanthropic activities were abundantly maintained. His interest in, and affection for Ramsden Street Chapel never diminished, and after his removal to Rochdale, he occasionally revisited his old religious home, the last occasion being in December, 1895, to open the ‘‘ Orient’’ bazaar, when he gave interesting reminis— cences of his earlier associations with the church and school. He died on January 24th, 1897, in the seventy-—sixth year of his age.
Edmund Eastwood, a member of a family long and honourably linked with the best traditions of Huddersfield life, was connected with Ramsden Street from the first, and was present at the opening services in 1825. His wife was the daughter of Dr. Boothroyd, of - Highfield. The Eastwood family was closely associated with the work of the Ramsden Street Church, to the support of w hich they liberally contributed, both in money and service. I Frederick Eastwood, J.P., a son of Edmund Eastwood, served faithfully the cause for many years, as a member of the Management Committee and later asa deacon. On the formation of the interest at Milton he withdrew from Ramsden Street and associated himsell with that church.
JOHN CATTON MOODY.
The son of an honoured father, J. C. Moody was an inheritor of his spirit and ability. He was born in Huddersfield in the year 1833. Following in his father’s footsteps, he became an enthu— siast in religious work, particularly in connection with the Sunday School, aid in that of service his name will ever stand out as a beloved leader who accomplished great things in the work to which he was so zealously devoted. He was admitted to member-— ship of the church at Ramsden Street in the year 1853. In his younger days he was one of the leading spirits of the ‘‘Monday night class.’’ He had rare gifts as a Teacher, and his gentle and winning personality made him an ideal Superintendent, a position which he honourably filled for many years. He was appointed a deacon of the church in May, 1877. Mr. Moody was widely known throughout the Huddersfield district for his work on behalf of all sections of Christian effort. He held for a time the office of President of the Sunday School Union, also President of the Hud— dersfield and District Lay Preachers’ Union. He was also Presi— dent of the Huddersfield Young Men’s Christian Association from 1884 to 1887. Mr. Moody thought fit to withdraw from the Ramsden Street Church in 1881, and allied himself later with the new cause at Milton, but he never lost his love for the ‘‘ old home.’’ He frequently revisited Ramsden Street and expressed his warm and affectionate regard for the place which he often said was dearer to him in many senses than any other place could be.
John Catton Moody.
James Edward Willans, J.P., LL.D.
At Milton Church Mr. Moody conducted a large and successful Bible Class for young women, which had more than one hundred members. In 1910 he attained to his sixtieth year as a Sunday School worker, and the occasion was fittingly celebrated on October 22nd, 1910, by a gathering of Sunday School scholars who had been members of his classes at Ramsden Street Chapel, Milton Church, and Fields Chapel, Kirkheaton. His death occurred in October of the year 1911.
Edward Stott was born on November 7th, 1834, and he used to say he could scarcely remember his first introduction to Ramsden Street, having been brought as a little boy before being old enough to be enrolled as a scholar. Like his old friend, Mr. J. C. Moody, Mr. Stott had an almost life-long association with Sunday School work. At the suggestion of Mr. John Moody, he became, at the early age of twenty-six years, Superintendent of the school, a position which he held continuously over a long period. In 1890 the teachers, scholars and friends of the school presented Mr. Stott with his life size portrait, drawn in crayon, by Mr. W. M. Hannah. The portrait was handsomely framed in oak, and bore the following inscription on a gilt plate :—‘‘ Presented to Edward Stott, Esq., by the teachers and scholars of Ramsden Street Congregational School, Huddersfield, as a token of their loving esteem, and to express their grateful appreciation of his long services as their Superintendent. January 15th, 1890.”’
Mr. Stott was a generous supporter of the cause at Ramsden Street, and gave liberally out of a full heart, both in money and service. His outward manner, seemingly grave and reserved, scarcely did justice to his kind and brotherly nature. Behind his sedate and dignified mien, there was a vein of quiet bantering humour, often of a rather caustic flavour, liable to be misunder- stood, but greatly relished by those who knew him best.
Mr. Stott was appointed a deacon of the church in 1869, a position which he resigned in 1905. In the following year he left Huddersfield and went to reside at Ilkley, where he died in August, 1907.
William Dawson was born at Hopton on the 7th of May, 1819. He joined the church at Ramsden Street in the year 1860, and was appointed a deacon in May, 1865. For many years he held the office of Church Secretary, a position for which he was well qualified by reason of his industry and accuracy, and his unfailing courtesy and tact. Mr. Dawson warm advocate of Temperance, and was actively associated with the British Tem— perance League, and the Huddersfield Temperance Society. With
the work of the Bible Society, the Religious Tract Society, and the London Missionary Society, he ever evinced a keen interest, to the support of which he was always ready both in sympathy and with his purse. He died on the of July, 1901, and was laid to rest ‘‘ with his fathers ’’ in the secluded burial ground of the old Independent Chapel at Hopton. The late Dr. Bruce, in a beauti- ful tribute to his memory, said he was ‘‘a true saint in the best sense of the term, transparent in character, beautiful and gentle in spirit, simple almost to a fault, thinking of himself too little, and cultivating and exhibiting always the ornament of a meek and quiet
John Whitfield was a native of Muirkirk, Ayrshire, where he was born in 1831. He came to Huddersfield in the year 1854, and commenced a drapery business, the forerunner of the present suc— cessful enterprise bearing his name, in Manchester Road. Mr. Whitfield was a hard worker and a shrewd business man, but always displayed a keen interest in public affairs, and at an early age began to take an active part in social, educational and religious work. He joined Ramsden Street Church in 1866, and was elected a deacon in 1881. As a leader in connection with the District Meetings carried on by the members of Ramsden Street Church in the sixties and seventies, he took a prominent part, and in Sunday School work Mr. Whitfield could claim a long and honourable record of nearly fifty years’ service. He was for a time President of the Huddersfield Sunday School Union, and was one of seven enthusiasts who originated and formed that useful institution. During his long association with Ramsden Street he held many important offices, notably as a deacon of the church and as a teacher and superintendent in the school. As a man of affairs he was astute, but of the strictest integrity, and those to whom the lighter side of his nature was revealed knew him as a man of large— hearted sympathies, and of a genial and kindly disposition. His tall, manly and dignified figure was well known in Huddersfield circles, and at Ramsden Street Church in particular, where he was greatly loved and respected. His death occurred at Huddersfield in November, 1908, at the age of years.
Charles Hirst has been fitly described as a ‘‘ stalwart ’’ of Huddersfield Congregationalism. I Ramsden Street may justly claim a share in the reflected honour of his distinction and achieve— ment. In his remarkable record as an able and progressive Sun— day School worker, his name ranks with that of ‘‘ Moody’’ of Ramsden Street, and ‘‘ Riley’? of Buxton Road. His honoured parents were among the first settlers at Ramsden Street soon after the chapel was built, and he was steeped and brought up in the
W. H. Woodcock.
James T. Prentis-.
7 ae ee
xO agi, ss? ts lb gh © gos on
best traditions of Congregationalism. Of Mr. Hirst’s associa— tion with Ramsden Street we may remark that he was admitted as a church member in 1862, and elected a deacon in 1869. He . was then the youngest member of the diaconate, being only twenty-two years of age. As a very young man he became a teacher in the Sunday School, and in 1878 was appointed superin— tendent, holding that office continuously until he withdrew Ramsden Street in 1881. Mr. Hirst also assisted, along with his gifted brother, the late Mr. Alfred Hirst, as a member of the vol— untary teaching staff in the week—night school, run in connection with Ramsden Street in the fifties and sixties. At Milton, Mr. Hirst has maintained with ceaseless energy and untiring devotion his work and service on behalf of the Sunday School, and we rejoice with our sister church in the noble record of his valued efforts, so long and ably sustained in such a worthy cause. This veteran of sixty-three years’ continuous labour in the field of Christian service, though grown old in years, is still young and vigorous in spirit and outlook, and is an outstanding and worthy champion of the glorious cause he has so much at heart.
JAMES T. PRENTIS.
James Thomas Prentis was born at Leeds in September, 1842. He came to Huddersfield in 1863, as Secretary of the Huddersfield Industrial Society, and the remarkable growth of that important institution has been in a mige measure due to his able and skilful administration. He was admitted to membership of the church at Ramsden Street in November, 1871, and was elected a deacon in September, 1896, an office which he held up to the time of his death, embracing a period of over twenty-nine years. For many years he held the position of Church Secretary, which office he fulfilled with rare ability and distinction. Quiet and unassuming, but efficient in everything he undertook, he was one of the most reliable of men and his death, on September 16th, 1925, was a great and irreparable loss to the church at Ramsden Street, and removed one who had ever been a true friend and loyal supporter.
The foregoing list of leaders associated with the progress of Ramsden Street is necessarily incomplete and inadequate. Other names will probably occur to those who are familiar with the history of the church. The names of Thomas Pitt, William Greenwood, Edward Couzens, William Dawson (Longley), James Hartley, William Hirst, James Thompson, Enoch Sykes, James Shaw, W. H. Woodcock, John Dawson, Joel Arlom, W. H. Haigh, Alfred E. Jones, and many others, could be singled out for notice, but we have only attempted to mention a few examples of those, who by their sincere efforts and devotion, have so nobly carried on the work, and helped to sustain the worthy name and excellent traditions of Ramsden Street Chapel.
AN ACCOUNT of the Title to certain Leasehold Property in Ramsden Street, Huddersfield, on which are erected Ramsden Street Chapel and other Buildings, and of the two Trust Deeds.
By E. SHEARD.
On or about the Ist of June, 1847, a Lease was taken from The Honourable Isabella Ramsden, Widow, The Right Honourable Charles William Earl Fitzwilliam, The Right Honourable Thomas Earl of Zetland and Charles Ramsden, Esq., by Robert Gardner Jackson and Thomas Haigh of a parcel of land adjoining upon Ramsden Street, Huddersfield, containing an area of 2022 square yards or thereabouts and of the building erected thereupon called ‘‘Ramsden Street Chapel’’ and all other erections and buildings belonging thereto. The Lease was for a term of 60 years from the Ist day of May, 1846, and the Ground Rent was £50 lls. 0d. There were included provisions for the renewal of the Lease. Other buildings including the Door-keeper’s house were erected on part of this land and certain rooms were constructed immediately adjoining the Chapel which rooms and buildings were at the date of the First Trust Deed used as a Vestry, School, Class and Committee Rooms and for the purpose of public religious worship.
‘On or about the 9th October, 1848, the above premises were assigned by Robert Gardner Jackson and Thomas Haigh to Messrs. Thomas Pitt, of Belgrave Terrace, Gentleman; William Willans, of West Parade, Wool- stapler; Charles Henry Jones of the same place, Gentleman; Henry Lead- beater, of South Parade, Cloth Merchant; John Moody, of New Street, Banker’s Clerk ; William Batley, of New North Road, Gentleman ; John Frost, of Greenside, Wool Salesman; William Atkinson, of Market Place, Linen Draper; Ebenezer Thornton, of New Street, Ironmonger; William Hirst, of Dyke End, Woolstapler ; Charles Pritchett, of New Street, Architect; William Willans Greenwood, of Ramsden Street, Woolstapler; James Thompson, of New Street, Silversmith; James Hirst, of Clare Hill, Woolstapler; John Senior, of Longroyd Bridge, Butcher; James Hartley, of Gledholt Bank, Wool Sorter; Benjamin Sykes, of Almondbury, Book-keeper; Joseph Batley, of Armitage, Dyer; William Wrigley, of Longroyd Bridge, Cloth Manu. facturer and Merchant; William Shaw, the younger, of Lockwood, Cloth Manufacturer and Merchant; and Stephen Arlom, of Jackroyd, near Almond- bury, Fancy Cloth Manufacturer. These Gentlemen held the above property as Trustees for the already formed Ramsden Street Chapel and were the first Trustees in whom the Chapel premises were vested.
On the 27th March, 1849, during the Ministry of The Rev. Richard Skinner, the first Trust Deed of the Chapel was signed. The Deed is made between the Gentlemen to whom the Chapel premises had been assigned and in whom they were then vested of the first part and The Rev. Richard Skinner, of the second part. The trusts declared are numerous and varied, and many of the provisions of the Deed are merely legal machinery. There is a Trust to permit the Chapel to be used for public religious Worship by Protestant Dissenters of the Congregational Denomination under the direction of the Managing Committee and under the like direction to permit the School Rooms to be used for the purposes of public religious Worship in connection with and appendant to the Chapel, and for the religious and secular instruction of children on the Lord’s Day and other
days and, under the directicn of the Pastor and of the Deacons for the time being, to permit the Chapel, Rooms and other premises to be used for ‘holding Public and other Meetings therein to promote religious, moral or philanthropic objects.
We reproduce verbatim the Trust and Doctrinal Schedule :—
‘“‘And Upon Trust that the Trustees or Trustee for the time being of these presents shall permit such persons only to officiate in the said Chapel and premises as stated Pastors as shall be of the Denomination aforesaid being Paedobaptists; shall hold and maintain the doctrines specified in the Schedule hereunder written, etc.”’
The Doctrinal Schedule is as follows :—
1. The divine inspiration of the Holy Scriptures and their sole authority and entire sufficiency as the Rule of Faith and Practice.
2. The Unity of God with the proper deity of the Father, the Word and the Holy Spirit. 3. The universal and total depravity of man and his exposure to the anger of God on account of his sins.
4. The sufficiency of the atonement which was made for sin by our Lord Jesus Christ and his ability and willingness to save all who come to him for salvation.
5. Free justification by faith, and by faith alone in the Lord Jesus Christ. :
6. The necessity of the Holy Spirit’s influence in the work of regeneration and also in the work of sanctification.
7. The predestination, according to God’s gracious purpose, of a multitude which no man can number unto eternal salvation by Jesus Christ.
8. The immutable obligation of the Moral Law as the Rule of human conduct,
9. The resurrection of the dead, both just and unjust.
10. The eternal happiness of the righteous, and the everlasting punishment of the wicked.
On the 18th January, 1861, the Guildhall premises were assigned to the Trustees of the Chapel upon the same Trusts and subject to the same provisions as are contained in the Trust Deed of the 27th March, 1849.
On the Ist August, 1872, the Chapel and Guildhall premises were assigned to Messrs. Charles Henry Jones, John Frost, William Atkinson, James Thompson, James Hartley, William Wrigley, William Shaw, Junr., Stephen Arlom, Edward John Sinclair Couzens, George Henry Greenwood, James Edward Willans, Charles Hirst, Junr., Joshua Whitworth, William Henry Woodcock, Thomas Kettlewell, John Thornton, Benjamin Halstead, Edward Stott, John Catton Moody, John Whitfield and Charles Walton Ellis as continuing and new Trustees thereof.
On the 10th June, 1885, Mr. William Atkinson and four others obtained from Sir John William Ramsden, Baronet, a Lease of the Guildhall premises for a term of 999 years from the 25th March, 1882.
On the 14th March, 1890, Mr. James Thompson and 17 others obtained from the Ramsden Estate a lease of the Chapel premises for a term of 999 years from the 25th March, 1886.
By two Memoranda of choice and appointment of new Trustees each dated the 3rd June, 1908, the following gentlemen were appointed new Trustees of the ‘‘Chapel, Door-keeper’s house, buildings and premises and of all other premises situate at Ramsden Street, Huddersfield, including
the Guildhall premises,’’ viz. :—Messrs. Benjamin David Hill, Eli Whitwam, William Dickinson Halstead, Alfred Edmund Jones, Joe William Brook, Samuel Clarke, William Armitage, John Dawson, Arthur Ingram Edward Smith, John Moody Clokie, Arthur William Sykes, Lowis Nightingale Wilson, William Edward Peace, Benjamin Sykes, Leonard Haigh and Charles Brook.
On the 3rd February, 1909, at a Special Meeting of the Church it was resolved ‘‘That the Church assembling for worship in the Ramsden Street Chapel, Huddersfield, being unable to continue the work at Ramsden Street is of opinion that the Church should be: dissolved and the same is hereby dissolved accordingly and the Committee which is now acting as a Chapel Committee is hereby authorised and requested to deal with the property and assets of the Church in such manner as the Committee shall in its discretion think fit for the benefit of Congregationalism, first making pro- vision for discharging the liabilities and obligations of the Church.”’
At a Meeting of the Chapel Committee held on the 8rd February, 1909, it was resolved to continue services in the Chapel heretofore and to request the then Trustees to permit them the use of the premises.
At a Trustees’ Meeting held on the 2nd March, 1909, it was resolved to accede to the request of the Chapel Committee and to request the Secretary of the Yorkshire Congregational Union and Home Missionary Society to communicate with the Pastors of the Congregational Paedobaptist Churches. in Leeds, Halifax and Bradford in accordance with the Trust Deed of the 27th March, 1849.
At a Meeting held on the 10th February, 1909, it was resolved to form a New Church and to enrol members and to negotiate for the taking over of the above premises so as to be held upon the Trusts of the model Trust Deed of the Congregational Union.
On the 10th February, 1909, the new Church was formed, the majority of the Pastors of the Churches in Leeds, Halifax and Bradford having directed that the above premises should be held for the new Church upon the trusts of the model Trust Deéd of the Congregational Union without doctrinal Schedule ; and the Trusts of the present Trust Deed were approved at Special Church Meetings held on the 10th February, 1909, and the 3rd March, 1908.
The present Trust Deed is dated the 3lst December, 1909. The parties to the Deed are the gentlemen nominated in Memoranda of Choice and Appointment of 3rd June, 1908, of the one part, and Messrs. Benjamin David Hill, Eli Whitwam, Alfred Edmund Jones, Joe William Brook, John ‘Dawson, Arthur Ingram Edward Smith, Arthur William Sykes, Wiiliam Edward Peace, Benjamin Sykes, Leonard Haigh, Charles Brook, Frederick Booth, John McClellan, Joseph Marsden, Joseph Thomas Spratt, and James Thomas Prentis, of the other part. This deed transfers to the parties of the other part the whole of the Chapel and Guildhall premises upon the trusts contained in the model Trust Deed of the Congregational Union of England and Wales (Incorporated) without doctrinal Schedule.
The first of the Trusts is perhaps the most important. It is that the Trustees shall permit the premises to be used and enjoyed as a place for the public Worship of God and for preaching the Gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ according to the principles and usages for the time being of Protestants of the Congregational Denomination, under the direction of the Christian Church for the time being assembling for Worship therein and for the instruction of children and adults and for the promotion of such other religious or philanthropic purposes as the Church shall from time to time direct. There are numerous Trusts regulating the management of the _ Chapel and for other purposes.