- Leyland Road Church was built to provide for the spiritual needs of the rapidly developing area around Roe Lane. The general design of the Church was inspired by the Early English style of architecture.
- The Foundation Stones were laid on September 28th, 1878. Dr. W. B. Pope, Mr. James Wheater, Mr. J. F. Stead and Mr. James Wood laid stones. It was opened on Wednesday, June 2nd, 1880 The total cost was £13,767
- That was a great day and the Church was opened with great services. In the morning at ‘‘the Opening Service was conducted by Dr. W. B. Pope. In the evening at 7-30 there was a special Dedication Service conducted by Dr Ebenezer Jenkins.
- The ‘Southport Visiter” described it as ‘among the handsomest and most perfectly finished places of worship in this town.
- Messrs. Waddington were the Architects and Messrs. Bridge and Sons were the builders.
- The spire is 150 feet high. Lighting was by means of gas fitments in wall brackets of brass and iron.The font is of alabaster and polished limestone
- A Manse, behind the Church in Park Road was bought at the same time for £1,420. There was passage way along the side of the garden connecting Park Road with the Church grounds. This was only closed in 1980 when a new manse was purchased in Melling Road and the old manse was sold for redevelopment/
- In 1891 the Sunday School buildings and caretaker’s house were built. At first the Sunday School had to be conducted in a room at the back of the Church. But as the neighbourhood grew and the Church began to draw many worshippers from the overcrowded Mornington Road Church and the new district around, it was evident that a new venture would have to be undertaken. At the Annual Trustees Meeting held on February 8th, 1890, a scheme was formally sanctioned for the building of new Schools, Church Room and Caretaker’s House. The total cost was over £4000.
- Miss Barnes gave £500 towards it, and later added another £so; Mr. C. Heaton gave £300, and the Fernley Trustees contributed £300. There were over sixty other people who contributed sums between £10 and £50. The buildings were opened and handed over to the Trust in 1892.
- Before this new building the Sunday School was held in the “ Band room” at the back of the Church The first Superintendent was a Mr. Hodgson and Mr. David Brown was the first Superintendent in the new buildings. Mr. I. Heaton was the Secretary.
- At the very beginning, the membership of the Church numbered less than twenty. This figure however quickly reached treble figures. We shall never know why, at Circuit Quarterly meetings in the mid-eighties, the congregation of Leyland Road Church was described as being ‘peculiar”! Three of the first four ministers of the Church subsequently became Presidents of the Wesleyan Methodist Conference.
- In the early days, very few of the pews were ‘free’. The rentals varied from 12s.00 to £2.00 per year, and pew rents survived until 1972. At first these, apart from particular donations, provided the sole income of the church, for there were evidently no offertories taken during services.
- The first organist was a Mr. (or Herr) Gressler who served, with a break from 1891 to 1910, until 1938. One of the earliest other appointments was of a lead soprano for the church choir, who was paid £15 per year (compared to £30 for the organist.)
- At first, the pulpit stood centrally, and there were no choir stalls. The choir sat in the north gallery, while the organ was situated in the corner of the gallery, under the organ pipes. The present choir stalls, now under the RH balcony , were provided in 1893 and the pulpit was moved to a new position to give a clearer view of the communion table. The organ console, however, stayed in the gallery until the 1950’s.
Between The Wars
- During the first World War the school buildings were used for locally billeted troops, with a billiard room in the then “Ladies” Parlour and café. After the War a Victory Scheme provided funds for the erection of the War Memorial to commemorate those who had served in the War. This was unveiled by the President of the Conference, Dr. Barber, in 1919. The funds raised also enabled redecoration of the Church to take place and improvements to the organ were made (including the replacement of man-operated bellows by electric ones).
- The Ministers Ladies Class, which still flourished in 1980 was set up in 1914.
- Other class meetings prospered during various periods in the church’s life, particularly in the twenties and thirties. These have now developed into house fellowship groups and new ones are continually being added.
- Between the wars there was a flourishing social and sports club. At first, activities took place on a site where Griffiths Drive now stands. In 1922 a 5 acre site was leased and a well-equipped pavilion erected where the houses of Cambridge Avenue were later built. Hockey, Cricket, Tennis and Football flourished. Subsequently, the pavilion became the property of King George V School.
- The Golden Jubilee celebrations in 1930 included the first ever radio broadcast from a Southport church, the preacher being the minister, the Reverend Price Hughes, who was eloquent as both preacher and lecturer.
- Six years later, the Church and School were struck by lightning, but only minor damage was done.
- The Church was even more fortunate in the 2nd world War, although the manse was damaged by a bomb that fell in Preston Road, while another demolished houses in Hartwood Road. The greatest risk, perhaps, came from a sizeable Landmine which rested all night in trees between Leyland Road and Alexandra Road without exploding.
- During the Second World War, the school buildings were leased for a time to Bootle Education Committee, to be used for the education of children evacuated to Southport. Later they were used by the Red Cross. A Comforts Committee was established, which had sent monthly gift parcels to 101 members of the Armed Forces by 1945.
- Until the 1940’s, the only stained glass in the Church had been in the rose window above the communion table. In the South transept are two windows, portraying St. Paul and Dorcas, given in memory of Mr. and Mrs. J. Rayner Batty, (who, with other members of their family, played a prominent part in the life of the church for some eighty years) by their children.
- In 1949, the window which illustrates the Transfiguration was dedicated in memory of those who had fought and died in the Second World War (the war memorial was extended to record their names in the previous year). The window was given by Mr. and Mrs. A. Schofield.
- During the War, another generous gift of Mr. Schofield established the Endowment Fund, which helped to place the finances of the Church on a stronger footing.
- Finally, in 1952 the window representing the Resurrection was unveiled by Mrs. Cooper in memory of her parents (Mr. and Mrs. J Hesketh) and her husband.
- In 1938 a Ladies Toilet Block was constructed at the rear of the School Hall. This provided good facilities for the ladies and two rooms for the Sunday School over this.
- In 1983 an extension was built onto the School Hall. This gave additional room for a Crèche (This is now the office as crèche meets in the Church) and a well-equipped kitchen. The cost for this work was around £16,000
- Inside the Church in 1987 a centre door was made in the vestibule screen the back pews were removed to provide central access to the Church and space for Children’s Corner, bookstall, space for displays and for members of the congregation to meet together before leaving the Church after services. The front platform area was rebuilt and the pulpit was altered to allow access from the stage. This scheme cost £1500
- After a couple of years of preparation the “Redevelopment scheme” started in September 2007 and extensive reworking of the interior of the Church was undertaken. The Architects were Edmund Kirby of Liverpool.
- Prior to this work extensive repairs took place on the steeple and tower areas The cost was £250,000. This was funded by grants from English Heritage and the sale of a house, used by the youth worker, that had been given to the Church some three years earlier.
- At the same time the School Kitchen was completely refurbished so that it would comply with the latest hygiene requirements for meals.
- The “Redevelopment scheme” involved moving the vestibule screen into the rear area of Church and, of course adding a suitable roof. This is now the church lounge. A new Kitchen/Servery was made and on the opposite side two toilets were built one of which was for disabled visitors.
- Meanwhile in the Church all the remaining pews were removed and thirty seven small benches were made by a local joiner and sold to church members. This utilised the pew ends and most of the pew backs. Other timber from the pews was recycled into paneling and architraves. Under the left hand balcony a partition screen was moved forward to create a new, crèche, room. The platform area was extended and a ramp for wheel chairs incorporated so that these could now reach the communion rail. The choir stalls were relocated to a position under the right hand balcony and the font was moved nearer to the communion rail by two metres. At the same time the Pulpit had its third move in 125 years to a position nearer to the communion rail.
- The final result is a pleasing retention of the character of the church and vastly improved seating and general facilities more suited to the 21st century. Externally the car park area was completely revised and the gate adjacent to the intersection of Roe lane and Leyland Road was final close for vehicular traffic. The final cost was £ 300,000 funded by generous Connexional and Circuit Grants and a plethora of gifts from Church members.
- Many changes have taken place in the Church during since it was built but the Gospel message of it’s ministers and its lay people has remained the same
- We rejoice today that our Church has enjoyed so many years of happy fellowship.. We have preached this Gospel, helped the sad and lonely, trained the children in the way they should go and brought the nearness of the Saviour of mankind to our neighbourhood.
- In all our work we have been led by the Holy Spirit and guided and inspired by our ministers with their vision of what could be done for the kingdom of God. Their memory lives with us and we can still see their faces alight with the joy of the Lord as they brought us into the very presence of God. There is no need to mention names. Some of us can still in our minds, hear them leading us in prayer and we can still remember how faithfully they visited the sick and comforted the bereaved. However one example of this is the record of church life in the mid 1970’s in a book entitled “ When the tide came in”.
- Our church has continued faithfully to proclaim the Gospel of Jesus Christ in many ways. We have employed a Youth and also recently a Family worker and our ministry to Children and young people has blossomed. New and revised initiatives have started with our children. Good links with Norwood School have been built. Our ministry to adults has strengthened too and pastoral care is our priority. We have a good luncheon club
- During this period safeguarding procedures have been introduced by the Methodist Connexion and adopted locally. Property has been regularly maintained and a recent quinquennial has identified very little additional work. Over recent years our Sunday School has declined in numbers as families are engaged nowadays in considerably increased Sunday activities. We have Messy Church as an alternative for families and these have been successful. In 2017 we have started the 4 O’clock Church to reach out to these folk.
Our grateful thanks to all the ministers who have served us at Leyland Road,
- Organist William Dobson, affectionately called Dobby, 1970 – 1990