Calling the faithful city back to the faithful God

When we start to look at the early history of Red Hill Baptist Church, we must of necessity begin at the Kempsey branch of Worcester Baptist Church. For it was there in 1862 where the small wooden hut was erected which was to provide the first church building in the Red Hill area of Worcester four years later. It was erected at Kempsey at a cost of £28-16s-0d but the painting, varnishing, spouting, felting etc brought it up to £39-4s-11d – and another £11 for seats, desks and other fittings made a grand total of over £50.

However, this building soon proved inadequate and on 1 May 1865 the fellowship there resolved to ‘arise and build’, a Mr Seymour having offered them a new site. When the new chapel was built in 1866 some young men who had started a united Christian witness at Swinesherd bought the hut, having first collected the £40 needed to purchase and furnish it. They were given the lease of a site free by a Mr Green, a farmer of Newtown and the hut was re-erected at Swinesherd.

This then was the first organised Christian fellowship meeting in a church in the Red Hill area of the city. Sadly no record exists of the exact location but it was probably just outside the city boundary (the present hamlet of Swinesherd is located on the old Spetchley Road, bounded by the A4440, A422 and M5). It has to be admitted as well that almost certainly it wasn’t known as a Baptist Church in those very early days – but what followed was a continuation of the work started there.

No trace of any details regarding the number of worshippers or the actual work and worship carried on week by week has been found. What we do know is that over the next few years several of the men involved in the church either left the neighbourhood or emigrated and the friends who were left and who owned the building decided to offer the structure back to Sansome Walk free of charge. The only condition was that they should faithfully carry the work on. The offer was accepted in September 1874 and the little church joined and became part of Worcester Baptist Church (a ‘family’ of Sansome Walk as the ‘mother’ church and its ‘daughter’ churches at Red Hill, Rainbow Hill, Kempsey, Fernhill Heath and, for a while, Ronkswood, which was to continue as one membership and for most of the time under one minister right up until Red Hill was the first to be commissioned as an independent church in 1983). The Sansome Walk friends conducted public worship and Sunday School in the little chapel for the next 4½ years. The records tell us that the pioneers of this work included Messrs Farrant, Middleton, Longmore and Smith.

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