Calling the faithful city back to the faithful God

In succeeding years the work continued, although in a rather more steady than spectacular way. Let’s pick out some points of interest. The first Chapel Anniversary after ‘home rule’ was held in January 1906 and the offerings given to the Renovation Fund. Then in 1913 Mr Roberts spoke at the SS Anniversary but apparently had his remarks cut short by the presiding chairman, Mr Mayglothling, because ‘he could not see his way clear to conform to what is now known as “Red Hill time” ‘ The mind boggles at the prospect of the congregation walking out at a certain time in the proceedings!

On 13 October 1912 the beloved Superintendent, Mr E.T. French passed away, to be succeeded eventually by Mr T.C. Davies (all such appointments over the years being made by the Church Meeting at Sansome Walk). Mr Davies was Beat Clinton’s SS teacher and she recalls that he had a very large family who would fill a couple of rows in the chapel. In June 1913 the SS won the Scripture Exam and were entitled to retain the shield. There was an honour for the new Superintendent on 21 December 1916 when he was decorated by HM the King for his valuable service in the Red Cross.

A very popular activity for ladies was the weekly sewing meeting every Tuesday evening from 7-9 pm in the chapel. This started in about 1920 and continued right up to the late 1940s/early 1950s. The meeting was run in the early years by Mrs Giles (Rob Giles’ grandmother) and Kate Jones. Mrs Giles obtained the material and Mrs Jones, an excellent seamstress, did the patterns and cutting out and any elaborate stitching required. Apparently they took orders and their work featured in occasional ‘sales of work’ – and, of course, they also had an annual outing, often to Spetchley Park!

Outings of varying descriptions have already been mentioned. They were no doubt eagerly anticipated in the days of restricted travel for most people. What’s surprising are the stop-out times in the early years of the century. In 1911, for example, the church went to Weston-super-Mare. Admittedly they didn’t get there until 4 pm, having started out at 12.45 pm but they arrived back at 12.30 am! But that’s nothing – the 1927 Annual Mission Outing, again to Weston (75 passengers; fare, inc. tea, 7 shillings) got back at 12.55 am. Even worse, in 1928 they returned from Barry Island at 1.30 am!

Mr Frank Wheeler, who was to play a prominent part in the life of the fellowship for so many years, took over the position of Secretary from Mr R.T.Blake in 1916 and then became Superintendent in 1925. The post of Secretary was taken up by Mr B. Giles, the father of Stan Giles.

A tremendous step forward was made in January 1927 when that marvellous new invention, the electric light, was used for the first time at a special Sunday service. According to Beat Clinton, the money to pay for this was raised by the Ladies Sewing Class, primarily from a Sale of Work opened by Mr George Cadbury who started the fund with a handsome donation of £5. In the same year, 80 were present at a tea and concert given by the young people. The concert included selections by the band. In July of the following year it was decided to hold a communion service on the fourth Sunday morning in each summer month at 8am but there’s no confirmation that this was continued in subsequent years. Also on 6 December 1928 a social was held, presided over by Mr Wheeler, to welcome Rev C.C. Chambers to the ministry of Worcester Baptist Church. He was to be the pastor over Sansome Walk and the branch churches for 25 years. Beat Clinton tells us that Red Hill hosted a social evening each year on the Thursday after Christmas for the young people of the whole of Worcester Baptist Church (ie Sansome Walk, Kempsey, Rainbow Hill and Fernhill Heath) when they played such games as musical chairs, kissing in the ring and postman’s knock!

1929 saw the 50th anniversary of the site and the former minister, Rev H. Wyatt, spoke at special services. Two years later the chapel interior was renovated and re-opening services held in September. It was at that time that a large text was painted on the rear wall of the main hall, reflecting the focus of the mission’s work over the years: ‘Remember now thy Creator in the days of thy youth’ (Ecclesiastes 12 v1). This text remained on the wall for over 40 years and would have been very visible to all worshippers, since in those days there was a platform against that wall for the pulpit and choir.

In 1932 Mr B. Giles moved away. The July Banner of that year records ‘This is the last time Bert Giles will appear under Red Hill notes for we shall be in our new home at Wolverhampton by the time these notes appear. Thanks especially to the friends at Red Hill for the parting gifts to us in the beautiful grandmother clock and fountain pens. We shall treasure them.’ His place as Secretary was taken by Mr Bert Preston. Although his two sisters went with their parents, fortunately for Red Hill Stan Giles stayed in Worcester.

Gifts were clearly the order of the day. In 1933 the choir gave an umbrella to their leader for many years, Mrs Stubbs – and the following year clocks and oak candlesticks were presented to two of the SS teachers ‘who had recently entered  marital bliss’.  In 1936 the secretaryship was taken over by Miss Alice Dolloway. She served in that position for a remarkable 32 years – another example of long and faithful devotion to the work and witness of the chapel.

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