Calling the faithful city back to the faithful God

Red Hill Baptist Church – a short history of the first 100 years 1866 – 1966, written by Rob Giles, May 2007. If you would prefer to download the whole history it is also available as a PDF file by clicking here (or right click the link and choose “Save as” if you would like to save it to your computer). You can also view a short video of our history, and a three part video interview with one of our former members, who died in 2008, about her experiences at Red Hill since 1915, on our Youtube page by clicking here .

A Little History

The first Baptist Church in Worcester began in 1658. In the late 19th century that church (now based in Sansome Walk) established several branches around the city including one in…

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Red Hill Baptist Church History

Red Hill Baptist Church – a short history of the first 100 years 1866 – 1966, written by Rob Giles, May 2007. If you would prefer to download the whole history it is also available as a PDF file by clickinghere (or right click the link and choose “Save as” if you would like to save it to your computer). You can also view a short video of our history, and a three part video interview with one of our former members, who died in 2008, about her experiences at Red Hill since 1915, below.
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Early Beginnings

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.

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Moving On

Early in 1879 the time came to move on. Mr Green’s lease had expired and the farm had changed hands. This meant that the site had to be given up. All that time Mr Green had generously allowed the use of the land free of charge.

A new site was purchased at Red Hill Cross right on the edge of the city, though one report puts the price at £76 while another states £95. This was the site of the chapel in Cannon Street on which Christian work and witness was to continue for another 128 years. Initially however the little wooden chapel was moved from Swinesherd to the new plot of ground, mainly with the help of Mr Watson and his family of The Mill, Swinesherd, who lent his team of horses to assist in the relocation.

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New Build

As time went on congregations and SS scholars increased while at the same time as these went up the condition of the building went steadily down. After all, the wooden hut had given splendid service for nearly 30 years first at Kempsey, then at Swinesherd and latterly at Red Hill. It was no surprise, then, to find that something had to be done regarding a new and more permanent structure.

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Grand Opening

The name of Captain Alexander Locke should be familiar to all of us as it’s his name that appears on the front wall of the chapel. It was he who…

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The work grows

Let’s go on now to mention the various groups within the church together with points of interest generally as the years go by. First of all, the Young Men’s Bible Class. This was started in August 1893 with six members and the meeting was held in the kitchen underground (the lower part of the cellar, which also contained the boiler used to heat the premises). This was the only available space in the already crowded building but apparently it was made more homely by hanging some curtains. It was obviously a great success because the numbers grew so much that its leader, Miss James, proposed that £100 be raised in order to build a larger classroom on to the back of the chapel. At first the members thought this a quite impossible task, with the result that Miss James, clearly a very determined lady, worked all alone to raise the first £40. At that point, realising perhaps that it wasn’t quite so impossible after all, they all set to work in earnest and £95 was in the kitty by January 1896. What a testimony to the example of Miss James. At the time the group had 42 members but only room to seat 24! Anyway, thanks to this effort, the new classroom, known for many years, fittingly, as Miss James’ room but more familiar to succeeding generations simply as ‘the back room’, was opened on 13 October 1896.

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The Sunday School

What about the Sunday School – quite remarkable in terms of numbers. Let’s look at this branch of the work over a period. Remember that in the early days there…

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Worshippers

So much for the early days of the Sunday School. Let’s go back now to other aspects of church life. The annual Year Books printed in those days are quite…

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The Choir

Like most churches Red Hill had a regular choir, which lasted right up to the 1970s. Indeed Red Hill was always known for its singing. The choir was almost an organisation in itself, always doing things and going off here, there and everywhere (geographically and no doubt sometimes musically as well). Take 1899 for example. The choir had their annual outing on Saturday, 12 August when they drove in a couple of brakes [open horse drawn carriages with four wheels] although we’re not told where to – probably one of the mystery trips popular for very many years until car ownership became widespread.

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Young People

1902 saw the formation of a Young People’s Christian Endeavour meeting with Mr C. Burden as President, Miss Ellison as Vice-President, Mr L.W. Westall as Secretary and Miss J. Wood…

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Home Rule

1905 was an important year. The church had requested Sansome Walk to grant it the privilege of partial self-government similar to that given earlier to Kempsey. This meant in practice…

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