Lidgett Park Methodist Church     History

A History of Lidgett Park Methodist Church

Prior to 1871 what is now Roundhay Park was privately owned and was a country house and estate. Old Park Road was then Park Road and was the main drive to the Mansion. Leeds Corporation bought the estate when it was put up for auction in1871 and then sold off those parts of the land that it did not require for park purposes. Following this the houses were built on Old Park Road and the Park end of the Street Lane area. Gledhow was a village surrounded by open countryside.

The land on which the church now stands was part of Lidgett Lane Farm and when the farm was sold by auction in 1887, eighty nine acres were sold for £6,700. Later, in 1901, about thirteen acres of this, which had been bought by a Mr Austen and which had changed in name from Lidgett Park Farm to Lidgett Park, was sold for £7,858, for building purposes. New roads were laid out, including North Park Avenue, Lidgett Park Road, Lidgett Place and other neighbouring roads.

The nearest Wesleyan Methodist Church, known as the Ladywood Church, was at Oakwood and the scheme for building our church was originated from the members of that church, some of whom lived in Gledhow and wished to have a church nearer to their own homes.

In 1902 two thirds of an acre of Lidgett Park was bought by the Trustees for the Gledhow Wesleyan Church on the corner of North Park Avenue and Lidgett Place for £550. Building permission was given for a hall, vestry, schoolroorns and toilets on 11th September, 1903.

The collection at the opening service on Friday 20th January, 1905 was more than £150, but the following Sunday collection was just 9s 7d (47p).

The original building is now used by us as the Community Hall. The stage was not in the original building and it comprised merely the church hall itself, a minister's vestry and a choir vestry. The pulpit was movable so that it could be taken away from the hall when it was being used for other church purposes.
The building was soon found to be not large enough to cater for all the activities required, especially bearing in mind that the district was growing and houses were gradually being built in the new roads around the church. In about 1910 a scheme was brought forward for the building of a larger church, and further land was bought upon which the new church would stand. It was many years before this could be achieved because of the first World War.

The first meeting of a building committee was held on 26th September, 1912 in the vestry and it was hoped to build a new church for about £7,500 seating 450 people. The members had efforts to raise money for the day when they would be able to start building and the foundation stone laying ceremony for the church as we know it today was held on 6th December 1924, when a stone was laid by the deputy Lord Mayor of Leeds. Other stones were laid by members of the church. These stones were set into the columns at the front entrance. The original architects were Baines and Son of Bradford, who were abandoned in favour of Brocklehurst & Co. The builders were J.W. Wright who used Guiseley stone with Westmoreland slate roofing. The cost of the new church was eventually £12,825.

The opening festival was on Saturday, 29th May, 1926 when, following an address by the Rev R Gibson Lawn, the Trustees led a procession from the old building to the new. After singing by the children and congregation the church was opened by Sir William Middlebrook. The service of dedication was conducted by the President of the Conference, the Rev J.H. Ritson. Other well known names who took part were the Revd Luke Wisernan, the Revd J.W. Lightly (Chairman of the District), the Revd Samuel Chadwick, the Revd J. Hornabrook of Manchester, the Revd G.H. McNeil of Wesley Chapel, London, and the Revd Henry Brett of Handsworth College. This was followed by tea in St Edmund's Parish Hall and an organ recital by John Groves. The preacher at the Sunday service the following day was the Revd F. Luke Wiseman.

The suggested layout of the present church as planned in 1925 shows a small building next to the main entrance which was to have been a church parlour holding sixty to eighty people. During building, there was not sufficient money to go round and the parlour was left out, but the tower was built (a right Wesleyan decision!). It was intended that there should be a stone wall all the way round the front of the church, but owing to costs this was never built and instead an oak fence was erected.

The interior of the church is spacious with seating for about 430 and is light, with carpeting throughout. The interior of the church is unusual for the period inasmuch as all the woodwork is natural polished oak which is now extremely expensive. The joiner/furnisher was W.Tomlinson. It was a breakaway from the usual tradition of pitch pine woodwork for the interior of a Methodist church. Before the War, the whole of the exterior of the church was floodlit at night and was quite a landmark.

The old church became the present Community Hall, which was adapted with a stage in 1950. The church is now a Grade 2 listed building.

In 1948 stained glass windows were added as a War Memorial. In the same year the Trustees considered it would be of considerable importance to the church if they could buy all the land at the back, some of which was already in use as a church tennis court, and they did this for the sum of £1,100.
The original organ in the school church building was transferred to the main church in 1926. It was not until 1951 that the opportunity arose of buying a really good organ at a reasonable price. This came from the old Eldon Methodist Chapel, opposite the University in Woodhouse Lane, when it closed down. This organ was originally built at the turn of the century by James Jepson Binns of Bramley, the most distinguished of the many Yorkshire organ builders of that time. Other organs built by J.J. Binns locally are at St Edmund's, Roundhay; St Aidan's, Harehills; St Mark's, Woodhouse; Wesley Church. Harrogate; Starbeck Methodist, Harrogate. The instrument was rebuilt and installed in Lidgett Park in 1952 by Fitton and Haley, the successor to J.J. Binns. The organ was completely refurbished in 1993/4 at a cost of £34,620 by J. Malcolrn Spink of Leeds and Peterborough.

For some years after the War there was great interest in trying to obtain a building suitable as a youth hut but owing to the great difficulty in obtaining such a building at that time it was between four and five years before a suitable one was found. It came from a small village the other side of York and had to be dismantled, brought over to Lidgett Park and then re-erected. It is now, of course, the Scout Hut.

On Saturday 2nd April, 1960 the church opened a western extension consisting of a kitchen, the Gledhow Room and other rooms at the back, when the costs were defrayed by the Joseph Rank Benevolent Trustees and the General Chapel Committee and Woodhouse Carr Trustees. The youth hall, the coffee bar, a new foyer and the corridor and toilets were added in 1969/70 together with the move of the minister's vestry to its present position. To round the job off, a car park was laid out.

The community hall has been used for other purposes at times. While the Talbot Road School was being built in 1936 to 1938 it was let to the Education Department for use as a school, and from 1940 to 1945 the Army used it as a feeding centre for the troops who were billeted in the area. After the war the Leeds Education Department again took it over, but so much damage was caused that it cost over £600 to put the premises in order again when they left in 1950.

Around 1998 a Local Preachers' Library was begun and housed in cupboards in the Scout Hut. During Neil Richardson's ministry a Circuit Administrator was appointed, and what had formerly been the Choir Vestry (and was no longer needed for that purpose) became the Circuit Office. The Local Preachers' Library was moved and relocated in this office.

In 2009 the 'Room for All Scheme' was a church project which raised some £30,000 to improve disabled access to the church, improve the kitchen, refurnish the Gledhow Room and add toilets between the Gledhow Room and the Youth Hall.

In 2019 changes were made to the front entrance in Lidgett Place to make the church more open and welcoming. Because the building is listed, the wooden outer doors had to remain. Glass doors were placed behind the wooden doors so that the wooden doors could be left open and passers by could see into the church. Light coloured wood was used in the entrance lobby and the lighting improved. Lighting was added inside the church tower and the chancel so that the church would look alive in the dark evenings. Two new toilets were added in the ‘lobby’ on the left hand side just before entering the church. Other maintenance work to deal with damp in the porch involved stripping, replastering and installed heating in this area, and replacing the external roofing over the porch. The cost of the scheme, about £55,000, was met by a grant from the Circuit for 50% of the cost and the rest came from church funds and special money-raising events. An 'Open Doors' celebration was held on its completion.

Ministers Who Have Served at the Church

   
Revd Albert J. Hall 1913 - 1915
Revd Alfred R. Dickenson 1915 - 1918
Revd Ebenezer Bulmer 1918 - 1923
Revd R. Gibson Lawn 1923 - 1931
Revd George W. Appleby 1931 - 1933
Revd Fred Roberts 1933 - 1935
Revd Frank Mellor 1935 - 1937
Revd John R. Humphries 1937 - 1940
Revd Dr Christopher R. North 1940 - 1943
Revd H. Watkin Jones 1943 - 1946
Revd J. Cyril Downes 1946 - 1949
Revd W. Maxwell Cumming 1949 - 1956
Revd John F. Humphrey 1956 - 1961
Revd Reuben Bell 1961 - 1967
Revd Philip Blackbum 1967 - 1974
Revd Leslie Holmes 1974 - 1983
Revd John Sadler 1983 - 1994
Revd Francis Forbes (supernumerary ) 1994 - 1995
Revd John Gilyead 1995 - 2001
Revd Dr Neil G. Richardson (President of Conference 2003-4) 2001 - 2007
Revd Dr Jane Craske 2007 - 2012
Revds Andrew Atkins & Graeme Dutton  2012 - 2013
Revds Andrew Atkins & Palo Tshume 2013 - 2015
Revd Dr Daniel Mwailu 2015 - 2018
Revd Robert Creamer 2018 - 2019
Revd Tanya Short 2020 -

The original of this history was written by Leslie Bradshaw, who was a member of Lidgett Park Methodist Church from 1939 to 1965, when he moved to Edinburgh, and it appeared in the Jubilee Brochure in 1976. Subsequently Leslie’s article was printed in The Link in three parts, Part 1 in September 2008, Part 2 in October 2008 and part 3 in April 2009.

Leslie’s son, David, was a member at Lidgett Park from 1939 to 2001 and his wife, Geraldine, from 1958 to 2001.

It was reissued by Jim Faint (with acknowledgements to John Gilleghan for some of the information) and updated by John S. Summerwill with developments from 2009. (John does not have records for recent changes to the church, so if anyone can correct or expand the last few paragraphs, please email him, or ring him (0113 269 7895).


The Lidgett Park Memorial Window

windows

The Chancel Window is one of the outstanding features of our church at Lidgett Park. Stained glass windows of this kind, whilst common in Anglican churches, are unusual in Methodism and this window always attracts the interest of visitors. It is a fine piece of work and was made in the studios of W.F. Clokey & Co. Ltd. in Belfast. The window is of seven lights commemorating four servicemen who lost their lives in the 1939-45 war, and three women.

The centre light depicts Christ washing the disciples' feet at the Last Supper and carries the inscription ‘I am among you as he that serveth’ (Luke 22:27). The central upper lights depict two angels bearing a scroll with the inscription ‘Labor est Gloria’. The literal translation of this is simply ‘Work is Glory’, but since the subject of the picture below is Christ performing a menial task perhaps a fuller meaning would be that ‘to perform tasks for others is to earn honourable' distinction.’.

The light on the extreme left is a memorial to Sarah Jane Rickard and Susan Elizabeth Eames. The figure is of Ruth and the inscription is ‘The Lord recompense thy work’ (Ruth 2:12). Ruth was a Moabite and is the subject of one of the shortest books in the Bible. On the death of her first husband she remained to comfort her mother-in-law Naomi. She is depicted in the window carrying stalks of corn because she went to glean in the fields of Boaz, a rich relative of Naomi's dead husband. Boaz married Ruth and they had a son, Obed, who was the father of Jesse, the father of David the famous king of Israel.

The light second from the left is a memorial to Major Joseph Eric Stephenson. (The memorial book records this name as James Eric Stephenson.) Major Stephenson served in the Gurkha Rifles. whose regimental badge is depicted. He was locally famous as a footballer with Leeds United. The figure in the window is of St Michael and carries the inscription ‘Quis ut Deus’, the Latin translation of the Hebrew name Mîkhā'ēl, which means ‘Who is like God?’

St Michael is the Archangel referred to in the book of Revelation (Rev 12:7-9) as the ‘captain of the heavenly host’ in ‘the war of heaven’ who defeated ‘the Dragon'. As a saint he is revered as the protector of Christians in general and of soldiers in particular. There is also a tradition of Michaelas the receiver of the souls of the dead. Michael was also venerated by the Jews. The prophetic writings of Daniel refer to him in Dan 12 where he is described as ‘the great captain who stands guard over your fellow countrymen’. There is yet another reference to him in the Old Testament. Moses died and was buried in the land of Moab. Jude, the brother of James, in his epistle (v 9) refers to Michael as disputing with the Devil as to the burial of Moses and insisting that he be buried in an unknown grave so as to prevent him being worshipped as a God (Deut 34).

The light left of the centre is a memorial to Sgt Pilot Peter Olley and carries the badge of the RAF. The figure is of Joshua and carries the inscription ‘Be thou strong and very courageous’ (Joshua I :7). Joshua was the successor of Moses and he too is the subject of a book in the Old Testament. He was a great war-leader; he led the Children of lsrael into the promised land of Canaan and is especially famous for his taking of Jericho.

The light right of centre is a memorial to Gunner Stanley Freeman Rogers and includes the badge of the Royal Artillery. The figure is of St Paul and the inscription reads ‘Neither count I my life dear unto myself' (Acts 20:24). St Paul was the great missionary who did so much to shape and organise the early church. He was not a soldier but he is depicted holding a sword, perhaps because he made use of military metaphors, seeing his work as a fight against the Devil and his forces of evil. He talks of ‘putting on the whole armour of God’ for protection against the evil one. He was killed by the sword when he was martyred in Rome.

The light second from the right is a memorial to Captain William Gordon Raby of the Argyle and Sutherland Highlanders, whose regimental badge is depicted. The figure is of St George. St George is the patron saint of England and of soldiers in general. In spite of being one of the most famous of all Christian martyrs, very little is really known about him. He was a Roman soldier persecuted by the Emperor Diocletian for his Christian faith and died a martyr's death by beheading at Nicornedia. The principal legend of his killing of a dragon perhaps reflects St Michael's defeat of the dragon in the war in heaven.

The light to the extreme right is a memorial to Alice Gertrude Armitage. Although unnamed, the figure is surely that of Dorcas, since she is depicted holding a garment and the inscription reads ‘Full of good works and alms deeds (Acts 9:36). That passage of scripture records how Peter raised Dorcas from death in response to the approach made to him by widows who told him of her ‘good works and alms deeds’, and showed him the garments she had made. Alice Armitage was the wife of a benefactor of Lidgett. He was a builder who owned the land at the back of the church, now the car-park, and donated it to the church. The choice of Dorcas is particularly apt as Alice used to run a sewing class at Lidgett.

The window was dedicated on 3 July 1948 and as a war memorial it would be difficult to improve on the overall concept. Around the central figure of Christ as Servant, we have Ruth, the exemplar of compassion; St Michael bringing retribution for evil and receiving the souls of the dead; Joshua the soldier who led his people into the promised land; St Paul the apostle and fighter against evil; St George, the soldier for Christ’ and Dorcas the doer of good works raised to new life.

Keith H. Tattersall


 

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