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A Brief History

Compiled

Cartoons
by by
Rev. Donald Elliott Bernard Pike

CHAPTER THREE

A NEW TYPE OF BUILDING

In 1908 the ‘grey old church’ was threatened with closure. The increasingly heavy traffic on the Kentish Town Road had brought down part of the ceiling. The London County Council surveyor certified the building to be unsafe for public meetings. 

A large sum was needed to make the building safe, and a total rebuild was really necessary. The diminished congregation with an annual income of only £74 could not provide the money. The discussion in Presbytery resulted in a proposal to close the church and sell the site. 

The North London Presbytery is faced with a difficult position in regard to the affairs of the church at Kentish Town.  A committee has recommended that the services should be discontinued unless some strong congregation will work the station as its mission.  The building is too dilapidated for use, there is no minister, and the congregation numbering 60 members can only raise £74 per annum.  Very generous assistance has been given in the past by the congregations at Hampstead and Frognal, and friends have promised £3,500 toward the estimated cost of rebuilding the church - £5,000.  Many hundreds of pounds have been spent from time to time on the renovation of the buildings, and the committee is frankly of the opinion that the church should be closed.  Many members of the Presbytery dissented from this view, more especially on the ground of deserting the working classes.  In the end it was agreed to consult with the Sessions at Hampstead and Frognal before taking any further steps.

[from a cutting dated 14 September 1908, origin unknown]

 Later, at a Presbytery meeting, Principal John Skinner of Westminster College Cambridge urged the importance of holding on to the church in this central industrial and residential area. Four needs – it was agreed - had to be met.

*  A temporary meeting place for the congregation.

*  Plans for an entirely new type of building to be drawn up.

* Sufficient funds to be found to rebuild and to maintain the congregation for a period.

*  A  minister suitable to the task to be found.

The new building would be on the site of the old one. 

In February 1909 a meeting of Session (Elders) was held, attended by Dr. Skinner, Prof. Oman, Sir Henry Robson and local Elders. Sir Henry Robson submitted plans prepared by Mr. George Lethbridge the Presbytery Architect. The meeting was adjourned to allow the elders to inspect two possible meeting places during the period of rebuilding – the Turkish Baths in Kentish Town Road and the Y.M.C.A. in Camden Road (on the present site of Sainsbury’s). On resuming the meeting, it was decided to hire the Y.M.C.A. premises, the large hall for meetings on Sundays and the upper rooms for evenings during the week.

 GEORGE LETHBRIDGE - Fellow of the Royal Institute of British Architects

  Mr. George Lethbridge died, in his seventy-seventh year, on the 27 February. He was educated in the house of the Rector of Beaworthy, Devonshire, and was articled to Mr. W H Reid at Plymouth. He came to London at an early age, where he practiced architecture for more than half a century. He designed and carried out several churches in the Gothic style, amongst which are included the Presbyterian Church at Redhill [St Paul’s, Shaw’s Corner, Ed.], the Presbyterian Church at Camden Town and the Presbyterian Mission Church at Somers Town. He designed the Hornsey Cottage Hospital [later to become the Hornsey General Hospital], which he won in competition, and added the Hornsey Borough War Memorial in the form of an entrance hall, paneled in oak, on which arc inscribed the names of the fallen: to this he had recently designed a new War Memorial Extension, which is now in course of erection. He was architect to the Warehousemen, Clerks and Drapers' Schools, Purley, and had been for some years engaged in the reconstruction of these schools - including several extensions, a recent one being the new science block which is also now in course of erection. He designed some large office buildings for the River Plate Trust, Loan and Agency Co., which were erected in Buenos Ayres, and also the Telegraph Exchange Offices in the same city. Amongst his domestic works is the mansion, No. 18, Park Lane, [now demolished] which he carried out at a cost of over £40,000.

Obituary, RIBA Journal vol. 31 1924, p. 365

In June 1909 a further meeting was held, attended by Principal Skinner, Dr. Oman, Sir Henry Robson and Rev. Thomas Lindsay, the minister in temporary charge. The Architect's plans were approved, estimates from different firms were presented and studied. The meeting then adjourned to meet later on the same day at Regent Square at 1.45. On a further adjournment to 5 p.m. the meeting accepted the estimate for £3,187, the work to be put in hand at once. Thus the church was rebuilt in 1909 in dual purpose form for worship and social work. 

At this point Presbytery agreed that Dr. Oman should take the place of Dr. Skinner as Moderator of the Session at Trinity, and further appointed two assessors from Frognal and Hampstead. Both these congregations undertook to make generous annual grants so that the necessary minimum basis for receiving the minimum stipend might be assured.

At the College Dr. Skinner described the position and plan for Trinity. The senior student, David Anderson, was found willing, if invited, to accept a Call. At the Presbytery meeting in October 1909, the Call was presented by the congregation for a period of three years. David Anderson began his ministry at once. A house at 25 Lawford Road, NW5 was made ready. 

The building of the church was advanced enough by the end of the year for the small congregation to use it. A special service was held in February 1910. A procession of adults and children was led by Mr. Anderson from Camden Road to Kentish Town Road, and the new church premises were opened. It was during Mr. Anderson's ministry and largely by his efforts that money was collected to install the present organ.

During the winter of 1913 Mr. Anderson suffered severe shock owing to an accident in the street. Though he fully recovered it was considered right for him to accept a Call to the country charge at Falstone, Northumberland

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