Wavertree Congregational Church History
The timeline and history of Wavertree
Congregational Church has been reproduced from the booklet 'The story of Wavertree Congregational Church' written
by 'Betty Shanks'
1836 - The Rev. Thomas Sleigh moved to Wavertree from Newcastle-under-Lyme where
he had retired due to ill health. Mr. Sleigh was shocked at the state of spiritual destitution in Wavertree. He
immediately opened his own house in Sandown Lane for church services and many people attended.
In October 1836 a large room was obtained and
from its opening it was crowded.
1838 - Mr.
Sleigh succeeded in securing the means to erect a chapel for the congregation he had gathered. With help from
local businessmen of his day (including Mr. Hope - who later had a street named after him in Liverpool) he was
able to lay the foundation stone on the 11th December 1838.
1839 - On the 1st October 1839 the chapel was completed and opened and was
originally named 'Trinity Chapel, Hunters Lane'
1841 - On the 25th December 1841 a church was formed on Congregational principles
and Mr. Sleigh was appointed as the first minister. He continued to grow the number in the congregation and by 1848
the church was freed from debt.
1848 - June of 1848 the Rev. Sleigh resigned and moved on to Bulford, Wiltshire
to carry on his ministry. He later returned to Birkenhead where he died in 1862 aged 81 years of
After Rev. Sleigh's resignation an arrangement
was made with the Rev. John Edwards, a Baptist Minister, to undertake the oversight of the church. In the 3 years
of Rev. Edwards ministry a further 60 members were added to the church.
1849 - A Sunday School for children was formed, in 1850 for the anniversary of
the Sunday School there were 127 children attending. In 1852 the Sunday School had a library for the children and
it was recorded that it consisted of 400 books.
1852 - In June 1852 the next minister was appointed and this was the Rev. Ninian
Wight from Aberdeen. During his ministry the building was greatly enlarged.
1858 - Rev Wight was moved on to Carlisle and that was followed by the short but
happy ministry of Rev. W.C.Stallybrass who was the minister at Douglas Isle of Man.He came to Wavertree in 1858 but
had to resign due to ill health in 1861.
1862 - A unanimous invitation was sent to the Rev. Edward Hassan of the New
College, London. He accepted the invitation and entered his ministry on the 23rd February 1862.
In the 1860's and 70's much
work was carried out at the church, due to a pressing need for increased accomodation for the congregation.
Firstly a new front to the church increased its length, also galleries were put up. These improvements were
completed in April 1868. Secondly, building a new organ chamber, new classrooms, vestry etc. Were ready for
use by February 1873. Lastly
re-pewing of the entire area of the church and the raising of the ceiling by about 5 foot was finished in the
September of 1875.
During the 1870's and 80's the Churches were
better attended and the congregations included more people of wealth and importance than ever before. Wavertree was
developing as a popular and fashionable suburb of Liverpool and during the hours of worship carriages of its
well-to-do members stretched right down the Lane.
During Rev. Hassan's ministry the important
mission of Wellington Road originated. In 1869 Mr. John Blyth gathered a Sunday School which met to begin with at
his house. The school soon outgrew the accomodation and he took a cottage for the work, but this in turn was
insufficient and another cottage added to it. Its increasing success prompted the proposal at the church AGM
to erect a suitable building in Wellington Road. Nearly £1000 was promised there and then. The building was opened
in October 1878. For a long time the church was responsible for the work of the mission. Owing to practical
difficulties, Wellington Road mission was handed over to Liverpool City Mission.
1876 - The church was running 3 Sunday schools, Hunters Lane -
Wellington Road - Mossley Vale. When Mossley Hill Church was built it was agreed to hand over the work at
Mossley Vale to the Parish Church.
1877 - The organst resigned and was presented with an 'Illuminated Address' and
purse for £100, which in those days was a princely sum.
1880 - The list of members was 130 at the AGM with the Sunday School a very
healthy 150 children (with 17 teachers)