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Booklet for Golden Anniversary of Tabernacle School Room"

Tabernacle Methodist Church School Room, Padeswood Road, Buckley


Page 8.




Wednesday 19th August 1936 was wet. Heavy rain fell during the afternoon. Beneath umbrellas people made their way to Tabernacle for this was the day of the Stone Laying ceremony. Hardly propitious yet, safe in the shelter of the Church, the congregation gave thanks to God that all their plans were finally coming to fruition. They were further heartened by the knowledge that when the building was finally completed the remaining debt would not be a serious item.


A time to rejoice. The Superintendent Minister, Rev.E.Lacey, certainly enthused about developments taking place. The afternoon's Chairman was Mr Robert Hewitt [Chairman, Buckley U.D.C.], a Drury Lane Methodist.


"Take care of the children" was the topic on which the Rev.Ambrose Allcock of Wrexham based his remarks as he reminded listeners that Methodism always had had this regard for children. The Church was engaged in the shaping and moulding of the minds of children. The Rev.S.Woodmass [Rhyl] developed the theme be expressing his concern about the number of scholars leaving Sunday Schools of this country. To him the Sunday Schools of 1936 were confronted with competing interest that their forefathers had not been troubled with.


The service closed with the singing of "Christ is our Foundation". It was still raining. A forest of umbrellas appeared as the congregation crossed the road to lay stones and bricks. One lady remembered "The mud was almost over our ankles".


Forty-eight stones were laid in front of the new building and around both sides by donors or their representatives. The first stone was placed in position by the daughter of one of the builders and she placed beneath it, carefully wrapped, a half-crown coin. The Rev.E.Lacey supervised the stone-laying.


The architect had advised that the bricks purchased by donors should form part of the inner porch to preserve them from the weather. The bricks contained the name and initials of every donor. The son-in-law of one of the builders was a printer and he designed a special press which was used at the Standard Brickworks to imprint each name on the still moist clay. After passing through the kiln name and initials had been permanently fixed.


A drenched congregation retired to Mill Lane Schoolroom to enjoy tea and dry out - in the middle of summer.


Tabernacle hosted a public meeting in the evening presided over by Mr.Percy Harrop [Chester]. The speakers were again the Rev.Ambrose Allcock and the Rev.Francis Woodmass. They were supported by the Revs.E.Lacey, C.A.West and W.Dallgish. The Choir sang two anthems.


The day's rain had not dampened spirits, neither had it been a bar to people's generosity. Collections from both services amounted to £140.


It was estimated that the cost of Building would be approximately £3,268 excluding new furniture. Donors of stones had paid:-

£10 and over for each of 8 stones

£5 and over for each of 18 stones

£3.3s. for each of 22 stones

Donors of bricks paid £1 per brick.


Page 9.

There was no large debt but money still had to be raised. During Christmas of 1936 members had been given velvet bags into which they had been invited to place a gift of money. At a Christmas service people walked to the front to place the bags on branches of the Christmas tree.


The Chester Chronicle of the 20th March 1937 carried an apposite headline above its report of an event held in Buckley on Wednesday 17th March:-



Tabernacle Church Trustees had sent out invitations to people to "…..attend the Opening of the New School on Wednesday 17th March 1937.


This time the weather was kind. It enabled the Sunday School Queen [Florence Tomlinson] and the Children's choir to walk to the path leading to the main door of the new building. There they joined a large gathering to sing the hymn "All people that on earth do dwell". A long time friend of the Tabernacle, Mrs.Candeland of Chester, then expressed her pleasure at having been invited to perform the Opening for it gave her particular delight to carry out any kind of service for the Tabernacle. She then unlocked the door.


The congregation followed her into the Sunday School. What they were entering was described in that same Chester Chronicle report:-

"The new building has been designed in the Gothic style and is built in rustic brick with artificial white stone dressings to the windows and doors. It comprises the main hall, which will accommodate 450 people, two class-rooms, a kitchen and conveniences on either side. The interior is bright yet dignified. There is central heating, and the windows are all glazed with leaded lights. The whole building is well lit. There is a wood block floor and tip up chairs. A large portion of the furniture and decorations are gifts".


As the people sang the first hymn builders and architect were able, for the first time, to test acoustics and were well pleased with the results.


In a presentation of an electric standard lamp to the opener, Mrs. Candeland, the Architect commented that it was the first time at such a ceremony that he had not had to hand over a key. He was delighted to break with the tradition.


Votes of thanks to the Opener were made by Mr.Tom Roberts, and by Mr.Charles Iball. The latter commented that the new Schoolroom was intended for the young people and it was up to them to keep it going.


In his statement about the financial position of the Building Fund up to that afternoon, the new Superintend Minister, Rev.F.Humble, announced that the original contract was for £2,922. Cost of furnishing and other items had increased the amount to £3,500 towards which they had paid £1,9112.15s. They had a Bank balance of £62. He stated that several donations had been received while gifts had been donated in the form of platform table [Mr. and Mrs.C.Gill, Shotton], oak chair [Mr. And Mrs. Lounsbach, St. Annes], clock [Mr. And Mrs. H.Stanley] silver flower vase [Mr.J.Catherall in memory of his wife]. The painters also carried out extra work for which no charge was made. At the end of his statement Mr.Humble stated that fifty primary chairs were to be delivered and he invited those interested to make donations towards the cost - at the close of the evening meeting he was able to announce that the chairs had been paid for and tea and concert proceeds together with afternoon collection had raised £105.


Page 10.


The Dedication service was held in the Church and this enabled tea to be set out in the new Schoolroom. In Tabernacle the Rev.George Osborne preached on the subject of "Human need and its Divine satisfaction" taking his text from Luke Chapter 15 part of verse 14 - "and he began to be in want" - the familiar story of the Prodigal Son. The sermon laid emphasis on man's need and search for God. He went on:-

"There are men and women in Buckley who have had such grace from the spiritual life that they want boys and girls to have it too. If the new Sunday School does not stand for the development of the spiritual life it will fail".


Following the service the congregation retired across the road for tea which had been provided by Messrs Hayes Brothers. Once tea was over and tables removed and chairs set out, people sat down to enjoy a concert at which the Tabernacle Choir was conducted by Mr.Davies Hayes and accompanied by Mr.Tom Roberts. The other artists appearing were Peter Davies and Jesse Roberts of Leeswood, Misses Doris and Gwyneth Griffiths and the Saughall Male Quartet. The Chairman for the evening was Mr.T. Crozier-Jones.


It had been a wonderful day.


Britain was emerging from the years of Depression, a Coronation was in the offing and, at last, the Sunday School had scope for continuing growth. With hindsight it can be said that these were halcyon days but they would not last.


Two years after the Schoolroom was opened the country was plunged into the Second World War. Much would be changed. Firstly, both Church and Sunday School saw young men called away for National Service. Secondly, work patterns of many connected with Tabernacle were varied so that attendance at worship was often spasmodic.


Between 1939 and 1945 we lost six former Sunday School scholars who fell during he War. A plaque to their memory can be seen in the Church:-

G. CrooseT. Hill

H. EdwardsM. Roberts

E. HewittJ. E. Wilcock


In the Schoolroom the windows had to be heavily masked to conform with the new black-out regulations. This did not particularly affect the children as Sunday School sessions were held, as they always had been, in the afternoons. It was essential for evening meetings for there were several on most nights of the week.


The Women's Own met as usual. Its members staged a Pageant of Noble Women. The cast list numbered forty four. At the first performance the hall was packed and people stood at the back, round the sides and some sat on the window-sills. What they witnessed was a procession of women each representing a character from history and each declaiming a patriotic sentiment. Among the many characters portrayed were Mary Jones, Ruth Susannah Wesley, Mary Slessor, Nurse Cavell, Grace Darling, Florence Nightingale, Joan of Arc, Queen Victoria and Elizabeth the First. Speech was interspersed with music.


War-time brought in clothes rationing with a quota of clothing coupons being issued to every citizen. Every member of the cast somehow managed to overcome this difficulty and produced authentic costume appropriate to her role.


People clamoured for the Pageant to be staged again . In Buckley we had at that time a flourishing Prisoners of War Association. This body concerned itself with raising money so that Red Cross parcels could be despatched to local men taken prisoners in various regions of war. The second performance was performance was presented as a means of raising funds for this worthy cause. Audience attendance numbers were again repeated.


Page 11.


Forty-odd years on the dialect spoken by the Pageant characters would sound sentimental and sugary, but in those dark days of War there were people seated in the Schoolroom who were concerned about sons, husbands and sweethearts serving in unknown regions. Some were remembering letters from prison camps. None knew when or if they would meet with their loved ones again. There were tears flowing on both nights.


The Schoolroom was also used during the war by the Women's Voluntary Service - the W.V.S. - meeting on Tuesday afternoons. Women from the Tabernacle joined women from the district in a variety of activities geared towards the war effort. A National Savings Group set out to raise certain sums of money especially when a target had been set for the town's special savings weeks.


W.V.S. members knitted "comforts" for despatch to members of the Armed Services.

One lady, a member of Tabernacle knitted a total of 120 pairs of socks during her Tuesday sessions.


People came into the town as evacuees and the Schoolroom was used as a transit base when mothers and children were received by the W.V.S. to be taken to their new homes. Two Birkenhead schools also came to Buckley. Some of the children became Sunday School scholars for a time.


A war-time innovation was the setting up of a Canteen in the building. This opened after Sunday evening services. Here tea and biscuits were served and from time to time a short concert would be staged for the benefit of those present. The facilities were open to all.


Page 12.


Among the people attending were a group of airmen from R.A.F. Sealand. Who would come up for the evening service and then cross over to the Canteen. Another group of soldiers came from the Lane End cricket field where they were based with a searchlight battery.


I may seem difficult to comprehend but the Canteen was also patronised by men from a country with whom we were at war. German prisoners had been brought to the area to work on farms and in brickyards. They were also allowed certain privileges such as attending a place of worship on Sundays. Their dress was distinctive for they had to wear a distinguishing mark of a circle of yellow material on the back of jacket and on knee of trousers. Five or six of these German prisoners attended evening worship even though only one spoke our language. Some Tabernacle members extended hospitality in their homes to friend and foe alike.


With the cessation of hostilities there came a time for remembrance but also for rejoicing when the Schoolroom witnessed events to welcome home servicemen and ex-prisoners of war.


A tradition which began in the old Mill Lane Schoolroom was continued in the new one with the weekly rehearsal of the Tabernacle Choir. Members of the Choir agreed to an unwritten undertaking - "Monday night is Choir night. Never be absent. Never be late".


Page 13.


Two special dates were entered yearly in singers' diaries - the Sundays either side of the Jubilee and the Sunday before Christmas. The first date was for Sunday School Anniversary when, on the Sunday following Jubilee an oratorio would be performed. The second date was for the annual performance of Handel's "Messiah". The Choir also rehearsed for special services such as Harvest Festival and for their own Celebrity concerts when they would be joined in the Church by noted soloists from the concert platform. It was in the Schoolroom that the Choir prepared themselves for many memorable occasions.


Other choirmasters and accompanists were to continue the tradition in their turn but now only a small choir can be mustered and "Messiah" and other oratorios are no longer performed.


The Education Authority continued its link with the second Schoolroom with the presentation of musical recitals specially staged for children from local schools. Frequent visitors were the Bangor Trio. In 1943 the cellist Florence Hooton performed - in the evening she joined Isobel Baillie and the Taberncale Choir to delight a packed audience. On Tuesday 26th November 1946 the world famous oboe player Leon Goossens and the Carter Trio played to the children.


In 1944 the Education Authority hired the building to serve midday meals to children from Board and Bistre Schools. At the beginning of this service meals were prepared in the Sunday School kitchen until a prefabricated building, housing a kitchen, was put up on the site of the present road leading to the precinct.


A gap in the fence was used to bring containers to the Schoolroom kitchen where they would be placed in large gas ovens to keep them warm until the children were ready.


Among those children were scholars of the Sunday School who saw the furniture associated with Sundays being used on week days. Day School Christmas parties were also held in the Schoolroom.


School and Church seemed to be closely involved during this period. When School alterations were being carried out or when the heating system needed repair, the Schoolroom was used as a classroom - a repetition of Mill Lane history.


By 1968 both schools had their canteens and they moved away from our building.


In the first few years of the second Schoolroom's life young people attended the Wesley Guild which had been introduced by the Rev. Frederick Humble. There was also a well attended Men's Own group. Following the opening of the weekly meetings they were able to enjoy games of billiards and badminton. A court was marked out on the floor and traces of it can still be seen.


The Youth Club was formed in the same earlier years when the Reverends T.Jenkinson and E.Kendrick [neither of them then in the Ministry] together with Mrs.C.Kendrick [nee Jenkinson] became the first Club leaders. A rule of membership was that the young people were expected to attend both Sunday School and Church. Table tennis and other games apparatus were purchased and during the wartime leadership of the Rev.George W.Broomhead a games night was held each week for members of the armed services in Buckley. One evening a week is still devoted to the Church Youth Club when about 30 young people meet together for a range of activities. Over the years a number of Club leaders and helpers have given of the time and of their skills.


Page 14.


In 1969 Church members were shocked to discover that the Tabernacle had become unsafe for public use. Demolition followed and "that noble edifice" was no more. A much smaller Church was built on the same site and opened for worship on the 5th October 1974. During the period of closure to the opening of the new building our Schoolroom was again used for Church purposes.


As with the Mill Lane Schoolroom so with Padeswood Road. The building has not been allowed to "lie fallow" when not required by Church and Sunday School. It has been a useful source of revenue. However, Church Trustees have had to be for ever mindful of Methodist Conference regulations governing the use of Methodist property - no alcohol to be consumed on the premises: no gambling: no smoking.


A variety of groups use the building and are varied in their interests. The Cross Senior Citizens hold weekly meetings. Dancing classes are held. Periodically the Blood Donor Service has the use of the Schoolroom for Blood Donor sessions. When local and national elections are held the building serves as a polling station. Several organisations hold jumble sales, flower shows and coffee mornings.


Flower Festivals have brought colour to our building, the first festival being held in June 1970. On that occasion the Circuit was joined by local organisations:-

"….and throughout the weekend the floral arrangements were admired by many for miles around" [Flintshire Leader]


From this first festival £100 was raised for Tabernacle's Church Building fund. Since 1971 donations have been sent to various local charities. Visitors to the Festival do not pay for admission but donations are invited from them.


Page 15.


Over the years certain themes have been imaginatively developed. These have included themes on The Saints, Celebrations, Texts and Hymns. Arrangements for flowers have included a large cornucopia suspended from the ceiling with fruit and flowers overflowing to the floor. On another occasion Jacob's Ladder was depicted. A ladder was supported in the centre of the room and each rung was covered in foliage and flowers.


The Flower Festivals have brought together the Church in Wales, Roman Catholic, Baptist, United Reform and Methodist churches. Surely an Ecumenical Festival of Churches.


Interesting though it has been to hear of the many ways in which our Schoolroom has been used for half a century we are ever mindful that high above the main entrance of the building there is embossed in the stonework the legend TABERNACLE METHODIST SUNDAY SCHOOL.


To meet the needs of the young the whole Church had worked together to erect a worthy building to be used, in the main, by its children. Other groups might use it in turn but the young were to claim priority through the Sunday School.


On the Sunday afternoon of 21st March 1937 the children of the Sunday School formed a procession outside the Mill Lane Schoolroom and walked to take up residence in their new Sunday School building. Heading the march were Superintendents Mr.W.Inch and Mmr.S.L.Peters, Secretary Mr.T.Edwards and Treasurer Mr.A.Iball. The primary department was led by Miss E.Bellis, Mrs.A.Hodnett and Miss L.Davies.


The transition had been reasonably simple. Human pack-horses humped into the new building, hymn books, Bibles, registers and all the other necessary equipment. Departments were able to function in surroundings conducive to their smooth running. With the transfer of the Primary Department all were now under one rook but with the luxury of extra rooms to move into way from the main hall.


In that move Sunday School staff brought with them the traditions that had become well established in Mill Lane. More importantly they brought spiritual values. To them the Book of Proverbs provided a blue-print they, and those before and after them, endeavoured to follow:-

"Train up a child in the way he should go, and even when he is old he will not depart from it".

We have seen that the Sunday School was little affected by changes brought about during the war years. Weeknight and Sunday gatherings of children and young people could still muster over 100 participants but members were to drop and the trend continue. Even so a dedicated Staff continued to "train the child" by offering a variety of methods to stimulate and hold the young.


During some years children would sit the National Sunday School Union Scripture examination for which they would have been prepared by meeting with their teachers during the week.


Sunday School staff have reminded young people that we are part of a global family and, in our history, we have worked for the National Children's Home and for Overseas Missions.


No longer possible because of cost, a feature of Sunday School life in both schoolrooms was the annual presentation of prizes for good attendance.


Page 16.


Recalling experiences in the Primary Department of the 1960's one former scholar remembered "the most enormous Brylgreem jar I have ever seen being passed from child to child during the singing of "Hear the pennies dropping".


The Sunday School continued its strong musical tradition. The annual Sunday School Anniversary was prepared for meticulously and mid-week rehearsals were as demanding as those held for adults. Solos, duets and recitations were distributed. Even in the 1940's the Tabernacle was packed to capacity for the event. For a child to stand up lone before such a large congregation and not falter reflected well on the training received at the hands of devoted teachers.


Of all traditions retained by the Sunday School surely the oldest must be the observance of the Buckley Jubilee. We were represented in the first procession in 1857. The second Tuesday afternoon in July has always seen Tabernacle children walking behind their banner through the town. In the Centenary year of the Jubilee the Sunday School set up a float on which was depicted "The Mothers of Salem". Children have always been provided with tea following the procession and then sports are held.


Until 1967 Sunday School sessions were held in the afternoon. Morning sessions then brought a change of routine. Today the 40 scholars on roll and their 10 teachers join the Church congregation for the opening of morning worship and then cross over to the Sunday School building where they join in an open school. The Primary Department holds its own session.


From its inception the Sunday School has been served by a succession of Superintendents, Secretaries and teachers. Many old scholars will recall names with affection and gratitude. Many have been influenced by the instruction and example they received at the feet of their teachers. In our own fifty years three former scholars have entered Ministry. The Rev. Tom Jenkinson and the Rev. Edgar Kendrick entered our own Ministry while the Rev. Dr. Gordon Catherall became a minister of the Baptist Church. One of the three pays tribute to all that the Tabernacle Sunday School has done for him and others.


"… laid the spiritual and scriptural basis for my ministry…and if any have been brought to the truth in Christ the Sunday School and Church must take a lot of credit".




Much has taken place in our Padeswood Road Schoolroom. Structurally the building itself has had very little change made to it and it stands as solid today as when it was first open in March 1937.


As we celebrate the Golden Jubilee we remember with thankfulness those people of Tabernacle who worked so hard in order that the young might have their own "Tabernacle" where they could be brought to a knowledge and love of their Saviour, Jesus Christ.


"We'll praise Him for all that is past and trust Him for all that's to come".


Author: Tabernacle Methodist Church 1


Year = 1987

Building = Religious

Event = Religious

Extra = WW2

Extra = 1980s

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