Halewood Local History Pages

St. Nicholas, Halewood Parish Church

St. Nicholas, Halewood Parish Church - A Short History

St. Nicholas, Halewood Parish Church

St.Nicholas was built to be the focal point of worship for Halewood and nearby villages in 1839. The Earl of Derby donated the land and the church was built cheaply out of sandstone from a local quarry (the same quarry that most of the stone for Liverpool Anglican Cathedral was hewn) for the grand sum of 900. It was described as a "simple oblong building, without transepts or tower with a plain bell turret on the west gable".

In those days the local population of around 900 were mainly farmers or their labourers. Then in 1864 when Rev.Thomas Chambers came to the Rectory of Halewood from a position at Childwall, he was so well favoured that some of the wealthier families followed him. As a result in 1882 a bell tower was donated complete with clock and in 1883 a peal of 8 bells were added at a total cost of 2300. Since then the church has been greatly altered with the addition of its greatest asset the stained glass windows designed and produced by the William Morris Company.

A church school was completed in 1847 adjacent to the church along with a schoolhouse. Over one hundred years later the population was rising due to a private development nearby and to the overspill from the City of Liverpool. The population rose incredibly from 3,791 in 1961 to 26,850 in 1971. In 1964 a new church school was completed to house extra classes, but it wasn't until 1980 that the whole school moved into the new buildings (the funds for the new school were raised entirely from the church congregation - no mean feat).

Reverend Jabez Jones, first curate of St.Nicholas 1839-1864

A church hall was badly needed as a central meeting place for the increasing community. A room at the rear of the church had been created but the now empty old school with its proximity to the church formed the ideal Church hall with two additional meeting rooms.

The 1970's and 80's were a period of great change for St.Nicholas and Halewood after a century of peaceful existence. In 1972, our sister church St.Mary's Methodist, which had been built to meet the needs of the increasing population, was burnt down. This church was only 5 years old but the disaster served to unite the relatively new community. Two days after the fire the new building fund was launched and 4,000 raised within 6 months. The new church was re-dedicated in 1974.

Our Rector, Owen Eva, retired in 1986 after 25 years and a new team minister was inducted. When the church inspection took place in 1989 the Church Council were faced with the fact that the church was badly in need of repair. The church meeting rooms, formerly the school, also needed renovation. Plans were formulated to sell off the old school buildings and schoolhouse to a developer who would have no difficulty in reselling the picturesque old buildings, protected by a conservation order.

The money raised would go towards the building of a new purpose built church hall and much needed repairs to the church. A building fund was launched and an architect brought in to draw up plans. Shortly afterwards a children's home (which 10 years earlier had been built on land bought from the church by the Borough of Knowsley) sadly closed. As this site was adjacent to the church it became obvious to some farsighted members of the Church Council that it would make an ideal church centre. Kwowsley were approached with a business plan, and after protracted negotiations theSt.Nicholas Church Centre was opened in 1995.

The funding for this huge project was raised through the sale of the old school buildings and a mortgage paid for by covenanted monthly giving from our church family. The new centre consisted of three wings of rooms and a central hall, kitchen and meeting rooms. Two of the wings were converted into student accommodation to help towards the running costs. Two years ago the three wings were changed into six self contained flats for use by single parent families and the disabled. The centre is also the base for the charity "Listening Ear Merseyside" which is run voluntarily by church members and provides a free listening and counselling service to the people of Merseyside.

The original church of St.Nicholas erected in 1839.

The centre has taken five years to become self sufficient, during that time it has proved invaluable in bringing the rapidly growing community together. Since opening in 1995 all fundraising efforts have been channelled into the centre at the cost of our beloved church.

We are now in a position to start on our Development Plan for the church, including renovation and protection of our William Morris windows.

The Building Fund currently stands at around 22,000 but we need to raise approximately 300,000 to fully repair and re-order the church.

The people of Halewood love and treasure their church and we will restore it to its former glory to be a central focal point in the life of the community of our area.

Researched and written by Pam Beesley


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