Beaconthorpe Methodist Church
Standing strong through two World Wars, the Beaconthorpe Methodist Church is one of the few buildings in our area that has changed very little since it was built over 100 years ago.
To understand how the church came to exist, we must travel back to the late 1880’s when the bottom half of today’s Sidney Sussex ward, from Manchester Street to Isaac’s Hill, was then known as Beaconthorpe.
Methodism in the Beaconthorpe area of Cleethorpes began when a few members met together in the home of Mr W. Keightley in Pelham Road, the same road as where the soon to be busy Tramway Depot once stood.
As a result of this small congregation meeting, a ‘Mission Room’ was produced and built in 1889 for the group’s meetings. It was situated on the corner of Tennyson and Grimsby Road. At this time, Tennyson Road was undeveloped while on Grimsby Road there was a wide-open space until today’s Conyard Road was reached (where a large detached property called Manchester House was situated on the corner).
At the beginning of the 20th century, the population of Cleethorpes was on the increase. The ‘Mission Room’ Society rose to a membership of 41 people with roughly 200 Sunday scholars. Therefore, the building soon came to be inadequate in size for the growing number of people. Consequently the group needed a new, bigger church.
Therefore in 1912, at a cost of £504, during the ministry of the Reverend John Hodges, further land next to the ‘Mission Room’ on Grimsby Road was purchased from Lord Tennyson.
The wish for a new church for many years was starting to become a reality as the architects ‘Messrs. Henry Harper and Sons’ of Nottingham were commissioned to design the building and then Mr. A. J. Elims of Gainsborough was commissioned to build this new Church.
The plans were to adjoin the new church onto the smaller ‘Mission Room’, in which the Society had struggled for the past 29 years, while spare land adjoining the new building on Tennyson Road was to be reserved for a Sabbath School.
During the building of the church, Rev. Hodge moved away as he accepted an appointment at Darwen and the Rev. W. J. Ward succeeded him. It is reported that this Reverent had “worked so zealously” in taking on the build and getting it constructed to its finished standing.
Designed in a Gothic style, the church is capable of accommodating 450 people in circular pews on an inclined floor so that everyone can see the Minister with
ease, behind which is accommodation for a choir and a large harmonium at the rear.
The windows are glazed with leaded light of a pretty design, whilst on the external tower at the East end is situated a tall spire.
The spire was originally a large piece of ornamental ironwork with green-slates along the bottom, standing 5ft. 5in tall. However, it began to lean towards Tennyson Road and was considered to be a dangerous condition so it had to be taken down.
Furthermore, what is perhaps different today is that the building was originally lighted with incandescent gas, whilst the heating was of the low-pressure hot water system type.
A stone laying ceremony of the build took place on 21st May 1913, with an inscribed marble tablet at the foot of the Church tower recording the laying of the foundation stone.
Then, a little over a year later, a large and representative gathering took place on the 2nd June 1914 for the great opening, which was performed in the afternoon.
It is reported that members of three ‘best-known families’ of Cleethorpes Primitive Methodism, who had done much for the present undertaking, participated in the opening ceremony,
Mrs. T Robinson officially opened the new building, while Mrs. M. Croft-Baker cut the tape at the entrance to the pulpit ‘with a few felicitous words dedicated to it’. Then, Mrs. W. Grant presented Mrs. T. Robinson with a gold key.
The Rev W. J. Ward presented both Mrs. Croft Baker and Mrs. T. Robinson with a beautifully combined copy of the Primitive Methodist Hymnal and tunes as a memento of the afternoon’s ceremony. After a public tea, a great rally was held in the evening.
The Rev. John Hodges came back to the area for the opening ceremony and preached at the service that followed, taking the words “Thou shalt call thy walls Salvation and thy gates praise” (Isaiah NVI. 18) as his text.
Special preachers were engaged to conduct the service for the first three Sundays, until on 19th July 1914, the first Minister, the Rev. R.K.Spedding was appointed. Shortly afterwards, on the outbreak of the first World War, this first Minister left to serve the Country as an Army Chaplain. For the next four years, Beaconthorpe was tended by Mrs. Ward, wife of the then Superintendent Minister, and a Supernumerary the Rev. J Stanwell.
On the 22nd June 1924, the organ was installed, replacing the harmonium and a Dr. Williamson gave a recital on the new instrument.
Then, 1928 saw the building of 62 leasehold semi-detached houses on Tennyson Road, which increased the congregation further.
The Sunday School flourished for many years before the present Sunday School premises were built, being opened in 1932.
The church hall saw many events over the years such as a concert of the Five ‘braves’ and a ‘squaw’ given by pupils of Reynolds County Primary School in 1953.
In the 1960’s, the ladies of the church, which still meets every fortnight today, formed a young wives group.
MP Cyril Osborne visited the Beaconthorpe Methodist Men’s Association and spoke about his visits to Russia and China in 1961.
A garden of rest opened by the secretary of the Grimsby Trawler Officers’ Guild, Skipper John (parson) Hobbs, on 5th May 1966 was established by the planting of a rose bush.
The main Church became a grade two listed building on 17th September 1891, following recommendations by local Councillor G. Nutting.
Currently in 2014/2015, a new story is forming as a voluntary Community Group called Sidney Park Friends is working in conjunction with Church Members to renovate the church garden. The aim of this project is to turn the derelict space in front of the Clee Club into a ‘Community Edible Garden’, allowing for residents to freely pick the produce when it is planted and ready to eat.
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