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St James' Church, Haslingden
St John's Church, Bacup
St Mary's, Church Rawtenstall
Ebenezer Baptist Church
Ebenezer Baptist Church
Bury Road, Haslingden

The 13th of November 1842 was a momentous date in the history of our church, for on that day fifteen earnest workers hired a small upper room in Pickering Street, off George Street, Haslingden - over a blacksmith's shop - where on week-days you might find women as well as men employed in the making, by hand, of various kinds of nails. The approach was by a flight of narrow and steep stone steps, which may still be seen. This building is now occupied by Mr. Luke Ralph as a tinner's workshop.

The intrepid fifteen only looked upon their meeting there as temporary, but as time developed they determined to form themselves into a separate community, and on the 3rd April 1843, the Rev. David Griffiths, a tutor of the Accrington Baptist College, administered the ordinance of the Lord's Supper to them, and they formed themselves into the Ebenezer Baptist Church.

It will undoubtedly be of interest to the readers to scan the subjoined list of the names of the fifteen:

Lawrence Whitaker Sen.
First deacon
Elizabeth Donaldson
James DonaldsonPeter Warburton
Susannah DonaldsonBetty Walton
Mary WhitakerBetty Ramsbottom
Henry RushtonHenry Walton
Hannah RushtonAlice Whitaker
Mary Ann WhitakerMary Ann Whitaker
Alice Warburton

These have now long since passed away and doubtless the reader will be interested to be brought closer knowledge and contact with those of their descendants who are following in their steps.

Lawrence Whitaker, senior, long known as 'the old master' and whose photograph appears herein, resided at that time at Holden Mill House with his wife, Mary, 'the old mistress' (number 4 on the list), and whose photograph is after that of her husband, was the father of (7) Mary Ann Whitaker, afterwards the wife of John Cardwell, manufacturer of Clayton-le-Moors, and of Betty Walton who was married to Henry Walton, who himself for many years was a deacon and faithful adherent to the cause. The reader will note also the photograph of Mr. Walton. Alice Whitaker was another daughter of the 'old master'. She shortly afterwards was married to the Rev. Richard Evans, a student at Accrington College, who had accepted the pastorate of Zion Baptist Chapel, Burnley, and whose son, Mr. L C. Evans is now a member of the present church.

Mary Ann Whitaker was a niece of Lawrence Whitaker, senior and afterwards became the second wife of the Rev. Richard Evans. Turning again to the list, James Donaldson and his wife Susannah are represented today by their grandchild, Mrs. Mark Cockerill, the oldest living member on the rolls of the present church, whose son, Mr. Thomas Cockerill, is now, and has been for many years, the energetic secretary of the Sunday School, and up to a short time ago was also a deacon. Mr. Mark Cockerill, her husband, has served as a deacon and laboured long and heartily for the prosperity of the church in supplying the pulpit, and as teacher in the Sunday SchooI. Mr. and Mrs. Donaldson are also represented by Mr. John Donaldson, another grandchild, who for some time served as a deacon, and whose son, Mr. Thomas Donaldson, as will be seen from the photograph of the deacons, is one of such today, and treasurer of the church. Miss Elizabeth Donaldson was the daughter of Mr. And Mrs. Donaldson. She left Haslingden some 25 years ago.

Henry Rushton and Hannah, his wife are still represented through their son, the late Mr. Henry Rushton of Sykeside, by his widow, Mrs. Ellen Rushton who is now residing at Sykeside. Instead of Mr. Peter Warburton are his niece, Miss Alice Ann Warburton of Warwick Street and nephew Mr. Councillor John Thomas Warburton, who is a vice-president of the Young Men's Class. Mrs. Betty Ramsbottom died many years ago, and is the only one of the courageous fifteen who today is not represented by some workers at the place.

From the very commencement the cause began to grow, and a vigorous Day and Sunday School no doubt were active agencies forth is purpose. The few members worked amidst their early struggles in faith and prayer, and from the commencement to 1847 thirty-one members were added to the church. During this period the old chapel in Bury Road was erected at a cost of about £8OO, and no doubt there are many today have very dear associations with that plain old meeting house.

For the first seven years the pulpit was supplied by students from the Accrington College, neighbouring ministers, and laymen. In 185O the Rev. James Bury of Colne, was unanimously elected pastor and it was during his ministry that the old schools were erected in two storeys, the boys being taught on the ground floor and the girls in the upper room. Previous to this the school had been conducted in the body of the old chapel by Mr. Lawrence Whitaker, senior, as Superintendent, but through increasing years he was compelled to surrender the position to his son, Mr. Lawrence Whitaker of Highfield, who on the erection of the new schools took charge of the girls' department; whilst Mr. Emmanuel Cowpe took a similar position over the boys. The latter was for over 50 years the honoured secretary of the church.

Upon the death of Mr. Lawrence Whitaker, of Highfield, Mr. Robert Bailey succeeded as Superintendent, and was also a deacon. In May 1855 the Association Meetings of the Baptist Churches were held at Bury Road, and it may be quite certain marked an epoch in the church's history. After eight and a half years' service Mr. Bury resigned, closing his ministry in the year 1858, but was succeeded by the Rev. W. J. Stewart in April 1862 who, however, only remained until August 1865, some eighteen members being added to the church during this period- For two years there was a vacancy, the pulpit being chiefly supplied by students from Rawden College. In October 1866 Mr. B. B. Pavis of the College accepted a call and commenced in April 1867 what proved to be a valuable and cherished ministry. It was on July 15th 1875 the pastor and church suffered a great loss in the death of Mr. Lawrence Whitaker of Highfield who had ever rendered the most loyal and hearty service to the church. During the pastorate of Mr. Davis the present school, lecture and class rooms were erected in 1876 and 1877 at a cost of about £3,500, and were opened on March 22nd, 25th 30th and April 1st and 17th 1877.

In 1878 a bazaar was held in the large schoolroom (opened by W. Snape, Esq. JP of Darwen), which continued over three days and realised about £1040. After fourteen years of valuable service, Mr. Davis resigned his pastorate, through failing health to the general regret and brought his ministry to a close on May 21st 1881. During his time 154 members were added to the church. On the 13th April 1883 the Rev. G. T. Bailey of Smethwick, Birmingham was invited to become minister, and he commenced on Sunday, May 8th 1883. It was during his pastorate that the first nucleus of the fund for the erection of the new chapel was obtained by means of a bazaar held in the Public Hall on November 8th 1887, which realised £475.

Fifty one members joined the church during the seven years of helpful service Mr. Bailey rendered. He resigned on the 4th February 1890. On the 1st May in the same year, Mr. Daniel Jones of Bristol College accepted a call and commenced his ministry in July 189O. He tendered his resignation on January 5th 1893. Fourteen members were added during the brief time Mr. Jones was pastor. In September 1893 the Rev. W. Steadrnan Davis very kindly offered to take the oversight of the church for six months, which offer was unanimously accepted, but after about six weeks his health broke down and after a few months' illness he peaceably passed away.

During these years the school had been making gradual but sure progress, the more commodious premises and schoolrooms rendering possible the assembly together of both boys and girls in one large room. Mr. Cowpe and Mr. Robert Bailey were still the Superintendents. On Mr. Cowpe's retirement Mr. Israel Walton was for several years vice-Superintendent being succeeded by Mr. Thomas Whitaker and Mr. Francis Whitworth, the former of whom retired some three years ago, and the latter was joined by Mr. William Henry Green, and both hold their honoured positions with the full confidence of the teachers. There are at present 28 male teachers and officers and 17 female teachers on the books, with 153 male scholars and 191 females; a total of 343.

In September 1894 the Rev. Morton Gledhill of Brighton Grove College, Manchester, accepted a unanimous call to the pastorate, commencing on the 21st July 1895. During his ministry the present edifice in Bury Road was erected at a cost of £5,50O (the building committee being Messrs. T. Whitaker, W. H. Hollinrake, W. Hoyle, J. T. Warburton, Furness Hamer, J Donaldson and J.R. Green). There was built also a useful infant schoolroom to accommo4ate 12O children. The Rev. Morton Gledhill resigned his ministry on the 27th March 19O4. Sixty seven members were added to the church during his pastorate.

He has been succeeded by the Rev. D. B. Davies, who commenced his ministry on August 6th 19O5 and who, it is hoped, may be enabled to minister with the hearty co-operation of all for many years to come. Of others who have rendered yeoman service on the deaconate and otherwise, space will not permit more than a passing reference. Mr. John Barlow (father of His Worship the Mayor, Mr. Councillor James Barlow), Mr. Singleton Green, Mr. Robert Hallam, Mr. Lawrence Whitaker of Devonshire Place, and may others, are to very many more than mere names; they are fragrant memories.

No history, however brief, would be complete without a reference to the day school which has been connected with the place from its earliest days, for at the little upper room in Pickering Street, Mr. Quarmby attended to the duties of master, and today, occasionally, older men may be met with who have recollections of this pedagogue. Mr. Ward succeeded, and it was in his time that the day school was transferred to Bury Road, at that time only the body of the old chapel being used, no pews having been put in until some time afterwards. He was succeeded by Mr. William Hargreaves, in whose day the old schools were erected. In the year 187O the day schools were put under the inspection of the Education Board, London and Mr. Alexander Clegg was appointed master, a position he held for some years. Mr. R. Iwan Jenkins succeeded and on his retirement, Mr. J.H. Heyworth, the present master was appointed. The number of scholars on the books at the day school are:

Infants under 5 38
Infants over 5 121
Pay scholars 219
Half-timers 46
Making a total of 424

From this it will be gathered that a growing educational force of considerable influence has been attached to the church from its foundation.

In such a brief outline it will readily be understood that a many names have had to be omitted for whom the compilers of this brief sketch would have been happy to have found a place, but lack of space has prevented their doing so. After all, this is but a fringe and very material side of the true history, which surely is recorded with perfect accuracy by a golden pen in a sphere of which our knowledge is but limited; yet the compilers hope that brief and sketchy as it may be here set down, it may prove to be an incentive to many to faithful and ardent service in the future, and that later compilers of another such sketch may have the pleasure of receding as faithful service and as proportionate a progress as that the present writers have attempted in the foregoing lines to detail.

Ceremonial Trowel

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War Memorial