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BLACKLEY: Blackley Baptist Church History up to 1912.

BLACKLEY BAPTIST CHURCH

The story of the Blackley Church is an inviting theme to the writer. We are told that a Mr. James Cartledge, who was developing the coal mines in the neighbourhood, made a vow that if God prospered him he would build Him a house. In this way the first chapel at Blackley was secured, with its vestries and burial-ground, and the Church formed, in 1789. Mr. Cartledge appears to have made another and less happy vow, for owing to a dispute in the neighbouring Church of which he was a member, he vowed "he would never sit down in the chapel again." He fulfilled his pledge — ipsissima verba — by ever after standing throughout the service.

The first two pastors at Blackley were John Hindle (1791-3) and J. Rowlands (1796-8). In 1798, the Rev. J. Rigby took charge of what was evidently a difficult task, for it was found necessary to dissolve the Church, and, a new Covenant having been agreed upon, it was subscribed by about twenty members. Henceforward, during a pastorate of forty-one years, Mr. Rigby enjoyed the unbroken confidence and affection of his people. He was succeeded by Rev. J. Hirst, who was richly blessed in his work. The chapel was remodelled, the school enlarged, and their pastor kept his station for twenty-eight years. Mr. Roger Briggs, of Manchester College, commenced his ministry in August, 1874, and at once entered with zeal into a new building scheme.

In 1876, an enterprise, entailing an outlay of £4000, was undertaken, but the church does not appear to have possessed the 200 purchase money required for the land. The proceedings that followed are not without an element of humour. Although gifts were steadily flowing in, they did not keep pace with the needs, and clamorous contractors, finding the money exhausted, ceased their work. An attempt to raise a mortgage precipitated the discovery that the land upon which they were building had once been conveyed for burial purposes, and it was necessary to institute a friendly action in Chancery. This having been successfully pursued, our Building Fund and Loan Society came to Blackley's aid, and the completed buildings were at last opened on September 3rd, 1879, with a remaining debt of £2900; for the friendly law-suit had swallowed up the whole of the opening collections.

The interest required for this debt they floated in shares, and so relieved themselves, for the time being, of an over-burdening responsibility. During the last decade of the century they installed an organ, renovated the chapel, rebuilt the old school, and purchased a field. There seems to have been no end to their exertions, the pastor always in the van of the Church's endeavour, and becoming celebrated as the greatest "beggar" in the district. Mr. Briggs did not confine his labours to the Church, but served for many years on the School Board and Board of Guardians. When he resigned his charge in 1910, he was the recipient of many gifts, amongst others an address from the Elland District Council, which entertained him at a banquet at the public offices. Mr. Briggs has left his life memorial in a vigorous Church, whose premises, costing upwards of £7000, are freed from debt. He has been succeeded by Rev. F. T. Such.


Transcribed by Colin Hinson © 2014
from the "Present Churches" section of
The Baptists of Yorkshire
by Rev. J. Brown Morgan
and Rev. C.E. Shipley