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Help and advice for HEBDEN BRIDGE: Hebden Bridge Birchcliffe Baptist Church History up to 1912.

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HEBDEN BRIDGE: Hebden Bridge Birchcliffe Baptist Church History up to 1912.

Hebden Bridge Birchcliffe Baptist Church History up to 1912.


The Birchcliffe Church, Hebden Bridge, will be for ever associated with the name of Dan Taylor. The story of his life and labour rightly belongs to an earlier section of this volume. In 1764, he, with a congregation of fourteen, built a chapel at Birchcliffe. Its cost of £140 was largely collected in the itinerant preachings of its pastor. In 1783, Dan Taylor removed to Halifax, and John Sutcliffe—a member of the Church—was ordained to the Birchcliffe pastorate. In 1792, it was necessary to add a gallery to the chapel. The Rev. A. Barker filled the vacant pulpit from 1799 to 1803. During this time, Henry Hollinrake, a young member, showing evidence that he "had parts for speaking", was sent to the London Academy. He departed with the Church's blessing and "a web of cloth", returning to be ordained minister at Birchcliffe, in 1806, where he was destined to continue in the pastorate for forty-nine years.

In 1807, some forty members withdrew to form the Church at Heptonstall Slack. In 1818, Birchcliffe numbered 203 members, and on August 11th, 1825, a new chapel was opened upon which the Church had spent £852 12S. In 1827, the site having been given, a Sunday school was erected. During "the forties" the Chartists desired the use of the chapel for a lecture, but it was replied that "no political question could righteously be spoken of in our place of worship." In 1853, the Church reluctantly accepted the retirement of its pastor, then in the extreme feebleness of old age, and he was succeeded by Rev. J. B. Lockwood, who, in 1860, was compelled by ill-health to resign.

In the same year Rev. W. Gray accepted the pastorate. During his thirty years' residence the cause made good progress, adapting itself in many ways to the changing times. In 1889, it was determined to build a new chapel. The reasons assigned are diverse, but cumulative and conclusive, namely :—" dry rot in the old chapel, the growth of aestheticism, and the inability to obtain seats." Mr. Gray was followed by Revs. H. Bull (1891-3), and J. Gay (1894-8). The great work of the new chapel was now entered upon, the corner stones being laid on July 3rd, 1897, and the sanctuary opened for worship October 31st, 1899. The Rev. S. J. Robins was called to the pastorate in July of that year, remaining until 1905, and was succeeded in the following year by the present minister, Rev. A. J. Harding.

The Birchcliffe chapel is one of the finest church properties belonging to the Denomination. It stands in an almost secluded position, and near by the earlier buildings; the total cost, with its furnishings, has been £14,000, and this large expenditure has been already completely defrayed. The Church has for the past twenty-three years raised an average yearly sum of nearly £600 for this purpose, in addition to bearing its current expenses. During the last five years the work has been rendered more difficult owing to disruptive influences in local industrial conditions, but these are now, happily, disappearing. Two years ago, the Church, having heard that the tombstone of its founder, Dan Taylor, in Bunhill Fields, was in a broken condition, undertook the work of replacing it with a new tombstone bearing the old inscription.

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