HARROGATE: Harrogate Baptist Church History up to 1912.
HARROGATE BAPTIST CHURCH
In the fashionable town of Harrogate we are represented by the stately chapel which stands in Victoria Avenue. It is the outcome of our county "Building and Extension Fund," which, turning its attention to Harrogate, engaged the Montpellier Rooms for services, in 1876. The experiment proved to be so successful that steps were quickly taken for the erection of a chapel. The splendid site in Victoria Avenue was secured, and the schoolroom opened for worship on May 5th, 1878. In 1879, the workers were greatly encouraged by an unexpected legacy of 1,000, bequeathed by Mrs. Rogers, a lady who was a member of the Church of England. On October 12th, 188o, the Church was formed, numbering thirty-eight members. The building of the chapel was now undertaken, the corner stone being laid on August 4th, 1882, and the completed sanctuary opened for worship on June 20th, 1883. In the same month the Sunday School was organised. In the following year a valuable organ was presented by an anonymous donor.
The advance of the cause is seen in the fact that during its first decade there had been raised, for all purposes, the sum of £14,600. During these ten years the Church lost two of its most generous supporters, by the death of Rev. Thomas Pottinger, and the removal of Mr. T. S. Aldis. In 1888, the Rev. J. G. Raws —then co-pastor with Dr. Maclaren—was invited to the first pastorate of the Church. He commenced his ministry on Easter Sunday, 1889, the remaining debt being then cancelled. In that year the Church lost another of its most generous supporters in the death of Mr. William Stead, and, in 1892, its treasurer, Mr. W. R. Thorp, removed to the South of England. Mr. Raws resigned his pastorate in 1894, his health compelling his removal to Australia. His place was filled in 1896 by the Rev. T. Graham Tam, whose ministry of ten years will always be a notable period in the history of the cause.
The Church gathered increasing strength and influence, and the death of its pastor, on August loth, 1906, was an event of widespread sorrow.—" A man of culture, and zealous in all things for purity and righteousness, he was loved by his Church and congregation, and greatly respected throughout the town of his adoption." The Church did not elect his successor until 1909, when the Rev. J. R. Walker, of Regent's Park, London, accepted the Church's call and still continues in its ministry. During its thirty-five years of history the Church has been able to raise over £40,000 for its various funds.
from the "Present Churches" section of
The Baptists of Yorkshire
by Rev. J. Brown Morgan
and Rev. C.E. Shipley