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BLENHEIM: Blenheim Baptist Church History up to 1912.

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BLENHEIM BAPTIST CHURCH

The Blenheim Church came into being on October 12th, 1848, when seventy-two members who had withdrawn from South Parade were united with sixteen others in Church fellowship under Rev. Robert Brewer, who had retired from the pastorate of South Parade in the previous July. The new congregation gathered in a room in Park Lane, and the constitution of the Church was in accordance with the principle of an open communion. In November, 1849, the foundation stone of Great George Street chapel was laid by Mr. George Goodman. He became a member of the Church during the next year, being baptised in his own house. Mr. Goodman was four times Mayor of Leeds, for several years a Member of Parliament, and received a Knighthood in 1855. He remained in membership until his death in 1859. The new chapel was opened in 1851, having cost £3,300.

As there was no provision for a Sunday School, this work was carried on in other premises. In 1861, the Rev. C. H. Spurgeon preached in the Town Hall on behalf of the reduction of the debt, and in 1862, Lord Teynham was the anniversary preacher. At this juncture, the trustees of the Leeds Infirmary required the site of the chapel, and the building, with the land, was bought by them for £4,500. The stones of the chapel were afterwards used for the erection of St. Simon's, an Anglican place of worship. The land upon which Blenheim stands was then purchased, the surroundings at that time being almost rural. Blenheim was opened on the Good Friday of 1864, having cost £6,000, and Dr. Brewer's pastorate closed in the same year, after nearly sixteen years' ministry. Rev. G. B. Thomas was minister at Blenheim from 1865 to 1870, and was followed, in 1871, by Rev. J. W. Butcher.

His coming was attended with tokens of blessing; the debt was cancelled, a chapel-keeper's house built, and pew rents abolished. In 1874, the land on which the Camp Road Mission stands was purchased, and the premises built at a cost of £2,000. Ten years later, considerable enlargements were made, the cost having been provided by Miss Elizabeth Summers and Mr. T. Holroyd. Blenheim has been sustained from the first by generous supporters. The income from a legacy of £500, left by Mrs. Hamilton Richardson, is distributed every Christmas amongst the poor "within this district and denomination." Mr. Butcher's pastorate continued until 1888, and he was followed, in 1889, by Rev. Frank Wells. In 1892, a Chapel Extension Scheme was carried out at a cost of £2,400, towards which amount a legacy of £1,000 had been bequeathed by Mr. Thomas Holroyd.

In October, 1894, the Church sustained a grevious loss by the sudden death of its minister, who. had greatly endeared himself to his people. In October, 1895, Rev. P. T. Thomson, M.A., commenced a fruitful period of service, which he maintained until his removal to Leicester, in 1905. During his residence the Church celebrated its Jubilee by installing the electric light, whilst the clock in the tower was a Jubilee gift from the Holroyd family. In 1904, the new organ was installed. Mr. Thomson was succeeded by Rev. A. M. Ritchie, M.A., and in 1908-9 the Church applied itself to the task of a much needed enlargement of the School. This was carried out at an expenditure of £3,065. Mr. Ritchie removed to Watford in 1911, and Blenheim is at present without a pastor.


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