Jubilee and Memorial: 1872 Lee Mount Baptist 1922

History of Church and Sunday School

Sunday School Historical Sketch

Contributed by Arthur Wilson.

1845 --- 1872 --- 1922

As faithful as our Fathers were, may we their children be, And in our hearts their spirit live that gained our liberty.

The beginning of the Lee Mount Baptist cause is surrounded with some mysteries we should like to penetrate, but must leave since there is no record. It was at first styled “The General Baptist Lord’s Day School,” and established 30th November, 1845. The first meeting place was a cottage, later two cottages at Sod House Green and Shay Lane, Ovenden.

No record is preserved of these earliest days, and so far as we know, no one is living who could the tale unfold. The first recorded minutes we possess are dated the 1st day of July, 1849. Seven resolutions were adopted, and we think they are worthy of appearing in this Historical Sketch—

The following officers were chosen for the ensuing year.

  1. Jacob Moore, Shaw Hill, Halifax, Treasurer.
  2. Thomas Murgatroyd, New Town, Secretary.
  3. Richard Horsfall, Nursery Lane, to light the fires, for which he is to have a collection every three months.
  4. Henry Cockroft, Superintendent, this office to be held for three months.
  5. Susan Marshall, Nany Pollard, Female Visitors.
  6. Zackariah Greenwood, James Clegg (Junior), Male Visitors.
  7. John and Thomas Clegg are appointed to visit all our teachers who do not attend and request them to fill up their respective places.

These eight men and two women become therefore the first known pioneers of a Sunday School that for more than 70 years has been a scene of grand and devoted sacrifice by men and women who for the most part have been of lowly origin, taking their place in the ranks of the toilers for bread, giving evidence of their lack of education and the skill of learning, but endowed with what perhaps was of higher worth: possessing big souls, a conviction that must find expression, and vision sufficient to carry them over very great and disheartening difficulties. To us they seem to belong to the true nobility of this world.

In the year 1850 an effort was made towards acquiring land and building a new School, but this failed, and unable to carry on any longer for lack of room, a move was made to the Mechanics’ Hall, Nursery Lane in 1854, and again to what was known as Jerry’s School, Moorside, in 1856. This became the home of our Sunday School for the next 16 years. The building still stands but hid by shop property built in what in those days was the approach — or school yard.

Group of buildings
Group of buildings

Here the foundations were well and truly laid for future days, “laid in struggle, sometimes despair and almost defeat” that carried the cause to eventual and solid success. Thomas Clegg, the father of several who are with us to-day, was already there. He was joined in May, 1855 by Joshua Wilson, William Wilson, William Sunderland, William Tidswell, and in December of the same year by Henry Townsend, Wm. Dawson and John Dickinson as teachers. Everyone who is familiar with Lee Mount knows how great a part four of these have played; their lives indeed are part of the fabric and honoured in all our hearts. Three of these lived to influence even recent days and are well remembered by many of us.

Henry Townsend occupied every possible office with great ability and kept his place as a teacher for 57 years, resigning on October 8th, 1912. When we remember him and his work there is only one thing we can fittingly say, “Servant of God, well done!”

William Wilson, a man of very different type, dependent mainly on natural abilities as a teacher, learning to read after he became one, living a great Christian life in his home and in service to the district, he kept his place in the Sunday School to the end, serving over 42 years as Teacher.

Joshua Wilson is still remembered by many as an earnest worker in the Band of Hope, a great encourager of sport in connection with the Sunday School, and a teacher of great acceptance with the very young folks. He resigned as teacher September 13th, 1892, having completed a period of 37 years.

Around these four men in the early days gathered a group of others, who were builders up of the cause and strengtheners of each others hands. Naomi Clegg (Townsend) in 1860, Susey Clegg in 1861, T. Cooper, W. Townsend, John Akroyd in 1862 and others.

In February, 1863, a very grave crisis occurred. The officers decided “That it is our unanimous opinion that our labours in this room are in vain, and that we ascertain whether it is the intention of North Parade to build a new School at Ovenden now or at any future time.” The four just mentioned with Mr Thomas Sunderland (who is here mentioned for the first time) were appointed a deputation to North Parade. This Church had previously helped to carry on the cause at Ovenden, but now withdrew its services and advised the little band to close the Sunday School. The deputation received no encouragement, and in June, 1863, it was resolved “to bring our case with regard to giving up the School before the Committee of the Halifax Sunday School Union, and Thomas Sunderland, our representative, bring the matter before its meeting.”

This proved to be the rightly guided step and on August 11th, 1863, we find the following resolution :--- “That we carry on our School with the intention of procuring a new one, and that we obtain the money requisite before we commence to build.”

Organization of effort followed this brave resolve that stirred up the life of the little cause, prosperity smiled upon them, notable additions were made to their numbers, all of which culminated in the great achievement of building, equipping and occupying our present Sunday School premises. On March 24th, 1872, the farewell meeting at Ovenden took place, and with great settlement rejoicings the Lee Mount Baptist Sunday School opened its great chapter of beneficent history on April 14th, 1872.

Between the years 1863 and 1872, as we have said, many were added to the list who became stalwarts and won places for themselves on our honoured Roll. Wm. Thomas, Dyson Clegg, Wm. Oswin, Hannah Clegg, Sarah Ann Greenwood, Arthur Townsend, John Henry Hooson, Hannah Ingham (Hooson), J.W. Horsfall, Mary Ann Rushworth (Townsend), Wm. Booth and others. Younger ones whose names are not recorded at this stage, but who soon after the opening of the new School, entered on service are familiar to us and some remain with us today.

The first officers of the new School at Lee Mount were :---
Henry Townsend, Superintendent.
Arthur Townsend, Secretary.
Dyson Clegg, Treasurer.

In 1874 we come across the names of Sarah Clegg (Jones), Elizabeth Wilson; in 1876, Wm. Bradley as Assistant Secretary, and in 1877 full Secretary, Robert B. Charnock, Arthur Hirst, Pliny Clayton, John Hy. Holroyd, Mary Ann Thomas (Bradley), Margaret Ann Wade; in 1879, M. Wright, Andrew Fearnley, Walter Smith, L. Sutcliffe, Richard Jones, W Fitton, Emma Lister, J. Naylor, S. Howarth; in 1881, Enos Smith, George Jones, John Ed. Greenwood, W. Sunderland, Ellis Bamsden; in 1882, Betsy Wilson, Tom Ashworth, Sarah Ann Howarth, W. Harrison and James Frankland.

It would be a pleasure to run on right up to the present period, but we must be content here with the first ten years of those who figure as officers of our Sunday School. A list will be found in this book of the date of appointment --- so far as it has been possible to ascertain --- of all who have been recognized as officers and teachers.

For the next six years the number of scholars and teachers continued to increase, shewing that our School was meeting the needs of the district as the number of residents grew. The first check was in 1878 when the neighbouring Sunday School of St George’s Church was opened. Naturally a number left us and helped them to begin what we are glad to believe has been a very prosperous and helpful Sunday School; 94 scholars left us at this time, but this caused no feeling in our ranks for we fully recognized there was plenty of room for both to work amicably side by side. In the year 1889, when our great Re-Union Meetings of old scholars were held, the scholars on our register numbered 418, and the teachers numbered 40.

The Re-Union Meetings were a great success, the response of old scholars to those meetings was very satisfactory. Many happy and even humorous reminiscences were given and high tribute paid to the men and women who in cloud and shine had carried on and been a blessing. During this year strenuous efforts were made to entirely free our premises from debt, and by the end of the year 1899 the struggle of years was crowned by victory, spoken of at the time as a real emancipation.

During the year 1891 Sunday Evening Services were commenced in the Lecture Room for the children. These were very successful; one of the frequent speakers at these meetings was James Parker, now so well known and esteemed and for years Member of Parliament for this Borough.

In 1893 the services of a very respected family were lost to us by removal from the District, Mr and Mrs. John Hy. Holroyd. Presentations were made to them as small mementos of very useful and devoted labours for a period of 15 years.

On August 11th, 1897 Mrs. Naomi Townsend resigned as a teacher of the Sunday School after a long term of useful service. We are glad that Mrs. Townsend is still alive and can retail a great deal of our history since 1860. “ She hath done what she could.”

In the year 1898 the Sunday School officers and teachers entered heart and soul into the scheme for the building and extension of our Chapel and Sunday School premises. The result was the Sunday School received very greatly improved accommodation in the class rooms and Primary School at the rear of the new Chapel. This was in the days of Messrs A. Hirst and J. Atkins as Superintendents, Mr C. Hoyle was Secretary of the Building Fund, and a very enthusiastic worker in the scheme was Mr H. Culpan, a present Superintendent.

In January, 1906 Mr Hy. Townsend completed 50 years’ continuous service as a teacher. This year was the 60th anniversary of the commencement of our cause at Ovenden, to mark which a Special Festival or Diamond Jubilee was held on November 11th and 12th, and these gatherings were marked by great enthusiasm and gratitude.

In this year 1906 we lost one of the finest of those who have graced the roll of our Sunday School workers, Mr A. Hirst died. Those who knew him best know that in heart and mind he was a man who dared to be singular and true to conviction; a great soul who could do humble unseen work, heartening others to hold on in trouble, doubt or discouragement.

During this year a signal honour and one we appreciated was paid to our Sunday Schoo1 --- the election of Mr A. Townsend as President of the Halifax Sunday School Union, a position he was well worthy of and which he filled with credit to his loved Sunday School. In June, 1910 Mr Arthur died. We lost a great stalwart and the district a useful man, and the writer lost an esteemed colleague in the senior class as fellow teacher for many years; he was a teacher in our School for the long period of 41 years.

Our Cradle Roll was adopted in the Primary Department on the 12th December, 1911, and in this way we enter our babies’ names on the roll of the Sunday School on their first birthday.

During 1913 Mr Clement Hoyle retired from the office of Superintendent, a position he held for many years and to which he gave his very best. On November 21st, 1916 Mr Hoyle died. He won a very honoured place on the memories roll of our Sunday School Worthies.

Mr John Hy. Hooson, who died in July, 1918, had a long and fine record of work in connection with both the Church and Sunday School. As far back as 1868 we find him mentioned in connection with some minor office of the School, in 1872 he was in full service, and for 30 years he continued as an officer or teacher. His chief work, was as deacon and treasurer of the Church. Mr Hooson had a great gift for public speaking, many living today remember with pleasure his helpful words, especially of public prayer.

During 1918 Mr Hy. Townsend passed away faithful in his interest to the last. He was last to go of the very first of those who established the Baptist cause in the district. As a memorial of her husband’s love to our place, Mrs. Townsend presented two fine pictures to us; these hang side by side in the Sunday Schoo1; they serve --- if it were necessary -- to keep green a very fragrant memory.

On December 9th, 1919 the teachers accepted with great regret the resignation of Mr Wm. Bradley as Treasurer after 38 years’ service. A wonderful record of great and willing usefulness.

Present officers and teachers
Present officers and teachers

During the great and terrible days of 1914 and forwards to 1918 our Sunday School suffered with every similar organisation owing to the war, which even yet is as a dark shadow across the World. 77 of our lads left their homes to fight for King and Country, and we regret to say that four of these lost their lives in the War. Their names are Geo. H. Poole, Harry Tidswell, Willie Campbell, Harry Howarth. We honour and revere their memories.

Two of our lads, Eric Rawson and Claude Bolton, won the Military Medal for bravery. An earnest band of workers kept in touch with the lads by sending comforts in the shape of clothing and food, and where advisable, money. Some of the lads are still with us working in the Church and Sunday School, the influence of early associations was admitted a great help to all of them during the War experiences.

Roll of Honour and Photos

In memory of the lads who went out to serve in the war from our Sunday School, a Roll of Honour was unveiled on April 9th, 1916 by James Parker, M.P., when a crowded assembly of parents and friends met to pay sincere respect and gratitude to those who returned and to mourn the loss of those left behind in a foreign land.

One of our efforts in this Jubilee Celebration is to remember them further by providing a Memorial Organ to them and all our great dead.

In memoriam
In memoriam

The photos of our soldier lads, handsomely framed in groups, are to be seen in the Young Men’s Vestry.

It will be very obvious that for want of space a large number of those who have played useful parts, given great and unstinted service, been successful as teachers or officers in the last 50 years of our School history, have not been singled out for special reference in this short sketch. We think of them as we write, running our mind back upon their devoted labours, but have had to content ourselves with all too brief paragraphs of a few now no longer with us. We trust that some day a further chronicle may be added to these pages doing justice to many still alive and active, and helping to carry on that routine work --- just ordinary --- which is the foundation and secret of the continuity and success of any cause. Sure we are that none will be unrewarded. It is a great work helping in some measure to lay rightly the foundations of worthy character, training boys and girls and those of riper years in the essentials of life, building again the New Jerusalem in England’s pleasant land. Let us rejoice that we have the humblest part and memorial in this great task.

Enough if something from our hands have power
To live, and act, and serve the future hour,—
And if, as toward the silent tomb we go,
Through love, through hope, and faith’s transcendent dower,
We feel that we are greater than we know.

Our auxiliaries

On April 4th, 1868 a Band of Hope was established in connection with our Sunday School, the following being the first committee:— Wm. Oswin, President; Wm. Wilson, Vice-President; John Berry, Treasurer; Arthur Townsend, Secretary; Joshua Wilson, Mary Lister, Ruth Spencer, Adalina Farnell, Martha Ambler, Elizabeth Wilson.

We regret that since the early days of the War in 1914 this Society has not been active, no meetings taking place. However for a good many years it was a real live Society, useful, as many could testify, in helping to train them in early life in the principles of total abstinence, and having an interest in the problems created in our national life by the intemperate habits of so many.

School library

As far back as 1872 our School Library was established. In those days we led the way to the creation of the public libraries as they are known to day.

For 50 years an issue of good literature must have been a source of pleasure and education to our young people.

Young Men’s Mutual Improvement Society

This Society was formed on the 5th day of December, 1871, so it will be 51 at the close of this year 1922. We cannot say that it has had a continuous existence for that period; sometimes the interest has fallen so low that the Society has closed down for a time, to be revived again later.

We are glad to say a very good Society is in existence at present, a very successful session now Just closed.

The present officers are:— President, Rev. H.J. Carr, B.D.; Vice-Presidents, Messrs. A. Wilson and W. Garsed; Treasurer, Mr Hubert Townsend; Secretary, Mr Clifford Wilson.

Missionary society

For 54 years a Foreign Mission Society has been doing useful work in our School, creating interest and supplying information on this subject.

We now realize more the importance of this great world wide mission, designed to visualise to the Church the great task awaiting it, offering the opportunity to assert the place of Christianity as the greatest constructive force in the new world that is being made.

Year by year we take our humble part in these momentous issues, sending our small quota to the funds of the Baptist Society, and we hope some day from our Sunday School some youth or maiden, fired with a zeal unquenchable for the salvation of mankind, may be our representative on the Foreign field.

The present Secretary is Mr Alfred Archer.

Young People’s Society of Christian Endeavour

In 1894 this Society was formed with 52 members, and for about 15 years was very successful and proved one of the best organizations for training our young people and forming a desirable link between the Sunday School and the Church.

After a lapse of many years the Society has been restarted this year, and we trust will eventually prove as successful as the earlier days. The present Secretary is Miss Amy Priestley, Lee Mount.

Sports and social innovation

Lee Mount has a long history for its Cricket Club, which at times has been of a first class order; and later it had a successful Football Club, which on two occasions won the shield and cup of the Nonconformist league. Unfortunately during the War our field was ploughed, and since then we have not been able to secure a fresh one; as soon as this is possible we hope to cater again for these seasonal pastimes.

The present sport is a Badminton Club, a form of indoor tennis which appears very enjoyable to the members.