North Parade Baptist Church, Halifax

Introduction

North Parade Baptist Church was the first General Baptist church in Halifax; it played a key role in the development of two other General Baptist churches in Halifax, West Vale and Lee Mount, but, not long after it celebrated the centenary of its building, the building was demolished to make way for the Halifax Inner Ring Road.

A Charity Commission document from 1965 records that the assets of the Frederic Ingham Charity which had supported North Parade were split among Pellon, Lee Mount and Rishworth Baptist Churches.

The extract printed below from the programme for the 1954 celebrations of the centenary of the building of the chapel is reproduced in full as a PDF as is the 1889 Church Manual. Both throw light on the development of the General Baptist churches in Halifax and on Lee Mount Baptist Church.

Extracts from the history of the church

Although we are celebrating the centenary of our present chapel, our history as a Church of the New Connexion of General Baptists began in the year 1772 when the Rev. Dan Taylor, minister of Birchcliffe Baptist Church, Hebden Bridge, preached occasionally in Halifax. The result of his preaching was that a small company of believers in the year 1775 hired a room in Gaol Lane and commenced preaching services, but few people attended except when Dan Taylor himself preached. One whose father attended these services says that the preaching was so powerful that the hearers must either be converted or absent themselves from the place.

Two years later, in 1777, the people decided to build a chapel of their own; a plot of land was bought at the bottom of Haley Hill, and thereon was built what was considered to be a neat and commodious chapel which was opened on September 3rd, 1777 by Dan Taylor, of Birchcliffe, and his brother John, of Queenshead. In 1782 the Church which had hitherto been united in membership with Queenshead separated and thirty people formed themselves into a Church at Haley Hill. The next step was to secure a suitable minister and in 1783 Dan Taylor became minister of the Church at Haley Hill. The Church prospered but in 1785 to the dismay of the people he was called away to an important Church in London.

With the departure of the Rev. Dan Taylor from Halifax there set in a long period of depression and disputation which wore away the energy of the Church and threatened its life, but in 1823 the Rev. Jonathan Ingham began a pastorate which at its close in 1833 left the Church full of life and vigour.

Progress was made and in 1829 five cottages were built in Garden Street, New Bank, and a long room over four of them was used as a Sunday schoolroom to accommodate the scholars of the school formed in 1811 at Haley Hill.

The old chapel was from time to time improved but steadily the conviction grew amongst the people that if any further progress was to be made either the chapel would have to be rebuilt or a new chapel built nearer the town. The church decided on the latter alternative and in 1851 a plot of ground in North Parade was purchased with a view to the erection of a chapel thereon. It is surprising to learn that at this time the Church was composed of less than one hundred members, mostly of the working class, and utterly unable of themselves to carry out their design; how they were going to do it they had not the slightest idea. Building commenced in 1853 and by the following June it was so far covered in that the Sunday School moved from Garden Street and occupied the new premises. The Church also held its services in the schoolroom until the chapel was completed.

The new chapel was opened on Thursday, the 21st of December, 1854. It was Dan Taylor’s birthday, for he was born on December 21st, 1738, at Sour Milk Hall, Horley Green, Halifax.

The opening sermon was preached by the Rev. Prof. Raleigh, of the Rotherham College, and the services were continued on the following Sunday.

The cost including the ground was about £3,600 and when all was balanced up it was found that the Church was in debt to the extent of £1,500. How this amount was successfully cleared off by the adoption of a Five Year Plan to repay £300 per year, and the unique way in which the ladies of the Church co-operated in the plan, forms a romantic and separate story in itself, quite worthy of being told on its own account.

The Crossley brothers of Dean Clough have been generous donors to many churches in Halifax and, when they heard of the position at North Parade after the opening of the new chapel, they generously came forward with an offer that if the Church would pay £300 per year off the principal for five years, they would pay the accruing interest. The Church regarded this offer as providential, a sign that God was working with them, and concluded that they could do no other than accept it, although they knew not how it was to be accomplished. Further encouragement came from their minister, Dr. Ingham, who co-operated in the plan by promising to serve the Church for the first year without salary. All members of the Church were urged to support the scheme according to their ability and the ladies of the Church formed a Sewing Society to make goods for sale. At first these goods were stored in the house of one of the members, but when this accommodation proved too small a shop was rented at the bottom of North Parade. This shop, managed by the ladies of the Church, proved successful and at the end of the five years the stock remaining was sold and when a balance sheet was drawn up it was seen that a profit of nearly £200 had been made. It should be added that Dr. Ingham fulfilled his promise to serve the Church for one year without salary and that at the end of it the Church marked its appreciation of his generosity by a suitable gift of money.

The early years of the Church at North Parade were full of endeavour and whilst money raising loomed large at this time the Church found opportunity to extend its interests beyond its own borders.

In June, 1863, it was reported to the Church that “there was an opening for the introduction of our cause at West Vale, a rising village, three miles south of Halifax.” A committee was formed and the position investigated and, the report being favourable, it was resolved to form a branch. After some difficulty a suitable room was obtained. This room was furnished and opened as a Sunday School and place of Divine Worship on the 16th of August, 1863. It also served as a day school.

So much did the work prosper that in 1864 a meeting was held to consider the desirability of building a chapel and in July, 1866, a plot of land was purchased; building commenced in 1868 and the new chapel was opened on the 5th August, 1869.

After the chapel was opened it was found to have been a movement in the right direction; the congregations were much increased, a good number professed their faith and were baptized and became member-s of the Church.

Hitherto united with us in membership the friends at West Vale now decided that the time had come to form themselves into a separate Church and, in July 1871, a document was prepared, signed by 53 persons, being the whole number of members in communion with our branch at West Vale, thanking the Church at North Parade for the assistance rendered in establishing and supporting the cause there and asking to be separated from the fellowship of the Parent Church in order that they may be formed into a Church of their own.

This request was graciously and favourably received by the Church at North Parade and it was resolved that we affectionately dismiss the brethren and sisters whose names are affixed to the said document, in order that they may become a separate Church with a pastor of their own, most fervently commending them and their Pastor-elect to God and to the Word of His grace which is able to build them up and to give them an inheritance among all them that are sanctified. The date of the separation was the 19th July, 1871, and the first minister was the Rev. Thomas Gill.

To celebrate the formation of the Church a gathering was held at West Vale on September 2nd, 1871, at which a framed and illuminated Address inscribed “From the West Vale General Baptist Church to the Mother Church, North Parade, Halifax” was presented by Mr Robert Dempster on behalf of the West Vale Church to our senior deacon, Mr Daniel Wilson, representing the North Parade Church.

This Address, expressive of the Church’s gratitude, was gratefully received and it was ordered to be hung up in the Minister’s vestry where it may now be seen.

The Church now turned its attention to our Lee Mount branch. In 1857 a waning cause at Ovenden had been taken under our care. For a long time it had struggled on under great difficulties. The people had worshipped for many years and had their Sunday School in a small, overcrowded and ill-ventilated room, which materially interfered with their success. It was resolved, however, to continue, and a movement was started for the erection of a new building. In 1869 land was purchased at Lee Mount and in 1871-2 a new school was erected which served both as a School and Chapel.

From the time that Divine worship was commenced in the new place and the Sunday School opened, prosperity attended their efforts. The schoolroom was let to the Halifax School Board and in 1875 for their accommodation an additional classroom and an infant school were built, together with a chapel keeper’s house. In the years that followed the Church continued to report increases in the number of Sunday School scholars and Church members, and a growing confidence in their ability to manage their own affairs led them at the end of 1891 to ask the Parent Church to allow them to separate. A resolution was passed stating that the time was now opportune for such a move to be made and setting forth their reasons for this decision. At this time (1891) the New Connexion of General Baptists had decided to amalgamate with the larger body of Baptists, and the members at Lee Mount desired freedom of action to seek admittance to the Yorkshire Association of Baptist Churches along with other churches in the county. The resolution testified to the valuable assistance rendered by the Mother Church, and to the many benefits which had accrued from association with us. The friends at North Parade welcomed this approach to them and on the 6th of April, 1892, it was resolved that we dismiss from our fellowship 134 members who have been associated with our branch chapel to form a separate Church to be known as the Lee Mount Baptist Church, and we take this opportunity to express the fervent hope that the step now taken may under the Divine blessing result in the continued progress, harmony, and general prosperity of the new Church.

Meanwhile our own Church at North Parade continued to prosper under a succession of devoted ministers and fifty years ago, on the occasion of its Jubilee in 1904, it undertook an extensive scheme of renovation, The chapel was repainted and decorated, electric light was installed, new windows were put in and the heating apparatus extended.

After being closed for ten weeks Reopening Services were held on the first Sunday in October, 1904, when the Rev. D. Tait Patterson commenced a memorable ministry at North Parade. In this year also, pew rents were abolished and a system of self assessment was introduced whereby the income of the Church was much increased. The Jubilee celebrations proper were held in the following February.

During Mr Patterson’s ministry an excellent piece of social rescue work, which brought untold blessing to the poor women of the surrounding district, was undertaken by the ladies of the Church. A Thursday evening Women’s Meeting was commenced, and was well attended, in which the Christian way of life was set forth. This was followed up by visitation of the people in their dingy, insanitary and often overcrowded homes in the courts, squares, yards and ginnels of the district. Ultimately a rehousing scheme which removed the people of this human “warren” to an outer district brought the work to an end, but no words of praise can be too high for those who gave of their time and of themselves for this service.

The Organ was not installed until the end of 1864, since which time considerable additions and re-arrangements have been made to it. Previously to this the singing was accompanied by a harmonium, and earlier still by a violincello.

The Recognition Meeting of the Rev. D. Tait Patterson took place on Saturday evening, the 8th October, 1904, in the Chapel, and at the organ on that occasion was Mr. George Dyson, F.R.C.O., now Sir George Dyson, whose father, John William Dyson, was for over 50 years a member of the Choir, and for nearly 27 of those years Choirmaster.

Organists

1865–1896
1896–1899

1899–1920
1920–1926
1926–1944
1944–1944
1944–
Mr A. BRENARD
Mr J.H. HARRISON Joint Organists.
Mr H. HOLMES
Mr H. HOLMES.
Mr H.V. DYSON.
Mr H. HARRISON.
Mr F. MILNER (pro tem).
Mrs J.H. HARRISON.

The Individual Communion Cups were used for the first time at the Ordinance of the Lord’s Supper on Sunday, September 1st, 1901. The service was conducted by the Minister, the Rev. Carey Hood, and passed off successfully and decorously, and with a feeling that every hindrance to complete devotion had now been removed. The Communion Set was the gift of Mr J. Armitage Drake.

List of Ministers

1854–1862
1859–1859
1862–1864
1866–1869

1869–1877
1878–1887
1888–1903
1904–1912
1914–1919
1919–1925
1927–1933
1934–1937
Rev. Dr INGHAM.
Rev. T.D. MATTHIAS (Supply).
Rev. CHARLES CLARK.
Rev. Dr INGHAM Co-Pastors.
Rev. J.H. ATKINSON
Rev. ISAAC PRESTON.
Rev. WATSON DYSON.
Rev. CAREY HOOD.
Rev. D. TAIT PATTERSON.
Rev. F. T. BLOICE SMITH, B.D.
Rev. C.C. CHAMBERS, B.D.
Rev. HOWARD MAISHMAN.
Rev. VIOLET HEDGER, L.L.A.,B.D.

Since 1937 the Church has maintained a Ministry of the Word and Sacraments by the aid of Ministers and laymen. To all these we acknowledge our indebtedness, and return our grateful thanks.

Dr Ingham

The Rev. Dr Richard Ingham, our first Minister at North Parade, began his ministry on the first Sunday in November, 1854. His first period as minister continued until 1862 when health reasons compelled him to leave and take up a less strenuous sphere of labour at the Vale Church, near Todmorden. There he remained until 1866, when the pastorate at North Parade, having been vacant for nearly a year and a half, the Church decided to invite him to resume his work at North Parade with the assistance of Mr J.H. Atkinson, a young man fresh from College, as his co-pastor. They began their united labours on the first Sunday in July, 1866, and continued until January, 1869, when Mr Atkinson’s health broke down and he was compelled to resign. Dr Ingham, however, continued to serve the Church until the settlement of the Rev. Isaac Preston as minister in October, 1869.

He was the author of two books, a Hand-book on Baptism1 and Christian Baptism: Its Subjects.2 For these two works he had conferred upon him the degree of Doctor of Divinity by the American College at Hillsdale. He died at his residence in Akeds Road, Halifax, on Sunday evening, the first of June, 1873, in his 63rd year, and was buried at Heptonstall Slack Baptist Chapel, of which district he was a native.

1. Ingham, Richard (1865) A Hand-book on Christian Baptism. Part 1. The act of baptism London: Simpkin, Marshall, & Co.

2. Ingham, Richard (1871) A Hand-book on Christian Baptism. Part 2. The subjects of baptism London: E. Stock

Editor’s note on Richard Ingham: Dr Richard Ingham [1810-1 June 1873] was the nephew of Richard Ingham of Slack [24 March 1787–5 October 1842]. His uncle had been educated at Oxford but had decided to become a Baptist, being baptised at Heptonstall Slack on 24 April 1810 and spending two years at the New Connection Academy in Whitechapel. He became pastor at Duffield in 1812, remaining nine years in the course of which membership rose from 90 to 217 and he became the second husband of Grace, daughter of Dan Taylor, after her first husband had died. In 1819 he was invited to succeed John Taylor at Queensbury but was persuaded to decline. However, he accepted the invitation to became pastor at Heptonstall Slack from 1822 to 1834 in the course of which membership rose from 200 to 300, after which he moved back to the East Midlands, serving for four years at Broad Street, Nottingham and then at Belper before dying during a visit to his nephew in Bradford. Richard Ingham junior became pastor of Grange Road (Tetley Street Memorial) Church, Bradford not long after its formation in 1832 and during his time membership rose from 30 to 230. He moved to North Parade Baptist Church when it opened its new building in 1854.