A brief history of WBC.

Front of church Front of church
Introduction.
The present Whitton Baptist Church building was opened on 6th April 1935, the Church becoming independent in 1936. The new building, financed by the sale of St. Margarets Baptist Church, replaced Whitton Gospel Hall opened in 1881 the same year as the St. Margarets church was opened both being daughter churches of Twickenham Baptist Church.
Early history of the area.
The "village" of Whitton can be traced back at least to the 13th century although it was only a hamlet in those days, on the edge of Hounslow heath. An early map of 1635 indicates a number of buildings in the Whitton area still surrounded by heath land. There is evidence of several large houses and estates being established in the 18th and early 19th centuries but it remained a very small hamlet until late into the 19th century even as late as 1872 the population was only 893. Whitton became a separate parish from Twickenham when the Parish Church of St. Philip and St. James was built on land the gift of Murray family in the 1861.
The Gospel Hall.
The Gospel Hall In 1881 Mrs Margaret Leeson, the wife of Dr. Leeson a prominent local doctor who became the first Mayor of the new Borough of Twickenham, was instrumental in building a Gospel Hall in Whitton close to Kneller Hall, formerly the home of the painter Sir Godfrey Kneller, but then and still, a Military School of Music. It was hoped that the Gospel Hall would provide a place of worship and religious instruction for the troops whilst at the School. In 1923 Twickenham Baptist Church took over the oversight of the Hall. Whitton was changing and in the 1930's its market Gardens and fruit farms became housing estates and suburban Whitton emerged.
This plaque in memory of Margaret Leeson can now be found at the back of the church. The inscription reads:

"In affectionate memory of Margaret Ann Leeson one of the founders of this hall and the beloved wife of J.R.Leeson M.D. who departed this life January 13th 1880 aged 56. A faithful servant of the Lord Jesus Christ and an untiring labourer in the gospel who by her daily life and conversation adored the doctrine of God our saviour in all things."

(Larger pictures of the plaques here)

The Plaque to Margret Leeson
Gospel Hall plaque The Gospel Hall has this plaque on it. The inscription reads:

"1881 - 1981
This tablet marks 100 years of Baptist witness which began in this hall on 15th October 1881 and continues today at Whitton Baptist Church.
Jesus Christ. The same yesterday, today and forever.
"

The St. Margarets connection.
Avenue Baptist church As the St. Margarets area in East Twickenham was developed for housing a Church known as Avenue Baptist Church was opened in 1881. In 1888 a number of members left to establish what is now Amyand Park Church affiliated to the FIEC. The Avenue Church prospered until the early 1920's when it passed through some difficult times although there were about 33 members its end was near as the site was reqired for the A316 now a major feeder of the M3 Motorway to central London. Eventually the Trustees decided to rebuild at Whitton hence our original official title of Whitton Baptist Church, St Margarets Memorial.

Rev.Alfred E. Underwood
the first minister of Avenue Baptist church.
This picture of the Avenue church has some significant differences to the one above. It shows a tower and a different entrance porch, also the main window is of a slightly different design.
The lettering at the top of the picture is an architect's stamp, so it is possible that the picture is of an architect's illustration of how the building was originaly intended to be built but for some reason a less elaborate front was actually what was built.

A larger version of this and another photo here

(These photographs were kindly provided by Roslyn Ballinger, the great granddaughter of Rev.Underwood's brother.)

The New Church at Whitton.
The money from the sale of the St. Margarets Church enabled present building to be erected and opened in 1935 with the Gospel Hall worshippers' forming the core of the new Church.
These two pictures of the original drawings dated 1934 are for the proposed Baptist Church in Whitton.

Only part of the proposed building was completed.

The section on the left, comprising the hall and an extra window bay for the church were not built. The 'spire' was also omitted.

The two foundation stones set into the front wall of the church carrying the date October 20th 1934. The inscriptions are now almost illegible after 80 years exposure to the weather. (Larger pictures here)

The first Minister Rev. Walter G. Davis was appointed in 1936, over the next few years the membership and Sunday School grew rapidly as new people moved into the area.
This is a photo of the induction of the first minister. Rev.Davis and his wife are standing on the right hand side of the table.
The outbreak of the second World War halted this growth as men were called up and children evacuated. The church suffered some minor war damage fortunately there were no casualties from these incidents.
The entrance to the church c.1936
The original gates were removed during the war. But the style of them can still be seen today in the grills at the front of the church.

In 1943 the Church called the Rev. Albert Cassidy for what proved to be a 26 year pastorate. During which time he exercised a gracious pastoral ministry. The coming of peace brought a growing congregation, Sunday School and youth work. However the changing social patterns ultimately led to the decline of the Sunday School. But the youth work continued with Girls' and Boys' Brigade Companies and Young Peoples' Fellowships.

Our current suite of halls were opened in September 1968 on the site of the old tennis court. These replaced our two previous halls, one of which was destroyed in a fire in 1966. The site of the other old hall is now part of our car park.
The entrance to the halls. A view of the side of the halls facing the car park.

In 1970 the Rev. Derek Buckingham B.A. succeeded Mr Cassidy. During his ministry Communion was incorporated into the normal service, the celebration of Communion at Baptismal services and the introduction of the Family Church concept. In 1975 he moved to Falmouth.

The picture on the left is a drawing of the entrance in the 1970's.
(If you have a photograph that shows the original brick arch please e-mail us.)

Our next Minister in 1976 was Rev Barry Vendy B.A. B.D. He had a deep concern for unity among the Churches and for the needs of the under-privileged in the world. He succeeded in getting the Churches in Whitton to use an unoccupied shop as a shoppers creche, a tea/coffee bar and Christian book room, apart from its value to the community it provided a focus for the Churches to work together. Although now closed the friendships remain. Barry left in 1983 to go to Stroud Baptist Church.

Barry was followed in 1984 by Rev. Martin Smith J.P. M.A. The 12 years Martin was with us saw the Church continue to serve the community with the establishment of a Lunch Club on Thursdays together with a number of evangelistic outreach activities. The increasing mobility of the population means that about half of our present membership joined during Martin's ministry. Martin left us in September 1996 go to Shirley Baptist Church, Southampton.

In September 1998 the Rev. Andy Gore accepted the call to the pastorate of the church, his induction took place on January 30th 1999. Andy continued to build on the work started by Martin in reaching out to the communtiy. Andy also established links with the local schools and organised the popular children's 'Lighthouse Club' during the school summer holidays. Andy left us in June 2013 to go to Dronfield Baptist Church.

The 19th of October 2002 saw the induction of the Rev. Jennie Wakefield as Associate Minister. Jennie had a strong pastoral ministry and had a concern for the disadvantaged in our community. Jennie left us in October 2006 to go to Stalybridge Baptist Church in Manchester.

Andy and Jennie

Jennie and Andy

In October 2006 we started a project to improve both the interior and exterior of the front of our building. The work involved changing the layout of the rooms at the front of the buiding, creating a new entrance vesibule and separate vehicle and pedestrian access. The work was completed in August 2007.
The old front in 2006 The new front in 2007
The old entrance and front of the church in October 2006. The new entrance and front of the church in June 2008.
Photographs of the inside of the church as it was, and how it is now can be found here.

In May 2014 the Rev. Gordon Hindmarch accepted the call to the pastorate of the church, his induction took place on 21st September 2014.

A video of Gordon's Induction service can be found in our Video Gallery.

Gordon

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