From the archives

Theresa Thom is kindly getting to grips with the church archives, getting them organised and safely stored and making a note of what records we hold. One document that came to light is the report from the Minister and Deacons in 1964 which records their decision to let the 'Lecture Hall Wing', i.e. our next door building, for 21 years. They noted that the founders of the church left us a great building but deliberately did not build an endowment to help future generations with maintenance and repair: they never envisaged a time when Hampstead people would be mainly not churchgoers. Our 1964 forebears, however, saw this trend emerging and it seems that since the 1920s the children of Heath Street members had tended to move further out when they married, and inflation since the war had ruined the value of the weekly collection. From 1955 the church started setting aside £50 a year for major repairs and they increased this to £90 from 1963. The actual cost proved to be ten times more. The Minister at that time did all his own decoration and repairs at the manse! The Centenary Appeal (1961) paid for redecoration of the sanctuary. Receiving some rent from letting the school obviously relieved the pressure on Deacons and congregation. From 1920 the Deacons had regularly discussed closing the Church. Each time they agreed that though the congregation was small it was healthy, the church was needed, and it would never be recovered once lost. After the 1961 redecoration they also realised the church is an architectural gem.

Gaynor Humphreys

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