History of Edgeside Baptist
Founded as Mount Zion
It was in 1848 when William Proctor of Burnley and Isaac Stocks of Shore came to live in Waterfoot.
They were the fore runners of a small band of people known as "General Baptists" and they set up a meeting place in a cottage in Miller Barn Lane. This new church did not last long after the Stocks family departed for Bacup, and the room had to be given up.
Those that where left behind carried on meeting in a blacksmiths shop at Hollin Bank, Scoutbottom. Though they could not afford the rent for the room they were assisted by the Rev James Maden of Gambleside who as well as guaranteeing the rent of three shillings a week, also provided a preacher for many months. With this aid the church began to grow and in 1853 it was able to declare its independence.
Eventually a new meeting place was found at the top of Ashworth Lane and though the congregation was slowly building up it was a constant struggle. By the early eighteen sixties the membership had risen sufficiently to warrant a purpose built church and the foundation stone was laid on Whit Saturday the 21st May 1864 at a site on Edgeside Lane. The new church, which cost £1,100 to build and a further £220 to equip, held its first service on 26th March 1865. In 1947 when most church were finding their congregations dwindling Edgeside Baptist’s were in the enviable position of having to build an extension to the church which opened on 30th November. By the late nineteen seventies the church was in need was suffering from dry rot and high running costs and it was decided to demolish the old church and build the present church in its place. The first service in the new church was held on Easter Sunday 1983 and a dedication service was held on Sunday 17th July.
THE STORY OF
MOUNT ZION BAPTIST CHURCH
1853 - 1953
The First one Hundred Years
Making a Start.
The story of Mount Zion Baptist Church, Edgeside, is the story of ordinary hard-working men and women, who took God at His word. In face of adversity and opposition they persevered, with a sublime faith in the promises of God, and with a simple trust in His protecting care. This record is simply a continuation of the Acts of the Apostles, the record of these " who through faith subdued kingdoms, wrought righteousness, obtained promises, stopped the mouths of lions . . . out of weakness were made strong." (Heb. 11 : 33, 34).
The history of the Church at Edgeside as an independent cause begins in 1853. That is the date we are marking in the Centenary Celebrations. But for five years before 1853, a little band of stalwarts was trying to get a footing in the district. Their first attempt broke down ; their second was made possible only by their being sponsored by another Church and its minister. Ai last, however, they stood on their own feet by undertaking the rent of a room by themselves and calling their first pastor. From that point, the cause has never wavered.
In 1848, William Proctor, of Burnley, and Isaac Stocks, of Shore, both came to live in Waterfoot. They were both General Baptists—that is, they were Baptists who believed that Christ came to die for all men, and that General Redemption was His will. The term, " General Baptist" can be seen on the Chapel front now. The old distinction between the " Generals" and the " Particulars" has gone, mainly because the old " Particulars" have modified their views, and to-day nearly all Baptists believe that Christ died for all men, that Salvation and Eternal Life is offered to all, and not just a. chosen few. But in 1848, Isaac and William would not have felt able to join up with any sect of " particulars," and so they set about founding a cause of their own. At that time the nearest General Baptist Church was at Bacup.
Miller Barn Lane was the first meeting-place. A bedroom in a cottage there was rented ; books, forms, and a preacher's desk were borrowed or begged, and the two men, with six others-—four men and two women—started regular worship. Mr. Stocks received some help from his old minister at Shore, who came over in January 1849, to baptise three adult believers, James and Betty Greenwood, and Alice Heyworth. The baptism took place at Bridge End, and the ice had to be broken before the candidates could go down into the water. This minister, Rev. W. Robertshaw, was also responsible for forming the little company into an independent church, and receiving them into his own Yorkshire Association on May 21st, 1850.
The new church did not last long, however. A few months after it was recognised by the Association, Mr. Stocks moved to Bacup. He and his family must have formed a majority in the place, and seem also to have supplied most of the money ; for when the Stocks family went, there were not enough to continue independently, and very soon the room had to be given up. Worse still, Mr. Stocks claimed that the forms and books now belonged to the " Church," and that he and his family formed a majority of the church, so that when he moved, the church and its property moved with him ! The result was (to quote the old record) that " the little church, like that in the wilderness, proved to be migratory in character. It took up its tents, and pitched again in Bacup."
The few who were left behind continued to keep in touch with one another, meeting over a blacksmith's shop at Hollin Bank. By themselves, however, they could not pay the rent, but fortunately they found a new friend in Rev. James Maden, pastor of a struggling little church at Gambleside, afterwards Clowbridge. He and his church guaranteed the rent of another room and supplied the little cause with preachers for many months, and when the Gambleside church got new hymn books, the old ones and a pulpit Bible came to Edgeside. Mr. Maden himself baptised the converts and presided at the Lord's Supper for nearly two years. Here is his own account of it :-—
" We have missioned a small village called Edgeside, about four miles away (from Clowbridge), and have succeeded in raising a. small Church of eight members, with a Sunday School of nearly 100." The room at Edgeside belonged to a Mr. Tattersall, who charged a rent of 26 per week. It shows the poverty of the eight members that they could not find this amount between them. After twelve months in the new quarters, they moved to a larger room in Mr. Munn's cottage. This time the rent was 3 - per week, but they were adding a few to their numbers. They prayed now for a leader of their own. They wanted to be independent again. In 1853 they once again stood alone, and called Elijah Gladwell to be their first pastor. The hundred years continuous story of Edgeside Baptist Church had begun.
Building the Chapel, I853 - 1865.
The little village of Edgeside was no easy place in which to establish a new Cause without any capital. Edgeside village was known as " The City," and had a very bad name. The people were a rough lot. The usual Sabbath occupations were bull-baiting, pigeon-flying, cock-fighting and dog-racing, all of them helped along by as much liquor as wages would allow. The drink was one of the major curses of the country. A historian writes : " The Church of England tried to form a church and failed ; the Methodists tried and retired. A few illiterate and poor Baptists took possession in the name of the Lord of Hosts." The few members were all working folk, desperately poor and often hungry. Every new venture for the little church meant real sacrifice. The pastor, Mr. Gladwell, was rewarded for his services with the princely sum of one shilling a week, and even this, with the rent, was hard to maintain at first !
Early activities by this little Baptist flock were aimed at improving the social conditions. The work was wisely concentrated on the rising generation, for the children could be gathered in big numbers to Sunday School, provided it had some colour about it. The " colour" was introduced by means of the famous Drum and Fife Band, which was linked on to the work of the Band of Hope. Thus music and abstinence went together. William Greenwood and Ormerod Ashworth—known as O'rmy Dean—are the two names best remembered for this work. The Band of Hope has been rather crowded out in this more temperate age, but there is no doubt that it did a wonderful work in those bad old days, and reclaimed many a home for decent Christian virtues. Begun in 1858, the Band of Hope was the first one of its kind in the Newchurch valley.
Gradually during Mr. Gladwell's ministry the work expanded. We can judge this by his own remuneration. At first they paid him 1 - per week. Then it rose to 2 6, then 76; and in 1887 the church passed a resolution that all supplies for the pulpit should be given 1 - foi preaching ! The fame of the Drum and Fife Band grew to the ends of Rossendale.
Folk who live on Edgeside to-day will be interested to know that oftentimes these workers of the past were instrumental in bringing modern facilities to the people. In October, 1864, it was decided that Messrs. Thomas Sutcliffe, James Greenwood and Mr. Gladwell canvass Edgeside to see how many houses will have gas, and a few weeks later it was decided by these public-spirited people " to get a copy of the Gas Act." Later it was decided to canvass the village to see how many houses would have water put in.
The meeting-place moved from Mr. Munn's cottage to a house at " th' top o' Bob Loine," as they called it. This was a house at the top end of Ashworth Lane, as it is now known. Both names came from the same man, for the house where the Chapel folk now began to meet had been the property of Mr. Robert Ashworth, first of a long line of Ashworths who contributed much to the work. Even to-day, older residents use the old, " Bob Lane." The church moved into this house en a Good Friday, accompanied by much whitewashing and scrubbing. When settled, they had a full day's services to mark the occasion, the minister at Cloughfold being the preacher, and the collections amounting to £ i ! This seems to be the earliest record of a Sunday School Anniversary, and it is interesting to compare the collections with those of the present day !
The work was still desperately hard and discouraging. There is a story of three deacons named Greenwood, Proctor and Nuttall, walking over Fearns one day, debating whether they could carry on. They decided that they would keep on as long as they could pay the rent and had 25 scholars in the School. The next move was from " th' top o' th' laine" to " th' bottom o' th' rake"—another house which had an upstairs room reached by an outside staircase going up from the roadway. This house was at the back of one fronting the present Edgeside Road, and must have been. somewhere near the Co-operative Store. They called it the " old up-steps school," and most of those who clattered up the steps to Sunday School were shod in clogs, though a few are said to have been too poor even for that, and came barefooted.
An attempt to put an organ into this " upper room" is worth recording. John Hanson, a member of the choir, bought an old organ off a. fellow-member who had come into possession of it and could not make it work. Mr. Hanson bought it in exchange for an old watch, and proceeded to take it to the " up-steps school." There he tried to do what his friend had failed to accomplish. Alas, he may have bought it for a watch but he certainly hadn't got it for a song !—not a note would come out !
I bought a pound of candles," he says, " and sat up all night with the thing. I burnt all the candles, but had to give up." One difficulty was that to get the pipes in would have meant a hole in floor or ceiling. 1 hey had no idea as to whether the pipes could be cut or bent !
Another story, showing the spirit of the people—and with rather a pathetic note about it—concerns the attempts to get a chapel built. They started a Building Fund and raised £5. Then they had a visit from a man who had pretensions to be an architect. He seems to have had neither skill nor scruple. He charged them the whole £5 for his fee—and they paid it over quite unsuspecting—but when they came to look at the plans he had prepared, one of the deacons noticed that according to the copy, the people in the back pew of the gallery would have their heads touching the ceiling !
A little later, a local architect who had actually built a church in Rawtenstall, invited the deacons to go and look at his work. They did so, and were treated with great respect as potential customers. They sat in various pews and examined every detail, but they did not dare tell the architect that they hadn't a penny piece in the bank towards putting the building up ! It would be a long time before they could start to build.
However, the spirit was there. One evening two small boys came to a place on the top side of Edgeside Road and started digging. When asked by the deacons why, they answered that sometime foundations would have to be dug, and they might as well start in good time ! The piece of land did eventually become available, though they were unable to buy the freehold, and the fund for building was begun. They knew, of course, that most of the building would have to be done on borrowed money, and that this would need to be paid back. Many of them would not be alive when it was finally paid off, but they pressed on in faith. Eventually the chapel building was planned. The advertisement went in the papers : "
To be let by ticket. The erection of a General Baptist Chapel at Edgeside, near Newchurch. Plans to be seen in the Schoolroom at Edgeside on 7th to 10th March, 1864."
Tenders from builders, masons, etc., were to be sent to Jas. Greenwood, Newsagent, Hollin Bank. The tenders must have been dealt with speedily, for the foundation stones were laid on Whit Saturday, May 21st, 1864, by R. Ashworth, Esq., whose land it was. A bottle was cemented in the wall, containing records, manuscripts and newspapers, which would have been of great help in compiling this History, if only we could have got at it! Speakers at the tea meeting which followed, at Oddfellows Hall, Newchurch, were Rev. J. Howe, Waterbarn ; Rev. J. Gill, Shore, and the contractors were Messrs. J. and J. Maden. I he Chapel was opened for worship on March 26th, 1865. It cost £1.100 to build, with a further £220 to equip.
While the building was actually going up and the builders pressing for payment, two incidents occurred which have become legends in the church to this day. They show the spirit of self-sacrifice and devotion of those early folk. One young deacon who had been saving up to get married, postponed his wedding for two years and handed the savings over to the trustees. Some of his descendants still worship in the place his self-denial helped to build. Then, because the money the builders wanted was still not available, a large loan was obtained from a local gentleman, who insisted on having a bill of sale on the furniture of the trustees as part of his security ! The total of £1,320 was an enormous amount of money for working folk to raise, especially when wt remember that this same little company 15 years before could not even pay the 26 rent for the room. 1 he Chapel was built on borrowed money. How it was paid, and how long it took, is another story.
Paying the Debt, 1865-97.
'THE first minister, Rev. Elijah Gladwell, lived long enough to see the Chapel built, but twelve months afterwards, in 1866, he resigned. For a little over eighteen months the Church was without a Pastor, and then Rev. J. Stapleton from Sutton Bonington, settled in October 1867. Mr. Stapleton must have been a bold man, for after four years as minister, the building was extended to give a greater seating capacity, the alterations costing £327 on top of the existing debt. For nearly 30 years that debt was to remain.
In the early years of the new Chapel, the name of Ashworth occurs frequently. A Mrs. Ashworth was the first person to be baptised in the new Chapel. Prior to the building of the baptistery, the usual place for baptisms was Jack Lodge Shawclough, and there is ample evidence of ice and snow being the accompaniments of the performance of this ordinance. Folk then must have been made of sterner stuff than we are. It is interesting to note, that when a new baptistery was put in almost forty years later, Mrs. Ashworth's son's wife, Mrs. J. W. Ashworth, was the first candidate to be baptised in it.
Extracts from the early minutes, show how hard was the struggle against debt, and how rigidly the little flock had to economise ! Even in those days people had to be reminded of their duty to subscribe towards the funds of the Church, for in October 1867, it was resolved:
" That it be announced what those boxes are for at the top of the gallery steps."
The chapel cleaning, like the preaching, had to be done on the lowest possible terms, for in January 1870 it was resolved " to secure a chapel cleaner on the most reasonable terms." Later comes the entry, " That we give the chapel cleaner a collection once a year." The treasures of the place were carefully guarded, as this extract shows : " That John Sutcliffe be requested to see the tune books are locked away after each service." This seems to be the first mention of that name, but from this time on, Edgeside has never been without a Sutcliffe. There was Tom Sutcliffe, renowned as a writer of verse, and John was the leader of the music. Concerning the latter, an entry of 1879 says:
"That we have no recognised singers, but that we have one leading singer, John Sutcliffe, all the congregation to come to the practices."
The last item would be a piece of good advice on occasions ! But whether the experiment was a success we do not know, but we do know that from a short time after this to the present day, the choir has played an important part in the life of the Church. John Sutcliffe was Choirmaster for many years, and it can safely be said that no-one has done so much for the musical side of the Church either before or since, as he did. The story of the Choir, its succession of devoted leaders, its musical contribution to the worship of the Church, its picnics, etc. would make a story of its own.
In January 1869, the chapel was licensed for the solemnization of marriages. A Bible was purchased for ten shillings to present to the first couple to be married there. They were Mr. and Mrs. Christopher Hitchen. The bridegroom was a Sunday School teacher who was renowned for his gentle handling of even the roughest lads, and many were won for Christ through his kindness.
The work progressed well during Mr. Stapleton's ministry. The heavy debt was tackled and £520 paid off in two years. He died in 1874, and was buried at Cloughfold. His death was a great grief to all.
The Rev. Joseph Watmough accepted the invitation to the pastorate in 1875. His five years' ministry was marked by strenuous efforts to wipe off the debt. By November 1875 the original building debt was cleared off, but the accumulated expenses of the enlargement of the premises, and running costs, still remained and totalled £400 when Rev. Richard Hey worth settled in 1882.
The fifteen years' pastorate of Mr. Heyworth was the longest in the Church's history. It had a far from encouraging start. He had come from Canada, and was minister of churches at Bury, Bolton and Hopwood before coming to Edgeside. He was invited several times to preach before being called to the pastorate, and he left this story in his own words of what happened on his first visit : "
When I went the first Sunday, I remember sitting in the vestry by myself. First one deacon then another came along, opened the door, looked at me and went off again, till I said to myself, 'Is this a cage?' My blood tingled, and I was not in a state of entire coolness when 1 entered the pulpit."
Nevertheless, the curious deacons must have been satisfied, and Mr. Heyworth got over his first impressions, for they invited him as their minister and he accepted. His was a notable ministry. He won the respect and affection not of his own people only, but of the neighbourhood. By the time his ministry closed, the membership had increased substantially, and the whole debt had been wiped off.
During this period one outstanding feature was the strong sense of discipline over the members of the Church. Many times the minutes record that some brother or sister had done something out of keeping with the Christian profession, and they were interviewed by deacons appointed for the purpose, who called them to account for their conduct. Failing to give satisfaction, they would be suspended from membership, until such time as they reformed their ways, and gave some sign of repentance in the Church meeting. In those days it was a real social stigma to be on the " suspended list". Things are vastly different to-day of course. The stigma does not apply when the majority of people are outside the Church and see nothing very odd in the fact ; while it would be a bold deacon who to-day would venture to sit in judgment upon his fellow-members' conduct ! But probably the Church has lost something of real value here. Church membership was at least taken very seriously.
An interesting item from this period is the sinking of a well in 1886 to improve the water supply. The minutes of the Men's Class show that they took the work in hand, appointing a committee who not only apportioned out the labour and nominated the foreman, but put somebody on to " brew up" for the workers. They planned a tea-party at the " Well-opening", and one item in the minute book says :
" Resolved that the 7/6 (donation) be thrown into the tea-party and the giver be allowed free tickets for the tea."
The tea itself casts an interesting light on the catering of that time. Quoting the minutes again : ' That we cater for 80 and have the following provided: 25 Ibs. flour, 10 Ibs. biscuits, 5 quarts milk, 3 Ibs. marmalade, 15 loaves ordinary bread, 6 Ibs. seed bread, 6 Ibs. currant bread, 7 doz. plain tea-cakes and 3 doz. currant tea-cakes. That the charge be 6d. for adults and 4d. for children." We leave the reader to work out how much each person ate !
Similar lists of "victuals" take up a large amount of space in the old minute books, especially in the minutes of the Sunday School. Here the teachers were continually arranging field days, picnics, Sunday School concerts and Christmas parties, and the minutes bear a resemblance to a grocer's order book. In 1876 a Christmas Tea party catered for 700, and 180 Ibs. of flour and 40 Ibs. of butter were part of the gigantic order. The minute book stated : " Any person purchasing at the Co-op, pay 2/6 in the £ and have all the dividend. In case the dividend fails, the committee shall consider it." The Sunday School party was always on Christmas Day, and on this occasion the Sunday School Secretary always presented his report. If the scholars approached this meeting with any light-hearted festive spirit, the report would quickly dispel it. Although the School varied from 250 scholars upwards, the Secretary usually deplored the fact that there were not more. A hint that the School's deportment was not entirely satisfactory came next, then the death of any scholars during the year was the opportunity for a pointed and forceful lecture to be given on the shortness of life, the terrors of approaching doom for the unrepentant, and the nearness of eternity, the report concluding with a strong appeal to the scholars to repent while there was still time.
As early as January 9th, 1872, the Sunday School took steps to combat the widespread illiteracy of the district. A Night School was begun, with Mr. C. Hitchen to teach mathematics and Mr. N. Hartley to teach writing. It was held on Tuesdays and Fridays, 7-30 p.m. to 9 p.m. and payment was 9d. per quarter. This attempt to teach the 44 three Rs" became known as the Mutual Improvement Class, and precise rules were laid down so that the School might be run " decently and in order."
This attempt to teach the people of Edgeside could not have been an unqualified success, for in 1889, the title " Mutual Improvement Class" was appellated to another organisation. Social activities came under the watchful eyes of vigilant deacons, and a minute in the Deacons' Meeting of January 13th, 1889, resolves: "
That the name of Dramatic Society be quenched in connection with this place, and that it exist as a Mutual Improvement Class, the pieces for performing to be submitted to the deacons."
Mr. Heyworth retired at the age of 65 in 1897, and went to live at Accrington. An illuminated address presented to him at his retirement referred to the 44 increased spiritual and financial prosperity in the church" and the flourishing Band of Hope (which had 400 members at that time) and Mutual Improvement Class. With the illuminated address went a purse of gold, and the signatures to the address included that of Arthur Pickup, church secretary, still with us as Senior Life Deacon. There is no doubt, when we look back on the story, that Mr. Heyworth had a very great influence in establishing the work on strong foundations.
The retirement of Rev. Heyworth brings to an end the first half of this story. To us now, the first part is the most interesting, not only because the recent history is more familiar, but because the stalwarts of those early days seem such colourful characters. Life in the first fifty years of Edgeside's history was very restricted. Work was hard to come by and wages were small. There were long hours of toil, and none of the modern counter-attractions against which the Church's witness has now to be made. The folk put all their passion and interest into the Chapel life. Here on Sundays in their best suits and bonnets, they were for a time different people. On the Sabbath life took on a new dignity. A man might be the meanest of servants, a small cog in the industrial machine, even out of work dining the week, but on Sundays he was a child of God, saved by grace. He had a status as a church member and teacher, and there was always work to be done in the Kingdom of God.
We must not thing, of course, that in those days everybody went to Church without being pressed, or that the children were little angels ! Here is a series of decisions made at a Deacon's meeting on December 1st, 1901 :—
1. That steps be taken to secure more reverent and orderly behaviour before and after the chapel services.
2. That the deacons and officers be each appointed to some post for this purpose.
3. That Thos. Sutcliffe stand in the vestibule, Lawrence Hy. Howarth and one of the secretaries at the top of the gallery steps, Wm. Sellers and Wm. Thos. Sagar in the chapel bottom, to keep order. I
t sounds like the battle orders of a general, preparing for a siege ! Mr. Heyworth did not live long after his retirement. He died suddenly at his Accrington home on September 21st, 1900, aged 68. A memorial service was conducted at Edgeside by Rev. F. Overend, of Bacup. Some ten weeks later, the Church welcomed Rev. Wm. Piggott, of Cheltenham. At this meeting Mr. Thomas Sutcliffe was the chief spokesman for the Church.
Very soon after Mr. Piggott settled, plans were begun to mark the Jubilee. Here is a quotation from the "Rossendale Echo" of April 15th, 1903:—
" Eastertide 1903 will stand out in the history of Mount Zion Baptist Chapel, Edgeside . . . the Jubilee was celebrated in a series of meetings and services which passed off most satisfactorily. The place is making steady progress. A large number of former teachers and scholars assembled from various towns, while many others sent letters."
It was a snowy Easter. Mr. Piggott, the minister, writing years afterwards, says, " I well remember that in spite of driving snow, friends came from Burnley, Nelson, Holmes Chapel, etc." The personalities and atmosphere of the meetings can best be given by a summary of the meetings held.
Good Friday morning the minister presided and gave a summary of the chapel's history. Then came speeches from the oldest deacon, Heyworth Nuttall, and from the youngest, Arthur Pickup. The attendance was better in the afternoon when Cornelius Greenwood, of Nelson, presided, and allowed his memory to go back and pick out some of the old workers. Other speakers were men already mentioned in this account — C. Hitchen, John Hanson, Thos. Sutcliffe (who composed and recited a poem for the occasion) and James Dean. Messages were read from Canada, New York and New Zealand, all from former scholars. The speakers were reminiscent, as for example, this from the speech by Cornelius Greenwood :—
" William Proctor was one of the great men in those days. I can see him now, coming up Tom Lane hat in hand, wiping the sweat from his face. He was always in his place, cloud or sunshine. Another was James Nuttall, School Superintendent. We called him 'Owd Nutta', and 1 remember how he spoke very gently to us rough lads, stroking our heads and asking us to be good. He came to week-night services from Waterbarn, always in his clogs and blue apron. On Sundays, though, he had a 'tall shiner'. One who will always stand out as a shining light at Edgeside was Billy Collinge. He was once considered the worst lad in the district. He wanted to get into the the drum and fife band, and promised if he did, to sign the pledge and be teetotal. But the members voted against admitting him, and gave him the 'blackball', till my brother William pleaded for him. It is well-known that he stuck to his guns, and became one of Rossendale's foremost temperance workers."
During Mr. Piggott's ministry, the " Rossendale Free Press" had this entry : " Owing to the lack of accommodation, the people at Edgeside Baptist are considering enlarging their premises, but no plan has yet been decided upon." This was in 1902. The folk then hardly thought that it would be another 45 years before the enlargement took place.
Mr. Piggott's ministry ended in 1907, owing largely to ill-health and increasing deafness. Though a comparatively young man, he had to retire into the country. He was followed by Rev. J. E, Bottoms, who, after work with the Manchester City Mission, and a spell as Lay-reader in the Church of England, became a convinced Baptist. He was called to the pastorate in 1908, and remained eleven years. His salary was raised to £100 per annum, with which he supported his wife and family. After leaving Edgeside he went to Southend, and afterwards back to the North, including a pastorate at Radcliffe which, like Edgeside, is in the Bury and Rossendale Association of Baptist Churches. With Mr. Bottoms, we enter the definite memories of members still active. We are proud to recall that two of his children are today doing great service in the Baptist cause. Rev. Walter Bottoms is the minister of New Park Road, Oxford, and Dr. Jim 'Bottoms has a fine record of service with the Baptist Missionary Society, being in charge of the Chandraghona Hospital in India. Frank Bottoms, the other son is at present on service in tropical waters as Captain of a Missionary ship. Mr. Bottoms died in retirement in June, 1951.
Under Mr. Bottoms' ministry the Band of Hope, Mutual Improvement Class and Sunday School continued to flourish, while a new venture was the Brotherhood movement, with its pleasant Sunday Afternoon meetings, the like of which could be paralleled at that time all over the country. The moving spirit of this was Mr. Arthur Pickup, who, in addition to other offices, was leader of the Young Men's Class. Then a Christian Endeavour was formed ; it had 25 members and many will remember the prayer meetings during those years.
Mrs. Bottoms laboured faithfully at the side of her husband, and, in spite of the responsibilities of a young family, was able to play her part in the work of the Church. She was the Founder and first President of the Ladies' Guild, which soon became ^n important part of church life.
In 1909, Mr. John Sutcliffe, choirmaster for 44 years, and his daughter Nancy, afterwards Mrs. Guy, who had been organist for 25 years, were presented with suitable gifts from a grateful church as a mark of their united labours. In 1912 Nancy had to relinquish the organ, after 28 years, through ill-health. She played the organ subsequently on many occasions, and is affectionately remembered by all who knew her. A few months before her death in April last year (1952) she presented to the Ladies' Aid, the silver urn which had been presented to her on her 21st birthday by the Church. Now at teas or social functions when the urn is in use, the sight of it will always evoke memories of a true saint of God.
The staircase leading from the " long room" to the choir was built in November, 1920, and was dedicated to the memory of John Sutcliffe who was choirmaster for a total of 54 years.
The tragedy of War in 1914 brought its consequences to Edgeside as to other places. The upheaval in social life, the splitting-up of homes, the sad loss of life among the best workers in the church were blows from which the church suffered much. But Mount Zion put a brave face on, and pressed forward with the second Jubilee, this time to mark the 50th Anniversary of the building of the Chapel. Once again Easter was the season, in 1915, and the account in the " Free Press " is flanked by recruiting advertisements for the Army.
This Jubilee was a repetition of the earlier one — even to some of the speeches. The meetings began, as before, on Good Friday. Rev. Bottoms presided and placards both inside the Chapel and out, said " Welcome." The newspaper accounts pay tribute to the " energetic and obliging secretary" — none other than Josiah Gregory, who had done so much to make the Jubilee a success. The same Jos. Gregory was to do fine service during the Second World War, when his letters were so much welcomed by the men in the Forces.
Even the hymns sung in 1915 were the same as 1903 ; 44 Lead Kindly Light," " Far down the ages now," and especially the closing hymn, the good old Lancashire one, 44 Farewell my friends belov'd." One of the speakers told an interesting story of a picnic, long past, to Hard-castle Crags with the choir. The party got to the station for the homeward journey rather early for the train. It was getting dark, but they sat in the waiting train singing hymns. Presently the station-master came along while they were singing " There is a. Green Hill," and said, " If you can sing as well as that I will have to give you a light." So the choir's carriage was the only one lighted on the way home." There is no mistaking the note of affection for the old place which marks the speeches. Speakers included John Hanson, W. Nowell, W. Bricknell, A. Pickup, G. H. Gregory, W. Boocock, C. Greenwood and J. O1. Ashworth. Mr. W. Birtwistle, presiding in the afternoon, said he was there in place of Mr. L. H. Haworth, the School Superintendent. " I refused at first," he said, *' but then the Pastor pressed, and when that happened there was no refusing."
War-time and after.
The years of war dragged on, and more of the men went away. For Mr. Bottoms the way was not easy, and we find that in 1917 he was given permission by the deacons to work in a munitions factory. Later, he was given 12 months' leave of absence to undertake canteen work with the Y.M.C.A. He was soon in France, and it was from there, after the war, that he sent his resignation in to Edgeside. When the war ended, several men had given their lives. The names, as inscribed on the Memorial Tablet erected to their memory, were : —
On October 6th, 1917, a memorial tablet to the memory of Mr. Thos. Sutcliffe, who passed away on January 1st of that year, at the age of 74, was unveiled by Mr. L. H. Ha worth, and Rev. Bottoms presided. Born in 1842, Tom Sutcliffe came into contact with the church in 1855, when almost 14 years of age. He gave over 60 years of devoted service to the Church and Sunday School at Edgeside. He joined the church while still in his 'teens, and helped to dig his own baptistery in the clough on the North-West side of the chapel. He was soon made a deacon, and remained on the diaconate till his death. He was one of the original trustees, and on old documents the name " Thomas Sutcliffe and others," was always inscribed. His children tell of the times when the snow was deep. They would set off for chapel on a Sunday morning, with Father in the lead. He would force a way through, and turn to tell his children plodding on behind, " Put your feet in my footsteps, childer." This his children, and children's children are still trying faithfully to do in their daily lives, and in their service for the Church. His eldest son, Joe Sutcliffe, who has given over 50 years' service to Edgeside, and over 50 as a Sunday School teacher, is a life deacon.
After Rev. J. E. Bottoms left, there was a period of three years when there was no minister. Then came Rev. G. C. Fraser Campbell, from Millom, with his wife and family. They soon endeared themselves very greatly to the people of the district, and the story of his ministry is well-known to many of the present congregation. His nine years' ministry was during the difficult days of trade depression, and on more than one occasion the church and congregation were called together to discuss and devise ways and means of raising money to keep going. Morning collections were begun. Help to the extent of £90 a. year was received from the Sustentation Fund, and the minute books of the Ladies' Guild and the Men's Class show the many ingenious efforts planned, and the wonderful way the people rallied round to make these efforts a success. 1 he Ladies' Guild did not change its name to Ladies' Aid until 1930, but long before this, the women's meeting was always aiding the church in whatever way they could. They seemed to turn every activity into profit for church funds. They even made profit on outings, discounts on food purchases, collections, etc., all helping the church. In 1921 the Ladies' Effort raised £45, and rarely did they hand over to the Church Treasurer less than £35. In 1920 the annual concert brought in (with donations) £47 6s. 0d., of which £35 went to Church Funds, and £12 "for the purchase of a new slop-stone." The story of the Ladies' Aid is a grand record of service to the Church. The ladies must have been very energetically-minded, for on one occasion in 1928 when the speaker was taken ill, the members ' went for a short ramble over the hills." Though the minutes of the meeting do not record it, we can assume that they got back in time for the cup of tea !
The cost of installing electric light, and latterly the fluorescent lighting in the hall, the replenishing of the crockery cupboard from time to time, a new sink in the kitchen, and many other items large and small have all been met by the ladies. And when it comes to catering, they can always be relied upon to help, whether in gifts or labour. All the ministers' wives have served as presidents, namely, Mrs. Bottoms, Mrs. Campbell, Mrs. Evans, Mrs. Lorkin? and now Mrs. Davey. In the periods when there was no minister, the ladies were served by Mrs. J. W. Ashworth, Mrs. J. H. Driver and Mrs. D. Roundell.
The Girls' Auxiliary was formed during the ministry of the Rev. G. C. F. Campbell. Mrs. Campbell was the first president, and under her leadership the members found much encouragement to try to live out the motto of the G.A., " Ready to do whatsoever my Lord the King shall appoint." G.A. at Edgeside proved a very strong and healthy auxiliary, and had a fine reputation for efficiency both in the district and in the Group. Two of the members, Miss Nellie Ashworth and Miss Lily Booker each served for periods as Group secretary for all Lancashire, and two others, Mrs. L. Holt and Miss Margaret Sutcliffe became Lancashire Presidents. The G.A. has a three-fold aim, that of Thought, Prayer and Service, and through these channels many girls found their need of Christ, and were led to give their hearts and lives to Him that His Kingdom may be established at home and abroad. On February 16th, 1946, the Rossendale District G.A. celebrated its 21st birthday, one of the celebrations being a dedication and communion service at Edgeside, when many past and present district officers took part.
In April 1928, Mr. and Mrs. J. W. Ashworth and family, for health reasons, moved to St. Annes. Throughout the years the Ashworths had been staunch supporters of the work at Edgeside, and on the occasion of their going, the Church minutes record : " Each of them will be remembered with gratitude as a. gift of God to the cause at Edgeside." It was they who donated the Communion furniture, in memory of their parents Emily and George Shaw Ashworth, in September 1930. This year, 1930, the Chapel was redecorated soon afterwards, and an electric blower was installed for the organ. Mr. and Mrs. Josiah Gregory donated the pulpit chairs at this time also, in memory of both their parents, James and Alice Gregory, and Thomas and Mary Sutcliffe.
Mr. Campbell resigned in 1932 and moved to the pastorate of a group of churches at Haslington, Cheshire, and the church was without a minister for almost seven years. During Mr. and Mrs. Campbell's stay at Edgeside, their son Oswald, who had grown up in the Sunday School, on leaving Leeds University where he took his B.A. degree, accepted the call to the historic Fuller Church, Kettering. From there he went to Purley in Surrey and in 1939 became a Chaplain to the Royal Air Force, and at present is serving in Germany. On three occasions he has been back to Edgeside to conduct Sunday School Anniversaries.
At the end of 1938 Mr. Josiah Gregory retired from the Church Secretaryship, after holding that office for thirty years. His years of office included the first World War and the difficult, struggling years that followed, and those years when the church was without a. minister had meant a heavy burden on his shoulders. Those who have the compiling of this history are grateful to him for the perfect neatness and regularity of his handwriting which has made the various church records a. pleasure to peruse. His place was taken by his nephew, Robert Holt, who has ably carried on these duties to the present day.
This year also saw a change of treasurership. Mr. Arthur Pickup, who had been treasurer for seventeen years, removed to Buxton. His place was taken by W. E. Hardman, who after eight years in this exacting position had through ill-health to relinquish it. Mr. W. Schofield then took over in 1947, and has quietly and efficiently carried out these duties to the present day.
Towards the end of 1938 the church gave a unanimous call to the Pastorate to Mr. E. D. Evans, a young student of Bangor Baptist College. The Rev. E. D. Evans began his ministry in 1939. His recognition and ordination services were held on January 14th. Prof. J. W. Hughes, M.A., B.D., Principal of Bangor Baptist College, and Rev. S. G. Thomas, minister of his home church at Cwyrtnewyth took part, and the ordination was conducted by Rev. H. Brindley, of Ebenezer, Bacup.
The outbreak of World War II, did not have such a crippling effect on the work at Edgeside as the 1914-18 War did. Some of the men were called up, but many were reserved for war service in local factories. The black-out meant that the evening service was changed to the afternoon each Harvest Sunday end continued thus throughout the winter, changing back to 6 p.m. service on the second Sunday in March.
Mr. Evans was a keen worker among the boys of the Chapel, and soon formed a Boys' Brigade Company which thrived for a number of years. One attempt to take the boys to camp ended with a return to the School and the tents being erected there ! The " advance party" had proceeded to a field in the Whalley district to prepare the site for the camp. It rained continually, and after one of the B.B. officers had fallen in a stream, they returned in a bedraggled condition to Edgeside. Rather than disappoint the boys, who had been looking forward to camp for weeks, they decided to camp in the Chapel bottom, and their camp-fire was in the kitchen grate ! Owing to war service, the Sunday School cricket team was unfortunately unable to keep going. The field on the hill above the chapel which had been used as a cricket ground was ploughed up to help the country's food effort, and the hut, used as a pavilion, was sold in 1941 for £13 and the proceeds given to the Primary. A new start was made last year, 1952, and there are high hopes that the new Sunday School Cricket team will be as popular and successful as its predecessor.
In 1942 the Church decided to do away with the old Pew Rents system, and introduced a quarterly gift envelope scheme in its place. This scheme has now been running very successfully for ten years. Towards the end of 1944, Mr. Evans resigned, and moved to Queens Paik Baptist Church in Manchester. Before he went, however, he began plans for an extension of the chapel premises. A Building and Renovation Fund was started, and a committee formed which was to play a big part in the work of the Church in the next few years.
Extension and Advance.
An important date in the life of the Church was 1945, when the Church became self-supporting. Up to this time it had been receiving grants from the Baptist Union to help pay the salary of the Minister. The decision to do without that help, and draw no longer from the Sustentation Fund, was a big one. It was an act of faith that has been amply rewarded. Although never having funds to spare, the Church has always since been able to pay its way. Costs have increased enormously, but by faith and work, and self-denial the people have rallied round, and made sure that the Treasurer could balance his books at each year end.
In November of this year, a unanimous call to the Pastorate was given to Mr. H. F. Lorkin, of London. He began his ministry in 1946 and quickly settled in to the task that lay ahead, especially the plans for building extension. As early as 1902 there had been talk of the need to enlarge the premises, but nothing had been done. Now, 44 years later, when many churches around were complaining of premises too spacious for modern needs, with rooms and halls lying empty and unused, it was a very encouraging sign that Mount Zion wanted to extend. Men were returning from the forces, and the need of a. hall for socials, concerts, etc. as we1! as for the needs of the expanding Sunday School, was felt acutely. Rev. H. F. Lorkin, with his organising ability and persuasive powers, and the band of willing and earnest workers around him, got things moving so that by November 1947, the dream of 1902 had become a reality.
The building of the New Hall is the story of an achievement of which Edgeside is justly proud. After a lot of preliminary negotiations, early one Saturday morning in April, 1947, a car full of deacons took a journey right across to Norwich, and returned, tired out but triumphant on the Sunday, with the news that they had seen a pre-fabricated building which would just suit the purpose. They were told that it would take three full lorry loads to transport it to Rossendale, but the shrewd Northerners said they were sure it could all be loaded on one lorry, if the lorry was large enough. The complete building did, in fact, all arrive in one load—at a third of the price first quoted for transport !
Then followed weeks of feverish activity. Every able-bodied man lent a hand, digging out the side of the hill so that concrete foundations could be laid, helping with the erection of the sections, puzzling over plans, every night and all day Saturday it went on for four months. A neighbour who lived in one of the houses opposite, seeing all this activity, came across to offer a hand. His offer was gladly accepted, especially when it was found that he could turn his hand to any job and make a success of it, whether it was bricklaying, joinery, plumbing or painting. This handyman, Mr. Fred Lippiatt is, with his wife, still rendering invaluable service as our present caretakers.
The opening of the New Hall took place on November 31st, 1947. The ceremony was preceded by a thanksgiving service, led by the Pastor, Rev. H. F. Lorkin, at which the Rev. E. D. Evans who had first conceived the enterprise, and Rev. J. Walmsley, secretary of the Bury and Rossendale Association of Baptist Churches, were the speakers. The opening was performed by Mr. Harry W. Ashworth, a former Sunday School Secretary, whose father, J. W. Ashworth, had given the land many years ago on which the hall was built. The total cost of the building was £1,200—£100 more than the actual Chapel had cost to complete in 1865 ! The cost would have been considerably greater if it had not been for the voluntary labour of members of the congregation. Behind the actual building of the hall lay the efforts of the Building and Renovation Committee under its Chairman, Mr. George Hardman. In the past ten years this committee has been instrumental in raising upwards of £1,700. In 1949 the Chapel was renovated and re-decorated at a cost of £500. The contractor agreed to be paid in instalments of £100 a year for five years, but in two years, thanks to this committee and the team spirit of every member of the church, the whole amount had been paid.
As a memorial to those who had served in World War II, an electric clock was subscribed for and erected in the chapel. A plaque later placed in the vestibule carries the names of two members of the Church and Sunday School who lost their lives on active service. They were :—
Sydney Lancaster & Kenneth A. Wlliamson
We have much to thank God for that the 1939-45 War did not exact a heavier toll of life at Edgeside, that so many men were able to return home unscathed, and that the heavy bombing raids which so many towns suffered never came to Rossendale.
This same year, 1947, the Edgeside Baptist Amateurs, soon to be widely known as the E.B.A. was formed. This organisation was formed to assist any of the church organisations in the production of concerts and entertainments generally, and to raise money thereby for church funds. They quickly established a reputation for good productions and have over the years raised considerable sums of money for the church, as well as providing oversight of the staging equipment in the Hall.
Mention must be made also of the Sunday Circle, commenced in 1946 by Mr. Lorkin as an after-service Young People's Fellowship. Under the guidance of Mr. and Mrs. Sydney Hardman the Sunday Circle has not only helped to keep the young folk together, but it has contributed to the life of the church in various ways. The side door leading from the Chapel into the Hall was paid for by the young people, and later they presented a number of new hymn tune books to the choir.
Throughout the years the Christian Endeavour Society has played its part in the life of the church. Being composed of young people it is only natural that it should flourish then wane from time to time. For as one generation of young people grew up and grew too old for the C.E., it had to begin again with the next generation. At the present time both junior and young people's Endeavour Societies are flourishing.
With the widening of the scope of activities consequent on the opening of the hall, it was necessary to apportion the activities of each night in the week to prevent overlapping. The adhering to this church rule of certain kinds of activities on certain nights has saved a. lot of confusion. Also in this year of beginnings, a meeting for young mothers was inaugurated, and later, in June, a Fabric Committee was formed, to keep a check on the state of the church property and be responsible for necessary repairs.
From the very commencement of the Church, the Sunday School has been in existence, and the reason why little has been directly said in this history about the school is simply because it has always been an integral part of the Church. To speak of the Church, is to speak also of the Sunday School. There were so many personalities connected with this side of the work that in mentioning them, some names are bound to be left out. But many can remember among outstanding superintendents who served for long periods, Mr. Sellers, Mr. L. H. Howarth, Mr. J. Warrington, Mr. A. W. Booker, Mr. W. E. Hardman, Mr J. E. Driver and Mr. W. Schofield. The Sunday School is very pleased that this Centenary Year, 1953, the present Superintendent, Mrs. R. Holt, has also been chosen as President of the Rossendale S.S. Union. Edgeside has taken a leading place among the Rossendale Sunday Schools in the annual Scripture Examination. The School has won first place three times and has held the second place for the last three years. The Primary department started about 1924 and continues to be both well-attended and progressive. Two teachers, Mr. J. Sutcliffe and Mr. Arthur Pickup have received the N.S.S.U. diploma for 50 years' service to the Sunday School, and several have received the diploma for 25 years.
In February, 1948, Arthur Pickup, of Burnley Road, Waterfoot, and Joe Sutcliffe were each made life deacons. The names of these two stalwarts along with that of Josiah Gregory, have appeared many times in the records of the Church and Sunday School, and all three have done a grand job of work for the Kingdom of God at Edgeside. At this church meeting it was decided to start the Old Folk's Treat again.
From the earliest days of the church, an Old Folk's Breakfast was given every New Year's morning. The records of this go back to at least 1870, and some stirring scenes were witnessed at this annual event. The chapel folk were up early that morning preparing for their many guests who came from the surrounding district. The lists of food ordered for these occasions read like a. fairy tale in these days. Throughout the first War the breakfast was maintained, but with the difficuties of rationing in World War II, it had to be dropped. The Old Folk's Treat was supported by voluntary subscriptions and a fund had been built up over the years. It was decided to continue to hold this event, not now on New Year's Day but in the autumn, as long as the fund lasted. From 1948 onwards the Old Folk's Tea and Concert has once more become a feature of Edgeside, and last year, 1952, the church members decided that a subscription list should again be opened so that this effort may continue to be an annual event.
Sunday, July 22, 1951, marked the close of Mr. Lorkin's ministry which had been a memorable one for Edgeside. During those five years forty-two members were added to the church, most of them by baptism. There had been advance in every department of the Church and Sunday School. Both Mr. Lorkin and Mrs. Lorkin will always have a warm place in the hearts of the people of Edgeside. Mr. Lorkin had received an invitation to the Pastorate of Leamington Road Baptist Church, Blackburn, and thither they went in the summer of 195 I .
Two months later the Church gave a unanimous call to the Pastorate to Mr. A. B. Davey, of Slough, Bucks. After eleven years as an officer in the Salvation Army, Mr. Davey's personal convictions led him to seek baptism and give himself to the Baptist cause. His ministry began in October 1951, and the story of Mount Zion, Edgeside, from this time onward is present-day fact, and not yet become history. This will be left to future historians to record !
On reading through this brief history, one cannot help but notice that the principle characters in the story are men. But such an account cannot close without paying tribute to these womenfolk whose self-sacrifice and devotion throughout the years is written between every line, and whose work, often " behind the scenes", has contributed so much to the glorious history of Mount Zion Baptist Church, Edgeside.
" Wherefore, seeing we also are compassed about with so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which doth so easily beset us, and let us run with patience the race that is set before us, looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith . . ." (Heb. 12: I, 2).