See also Rishton Christian Fellowship.
The Established Church, the Wesleyans, Primitive Methodists, and the Congregationalists had already established themselves in Rishton. The Baptists found a home in Rishton, the few of that faith having perforce to visit the surrounding churches until the year 1909.
In December 1907, the ministers of the local Baptist churches and a few staunch supporters commenced a search in Rishton for adherents to their denomination, and several preliminary meetings were held to test the probable strength of the cause, and to consider the desirability of establishing a church in Rishton. Considerable progress was made, and a number of Baptists were found in the town favourable to the proposal. It was expected that their first services would be held on the first Sunday in 1908, provided suitable rooms could be found for the purpose, they were unable to find a room in the town.
The Rev. T. J. Barker pastor of the Congregational Church, was approached by certain gentlemen on the matter, and he generously suggested that the Baptists should use his church. He offered to approach his people on the matter and also the Congregational Union, to see if his Church could not be made into a Union Church with the baptistery for those who required it. But they declined the offer, informing Mr. Barker that they intended having a place of their own to be distinctly Baptist. The pioneers in the movement at this time are Mr. and Mrs. T. Holden, Mr. and Mrs. Hargreaves, Mr. A. B. Emmett (who emigrated to New Zealand in 1914), together with the Rev. David Jerman, of New-lane Church, Oswaldtwistle, and the Rev. A. J. Selwood, of Accrington.
Their efforts were rewarded at last by securing a large room over shop premises at the corner of Walmsley Street, and they called it "The Baptist Mission House". A meeting was held on June 5, 1909, and services took place the following day (Sunday). The successful proceedings at the opening of the first Baptist place of worship on the Saturday were presided over by the Rev. J. Gwynne Thomas, of Sabden, then president of the Accrington and Blackburn District of the Baptist Union, assisted by the Revs. J. Farquhar (Blackburn), Ishmael Jones (Clayton-le-Moors), J. W. Walker (Darwen), A. J. Selwood (Accrington), D. Jerman (Oswaldtwistle), and T. B. Hainsworth (Church). On the Sunday following the preachers were the Rev. T. B. Hainsworth in the morning, and Mr. W. Boote, of Accrington, in the evening. All the gatherings were well attended, promising well for the success of the undertaking. For some little time progress was made, and the first anniversary services were conducted by the Rev. T. Farquhar, the collections amounting to £5. The preachers for the Sunday services throughout the year were supplied by Accrington and Blackburn Baptist Churches, with the Rev. G. Thomas (Sabden), Rev. H. V. Thomas (Manchester), and the Rev. S. Anderton (Sunnyside) for anniversaries.
During 1911 - 12 the officials and pastor (Rev. T. B. Hainsworth) of Ernest-street Baptist Church, Church, decided to take over the mission, and considerable advance was made in the cause, so much so that it became necessary to consider the advisability of providing more commodious and up-to-date premises. Thus a scheme for the erection of permanent premises was laid out, and the result of the efforts and deliberations of the officials resulted in a new church being decided upon. A plot of land, belonging the Dunkenhalgh estate, at the end of Commercial-street, was acquired, and plans passed for the erection of a new church and school at a total cost of about £5,000. It was proposed to erect only a school building, but arranged as to allow of the larger scheme being completed without any great alterations being necessary. Up-to-date a sum of £300 had been promised towards the new school.
Saturday, May 24th 1913, was a red-letter day in the history of the Baptist cause at Rishton, marking as it did the commencement of an effort to provide Baptist residents in Rishton with a suitable place of worship. A great feature of the proceedings was a visit from that veteran nonconformist stalwart, Dr. Clifford, of London. Despite the weight of seventy-seven years borne by Dr. Clifford, there was little diminution of vigour perceptible as he delivered an address of nearly an hour’s duration in the United Methodist schoolroom to a crowded assembly. His address was listened to with rapt attention throughout, punctuated only with cheers at some of the famous preachers periods, and at the close, and as he left the building, he was accorded an ovation. Mr. Thomas Grimshaw, of Oswaldtwistle, presided over the meeting, and amongst those present were the Revs. J Moffat Logan, E V. Mulgrave (Accrington), D. Jerman (Oswaldtwistle), Ishmael Jones (Clayton-le-Moors), E. G. Cole (pastor-elect Great Harwood), T B. Hainsworth (Church). and T. Naylor (U. M. C., Great Harwood)., Messrs. T. Holden, Ernest Jackson, T. W. Dean, H. Moss, J. Beckett, J. W. Jackson, R. Chippendale, J. Sagar, W H. Barnes, W. Brindle, Mr. and Mrs. R. Hargreaves, Miss Ashworth, and Mrs. Dean.
As showing the interest taken locally, a list of amounts received and promised is appended:
Montague-street Church, Blackburn, £11 1s; Darwen, £7 ; Great Harwood, £5; Huncoat, £5 ; Barnes-street, Accrington, £3 3s; Cannon-street, Accrington, £105 (apart from certain other donations) ; Royds-street, Accrington, £2 2s. ; Clayton-Le-Moors, £3 0s 3d. ; New-lane, Oswaldtwistle, £31 11s. ; Rishton, £86 6s. 6d; Ernest-street, £141 12s. The collection that afternoon amounted to £26 4s. 7d. Sir George MacAlpine gave £10 to the collection, following a gift of £25 already made. A sum of £20 as surrender value was received for a portion of the land. The total amount was £446 2s. 4d. The following persons laid a stone on behalf of their respective churches: Ernest street, Mr. J. W. Jackson; Royds-street, Mr. J. T. Sykes; Cannon-street, Mrs. M. L. Stanesby; Huncoat, Mr. R. Suthers; New-lane, Mr. T. Grimshaw; Great Harwood, Mr. E. G. Cole; Montague-street, Blackburn, Mr. Ernest Jackson; Barnes-street, Mr. Robert Else; Darwen, Mr. C. Hargreaves; Clayton-le-Moors, Miss Best.
A building was constructed measuring 90ft. by 95ft., fronting Commercial Street. This cost about £700, and towards that sum about £500 had been raised up to Saturday, September 6, 1913, when the building was formally opened by Sir George MacAlpine, of Accrington, ex-president of the Baptist Union of England and Wales. Increased donations on the sums previously mentioned were announced as being given:
and Woodnook, £2 l0s.
There were representatives present from surrounding Baptist churches and their pastors, and Mrs. Farquhar and Miss MacAlpine. Prior to opening the door with a gilt key, presented by the architect, Mr. Taylor, of Burnley, Sir George MacAlpine observed:
"It gives me great pleasure to perform this afternoons ceremony, and I shall be glad to hand this key over to some one who will cherish and keep it as a memento of the occasion. I declare this house to be open for the worship of God and to His glory."
At the evening meeting the Rev. J. Farquhar, ex-Moderator of the Lancashire and Cheshire Federation of Baptist Churches, presided, ably supported by the Rev. J. Moffat Logan, Rev. D. Jerman, and the Rev. E. G. Cole. It was announced at the close of the meeting that the day’s receipts amounted to £31 4s. 8d., Rishton’s total contributions towards the new building being thus brought up to £151 1s. 6d.
Messrs. J. H. Ashworth, Reginald Hargreaves, Eli Hudson, .John Beckett, Herbert Moss, and Thomas Walsh Dean were appointed trustees. Mr. Dean and Mr. Hudson have since died. The former took an active interest in the work at Rishton until he was laid aside with a fatal illness, which ended a most useful life. A more devoted and useful servant has not yet been raised to carry on the work on which his heart was set, his faithful service both at Rishton and Ernest-street churches being of incalculable value. Mr. Eli Hudson was a victim of the Great War. He was one of the pioneers of the cause at Rishton, and his sad death at an early age was an irreparable loss to the struggling cause, his loyalty and devotion being an inspiration to those who were closely associated with him.
All around the base of the building are stones inlaid into the brickwork in memory of the contributors to the construction this Church. They are;
Mr. William Jackson, Montague Street
Mr. G. Hargreaves, Darwen
Huncoat (now unreadable)
Mrs. M. L. Stanesby, Cannon Street
Mr J. W. Jackson, Ernest Street
Mr. Thos. Grimshaw, New Lane
Clayton Le Moors (name unreadable)
Mr. J. T. Sykes, Royds Street (name unreadable)
Mr. Robert Else, Darwen (unreadable)
The first members who formed the little church were as follows: Mr. and Mrs. Reginald Hargreaves, Mr. and Mrs. Ashworth, Miss Ashworth, Mrs. Whitehead, Mrs. Simpson, Miss Evans, Mr. and Mr’s. Parkinson, Mr. and Mrs. Nutton, Mrs. Briggs, and Mr. Eli Hudson, fourteen in all. The cause has suffered by death and removals. The present members are: Mr. and Mrs. M. Slater, Mr. Edgar Mason, Mrs. Hudson, Mrs. Briggs, and Mrs. Bibby.
The Rev. T. B. Hainsworth took more than a passing interest in the cause at Rishton, for it was largely through his untiring efforts that the present premises were erected, and his removal to Grimsby was a great blow to the church. On the occasion of his leaving the district the friends at Rishton presented him with a gift, the gift of a loving people to a lovable minister.
The first person to be baptised after the Rishton Church was formed was Miss Annie Webster, this event taking place on September 17, 1914.
The debt on the church was cleared off by a gift of £11 from Ernest-street Church, and in fulfilment of a promise made at an earlier date, the late Sir George MacAlpine contributed the final £20. A "thanks" service was held on May 13, 1918, to celebrate the extinction of the debt on the premises. The Rev. Tinsley such occupied the chair and was supported by the Revs. T. B. Hainsworth. E. G. Cole, Hodge, Hasler, Farquhar, E. Welton, and the officers of the Salvation Army. Special and deserved mention was made of the help given by the Baptist churches of Accrington, Church, and Oswaldtwistle, to the Rishton cause, both in regard to finance and also in the working of the church and school.
The following were present at the first teachers’ meeting in connection with the Sunday school: Mr. and Mrs. R. Hargreaves, Miss Annie Ashworth, Messrs. Eli Hudson, F. Ashworth, T. Briggs, R, Nutton (chairman). Mr. R. Nutton was appointed superintendent; Mr. F. Ashworth, secretary; and Mr. T. Briggs, card marker.
The first scholars to earn prizes were -
Elsie Taylor, Alice Hindle, Bertha Ridgway, Edna Ridgway, Alice Webb, Alice Webster, Annie Webster, James Ashworth, Joseph Briggs, James Briggs, William Parkinson, Tom Hudson, Frank Ashworth and Thomas Briggs.
In December, 1920, the secretary of the school (Miss A. Ashworth) reported an average attendance of 24 scholars, and collections in the school realised £3 19s. 1d. The number of scholars and teachers at present on the books are 35 and five respectively. The superintendents are Messrs. John Beckett and Edgar Mason; secretary, Mr. Mason; treasurer, Mrs. Briggs
Mr. John Beckett, of Church, accepted the oversight of the Sunday school at the beginning of May, 1913, with a view to deepening the interest and reviving the work, and he still maintains an unbounded enthusiasm in the work. The local Baptist churches also render assistance by sending helpers week by week.
Mr. William Bolton came with his family to Clayton-le-Moors 21 years ago. He then joined the Baptists there and rendered invaluable service to the church. Four years after joining the church he was elected to the diaconate and at the same time became leader of the mothers’ class. In 1907 he added to his active service at the church the leadership of the young men’s Bible class. For the last 18 months, previous to his death on November 7, 1922, he had thrown all his energies into the little Baptist Church at Rishton. His death, at the age of 65, was totally unexpected.
Mr. John Beckett, of Church, a co-worker at Rishton with Mr. Bolton, testifies to the unstinted and loyal service he rendered to the little cause at Rishton. "A more devoted servant in the Masters service it has not been my privilege to be associated with.
The late Mr. Bolton was never so happy as when he was surrounded by the children, and there love for him has often been manifested, and no finer testimony of the affection they had for him be given than that which was shown by the boys and girls from Rishton who attended his funeral. One realised that the teaching and influence of this good man had won the affection of these young people. Each boy and girl reverently placed a beautiful white flower on his coffin and there tears the outward expression of their sorrow. The late Mr. Bolton was a man of deep humility, of sterling integrity and uprightness. The little struggling cause at Rishton will sadly miss him and those who were closely associated with him realise they have lost a dear friend and Christian brother. His talks with the children and his addresses will be long remembered and he being dead will still speak to us".
The history of the cause at Rishton would be incomplete if special mention was not made of the valuable services rendered by Miss Annie Ashworth, Mr. F. Ashworth, Mr. and Mrs. R. Hargreaves, Miss Annie Webster, Miss Elsie Taylor, Mrs. Moyle, Mrs. Briggs, Mrs. Bibby, Mr. W Abbott, Mr. Herbert Moss, Mr. and Mrs. Thomas Holden, Mr. J. Beckett, Mr. Thomas Grimshaw, Rev. D. Jerman, Rev. E. G. Cole, and other Baptist ministers of the district.
One remarkable feature worth recording is the generous way in which the cause has been financially supported during the whole of its history. Ernest-street, Church, has made an annual collection for the cause, and recently the Blackburn and Accrington District Union of Baptist Churches made a grant of £20, so that the present finds the Rishton Church with a small balance in hand, "for which the little flock are devoutly thankful."
The Council Clerk reported that notices had been served on the frontagers with respect to the making-up of private streets and passages abutting on the Sands Site and that he had received a communication from the Trustees of the Baptist Chapel asking the Council to bear the cost of making up that portion of Danvers Street which abuts on their property, on the 13th June 1946, as the building is used exclusively as a place of public worship. The charge of approximately £171 was borne by this Council.
The Baptist Churches of Accrington and District by Robert J V Wylie.