Community church hails its centenary

100 UP! The chief organiser of the church's centenary celebrations, Barbara Maddison, with fellow members (from left), Maureen Buxton, Joy Rice, Gordon Read and Reg and Gwen Moore
100 UP! The chief organiser of the church's centenary celebrations, Barbara Maddison, with fellow members (from left), Maureen Buxton, Joy Rice, Gordon Read and Reg and Gwen Moore

AN HISTORIC church in Bulwell is celebrating 100 years as the beating heart of the community it serves.

The United Reformed Church (URC) on Broomhill Road opened its doors in March 1911 — four years after the need for a new place of worship in the Highbury Vale area was first suggested.

Now, a century on, its congregation is as strong as ever and the building is home to dozens of community groups catering for members of all ages and backgrounds.

To mark the special landmark, a timetable of celebration events starts on Sunday for three weeks under the theme ‘Faith, Hope And Love’.

“These are very exciting times for the church,” said Jean Cook (75), who has been a member for 57 years.

“This is a real family church and a lot of hard work, blood, sweat and tears has gone in to making it the success it is today.

“It is now onwards and upwards for another 100 years.”

The actual birthday of the church is on Friday March 11 when it will be open from 2 pm to 5 pm for a presentation of photographs from the past, displays and tours.

There will be a birthday coffee morning (10.30 am) and a concert by Bestwood Male Voice Choir (7 pm) on Saturday March 12.

On Sunday March 13, anniversary services will be held, and Saturday March 19 (6 pm to 8 pm) sees a centenary family party night.

The celebrations will culminate with a centenary worship at 4 pm on Sunday March 20.

The events carry extra poignancy for Jean Cook and her husband, Dennis (80).

For not only were they married at Bulwell URC 55 years ago, Dennis’s father, Frank, was also one of the founder members.

Dennis has been part of the congregation since the age of 12 and is one of the longest-serving members.

Jean, who is a retired minister once based at Arnold United Reformed Church, said: “The church is a key part of the surrounding area. The amount of community work that goes on is unbelievable.

“When it first opened, members had to borrow cups and saucers because they couldn’t afford to buy them. Now we are celebrating 100 years.

“We work to support the elderly and have a big programme aimed at children. We are still very strong and attract a good turnout.

“The centenary celebration will be a must for those who are interested or have any connection with the church.”

Bulwell URC was, in fact, an offshoot of the town’s Coventry Road Church Of Christ, which was known as The Mother Church.

In 1909, a committee meeting was held and plans for the new church were carried after 33 voted in favour, seven voted against and 30 members abstained.

It was estimated that £1,000 would be needed to build Bulwell URC. There were problems in financing the scheme until a grant from The Mother Church and six fundraising services brought hope.

On March 11 1911, the doors opened to an initial membership of 103. Now, 100 years later, its time to celebrate.