Over the years WidnesSpiritualistChurch has faced many tiresome obstacles, and by the help and determination of it’s members it has managed to overcome every single one.
It all began in the late nineteen twenties by a small group of likeminded individuals who had a strong love and understanding for the Spirit World. These individuals were; Mr George Wycherley, Mrs Alice Knight, Mrs Henrietta Andrew, Mr Guy and Mr Joe France.
Mr George Wycherley, who was a founder member of the present spiritualist church in Widnes and a well known medium wrote the following about 1986 when the church was in danger of closing;
“Back in the late 1920’s early 1930’s, three people opened up a meeting place, by renting rooms in
Victoria Road. The room was situated over Boot’s Cash Chemists, known as The Windsor Rooms. Because we were only a small band of followers at that time, and the premises were required for use by a larger body of people for their own organization, we moved on. Eventually, we found premises over Lloyd’s grocery shop in Albert Road. Again we had to move due to the owner needing the room.
We were determined not to give in, although there was many of our congregation who did not stay the course. However we carried on, and found premises in Widnes Road, where the congregation relied on myself and another gentleman Mr George Knight, to attend the coal fires at either end of the large room.
At the time we were beginning to grow, and we had nearly 100 people in attendance at our open circles, which were held on a Tuesday evening.
I well remember one meeting we held regarding the proposition to acquire the Welsh Chapel in Lacey Street. Our meeting had to be postponed for a short while because we were being deafened by the cheering of people outside, who were welcoming the Widnes Rugby Football Team bringing home the Rugby League Challenge Cup on May 5th 1930.
Later we procured the property in Lacey Streetfor the princely sum of £1,200. This to us at that time was an awful lot of money.
We held our Dedication Service on 10th July 1937.
It is with a true and thankful heart that I put their words together for our present members and friends to read, in the sure knowledge that because our doors have NEVER..EVER closed, we will march forward into our second 50 years.
THOSE FEW OF US WHO REMEMBER OUR HUMBLE BEGINNINGS LOOK TO THE PRESENT MEMBERS AND FRIENDS TO CARRY FORWARD OUR WORK THUS KEEPING OUR FAITH ALIVE.
“BRIGHTLY BEAMS OUR FATHERS MERCY”
We needed your support then….we need your support now, and in the future.”
The church suffered a lot of vandalism in the seventies and as a result the church windows were boarded up. Later, more vandalism was done, only this time far worse. The main hall of the church was so badly damaged that it was closed and was never used for over 10 years. Services were moved into the small back room, which we now know as the tearoom.
In 1986, officials from the Spiritualist National Union who the church is affiliated to visited the church, and because it was in such a bad state of repair, they wanted to close the church. The committee at that time convinced the union that they could keep the church open, and repair it if they were given financial assistance.
The committee at that time borrowed approximately £11,000 from the Spiritualist National Union. Added to this many people gave donations of money and their time to help with repairs and re-decoration. They then were able to open the main hall again. A new rostrum was built, with part of the old rostrum left in place on the wall as a memorial. The windows were kept boarded up because of continued vandalism, and also the cost to reinstate them would have been too much.
By 1987 the services were again held in the main church hall. The windows were still boarded up, but the church was functioning again. A few years after this, various improvements were made. Another toilet was built, and the kitchen was made bigger. An office was built at the back of the main church, new chairs for the main church were purchased and new tables for the tearoom. On the outside, a new concrete path was laid, the gardens done, new drains were installed, and general tidying up.
In 2003, the members at the time looked into having the windows bricked up. This was because the boards used to cover them on the outside now needed replacing and the church was losing a lot of heat through them. After approaching the Spiritualist National Union about this, the members were asked if they would consider opening them up again instead. It was also necessary for the church to install facilities for Disabled. So with a generous donation of £5000 from the JV Trust and a £5735 donation from Halton Borough Council, work began.
A new rostrum was made leaving the original part of the first rostrum intact as a memorial. A stained glass window in the church was dedicated to pioneers and loved ones in the spirit world.
Money was also donated from members and friends, money was raised from fundraising events and some local businesses in Widnes made donations. Some of the platform mediums also donated their expenses and money from private sittings back to the church. All of which was gratefully accepted and much appreciated. £24,000 was borrowed from the SNU Trust as a mortgage to be repaid over 30 years to help with these improvements.
In January 2004 disabled facilities were started. A new disabled toilet was built, and all the doors widened for wheelchair access. As there where two steps from the tearoom into the main church, a 12-foot ramp had to be made. A concrete ramp was built outside the front doors and new windows were fitted replacing the windows that had been boarded up for such a long time.
The kitchen also had to be altered and a new kitchen was fitted. A Mediums room was built at the side of the rostrum and a large storage cupboard was built. A hearing loop was installed in the main church and large print books were purchased. Emergency lighting and fire exit lights fitted over each door and the tearoom, kitchen, and small toilet decorated. The disable facilities were opened on 4th April 2004 by one of the younger members of the church who used a wheelchair.
A re-dedication service took place on Saturday 23rd October 2004. This is just some of the church’s history and to go into it all would take a lifetime.
The current committee would like to thank each and every member of the church, both past and present for their love and support over the years. And we hope that you will continue to join and support us in the future.
"Nothing can be gained or learned if we merely stand still"