Ratcliffe, Christopher Hughes (1882-1976)

Christian Messenger 1911
Christian Messenger 1911

Early years

Christopher was born on 24 December 1882 at Liverpool, Lancashire, to parents Hughes Ratcliffe and Dorothy Esther.

His father was dock-master of the Dukes Dock and he grew up almost on the waterfront. On leaving school he entered a shipping office as messenger and rose to the position of book-keeper. His was not a Methodist family and at one time he sang in the choir of the Mission to Seamen with a surplice covering his sailor suit. Introduced by a friend to Palmerston Street Primitive Methodist Church he became a Sunday School teacher and later a local preacher until a sense of the need to do something about the state of society drew him into the ministry. He was able to enter Hartley College with a loan from a Palmerston Street friend and by undertaking part-time book-keeping.

Ministry

In 1917 Christopher did a tour of duty with the Y.M.C.A. in France but returned to finish his term in Oldham. He returned to the town in 1925 and again in 1939. The Second World War brought him great sadness when his younger son, Alan, was killed flying over Europe with the R.A.F.

Twice he served as Synod Secretary, in the Hull District (P.M.) in 1924 and from 1939 to 1946 in the Manchester Second District, which involved him in a large share of the arrangements for the Conference in 1942. For many years he served on the Committee of Hartley Victoria College and he was a director of the Methodist Chapel Aid Association.

His bookshelves bore testimony to a mind constantly refreshed by up to date reading and he possessed the true preacher’s gift of presenting profound truth in terms readily understandable by his hearers.

Still resident in Middleton he became an active supernumerary in the Shaw and Royton Circuit in 1952 where he continued to preach until failing health compelled him to retire completely at the age of eighty-seven.

Family

Christopher married Marion Maud Stevenson (1885-1946) on 7 July 1914 at Lees Road PM Chapel, Oldham, Lancashire. Birth records identify two children.

  • Vivian John (1915-1979)
  • Alan Stevenson (b1919) – died in WW2

Christopher died on 21 May 1976 in the Rochdale Registration District, Lancashire.

Circuits

  • Hartley
  • 1910 Banbury
  • 1914 Oldham II
  • 1920 Hornsea
  • 1925 Oldham III
  • 1930 Marple
  • 1935 Manchester Hulme &c
  • 1939 Oldham Henshaw St
  • 1945 Middleton
  • 1952 Middleton (S)

References

Methodist Minutes 1976/84

W Leary, Directory of Primitive Methodist Ministers and their Circuits, 1990

Census Returns and Births, Marriages & Deaths Registers

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