Transcription of an article in the Christian Messenger
THIS corner of our vineyard is surrounded by tracts of desolate country. Other people have their ‘corners,’ but our united cultivation touches less than a third of the ground which is open to our industry.
The town is a remarkable and rapid growth of larger London. It is six miles from the city, and touches the border of Epping Forest. In 1861 the population was 7,000, and amongst the richest and most select in all England. In 1871 it had grown to 11,000; in 1881, 22,000; in 1891, 43,000; now, 95,000 to 100,000. The housing of this vast mass of people is peculiar to the times. The picture we give shows a model Walthamstow flat. Note that there are two doors under an arch. The door nearest the window opens to the ground floor. The other opens on a flight of stairs to the upper floor. The old objectionable feature of two or more families using one door is beginning to pass away. And very comfortable most of these flats are at 6s. or 8s. a week.
I have often been asked what factories are there at Walthamstow to employ these crowds of people. And I reply: ‘None at all.’ Beyond a few small ones employing girls – collar-makers and blouse factories – we have no factories. All the men go to London to work. Hoe Street and St. James’ Street stations from 5 to 7.30 a.m. are a sight not to be forgotten. And if you pay us a visit don’t come down between 5.30 and 7.30 in the evening, unless you treat yourself to a ‘first.’ You might have to remember travelling in a ‘third’ with from 18 to 22 others, of all kinds of trades from coalies to pepper-grinders, and the experience is not always agreeable. Early morning is a good time for advertising your meetings and giving your messages. The men will mostly take all you offer, only when you see them begin to run get out of the way, for maybe they are catching the last cheap train, and who does not lie abed to the very last moment? Twopence to London and back is the fare if you leave before half-past seven a.m. The writer has given away thousands of invitations at these hours.
The Editor in August quoted a lament from the ‘Church Times’ that Walthamstow was hopelessly undermanned with ‘fourteen priests and two deacons,’ quoting also the statement that ‘the poor will not have Dissent.’ I am glad to say that in addition to the fourteen and two given above there are sixteen ministers, several paid missionaries, and hundreds of devoted laymen at work, and I estimate that there are in the Free Churches every Sunday 5,500 adults and 5,100 children. That is more than in all the Churches.
We have four. Chapel End is a very small wood-built chapel, which, until recently, was ‘in the country.’ Now streets of houses are being built and tenanted. We have the nucleus of a good society, and already a good Sunday School; but more room is required at once to provide for the growing population. Their first effort has just been made, and £20 raised. We have plenty of ground for the larger building.
Higham Hill is a little school-chapel, with a fine site for a larger chapel at a very prominent corner. New streets run close up to it, and we have a devoted and enthusiastic society and school. A splendid work is being done here, not surpassed by anything I have seen. A larger chapel is badly wanted, school children having often to sit on the floor owing to the room being so full.
Hawthorn Road is a very good chapel, with school and class rooms, in a neighbourhood which has just grown very rapidly. We ought to do very good work here, but up to this time the population has been very migratory.
High Street is in the main street of the town, and no better position for a good chapel and for work could be found in London. The chapel was opened In June, 1787, and has recently bought by us from the Congregationalists. It has a very dull and unattractive appearance, and very much out-of-date accommodation. This position is the place for our large new property. We have a frontage of 75 feet. The G.M. Committee is in close consultation with the trustees on the scheme, which includes two halls to hold nearly 500 each, with class-rooms and church parlour. Two or three shops will be built in front to flank a bold wide entrance. We are hopeful and confident that our success will be speedily doubled when we have our new premises. Money for this is our immediate need.
THE PORTRAIT GROUP.
We have several strong and good men amongst our officials. Our station steward, Mr. W. Tyler, is one of the oldest officials on the station, though only in mid-life. His standing in the town may be gauged by the fact that he is chairman of the School Board. It is no little matter for gratification that he is the strongest chairman the Board has had. Mr. Tyler is on the left of the group. Mr. H. Berry, standing on the right, is co-steward at High Street, a local preacher, and a man of a fine spirit. On the left is Mr. Leverett, one of the stewards at Hawthorn Road, who is a very valuable member. He is an old worker at Dr. Barnardo’s. Mr. W. Groom, his earnest colleague, stands in the centre. At the foot is Mr. J. Longman, a young and able local preacher, steward and school superintendent at Chapel End, an enthusiastic Endeavourer, and one of the best workers we have.
Mr. J. Myers, of Higham Hill, who is superintendent of one of the best schools I have ever seen, and that in very unsatisfactory premises, is seated on the right.
Rev. R.S. Blair opened this mission, and Rev. Thomas Jackson was its first minister, and Mr. Jackson built the three chapels. Rev. J. Mayles added a school room at Hawthorn Road. The present superintendent, whose photo occupies the centre, is Fred W. Atkin, who spent all his probation here and returned after an absence of seven years. Rev. A.A. Kidwell is the second preacher, and right well is he serving the station.
This corner has converted many a wild plant and grown many a good vine. Some instances might be given which for vivid interest would equal anything I know. May the gracious Lord send every society on this mission a glorious revival. Amen and Amen.
Christian Messenger 1900/341