Linford's History

 

 

Contents:

 

 

INTRODUCTION

 

The last one hundred years have seen a more rapid pace of change than has ever been seen before. Indeed, the century began with people expecting change. In 1900, one could look back over the later part of the nineteenth century, and while seeing some negative features, such as technological advances making warfare more bloody — at that time, of course, the Boer War (1899-1902) was an ongoing reality — they also saw many more positive features, not least of which were the advances being made in medical science. It was also thought at this time that humankind was maturing beyond the desire for war, that the Boar War was really just a final hiccup, and that the coming century would see an inevitable decline in warfare. Thus it was that a new century dawned with a great sense of optimism.

It was into this world of unparalleled expectation that a new Wesleyan chapel was born in the village of Linford. In a world where a new-found human faith in its own progress had been awakened, Linford saw in this new building a testimony to human faith in God. And the faithful of Linford were quite right to erect such a testimony. It was really only a few years later that the myth of human progress was well and truly shattered by the outbreak of World War I (1914-18).

Since then, changes have come thick and fast, technologies have proliferated, making life more comfortable for us, but also making the fact of war far more deadly. Regrettably, the natural decline in warfare that was hoped for never came about, and true human progress has been exposed as a fallacy.

On the other hand, this awareness in our own inability to progress in the way we would have hoped has made us look again beyond our own powers. We recognise that we cannot bring change for the better on our own, and so we start to look once more for a superior and effective power that lies beyond us. All through this last hundred years of change, Linford Methodist Church has stood as a witness to this external power, this power made known in Christ Jesus. Even during those early years when it was still fashionable to think we could bring about a better world on our own, this humble chapel has proclaimed resolutely a faith in something far more reliable than human ability.

Now, from our standpoint in the year 2000, we cannot look back on the past century in the way that the observer in 1900 would have done. Like him or her, we too may look back and see both good things and bad things, causes for optimism and causes for pessimism; but unlike him or her, we no longer place our hope for the future in ourselves, but rather we place our hope in the hands of God. This indeed is what the Methodists of Linford — together with our Christian brothers and sisters in other traditions — have always done. May we continue to do just that.

Revd. David M. Thompson February 2000

 

MINISTERS SINCE 1900

1900 – 1901 Rev. Silas Jones

1901 – 1902 Rev. F.M. Halstead

1902 – 1903 Rev. R.H. Gush

1903 – 1906 Rev. J. Billington

1906 – 1909 Rev. A.H. Wilks

1909 – 1912 Rev. H.E. Hopper

1912 – 1915 Rev J.H. Weir

1915 – 1917 Rev. J. Magill

1917 – 1920 Rev. E. Harris

1920 – 1922 Rev. W.B. Butters

1922 – 1925 Rev. W.A. Beckett

1925 – 1929 Rev. G.H. Simpson

1929 – 1932 Rev. E.H. Lawrence

1932 – 1933 Rev. P.E. Bannister

                     Rev. J. Russell Pope

1933 – 1936 Rev. C. Cathay Marris

1936 – 1946 Rev. G. Hireson Morris

1946 – 1948 Rev. R. Pearce

1948 – 1950 Rev. Daunford Davies

1950 – 1953 Rev. J. Berry

1953 – 1957 Rev. R. Collier

1957 – 1962 Rev. C. McCarthy

1962 – 1967 Rev. A. Freeman

1967 – 1972 Rev. M. Weatherup

1972 – 1977 Rev. A. Dawson

1977 – 1984 Rev. M. Wray B.D.

1984 – 1989 Rev. J. Morrell B.D.

1989 – 1994 Rev. R. Edmonds B.D.

1994 – 1999 Rev. D. Rushton

1999 - 2002 Rev. D.M. Thompson B.A.

2002 - 2014 Rev. Rosemary Pritchard B.A.

2014 -          Rev Brenda Gutberlet

 

Welcome

Welcome to this, our centenary brochure, for Linford Methodist Church. We do hope you enjoy our delve into the history of our Church and Linford. This is just the tip of the iceberg there are still lots we have to rediscover of our heritage.

You may think, as you read the newspaper cuttings included in this brochure, why are we holding our centenary in March? The foundation stones for the Church were laid in May 1900 with the Church finally completed in October 1900.

It was decided to change our Church Anniversary when, after years of deliberating at numerous Church Council Meetings, prayers and the odd argument we finally decided on what we needed at the Church, employed an architect and builder and the old building was totally gutted and renovated. After six months occupation the builders completed their task leaving us with a totally "NEW" Linford Methodist Church. Anyone who knew the old building will find it hard to believe it’s the same place.

The Builders move in

This is not the first big change the building has undergone in the last 100 years. The Church was closed for repairs for a month back in 1938 and during the First World War was used as the local school.

Re-opened church circa 1938

Today, we like to think of ourselves as a growing Church. We have a very active Junior Church, a thriving Parent and Toddler Group which meets twice a week and of course we have just entered into partnership with the Catholic community of Linford and East Tilbury who hold mass in the Church every Sunday morning at 9.00 am.

We still have to find out more about the Mission Hall mentioned in the newspaper cuttings, this was apparently opposite the Church and had grown too small for the congregation.

Our building may be 100 years old but the history of Methodism in Linford/Muckingford obviously goes back a lot further.

Who knows what the next 100 years will bring?

EARLY HISTORY OF LINFORD

The name of Linford is not steeped in ancient history but made up by the land developers as the name of it’s nearest hamlet, Muckingford was considered too unglamorous.

In 1887 developers were planning to build a "North Tilbury Dock Estate" on the land to the west side of East Tilbury road opposite the plot where the Church now stands. Although three miles away from Tilbury Docks, it was the nearest piece of non marshland suitable for building purposes. The main draw back was the lack of a railway station. The estate developers and London Tilbury and Southend Railway entered into many long years of talks but although plans were proposed in the late 1890s for a station LTS wanted it to be a grand affair costing £5,500 to £7,000 which was too expensive and so plans were shelved.

The map below from 1900 shows some of the planned roads including Oxford, Stafford, Surrey, Cambridge, Gloucester, Cumberland & Pembrooke.

 

It was at this time that the name Linford first occurred. Muckingford was not considered to be very saleable name. After some thought the estate developers tried substituting some Latin words for the first part of the name, the Latin being "Limus" for slime or mud, but in the end it was a mistake by the printers which led to the name of "Linford".

1900 had developed only a very small percentage of the original estate. Although the ordnance survey maps for the area at this time carry all the names of the roads that were to be built. There were only a few houses built in Somerset Road, Northumberland Road, and Lower Crescent at this time.

Mr. Robert Tweedy Smith, a staunch Methodist, and a director of the land company developing the estate, gave the land, his time for fundraising and money to build Linford Methodist Church at a cost of £550.00. He also donated the land for a football stadium to be built behind the Church sometime in the future, obviously when the housing estate had been fully developed.

So far we have not been able to find out much regarding our benefactor and one of the main names behind the development of Linford. We have found out that Tweedy Smith stood as a Liberal Member of Parliament for Fareham Hampshire in the 1900 General Election. He was also a member of the Orsett Board of Governors and on the Muckingford Parish Council so obviously very involved in local matters.

In the early 1930’s, with the arrival of the Bata Shoe Factory, a station was finally built at East Tilbury (at a more realistic cost of £2,315) and Linford finally began to grow.

The land once designated to be a football stadium was given to the people of Linford and is currently in the process of becoming a country park area under the management of Essex Wildlife Trust.

 

Report from Grays and Tilbury Newspaper 9th June 1900.

NEW WESLEYAN CHURCH

The memorial stones of the new church were laid on May 30th. A service was held to mark the event. After singing and prayer the Rev G. Reid called upon Mrs J. Crowle, Mr. A. Brooks and Mr. R.T. (Tweedy) Smith to lay their stones. In the unavoidable absence of Mr. John Crowle and Mr. Reacher their memorial stones were laid by Mrs Smith and Mrs Reacher. The children of the Sunday school, through their Superintendent (Mr. Hooper), next laid a brick representing the school. Two memorial stones were next placed in position on behalf of the congregation by Miss Turner and Miss Jones. After this ceremony a tea was given to the members of the congregation. At the meeting which followed presided over by Mr. R.T. Smith, the report was read by the Secretary which showed the amount received up to date to be £352.5s. The site of the church was presented by Messrs Santo and Company. There still remains a considerable sum to be subscribed in order to begin the work free from debt. The Rev. J. E. Wakerly made a spirited speech in which he begged his hearers to move with the times and adapt themselves to the religious opportunities afforded them. Mr. A. Brooks likewise encouraged the congregation to be steadfast in their faith. The usual vote of thanks having been passed the Doxology was sung by the choir and a successful evening was brought to a close. The sum of £50 was actually collected during the day. The Rev. Silas Jones had charge of the proceedings and it was owing to his efforts that the event passed off so satisfactorily.

 

REPORT FROM GRAYS AND TILBURY

SATURDAY 13th OCTOBER 1900

LINFORD

Opening of the New Wesleyan Church.

There was a large gathering of Methodist at Linford on Wednesday week, when the new sanctuary there was used for public worship for the first time. People came to the village in vehicles, on cycles, and by train from Grays, Stanford, Tilbury, Vange etc. And the day’s proceedings were entirely successful.

The new church is build on a site adjoining the main road, nearly opposite the old mission room, which had become too small and no longer met the requirement of a growing cause. It is a nice looking structure both exteriorly and internally. It has been built by Mr. J. Sullings of Stanford le Hope, from plans drawn by Mr. J Sullings junior of the same place and the result is one upon which both may be congratulated.

The opening sermon was preached by the Rev. J. H. Maddox of London a service which began at half past three in the afternoon. The service was well attended and the sermon was forceful scriptural and helpful. At five o’clock a public tea was held in the chapel the table being presided over by the following ladies viz Madams Jones, Brown-John, Chapman, Claydon Ball, Turner and the Misses Jones and Turner. During tea Mr. S. Brown-John gave an organ recital, which was much appreciated. After tea a public meeting was presided over by Mr. J. Mann, who is a warm supporter of Methodism and a leader of the Hackney Road Church, London, and there were on the platform with the Rev. George Reid, F.M Halstead Silas Jones and others.

The Chairman in the course of his remarks emphasised the fact that although they were in a village and isolated they must remember that they were part of a great connection and that Methodism was a great power in England and the whole world as seen by the results of the Twentieth Century Fund. The Secretary read the financial statement regarding the building fund. The total cost of the Chapel is £550.00 and he had received donations and pledges to the amount of £307; leaving an indebtedness of £243 which he hoped would be cleared that evening . The Rev Silas Jones suggested that a subscription list should at once be started. Slips of paper were distributed which brought in about £11.

The Rev J.H. Maddox followed with a stirring address. The Rev. George Reid proposed a vote of thanks to the Chairman, speakers and all who had given their services to make the meeting successful especially the choir for the way they rendered the anthem "Praise the Lord O Jerusalem". The vote of thanks was seconded by the Rev F. Halstead.

The above mission and chapel scheme was commenced by Mr. R. Tweedy Smith and the success so far is largely due to his earnest efforts, and much to his regret he was unable to take part in the opening service being the Parliamentary candidate for the Fareham division of Hampshire.

 

PEGGY HILLS

.

Peggy was born in Swanscombe, Kent.

Peggy’s Father died when she was 10 years old. Her brother went into a Spurgeon’s Children’s home and Peggy stayed with her Mother.

1922-4 Peggy suffered with T.B.

Peggy’s Mother re-married and they crossed the water and lived in Coalhouse Fort, East Tilbury. Peggy looked after St. Catherine’s Church, lighting the stove and seeing to the oil lamps. Peggy’s step brother, Don pumped the organ.

At the outbreak of war the family had to leave the fort and they moved to Somerset Road in Linford.

1939-45 Peggy was in the Land Army. She worked as a gardener on the estate of Lord and Lady Redmayne at Great Baddow. On Fridays she would take vegetables to the market at Chelmsford to sell.

Peggy married Tom Hills at Mucking Church.

A young woman brought her baby son to Peggy’s mother and said, "What can I do with him?" Peggy and Tom cared for young Terry and later adopted him.

Sylvia Staines brought the three year old Terry to Sunday school and there began the long association with the Methodist Church at Linford. Peggy became caretaker and flower arranger for many years and Tom was Church Steward.

Unfortunately Tom died.

In 2010 Peggy passed away just short of her 100th birthday.

 

TERRY FINN

 

Terry was a loyal member of Linford Methodist Church for many years and could be found every Sunday sitting in the back row of the Church.

He was a very shy and gentle giant of a man but amazingly well read. Standing over 6 ft. 9 inches in height, his shoes were a size 14 that had to be specially made for him.

Terry was born in Prittlewell, Southend on Sea on 27th February 1940.

From early infancy until he was 10 years old he was a foster child, from then until the age of 16 he was placed in various children’s homes in the area. At the age of 16 he went to work in London and had lodgings in Pitsea.

He came to live at East Tilbury in 1960 making his home at the Bata Hotel and joining the Bata Shoe Company. He enjoyed the friendship of many local people and received his gold watch for twenty five years Bata service in 1985.

Terry died suddenly and without warning from a heart attack at the age of 48, on 27th September 1988 whilst walking near East Tilbury station.

In 1990 the church received a legacy from his will and it was decided to put this money towards an extension at the rear of the Church for meetings and to contain our ever-growing junior congregation

In 1995 the Terry Finn Room extension was finally completed incorporating a meeting room, large store room and toilet facilities for the disabled.

 

THE TODDLER GROUP

One of the most successful ventures of the Church over the last 18 years has been the Toddler group. Started in 1981 on a Thursday morning by Judith, Rita and Marian under the name of Mother and Toddler Group it has grown to two mornings a week and changed its name to Toddler Group to cater for the Dads and Grandparents we have that attend the group. It certainly meets a need in the neighbourhood as testified by the large number of children that have gone through Toddler Group over the years.

The rules are simple, everyone helps with the refreshments and tidy up at the end and most importantly everyone keeps an eye on their own children. Needless to say this is not as easy and straightforward as it sounds! Some mornings you would be forgiven if you thought World War III had started, Toddlers can be a deadly danger to each other, many a youngster has gone home with an extra bump on their head.

We have in the past had one bigger Toddler than the rest open the front door and take some smaller toddlers for a walk down the middle of the road, bringing the traffic to a halt very quickly. We have lost a few toys down the toilet and even more in the swing bin. One young boy did some finger painting over the walls with the contents of his nappy and up the legs of one of the Mums. One Mother, who shall be nameless, decided one summers day to wear a lovely white cotton dress and also hold her friends baby for a while. After the baby filled its nappy to its full capacity and beyond the resulting "white dress" was a sight to see.

We usually go on two trips a year usually to a farm at Easter time or May half term, many a toddler has come back covered in mud from these trips. The last two years we have been to our local farm Walton Hall who have made us very welcome. In the summer holidays we usually go to Clacton or Walton on the Naze. Legend has it that it is guaranteed to rain on whatever day Marian picks BUT we also have sunshine. Christmas we always have a party for the children with an entertainer and Father Christmas paying a visit.

Wildlife has always played a big part in the life of the Toddler Group. Before the refit at the Church we always had mice playing with the children and one even daring to go in the handbag of one of the Mums, much screaming about that. We had the horses from next door standing at the Church door one morning and on another occasion a snake curled up in the porch. The worse invasion of any kind came a few weeks after our refit, when after a certain amount of boasting that no wildlife was allowed in the Church we were invaded my maggots! A bird had died up in the roof over one of the vents and yes horror of horrors it started to rain maggots on the heads of the Toddlers, they didn’t seem to mind but the grown ups were not so amused.

Despite all the ups and downs I’m sure the Toddler Group will thrive for a few more years yet.

 

THE SCHOOL YEARS

Extract from Linford School Log Book

Essex Education Committee

School No. 272A, Linford

Essex Record Office Ref E/ML or E/M 14

Headmistress E. Gibson

21-3-1915 Admitted Annie Sarah Richardson

21-3-1915 Admitted Doris Mott aged 5 years

12-4-1915 Admitted Thomas Staines

12-4-1915 Admitted Stanley Grover

03-5-1915 New Headmistress H. Mainwaring

15-6-1915 Very bad attendance 33% - Pea Picking started

19-7-1915 Admitted George Downes

13-9-1915 Re admitted Doris Mott

18-2-1916 Admitted Jessie Richardson

25-9-1916 Boys and Girls write accounts of zeppelin raids

26-9-1917 Requested to admit Bernard Welsh (cousin of Lily Pankhurst who is staying with them on account of air raids)

5-10-1917 Punished James Jolly for passing insolent and insulting remarks after wasting ink

20-12-1917 Attending School Christmas entertainment Rev. Burrows, Mrs Fisher, Mrs Cragg, Vicar of Mucking, Wife of Linford Estates Manager.

24-1-1918 The sad news was received this morning of the death in action of Mr. Grove, father of three children at the school.

08-3-1918 School/church hit in air raid Policeman Mr. Brand had the missile handed to him and Soldiers repaired the damage.

 

FINALLY

No celebrations would be complete with out mentioning some friends no longer with us.

The legendary Local Preacher, Steward and Sunday school Superintendent Frank Hall who would walk/cycle from Grays every Sunday to Linford. He kept Linford Church alive for many years.

Geoff Keirle, Rita and Roy Kay, Ted and May Spencer were all involved in the discussions and decision making of how our "New Church" should look. Hopefully their ideas and visions are well represented.

Apologies to any one person left out over the last one hundred years there have been many faithful who have worked and worshiped in this building.

Of course there is still a lot to do – no project is ever complete!

We have to build an environmentally friendly landscaped car park beside the Church with a footpath running between the car park and the Church entrance to separate the cars from the pedestrians.

The back garden needs to be leveled and laid to grass and shrubs to enhance the view from the Terry Finn room.

The foundation stones at the front of the Church have to be replaced so that our future Church congregation won’t have to guess who laid them and when.

A new font has to be purchased to match our new lectern and Communion Table.

A bookcase/table has got to be acquired or constructed for the new foyer.

Hopefully, with Gods help, we can continue to work with the various groups and organisations around the village to build a better community.

Finally for there to be a future one hundred years we must continue to grow. The folks who built this Church 100 years ago and those who worked so hard to keep it open through the lean years had a vision. They wanted a place of worship in the Methodist tradition, where the gospel of Jesus Christ would be preached.

Today denominationalism is not so important. With other Christians in the area we want to offer the community a place where people of all ages can worship God and can grow in the Christian faith.