History of Wallasey Churches


The church of St. John was erected in 1832-33 and is situated on Liscard Road, near Church Street. The land was purchased by Sir John Tobin of Liscard Hall from F.R Price Esq., formerly part of the possessions of Birkenhead Priory. The cost of erecting the church was defrayed by shareholders in subscriptions of £100 each, and the church was managed for the first forty years of its existence by trustees. The church was consecrated on 31st October 1831, by the Bishop of Chester, the Revd. J. B Summer, who later became the Archbishop of Canterbury. It was opened on 19th May 1833 and is the oldest standing church in Wallasey. The church, built to accommodate 1,800 to 2,000 persons, is simple in Grecian design, and typical of the period of its erection, it harmonised well with the houses in Church Street which led up to the church from the ferry at Egremont.

The church commands a dignified view with its large flute columns in the Doric style. The stone came from the quarry in Newlands Drive. Originally plans were drawn up for a tower, but the idea was dropped. There are lancet windows on either side of the church and the building once boasted a gallery. The ceiling has a span of sixty-three feet six inches, which makes it the largest unsupported ceiling on the whole of Merseyside. Most other churches have the roof supported with stone columns.

Rev. John Tobin Interior of St Johns
Rev. John Tobin
Interior of the church. 1880

The first vicar of St. John's was Sir John Tobin's son, the Revd. John Tobin, M.A,. who lived in Liscard House, where Chatsworth Avenue is now. Revd. Tobin served the parish until 1862.

Alterations and improvements were carried out at various times in the 1860's. In 1881 the Church was closed for ten weeks for improvements and re-opened on 30th November, 1881. Changes included the old galleries being removed and the box pews replaced to open benches. The organ was removed to the chancel end of the church and a arcaded screen surrounded it, a similar screen used on the opposite side of the chancel to form the choir vestry. The chancel was enclosed with a wrought iron screen and gates, and two new windows were inserted in this portion of the church, and the old chancel window had been filled in with drapery. The alterations cost about £2,000 and was designed by Mr. Cornelius Sherlock, an architecture and diocesan surveyor. In 1933, to mark the centenary, a complete renovation and redecoration was carried out at a cost of £700. Although not actually hit by bombs during the Second World War, St. John's suffered heavy damage from blast and had to be closed for a time while temporary repairs were effected. In 1951 restoration work was begun, but this proved more extensive than was at first expected and was not completed until March 1954.

The church is listed as a building with special architectural interest on account of the large ceiling. With falling membership the church closed and offered for sale in 2004 with planning permission given for the alteration of the building to flats in 2006.

Egremont Baptist Church

The Baptist cause in Egremont was started in the 1850's by three employees of the Seacombe Pottery, Mr Charles Hewitt, who was the manager at the Pottery works, his son John and Mr Charles Conquer who met with others in the club room in the stable yard at the Kings Arms Hotel on Liscard Road. After two years they moved to Union Rooms in Union Street. W.S Caine, later a Member of Parliament, assisted in the meetings. Later, after the Egremont Presbyterian members had moved in 1863 from the Assembly Rooms of the Egremont Ferry Hotel (later Egremont Institute) in Tobin Street to their new church at the corner of King Street and Trafalgar Road, the Baptists moved into the Assembly Rooms. In 1865, the Revd H.W Perris became the first pastor, retaining his office until after the erection, in 1870, of the new chapel in Falkland Road. Revd. Perris once lived in a private house at No.4 King Street.

Egremont Baptist, Falkland Road
Egremont Baptist, Falkland Road

In September, 1869, work commenced on a church building in Falkland Road. The church was opened in February, 1870. In August, 1891, the church purchased land on Liscard Road and erected an iron chapel which opened for service in July 1892.

Egremont Baptist Church Egremont Baptist Church, Interior

Plans for a new church were put forward in October 1924. The iron church was sold to a firm of demolition contractors for £105. The foundation stone was laid on 27th October, 1925 and the opening ceremony took place on Wednesday, 30th June, 1926.

In 1985, both dry and wet rot were discovered in the building. After surveys and feasibility studies, the decision was taken in 1986 to demolish both Church and Hall and rebuild on about half of the site. In 1988 the church was demolished and the new smaller one was built on the former site of the church hall.

Egremont Baptist Church

Egremont Baptist Church decided a shared agreement with the Crescent Road United Reformed Church from September 1986 and decided on the name of Serpentine Road Family Church. It cost £260,000 and was opened officially on 7th January, 1989. The congregation raised £110,000. The Wirral Borough Council contributed £75,000 and the remainder came from charitable trusts.

The Crescent Road United Reformed Church (originally the Christ of Church) first met on 1st January, 1888, at the house of Mrs. Oxley who lived at 2 William Street, off St. Paul's Road. Initially there were just ten members with Mr Edward Evans presiding as the Evangelist.

On 29th July, 1888 the church moved to 49 Rapport Road paying 2/0 per week for rent. In April, 1889 the church moved to a room in Church Street which was felt would be more inviting to the general public. Members longed for their own building and they tried to contain the Baptist Church in Falkland Road (a former meeting place of Egremont Baptist Church) but they would have to share it so they declined.

For a short time they met in an ante-room in the Vienna Hall, Brighton Street, but it was unsuitable and they moved into the front of the hall with the Congregational Church moving into the main hall.

In 1898 the Unitarians meeting in Manor Road wished to build a more permanent meeting house so it was suggested buying their building and finding a suitable site on which to rebuild it.

They were offered two locations - a site near Newlands or Crescent Road. The former was in the fields and the latter amongst the houses so Crescent Road was chosen.

The building was bought for £80 and the land cost a further £120. The problem involved in moving the corrugated iron building and re-erecting it were substantial but their wish had been granted and they had their own building. They met in their own building for the first time on 24th April 1898.

In 1912 the Church considered an extension of the building but it wasn't until December 1915 that the new Church Hall was built for £135. In 1968 ideas were put forward for either extending, altering or rebuilding the premises. Mr Eric Pollitt, an architect, was asked to make suggestions. In October 1970 it was agreed to examine a scheme put forward by Mr Pollitt with a view to building a new Church.

On Saturday, 12th February 1972 the new church building was dedicated. The old church being converted into a hall. The Church later became a United Reformed Church and in July 1983 discussions were underway with Egremont Baptist Church with a proposal to share a newly built Church on Liscard Road. Finally, on 7th January 1989, Crescent Road United Reformed Church officially joined with Egremont Baptist Church to become 'Serpentine Road Family Church'.

The chapel was built in Serpentine Road in 1899 and demolished in 1976 after a mysterious fire.

Egremont Synagogue

The Jewish Community in 1909 began by forming a 'Minyan' (Bethel), together with a 'Cheder' (literally a schoolroom). It was moved from place to place until the time came to establish a Congregational Synagogue. Premises were obtained on Falkland Road. The building had a seating capacity of 250 people and >>>

was erected in 1868 and had used at various times by several different denominations, including the Baptists, and lastly before being acquired for a Synagogue. It was opened on 3rd September, 1911, the first year of Wallasey's Incorporation as a Borough. The ceremony was performed by Mr B. Benas, sen., and the event was marked by full civic honour's, the Mayor and Mayoress (Mr and Mrs J.T. Chester) with members of the Corporation attending in state.

In the later years of the 20th Century Egremont Synagogue was demolished.

Union Street United Reformed Church, previously Union Street Presbyterian Mission, was established in 1871 by Egremont Presbyterian Church. James Smith gave the land and buildings in 1880.

Brighton Street ChurchThe earliest references to Methodist activities were naturally of small beginnings, but these references go back to the early 19th Century when the population of the district was small and scattered. At this time a few Methodist folk began to hold services in cottages and later in a small barn leased by Captain Martin within the neighbourhood of which is now Martins Lane. The journal of Mr Henry Pooley, who was later to play a momentous part in the growing life of the Church. mentions his crossing of the Mersey in a sailing boat with a number of friends from Leeds Street Chapel Choir, Liverpool, to attend a Lovefeast in the barn on Good Friday, 1820.

At this time Methodism had no home in the area: the only established place of worship being the ancient Parish Church of Wallasey, St. Hilary's. The population was gradually increasing and concentrating itself at Wallasey, Poulton, Liscard and New Brighton, but most numerously at Seacombe and it was here that the Methodists rented a large room for worship in Wheatland Lane. The building was known as Hope Chapel. This soon proved inadequate so in 1839 a chapel was built on the corner of Victoria Road (now Borough Road) and Brighton Street. The architect was a Mr Thomas Smith, who later designed the 'Friends Meeting Place' in Withens Lane. The building was a plain, economy, not appearance, was the main consideration. Afterwards a small tower was erected which included a public clock, subscribed by the local neighbourhood.

The interior of the chapel was filled up with old pews and a pulpit bought at the auction of the furnishings of Leeds Street Chapel, Liverpool. It was Captain Willey, an ardent friend and worker for the cause at Seacombe who purchased the furnishings from Leeds Street Chapel to Seacombe.

In 1844, Mr Henry Pooley came with his family to reside in the district and he lost no time in identifying himself with the Cause there. Under his direction and often at his own expense improvements were made in the internal arrangements of the building. These included the provision of a suitable Communion Table, the rearrangement of the Pulpit and the installing of an organ.

Brighton Street ChurchIn the early 1850's a Sunday School was started and soon afterwards Night School teaching was undertaken. These efforts were met with success so it was decided that Day School teaching should be provided for the children of Seacombe. Money was raised by members of the congregation. With this continual success it was therefore decided that a better school and a larger church should be built. Land was purchased from Mr Harold Littledale on Brighton Street. Money was raised by public subscription and the sale of the former Chapel in 1856 to the Welsh Calvinistic Methodists. It was decided that the school should be built first. The school cost £2,800 to build and in the first two years the premises provided accommodation for teaching nearly 300 children during the week.

On 18th November, 1858, the first foundation stone was laid by Mr Henry Pooley. The Church was designed by the Minister, Revd. Frederick Payne who went on to build other Methodist churches along the Welsh Coast. The church opened on 1st September, 1859 with Frederick Payne and John M. Banoford as first Ministers. It is interesting to note that this was the first public building lighted by gas in the Wallasey district, supplies being carried by pipes specially laid from Coulborn Brothers' works at Egremont Ferry.

In 1876 the school building was enlarged to include an Infant School and additional classrooms. At the same time the land in front of the Church was ornamentally enclosed. The money for these changes was given as a gift by Mr Henry Pooley and cost £1,807 10s.0d.

The Church had no stained glass windows - just four windows in colour. On the North side there was a window situated above the organ. There was a circular window with crimson roses entwined with white lines and other coloured flowers. In the centre were the letters "I.H.S". On this side also were two windows which were gifts of the Church Trustees and presented in 1914 in memory of Mr Henry Pooley and Mr John Charles Stead J.P. There was a large window to the south at the rear of the gallery which also had red roses with other flowers interspersed. This was given to the Church in 1911 by Mrs Foster in memory of her husband, Captain Matthew Henry Foster who were regular worshippers at the Church.

The last major change for the Church came after the Second World War when the steeple, which had become unsafe, was removed.

With dwindling membership and costly maintenance the Church and the school closed in 1964 and a car park now occupies the site.

St. Columba's Church St. Columba's Church

St. Columba's Church was built of red pressed brick and stood on the corner of Trafalgar Avenue at the beginning of Seabank Road. It was built during the early part of the 20th Century and took twenty years to complete before opening in 1923. The hall was under the church, as it was erected on the incline of the hill. The builder was James A. Milestone, who lived in Manor Mansions in Manor Road. It cost £4,500 to build and opened on 16th June 1904 under the care of the Revd. H.H Pitts, and became a separate parish from St. John's Church in 1922.

The church was designed in the 16th Century style by C.M. Deacon of Liverpool. It had two organs, a piano, a harmonium and a pipe organ, a really musical church!

During the war the hall was used by the Civil Defence and could be used as emergency food-kitchen.

In July 1971 by order of the Queen in Council, the two parishes of St. Mary and St. Columba were united under the incumbency of the Revd. Hugh Linn, M.A., and the present parish of St. Mary with St. Columba was formed. The last service in the building was held in 1971. The church was demolished in 1973.

Standing on the corner of Manor Road in Seabank Road is Manor Church Centre, formerly the Egremont United Reform Church, which was built as a Presbyterian Church of England between 1907/08, before the Union with the Congregationalists.

The Presbyterians' history in the town goes back as far as 1639, when they met together under the ministry of the Rector of St. Hilary's Church, George Snell.

In 1859 they came together as a congregation in the Egremont Hotel (later Egremont Institute) in Tobin Street, which was close to the ferry. They placed a large board outside with the words "United Presbyterian Church" painted in bold letters on it. The preaching station opened on 1st May, in a large hall. Robert Cameron becoming the first minister the following year.

They wanted to have a church of their own, so they decided on a new building, the foundation stone of which was laid by Samuel Stitt on 2nd December 1862. It was the situated on the corner of Trafalgar Road in King Street, former site of the old Gaumont / Unit 4 Cinema. The architects were Messrs. W & J Hay and it was built by Nelson's Builders in about seven months, as a cost of £4,000. It could hold 600 worshippers. The side galleries were added at a later date.

The Revd. Robert Cameron became its minister from the former preaching station. It opened on the 8th July 1863 and had the appearance of St. John's Church in Grecian style, with six pillars at the front elevation. The stone for these came from a quarry which is now Newlands Drive. The minister's son was D.Y Cameron, R.S.A. Unfortunately Rev. Cameron left in September 1864 for a call to Glasgow, and replaced by Rev. James Muir, of Falkirk.

Egremont Presbyterian Church
Egremont Presbyterian Church
Egremont Presbyerian Church Egremont Presbyerian Church

The congregation decided to move to another site and build a bigger and better church. The foundation stone of the present church was laid by Lord Balfour of Burley on the 18th April 1907, on a site given by Alderman James Smith. Originally the new church was to have been built in Early English style but plans were changed to the style of English Perpendicular. The architects were Messrs. Brigg, Wolstenholme and Thornley (the same company who drew up plans for the Town Hall) and the builder was George Parkinson. Holding 1,000 people, this red sandstone church cost £19,000. The stone came from the quarries in Runcorn. When it was completed, it was the largest Presbyterian Church in the country. It has eight columns supporting the 49 foot high roof. The tower is 60 feet high. The roof is of Baltic Pine and the rest of the woodwork is in Dantzig Oak, apart from the pulpit which is in Odessa Oak.

Manor Church Centre

In 1994 Egremont United Reformed Church united with Trinity Methodist Church in Manor Road and became the Manor Church Centre.