Moreton and Leasowe
Christ Church on Upton Road, Moreton, was built in 1863 and replaced an earlier religious building called ‘Chapel of Rest’ which had been pulled down in 1690. The local landowner, Thomas Webster of Overchurch Hill, Upton, gave the land for the building of a new Anglican church and William Inman of Upton Manor, whose Inman Shipping Line transported passengers and emigrants to America, donated £8,000 to cover the costs of the building of the church, the vicarage as well as the school which opened later on Hoylake Road in 1861. The design of the church, which has a tower about 100 feet tall, was designed by Messrs Cunningham and Audsley. The first minister of Christ Church was Revd. Matthew Fearsley M.A who served the Parish for 34 years. The old rectory, which once stood to the rear of the church near where Chadwick Street is now, was demolished in 1922 because it became uninhabitable due to damp.
Until the end of the First World War, Moreton was a quiet Cheshire village, with its Parish Church and Village Green, and one or two houses clustered round them. Two or three farms with their farmhouses, outbuildings and cottages, a few small shops, and three country inns would complete the picture of rustic charm and peace. There were few Catholics in the district in those days, and Moreton was part of the parish of St. Joseph's, Upton. One of the Parish Priests, Canon Dallow, who was well-known in the area for his work with young boys, acted as Chaplain for various School Camps that were held at the Shore in the summer months each year in connection with Father Berry's Homes Camp.
The beginning of Moreton as a separate Parish is closely associated with the school camps of days gone by. Through them the Catholics who began to settle in the locality were given the opportunity of Mass in the months of June, July, and August, at 10.45 each Sunday. For the remainder of the year, they had to make their way to Upton.
During the years that followed the First World War, Moreton began to develop rapidly. From a summer camping ground for boys, it became an all-the-year-round camp for those in the nearby towns who were unable to obtain houses of their own during the post-war period of slump and housing shortage. Temporary dwellings of every description (bungalows, caravans, tents, dis-used tramscars and buses), and many defying all descriptionm sprang up in hundreds on the fields bewteen the railway and the shore. Among these camps dwellers was a high percentage of Catholics, and in 1921, Provost Barry of Our Lady's, Birkenhead, realised that many of them had come to stay, and that more permanent provision would be required than mere Sunday Mass in the Summer months by the shore. From 1921 to 1923 Provost Barry began mass each Sunday in an old café by Moreton shore known as 'City Caterer's Cafe'. It was first and foremost a café but during the week, part of it was used as a school. Finally a new church was erected in Upton Road in 1923 on a former field at the bottom where Marion Drive is today. The church cost £1,200, which was raised through public subscription, and it was designed by Bishop Singleton who was the Bishop of Shrewsbury. The first minister was the Revd. W. Griffin who served from 1923 to 1930. He was held in high regards and Griffin Road was named after him.
When Father Peter Gerard took over he realised there was a growing need for a school and organised fund raising events such as "Donkey Derby' with leading jockey's of the day including Gordon Richards. This was proved to be successful that the 'Sacred Heart School' for 280 pupils was opened on 20th October 1934 at a cost of £10,000 and was opened by Bishop Moriarty.
The tremendous increase in the Catholic population in Moreton meant that the little temporary church in Upton Road had long been too small for the needs of the parish. In 1939, the last Mass on Sundays was transferred to the school hall, and it continued there until the opening of the new church.
In 1955 the church was demolished and a new rustic brick design with a tower was built on the former site of Smith's Farm. The foundation stone was laid on 25th June 1955. The Church then re-opened on 26th June 1957 and cost £42,000. The Right Revd. John A. Murphy presided at the opening together with the Bishop of Shrewsbury.
The Presbyterian Church is the second oldest church in Moreton, the first being the Parish Church in Upton Road. It began in 1905 when the first service was held in the upper room of the Assembly Rooms which stood at the rear of the old Plough Inn. The service was held by the Revd. J. Calvin Thomas who was assisted by Lay preachers. It became quite popular and it was decided to build a chapel, so a fund was started. After enough money was raised the land was purchased on the corner of Knutsford Road and Hoylake Road. The foundation stone was laid on 7th February, 1906. The chapel was completed at a cost of £800 and opened on 15th June, 1906 by Mr W.H Lever, later Lord Leverhulme. The first minister of the new church was the Revd. R. Lewis Powell from 1907 to 1936.
After the Second World War the population of Moreton grew rapidly, and the church membership grew rapidly also. The chapel became too small, so it was decided to raise funds for a new chapel. As their was still plenty of room on the land that was purchased in 1906 it was decided to build the new chapel on the same site. The foundation stone was laid on 6th February, 1926 and the Chapel opened later that year, the total cost being £3,007. In 1937 the Chapel was extended and a new memorial window was unveiled which was dedicated to the late Revd. R. Lewis Powell. The extension cost £2,040 and the original chapel was used as the Church Hall.
Methodism did not begin in Moreton until 1948. The first service was held on 4th July 1948 and was heard at the 'Church among the trees' and was known as Hillcrest Mission. The site was situated on a plot of land that was at the back of Burrell Drive and at the end of Childwall Avenue. Regular morning meetings were held from July 1952 and on 26th July 1953 services were held in the newly-built hall in Pasture Road. The Methodist Church was opened on 18th September 1954 . These buildings were called the Poulton Road Memorial Church and cost £45,000 to build - most of the money coming from the War Damage Compensation Seacombe as the original Methodist Church was situated on Poulton Road but was destroyed by an air-raid in the Second World War and demolished in 1944.
In 1926 Mr W. Holdsworth, Mr J.E Hendley and Mr W.P Williams started the Baptist Church initially with a meeting of other like minded people at the Presbyterian Church in Moreton as it was the only Free church in the area. The group, which also included their respected families, began to slowly grow in size and it was agreed to establish a Baptist Church in Moreton. A site was purchased on the corner of Doreen Avenue and Hoylake Road and was purchased for £600 on the 27th May 1927 and the site dedicated on Saturday, 1st October, 1927 at an open air service. Temporary headquarters were needed and found at the Victory Hall (now the British Legion) in Pasture Road. After the Hall was deemed unsafe in November 1928 the Baptists moved to Upton Road but it was proved inadequate so it was decided by the congregation that it was time to build a church of their own. After acquiring a mortgage of £450 the new church was built and opened for service on 8th November 1930.
It was soon realised that more room was required and a new chapel was proposed on 3rd July 1935. The foundation stone was laid on 28th September 1935 and the new Chapel opened on 11th April 1938 next to the original church. The total cost of the new Chapel was £1,577. The Chapel was built by Sam Burrows and Sons. The original church was pulled down in 1965. By 1975 there was a need for a larger chapel as the congregation had grown to over two hundred. A new chapel was built in Doreen Avenue (at the back of the old one) at a cost of approximately £10,000.
The foundation stone of St. Chad's Hall-cum-Church, situated on Twickenham Drive in Leasowe, was laid on 15th May 1954 by the Secretary of the Building Committee, H M Alderson-Smith. The building opened in June 1955 and cost £13,590. 1s. 1d - the cost was met by the local congregation and was paid for on 11th October 1958 after four years. The dedication of the Altar was performed on 4th June 1955 by the Right Revd, G. A Ellison. The first organ was brought on 11th October 1955 for £20. Rector Revd. Edwards of Moreton took the service, with others on a rotation basis until they found someone else more permanent.
The curate to Revd. Edwards, the Revd. R. Jeacock, was proposed, but the Bishop had someone else in mind. The parishioners objected strongly; thus Revd. R. Jeacock got the position when he was ordained. A house was purchased for the Reverend for £500 in August 1956 and was sited on Reeds Lane by the River Birket and called 'Birketside'.
The Hall-cum-Church had a screen at the back which was raised on Sundays to reveal the Altar. When it was lowered it reversed to a Hall which was used for all activities.
It was decided to form a Church Building Committee with the intention of erecting a new Church. The Committee was formed in November 1956 and a Building Fund Account was opened at the Midland Bank in November 1957. On 16th May 1961, permission was asked for and given by the Pastoral Committee with a £7,000 loan from the Diocese. By then they had over £5,000 in the Building Fund so things moved on. A Contract was signed on 6th September 1965 with the builders. The foundation stone was laid on Sunday, 1st May 1966 by the Lord Bishop of Chester, Right Revd. G.A Ellison. The consecration was on 6th May 1967 which was also performed by Right Revd. G.A Ellison. The total cost of building the new church totalled £37,634.
The first Parish Mass was held on Sunday, February 3rd, 1957, when the Parish Priest said the first Mass in the hall of the Birket Infants School. In April 1957, a house was bought on the Leasowe estate for a temporary Presbytery, where daily mass was said and the Sanctuary lamp was lit. It was decided a new Catholic school should be built in the area as well as a new Church. Arthur Farebrother and Partners, of Manchester, were commissioned to draw up plans.
The Catholic Church of 'Our Lady of Lourdes' was built on 2½ acres which was reserved by the Local Authority. After a delay the land was bought for £3,000 in 1959, except for a small strip of frontage which was acquired by March 1960. The builders Tyson's Ltd, of Liverpool, moved onto the site and the work began. Owing to the bad bearing quality of the land, extensive piling was necessary to a depth of 30 feet which added well over £7,000 to the estimated cost. The foundation stone was laid on Saturday, 7th October 1961 and the Church opened in 1962.