Trinity United Reformed Church, St Albans

A short history of Trinity


In the beginning

At the end of the nineteenth century there was a national call for more and bigger churches. The Independent Chapel in Spicer Street, the only Congregational Church in St Albans at that time, had grown and needed a larger building.

A special Church meeting in November 1896 made the great decision to purchase this site and build a new church. With the enthusiastic support of minister Rev. William Carson and the deacons, including the well-known Samuel Ryder, the Church voted in 1901 to build a 900-seat church at a cost of £8173.

The opening ceremony on October 8th, 1903 was an occasion of great rejoicing. After a civic lunch in the Town Hall with the Mayor, Councillors, local dignitaries and Church representatives, the whole company moved in procession down Victoria Street where the doors were formally unlocked by Sir George Williams, the treasurer of the YMCA.


 The first years

Trinity’s second minister Frank Wheeler was appointed in 1907 and remained until the start of the First World War when he left to serve as an Army chaplain. During these early years, many organisations, including Bible classes, Ladies' working party, Young People's Guild, a Literature Society, and the Band of Hope were formed.

The Church was clearly a hive of cultural activity for its members as well as a spiritual powerhouse. This seems to have been a fairly normal pattern for any thriving church in the days before cinemas, radio and television.

  

The 20s and 30s

Mr. Morton Barwell made a great impact on Church life during his ministry in the twenties and thirties. A Young People's Fellowship was formed, with more than 60 members, and in 1927 came the opening of the Faulkner Memorial Hall in Victoria Street. Built to accommodate the ever-growing Sunday school, the opening was celebrated over 3 days with an Exhibition and Tableaux. In October 1928, a new branch of the Sunday school was opened in a school building in Camp Road for children in that area.

By 1934 the membership had reached 391 and it was reported at the 1935 annual meeting that the Sunday school children numbered over 200. In most years during the thirties, the Church organised Garden Parties in the summer and Bazaars in the late autumn, and which not only raised funds, but also provided opportunities for people to work together. An innovation in 1935 was the opening of a Junior Church in the parlour on Sunday mornings.

 

Half a century

Trinity celebrated its first 50 years in 1953, at the start of Mr Francis Dixon's ministry. A few of those who remembered the opening of the Church in 1903 were present, including Mrs Ryder, the widow of Samuel Ryder, who cut the cake which had been decorated with 50 candles.

The social gathering on Saturday October 10th in the Faulkner Hall was the culmination of a week of festivities, and the hall was full to overflowing. The various sections of the Church took part; the ladies produced a pageant and the Sunday School a demonstration of their work. The choir sang Mendelssohn's 'Hymn of Praise', the deacons staged a comic revue and the Young People's Fellowship performed a play.


The 60s and 70s

In the sixties there was a growing feeling that Christian Education was not just for children in Sunday Schools, but should be part of normal Sunday worship for adults too.

With this in mind, Trinity’s pattern of worship underwent major change during the ministry of the Revd John Reardon. When children went to departments, adults also entered 45 minutes of engaging with each other through discussion, questioning, project work, visual aids, prayer and meditation, as well as through the sermons.

This approach was very popular with some, and very uncomfortable to others.

However, the experiment continued until 1973, when ‘Worship in the Round’ was introduced. This allowed worshippers to choose between a traditional preaching service and a more participative approach, with the two groups joining together for the second part of the service.

This pattern provided Trinity with a lively, stimulating style of worship, which, with occasional modifications, survived until the mid 1990s.


Flames

In 1981 Trinity was being extensively renovated and modernized when   it was reduced to a roofless shell by fire. The congregation had already decamped to Marlborough Road Methodist Church and its services were held early in the morning before the Methodist service.


The congregation continued to get up early and worship together while Trinity was rebuilt. The church and its congregation were supported at that time by its minister the Reverend David Tatem and a very able team of elders.


Out of the Ashes

Out of the ashes came the opportunity to develop the building further than originally planned. The Reverend John Sutcliffe led the church in responding to local social concerns. Various charities had offices in the church at a time when office space was scarce and expensive. A Bangladeshi women's group met and a drop in centre with kitchen and laundry facilities opened for homeless families forced out of their bed and breakfast accommodation during the day.


On 12th May 1986 the Trinity Day Centre opened its doors employing two members of staff and supported by volunteers from the church and wider community. The day centre continues to provide support to vulnerable adults.



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A series of photographs of The Faulkner Hall, kindly  given by Edward Crocker who used to play badminton there. These photos were taken in the late 1970s as the hall stopped being used and started to be demolished. The site is now an office block.