Salem Baptist Church
We are very grateful to all the people in the past who have taken the time to write their accounts over the years of Salem Baptist Church Romford
This is by no means an exhaustive account of our history, but we are very grateful to all the people in the past who have taken the time to write their accounts over the years of Salem Baptist Church Romford down on paper. We have not changed any of the content and have kept it in its original form as it is in the booklet.
A short summary of our history:
Although the original idea to form a church of the Baptist Denomination was first mooted in 1833 by a Godly Man (I R Ward), he was unavoidably prevented.
Through a series of personal tragedies, including the death of his wife, the plan was postponed until May 1834 when a room was opened for prayer on Wednesday evenings.
On the 15th March 1835, this ministry was extended to include Sunday morning worship. It was not until the 13th May 1836 that the church was finally and officially formed.
There can be no doubt there were no rich people among the founder members. What is obvious is that individually, they were very ordinary, humble God-fearing folk with a love for Jesus and His Gospel, they wished to communicate to the then, gross darkness engulfing their benighted town of Romford.
From the Inaugural Church Minutes of 1836 one is impressed by their faith, their humility, their love for Jesus and each other.
Certainly, we have nothing of which to be ashamed in the Christian character and courage of our brothers and sisters in Christ, who in obedience to a heavenly compulsion founded our church 176 years ago.
During that time in the process of ministering to their fellow citizens in Romford, it has witnessed the coronation of Kings and Queens, social and political upheaval, three wars. In the World War II it had the distinction of being the only church in Romford that did not close its doors for Sunday worship throughout, in spite of their air raids and the church hall suffering a direct hit by two incendiary bombs.
In 1936 the majority of church members relocated to new buildings in Main Road. The minority who remanded did so because they saw the necessity to retain a Gospel witness on their historic ‘Salem’ site in the London
Thank you for your interest in buying this book. Every book that is published has a story to tell. This story tells of God’s hand in the lives of many hundreds of people down through the years – in Romford and beyond.
From the founders down to the present day members of Salem has sought to proclaim Jesus Christ to the world. This is the old, old story that is always new. New churches have been founded; missionaries and pastors sent out; young people sent to Bible Colleges for training; all with a view to glorifying our Lord and extending the kingdom of God.
We, at Salem, look to the future knowing that “times have changed”, but also knowing that “Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today and forever.” His message is the same. We go forward into the future with many exciting projects and much to accomplish, but still keeping in our mind our Lord’s commission to “go into all the world and preach the gospel.”
I commend this book to you, not just as Salem’s Pastor, but because I hope that as you read this story of our Lord’s love and mercy through the years to the present day you can, with us, offer to Him praise and thanksgiving for 150 years as a church.
(Salem’s minister in the war years)
The story of Salem Baptist Church, Romford, is one that testifies to the faithfulness of God to His people and the faithfulness of His people to their God.
I have just been re-reading the centenary souvenir of the Church which was compiled in 1936 by my late friend and colleague, Rev. Victor J. Smith. It makes good reading! How greatly honoured I feel that the present pastor and officers of Salem have invited me to contribute a foreword to this new brochure setting forth the work in London Road, Romford, during the last one hundred and fifty years. Most warmly do I commend this record concerning “the church of my first love!”
It is impossible to forget the first Sunday of September 1939 when, as pastor designate, I was supplying the pulpit for the day. (It turned out to be the first Sunday of a nine years’ partnership as pastor and people, though I was not ordained and inducted until the October!) In the middle of the morning service Britain went to war with Hitler’s Germany, and the air-raid alert sounded ominously! That night Salem was the only church in Romford to hold an evening service, and throughout the grim days of World War II when we were virtually in the “front line”, morning and evening worship was held without a single omission. The LORD watched over us and kept us all safely – even though sometimes it was daylight before we could leave the building and make our way homeward!
At this distance of time, the memory of the love, loyalty and courage of the congregation, and especially of the young people who accompanied me (frequently “under fire” from the air) to conduct services in the public air-raid shelters, is both fragrant and precious.
The first nine years of my pastoral ministry were spent at Salem, and I am grateful for the patience and understanding of its people – and the abundance of encouragement they gave to a young, nervous and inexperienced pastor. Since my wife and I left Romford for Carley Street Baptist Church in Leicester in 1948, our affection for Salem and its people has remained in our hearts these thirty-eight years; the unbroken bond of friendship and fellowship in the LORD Jesus Christ continues in 1986 as strong and deep as ever.
My prayers are with Pastor Colin Phillips and his wife, and with all in the Salem family, as the Church enters upon its 151st year of work for the Kingdom of God. May the witness continue as in the past – in true Bible preaching and exposition; in the proclamation of the old-fashioned (gospel, which is still the power of God unto salvation lo those who repent and believe; and in evangelistic outreach according to the standards of the Word of God and the majesty of His glorious Person!
“I thank my God upon every remembrance of you, always in ever prayer of mine for you all making request with joy, for your fellowship in the (gospel from the first day until now; being confident of this very thing, that He which hath begun a good work in you will perform it until the day of Jesus Christ.” (Philippians 1:3- 6)
Ivan S Milsted
Pastor, Kelso Baptist Church
This short account of Salem Baptist Church, situated in Romford’s London Road, does not attempt to cover every aspect of the Church’s history and work over the last 150 years in minute detail. This work concentrates on the last 50 years – the years since the formation of the ‘new’ Salem.
A detailed history of Salem’s first 100 years may be found in Kenneth D Duffin’s excellent work, “Fifty Years On”, which was published by Romford Baptist Church, Main Road in 1984, to commemorate their Golden Jubilee.
The ‘Salem Story’ starts on Friday May 13th, 1836, when five men and three women met in the school-room at the Queen’s Head Yard situated in Romford’s Market Place. It was at this meeting that those present agreed to form themselves into a church of the Baptist persuasion which was recognised by the South West Essex Baptist Association of Churches in July of the same year.
Thomas Kendall was appointed the first minister of the Church. In 1840 the original Trust Deed of Salem Chapel was drawn up, this was the deed on which the ‘new’ Salem of 1936 was founded. Salem Chapel stands on land which formerly was part of the old Napoleonic Barrack Ground. Hence the name for the nearby Waterloo Road. The land was auctioned in 1839, and in the following year the purchaser, a Mr. George Gould, himself a Baptist, on sold two plots fronting the London Road for the erection of a Baptist Chapel. The land was purchased and fenced for the sum of £300 which was raised by way of a mortgage. The original meeting room, (now the Church Parlour) was built and opened in July 1840.
The book “Poems” by Widow Jacob records the following which surely must be an example of the utmost faith in God to us all.
“The authoress of the following poems was born in 1811 of respectable parents named Blackaby, at Hadham, in the Bishops Stortford district. At eighteen years of age she was brought to the knowledge of the truth as it is in Jesus … On removing to Romford was for some time cook in the household of Vipond Ind, Esq… She married in 1845, and was left a widow in 1862 … She is now in receipt of parochial relief, and in the hope that sale of these little books may help to support her declining years they are printed; not, however, from any wish of her own. “A strong desire to do something for Him who had brought her ‘out of darkness, into his marvellous light’ ” led her, in 1843, to undertake a journey to collect funds for the then proposed Salem Chapel, Romford. This journey was accomplished entirely on foot, in the course of which she travelled as far as Manchester often footsore and weary; but upheld by strong faith, she persevered and collected £100, which was duly passed to the credit of the building fund. ”
Some of the poems in the book tell of incidents which occurred on her journey.
The money raised by Elizabeth Blackaby helped towards the erection of the present chapel which opened in 1847. Many members may not realise that the chapel had an open-air Baptistery, and that the Chapel in which they now worship was built around that Baptismal Pool.
The membership in the early 1840’s was small, but it is to God’s praise that they had the vision to build a chapel which seated 400 people, and still serves as a Baptist place of worship to this day.
The church then passed through the ministries of Rev. Ebenezer Davis, Rev. Standen Pearce and Rev. John Gibbs.
The St. Andrews and the Old School, near the Church Hall. Note the Old Windmill.
School-Room was opened during the ministry of Rev. Joseph Davis who was succeeded by Rev. J. M. Steven (1879-1913). During the ministry of Rev. Edmund Rusling (1914-1921) a fund was opened for a new church building. In 1910 a few members started the work at Pretoria Road Mission Hall (now Mawneys Baptist Church).
Rev. John Ewing commenced his Ministry early in 1922. The growing membership, together with the Sunday school was really beginning to stretch the space available at the London Road premises. One present day member recalls that before the opening of the Main Road Church it was necessary to arrive at Salem by 5.45pm, for the 6.30pm service to be reasonably certain of finding a seat! People were forced to sit in the aisles and even on the Pulpit steps in order to participate in the service.
It was in 1924 that Salem, under the guidance of John Ewing, decided to buy a plot of land in Main Road at the top of the Market Place. (The construction of the Ring Road has made the Main Road Church seem more remote from the Market Place.)
It was now that serious fund raising had to begin to enable a church to be erected on the land which had been purchased. John Ewing did not see his vision of the new Church come to fruition owing to his emigration to Western Australia in 1927. Early 1928 saw the commencement of the Pastorate of the Rev. Stephen Madden. During his ministry membership increased from 255 to 356 people m 1932. By the end of 1930 there was £2,154/18/4d in the building fund, and it was at this time that it was agreed to draw up plans and begin the erection of the new church.
Stephen Madden fell led to leave Salem in 1932 and was succeeded in mid1933 by Rev. Victor J. Smith whose ministry saw the completion of the building work, the opening of the Main Road Church, and the re-formation of Salem as a separate fellowship, But this is where our story really begins!
It had been the intention when the new church was completed all members of Salem should move to the new building. However, when the Main Road Church was opened in September 1934 it was agreed that the Salem premises would continue to be used for Sunday School work, weeknight services, young people’s meetings and other such services as may be arranged. In addition, for a trial period of six months, a regular Sunday evening service was to be held at Salem. The position to be reviewed at the end of that period. Mr. Dickinson was appointed to act as Superintendent.
In June 1935 it was agreed that the services at Salem should continue, with the addition of a further service on Sunday mornings at 11am. December of the same year saw the following recommendation to the Church Meeting from those worshipping at Salem: “The organisation and equipment of a new church and Sunday School at Main Road Romford being now an accomplished fact, we, the under mentioned at present in membership with the Romford Baptist Church, submit that it is in the best interest of the Baptist work and witness in Romford that the Salem Church, London Road should again be constituted as a self-governing Baptist Church under the original Trust Deeds. As a first step towards this goal we request that the General Church Meeting sanction the formation of a Salem membership, which shall have power to elect its own officers and diaconate.
“We suggest that the Centenary celebrations in May 1936 be a suitable occasion for the final Constitution of our two self-governing Baptist Churches and that in the interim all our members should work in a kindly and a prayerful co-operation to this end”.
This letter was signed by 17 members. After discussion this motion was carried.
Continued use of the London Road buildings made the matter of decoration and repair of Salem Church and schoolroom a necessity. Various estimates were obtained and Messrs. Wood and Wren were instructed to carry out the work, the cost being met from a Centenary fund which had been set up for this purpose. Any deficit on the fund at the end of 1936 was to be covered by Main Road Church.
On Wednesday June 3rd, 1936, Salem Baptist Church once again became recognised as a separate entity governed by the Trust Deed of 1840. Three weeks later the first meeting of church members since the reconstitution of Salem as a separate and self-supporting body took place, and its outlook and aspirations were discussed. On the Centenary Wednesday a “Gift Day” was held at Salem, followed by a united prayer meeting led by Rev. Victor Smith. Further meetings were held at Main Road, the chairman being Rev. Stephen Madden, a former Salem Pastor.
The first concern of the church was its Pastoral need and it was early in 1937 that Rev. James Emblem of Liverpool was called to the Pastorate of the new Salem.
Rev & Mrs Emblem – One member – small at the time remembers Mr Emblem playing “God is still on the throne” on a small piano accordion.
The recognition service was arranged for April 1st, 1937 and as some of the desired speakers could not attend only an evening meeting was held. Shortly before this a two week Evangelistic Mission was led by Mr. Emblem, when a number of people became Christians.
In 1936 the installation of an electric blower for the organ had been completed, the cost having been subscribed by members. Early in 1937, panelling of the wall behind the pulpit, in oak to match the hymn boards and memorial, was provided by an anonymous friend. The end of 1937 saw the installation of a large capacity gas water heater for the baptistery.
Following the departure of Mr. Emblem in July 1938 members began to search for a new Pastor as they were certain that Salem had a great future. It was around this time that Main Road Church was asked to take over one aspect of Salem’s outreach, this being the meeting held at the Workmen’s Lodging House almost next to Cotton’s Recreation Ground. This work was again taken up by Salem in the war years. A member recalls ‘the air being thick with smoke and the smell of cooking kippers’.
The church’s activities continued until the outbreak of war when our story enters a new chapter.
A Pre-war Salem Football Team. What a determined looking bunch!
It had been unanimously agreed to invite Mr. Ivan Milsted to be Salem’s next Pastor. The date of his ordination and recognition was fixed for October 5th 1939. However, Britain declared war on Germany on Sunday morning September 3rd, 1939. Mr. Milsted was supplying Salem’s pulpit and in fact during the morning service the first air raid alert of the war was sounded. This turned out to be a false alarm. The first day of war, became the first day of Mr. Milsted’s ministry as the Deacons felt the need for immediate pastoral care in view of the uncertainties of the future.
Rev. & Mrs. Milsted with their Daughter Gillian (1956 approx.)
During the whole of the wartime period there was not one Sunday on which a service was not held at Salem, and in fact it was the only local church to hold an evening service, although owing to blackout constraints this was sometimes brought forward to teatime. The war certainly provided many opportunities for gospel outreach; regular services being held in the air raid shelters in the park opposite, in the High Street beneath the Brewery and in North Street under Silcocks Radio Shop. The young people of the time recall that following the evening service they took the harmonium down into the shelters for a service, returning to a member’s house in Richards Avenue for baked potatoes and cocoa. It also fell to some of the members and young people to take turns fire watching at the church. The Minutes record the purchase of the necessary camp beds and blankets. A.R.P. fire buckets and an electric lamp were also obtained. A certain amount of damage was caused to the church although it fortunately never sustained a direct hit, the main damage being to the schoolroom and the glass in various windows. It was also a flourishing time for the church organisations, the missionary effort was once again put on a working basis and the choir re-formed. 1940 saw the recommencement of the 1st Romford Girls Life Brigade, and in 1943 a new Boys’ Brigade company was formed.
Although times were difficult, with most of the church powers being delegated to the Pastor and officers, time was still found to hold united open air witness in Romford, and to arrange crusade meetings. One of these crusades was held during the Easter week of 1942, led by Mr Roy Hession. It was recorded that this was a great success, with a number of ‘decisions for Christ’ being made, and many Christians receiving blessing.
The members in the forces were not forgotten with parcels being sent to them at Christmas time. The church also continued the Sunday School work at Dagenham Road until July 1944 when enemy action and the evacuation of the children from the area resulted in its closure.
Late in 1943 Rev. Milsted was appointed Mayor’s Chaplain. The Civic Sunday Service was held on November 14th, 1943 at Salem. May I944 saw the honour of the position of Free Church Chaplain to Oldchurch hospital being accorded to Rev. Milsted. It was the beginning of a long association between the hospital and Salem, nurses services later being held in the church, and an Oldchurch Sister becoming the Pastor’s wife.
The 108th Anniversary Services in May 1944 were also a memorable occasion, tea table talks being given not only by local Ministers but also by the Mayor of Romford Ald. C. E. Smart. Tea was followed by an organ recital by Aubrey Hood, who left later in the year for Cambridge University. Community hymn singing preceded the evening meeting which was led by Rev. Victor Smith. The address was given by Rev. Tom Shepherd of Southend. The Sunday service was also memorable, the preacher being the Rt. Hon. Ernest Brown P.C., M.P. The church was filled to capacity for both services. The Mayor of Romford and his Council were present and the Mayor read the lesson.
It was about this time that the hall suffered further damage from enemy action. An application was made to the Council for alternative accommodation for the youth movements, and the possibility of the use of London Road School (Crowlands) for this purpose was made but did not come to fruition.
Approval for repairs to the damage was given, but the Ministry of Works refused permission to proceed until house repairs were completed.
By the end of the war, although two families connected with the church lost their homes completely, and the church windows were twice blown out, as well as the schoolroom being partly wrecked by fire, not one of the fellowship sustained anything more serious than grazes, bruises and temporary shock. The church was opened for prayer on the day of ‘Declaration of Peace’ and three services were held on the following day. The war years were a time of great fellowship to church members, drawing them closer to God, and proved a time of blessing for all the youth organisations in the church.
In August 1945 the death of Mrs. French, who had been a member of Salem since 1890, is recorded.
The church continued to look forward. Within weeks of the ending of hostilities, a plan for the future outreach had been agreed. Proposals were made for an evangelistic rally by the young people and additional prayer meetings. A men’s meeting was started on Monday evenings, the aim being to “win by God’s help, men for the Lord Jesus Christ”. Unfortunately, just over a year later it was reported that this meeting had ceased to function owing to lack of support.
In August 1946 a campaign was held, led by the Rev. Ivor Powell. This had been well advertised in the local press, and also by Rev. Milsted walking up and down South Street wearing a sandwich board telling everyone about the campaign. It was as a result of this strange sight that one member first came to Salem. Action was even taken to see if some form of advertising could be shown on the screen of the local cinema. It was recorded in the Minutes that the campaign was “in accord with the Lord’s will” and there were great expectations in the hearts of those at the meeting. The campaign was later confirmed as being an outstanding success, sixty-seven souls being won for the Lord.
Welcome home teas were held for members returning from the forces, having already received the gift of a copy of “Wayfarer’s Psalter”. Further celebrations were held in 1947 for the Centenary of the Church Building. Rev. Stephen Madden was the speaker for these services.
Mr & Mrs Green set out to advertise the Ivor Powell campaign (1946)
It was at about this time that the young people began open air meetings, which were arranged jointly with the Young People’s Fellowship at Mawneys Baptist Church. These were held on Sunday evenings and alternate Tuesdays. After the evening service they formed up with Rev. Ivan Milsted and others wearing sandwich boards with texts on them and marched around to Regarth Avenue where the open air meeting was held.
During the year it had been agreed that the church should either rent or purchase suitable premises for use as a Manse. It was in September after much prayerful consideration the purchase of 22 Kingsmead Avenue, Romford was agreed. Part of the finance for this was raised by way of a loan from the Baptist Building Fund, and £1,500 was loaned by church members. Mr. Joe Moss the church secretary was prominent in organising this.
In May 1948 Rev. Milsted resigned as Pastor of Salem, (effective from August 31st), having received the call to Carley Street, Leicester Baptist Church. This concluded a period of nine years ministry.
Members again found themselves looking for a new Pastor and much time was spent in prayer for the Lord’s guidance in this important matter. In April 1949 members were led to call Rev. Victor Hensman to the Pastorate. His Ministry commenced with his induction service on June 19th 1949. In October a Thanksgiving Day’ was held to praise God for his wonderful goodness in answering the prayers of the church by providing a Pastor, and to ask the Lord to bless the future work of Salem.
A portrait of Rev. Victor Hensman.
The open-air work continued and Mrs. Wraight presented an amplifier for use at these meetings and other forms of Christian service. As well as proclaiming the Gospel in this way the church also took an interest in the moral welfare of the community. An example of this came in 1950 when it was agreed that a letter protesting against the sale of intoxicating drinks at the Three-Town Show should be written and read at the Magistrates Court. In the event, although a letter had been prepared, no protest was necessary as the licence was not granted.
In addition to the usual weekday meetings, occasional outings were held for members of the fellowship on Bank Holidays. In 1950 a Whit Monday bus trip and ramble to Stevenage was arranged, and on the August Bank Holiday a coach trip to Dymchurch was organised.
The first few months of Rev. Hensman’s Ministry also saw some decoration and renovation to the church, including the painting of the baptistery and the purchase of new floor covering, for which purpose a special fund raising effort was made. Repairs to the roof again became necessary, and even at this stage (1951) £20 of the cost was met by the War Damage Commission. Concern was expressed by the Pastor regarding the outstanding debt for the purchase of the Manse; it was agreed then that the Manse expenses become the responsibility of the church, rather than being charged to the Manse Fund to enable the loans to be repaid.
Members at Salem took an interest in the work which was beginning on the new L.C.C housing estate at Harold Hill. They were asked to pray for the provision of a Minister and a new church for the estate
At this time the pulpit was in the front right hand corner of the church, and in 1953 much discussion took place on the question of moving the pulpit as Rev. Hensman believed it should be in the centre of the church as this would symbolise the centrality of the preaching of the Word of God. As a result in July 1953 it was agreed that the pulpit would be moved from the corner of the church and placed in the centre, in front of the organ.
The work at Harold Hill continued but the sum of £13,000 was still required and there was a great need for prayer and practical help. The stone laying at Harold Hill took place early in 1954 and Salem’s former minister, Rev. Victor Smith, representing the local Baptist churches, laid the stone on their behalf. Rev. Hensman at this time being asked to serve on the committee.
1954 saw the Billy Graham Crusade and a number of trips were arranged by Mr. Follett to Harringay. In April of the following year Main Road Baptist Church received relays of the Billy Graham Crusade being held in Glasgow, and Salem’s members were invited to attend.
Open-air work continued and in 1954 the possibility of broadcasting the evening service was raised using equipment donated by Mr. Wraight. The police were approached and said they would not object provided there was no congestion on the roadway.
The late Rev. J.C. Jones M.A. He preached in the first Salem Chapel.
Members were donating money towards the cost of new hymn books and during the course of 1954 some 75 were purchased.
A large number of nurses, mainly from Oldchurch Hospital, were now attending worship at Salem and a special Nurses’ Service was held on October 31st, 1954. A number of similar services were held in succeeding years.
On Christmas Day a joint service with Mawneys Baptist was again held, with a Christmas Social in January 1955 to coincide with the Welcome Home meeting for Douglas and Mary Blunt from their Missionary work in Nigeria. Douglas first went to Nigeria with Sudan Interior Mission in 1927 and has worked with SIM ever since, having in recent years been on the Scottish Committee following a period of service on the Mission’s Executive Committee. Douglas recalls visiting his great-grandfather, Rev. J. C. Jones, MA, who was at that time Pastor of Spalding Baptist Church, and being told that he had preached at Salem when it was a small building behind the present church and that the Baptistery was in the open air. Rev. Jones died on January 14th 1917 at the age of 94.
An old photo of Douglas & Mary Blunt in their Early Missionary Days.
At the end of 1955 a duplicator was purchased for £8 to print church news and items of interest in the “Evangel” magazine, which became bi-monthly instead of quarterly.
On January 21st 1956 Rev. Hensman advised a Deacons’ meeting that he had visited a church in Oxhey, near Watford, where he had received the call to be Pastor of that church. He believed this to be the call of God and his ministry at Salem would end after about three months. The farewell service was held on Saturday April 26th 1956 with a tea followed by talks from local Ministers. One hundred and thirty people sat down to tea. At the evening service the speaker was Rev. Ralph Nurse, and during the service members and friends of the church presented a record player to Rev. Hensman.
The church and deacons once again found themselves looking for a new Pastor, but it was to be another year before they felt led to call a successor to Salem’s pulpit. The Deacons meanwhile undertook many of the Pastor’s responsibilities including visiting the sick. Even without a Minister church members continued Salem’s outreach and Mr. Joe Moss wrote in the March/April 1957 “Evangel”: “love of God and the Salvation of Jesus Christ has been openly and fearlessly proclaimed and all have heard and have had an opportunity of accepting God’s forgiveness and grace. We are glad that the proclaiming of the Word of Life is also made in the open-air. Some of our young people often assemble themselves in the Market Place and some good contacts have been made…. It is grand to see the young men taking their part in the life and work of the church. It is only thus that the church of Christ on earth will go forward.”
The decoration of the church was again becoming of some concern and the Fabric Committee suggested that the church parlour could be redecorated by church members. Other work on the church and schoolroom would be required later. A decoration fund was set up in order that this work could be carried out.
At this time Mr Joe Moss moved from the area and resigned as church secretary. Mr Harry Hall took over as secretary with Ted Baxter replacing him as Church Treasurer.
In May 1957 it was agreed to invite the Rev. P. E. Broad of Willenhall to the Pastorate, the induction services taking place on the October 19th 1957. After Rev. Broad had settled in, Harry Hall retired from his work and moved to Bishops Stortford and Ian Simms was appointed church secretary in his place. It was at this time that the Pastor of the church became an authorised person for marriage services, the necessary fire-resistant safe to hold the legal documents being purchased by Mr. Broad.
A Church Panorama, during which each organisation presented an item depicting an aspect of its work, was held in February 1958, in place of the formal annual church meeting. A brief report followed each item.
Thanks were given early in 1958 for the clearance of the Manse debt, which had been outstanding for some time.
Rev. P.E. Broad
A committee was formed to oversee the evangelistic enterprise and Saturday evening monthly rally at Salem. Arrangements were also commenced for a campaign by Rev. Bill Bathman of the U.S.A. for eight days in November 1958. Special prayer meetings were held during the months prior to the campaign. A Civic Service commenced campaign week, with Mr. Percy Jiggins of Main Road acting as Chairman. Visitation of the local area was undertaken and advertising leaflets distributed.
An architectural survey of the church had been carried out and it was obvious that a great deal of work was required. Very little had been done since the founding of Main Road and a target of £1,000 was set for the first three years, this being the estimated cost of various external repairs and repainting. A review of the Trustees of the church was undertaken as only two of those appointed in 1916 were still alive, and it was agreed to appoint a further twenty. An Induction and Recognition service for the new Trustees took place on September 19th 1959.
Discussions during the year regarding the oversight of Mawneys Baptist Church led to Rev. Broad being appointed Moderator.
1957 (approx.) June Gooding is Baptised by Mr. Broad.
1959 saw the continuation of the tradition of Easter and Harvest cantatas being sung by the church choir, not only at Salem but also at other churches such as Chase Cross Baptist and Oxlow Lane, Dagenham.
The Primary Sunday School Anniversary (1959 or 1960)
Already the church was looking forward to 1961, the 125th Anniversary year, and arrangements were made for the four previous Ministers to preach at various services during the year. The possibility of a church history being written at that time was contemplated but was never carried out.
The Rev. D. Blunt was appointed an Elder in 1960, following a revision of the church constitution.
1961 certainly emerged as a year of great activity amongst the fellowship at Salem. The actual Anniversary Day was held on May 10th 1961 following much publicity and visitation in the locality. The Rev. George Bird of Ipswich was the speaker at the Anniversary Day service.
During the course of the year the Boys Brigade District Battalion Founders Day parade was held at Salem, the speaker being, the Viscount Alexander.
Rev. Broad recalls that the “church was crowded with young men who listened to this great politician simply testifying of Jesus Christ. He explained how in World War One he had been stationed with the London Rifle Brigade Gidea Park and how Salem had opened their arms to him and other members of the forces”. Another outstanding service was one evening when many of the couples who had been married at Salem came together to give thanks to God for his blessing on their lives together.
New block of flats had been erected on the Waterloo Road estate and a programme of visitation by members took place. Some of these flats replaced houses which were married quarters for Boer War soldiers.
1962 saw a new look for the Evangel, the church magazine, under its new editor Mr. Fred Allen. The Young People’s Fellowship recommenced, as did the open-air work in the form of a short witness on the church forecourt following the evening service. A tent campaign was held in Chadwell Heath which was visited by Salem’s members and was the main theme of the Wednesday prayer meetings prior to the campaign. A programme of evangelistic films and rallies was arranged for the winter of 1962-63, with occasional informal gatherings following the Sunday evening service.
1963 also saw the appointment of Rev. Broad as Mayor’s Chaplain to Mr. Hawkesworth. This was the second occasion on which a Salem Pastor had been granted the honour, Rev. Milsted having held the position in 1943, twenty years earlier.
Another position held by both of these Pastors was that of Free Church Chaplain at Oldchurch Hospital. Not only did this involve visiting the patients in the hospital, but also brought a number of nurses into the fellowship at Salem, among these were Susan Scott, who became a missionary in Brazil, and Dorothy Mount and Phyllis Rigden-Green (nee Powell) who both went to India with B.M.S. A further coincidence between these Pastors is that both were married to Nursing Sisters – Rev. Milsted having met his future wife at Oldchurch Hospital.
The programme of renovation work to the church was commenced with the initial phases undertaken, and a car park with a new entrance to it was made from St. Andrews Road. This was considered necessary in view of proposed local redevelopment.
In 1963 serious consideration had to be given to the condition of the church buildings as dry rot had been found in both chapel and schoolroom and the front stonework was in bad condition. There was much discussion amongst both church and deacons as to whether the existing buildings should be renovated or rebuilt, either on the same or another site. Considerable sums of money would be required should members continue to worship in the existing chapel. A meeting was held with the Planning Officer of the local council who was happy to assist the church in making alternative sites known and would raise no objection to removal in view of the graveyard. If the church were to be redeveloped on the existing site increased car parking provision would have to be made. After much discussion it was agreed to stay at the present site. A new Buildings Committee was formed headed by members of the diaconate. Security was becoming a problem owing to vandalism. Much spiritual blessing was received as the church prayed for God’s guidance about the buildings. Members felt the church should now go forward in faith with the work. Plans were drawn up and by November 1965 it was agreed that the time had come for a decision to be made and a special Prayer Meeting was arranged for December 8th to be followed the next day by a special Church Meeting. The Church had around £500 in the building fund and it was agreed that there should be £2000 in hand before asking God’s seal to be given to the plans.
By 1968 it had been decided that a new kitchen and ladies cloakroom were necessary. The estimates for the work were much higher than anticipated. One thousand pounds was now in hand and it was agreed that a concentrated effort had to be made to raise further funds, as the effects of inflation would erode their efforts if the building work was delayed too long. Members were asked to seek the Lord’s will as to what they should do in promising gifts or loans towards the cost of the work. A bank loan was also considered if loans from members were not enough to cover the cost required. The plans to build a new kitchen and ladies toilet in place of the boiler house behind the parlour were approved by Havering Council and arrangements were made to tender for a builder. The work would involve converting the existing ladies’ toilet into the men’s toilet. The cost of this work was in the region of £700, in excess of the funds available. Members were encouraged to give both prayerful and practical support to the venture. A number of loans and gifts were made by members. A substantial gift of £300 meant that by early 1969 gifts and promises were sufficient to cover the cost of the work and it was not necessary for a bank loan to be raised. Work was put in hand almost immediately and was completed by the end of the year. A Thanksgiving Tea for the new buildings was held on January 3rd 1970 with Pastor Broad performing the opening ceremony, former secretary Mr. Ian Sims led the service and Mr. Doug Green chaired the tea.
Having looked at the building work which was completed in 1970 we now resume our story of the work of the church and go back to 1964 when Mr. Ian Sims who had been Church Secretary for a number of years, gave notice of his impending removal from the area, and Mr. Douglas Green was appointed to succeed him.
After much heart-searching, in April 1966 the church withdrew it’s membership of the Baptist Union to which it had been affiliated for many years as some members were concerned about the Union’s stand on certain fundamental doctrinal matters.
During this period the church’s open-air work continued. Special Cantatas and speakers were arranged from time to time in order to further the outreach.
Having been a Deacon for many years, Mr Arthur Wash was appointed an Elder, the opportunity being taken to thank him for his valued and faithful service.
Salem was involved in the 1966 and 1967 Billy Graham Crusades. It was felt that much useful work had been done in visiting and contacting parents of children in the Church organisations during this time.
In 1967 Mr Ted Baxter took over the position of Church Secretary, having been Church treasurer for 16 years, as Mr Douglas Green was leaving the district. In that year one of Salem’s “old boys”, the Rev. Stanley Hall, returned from Dereham, Norfolk to lead the Anniversary services.
Early in 1968 two young people’s clubs were started and held on alternate Saturdays. These were quite well supported and seen as a means of introducing young people to the church. Arrangements were also put in hand for open-air witness near the Waterloo Road flats on the last Sunday of each month, in addition to the services which members led on a rotation basis with other local churches in hospitals and old people’s homes.
The Church Constitution had remained unchanged for many years and in 1970 a new draft constitution was put before members for their consideration. Much of the work was carried out by Mr Fred Allen, who was also for a time Church Treasurer. The Basis of Faith remained the same as before, the changes mainly dealing with the conduct of church business and discipline. After much discussion the revised constitution was adopted in May 1970, with one or two amendments following in later years.
The end of 1970 saw the winding up of the afternoon Sunday School owing to the small numbers of children attending. Over the years there had become a greater tendency for the children of non church members to attend in the morning and for them to be taken out on Sunday afternoons. The Bible Class continued in the afternoon and the main Sunday School meetings were held at the same time as the morning Service. The Thursday Youth Club continued to bring in new members, many of whom were attending Youth Fellowship on Sunday evenings.
A committee had been formed to consider the church hymn books which needed replacing. A number of different books were considered and it was agreed to purchase the New Baptist Hymn Book, as it was both scripturally sound and used familiar tunes. This work was supervised by Mr Les Hill.
Discussions were held with Mawneys Baptist Church regarding the possibility of the formation of a joint fellowship. Although some detailed conclusions were reached, these plans never came to fruition
Pastor Broad was called to the work of Portal House Fellowship in October 1972. This was a work amongst drug addicts and other needy people. January 1st 1973 saw the closure of another chapter in Salem’s work following Pastor Broad’s fifteen years ministry.
The church had not been affiliated to a wider fellowship for a number of years and there was a feeling amongst members that now the church was without a Pastor it should consider either rejoining the Baptist Union or becoming a member of the Fellowship of Independent Evangelical Churches (FIEC), and so it was that, following talks from both organisations, Salem became affiliated to the FIEC.
It was about this time that another Salem ‘old boy’ came back on the scene. Colin Phillips, who had attended Salem as a young lad before moving from the district with his parents, returned to Romford. Colin had attended Moorlands Bible College with his wife, Jenny and Jill Fountaine. All three had felt led by the Lord to work in small local churches lacking in resources and leadership and thus destined to decline. They had worked at a small Evangelical church in Southbourne under the auspices of Europe for Christ, a missionary society they had founded. The three then offered to help at Salem until a new Pastor was found. This was the foundation of their interest in literature work; a stall was set up in Romford Market Place to sell Christian Books with a loan of £28.50 from Salem. This work soon mushroomed and two bookshops were set up, one in Sittingbourne, Kent, the other in Victoria Road, Romford, where Jill continues to work as Manageress. In the early days of their work the three were invited to occupy Salem’s manse and undertook evangelical work, with Colin leading services at Salem on a regular basis. In 1975 Europe for Christ co-ordinated its first Summer mission team. 30 young Americans came over through Greater Europe Mission and stayed in the church’s halls for the three weeks. This was the first of many such groups that have been based at Salem, although later groups have slept at the YMCA – slightly more comfortable than Salem’s floorboards! The work carried out included visitation, open-airs, children’s and youth meetings. Some of these young people have gone into full-time Christian work. Two, Joan Drake and Janet Morgan returned to England following their stays with the summer teams and worked at Salem for three years, assisting with the bookshops and teaching both children and young people. They later worked in Portmadoc then became seconded to Mission to London, following which Joan married and returned to the States, Janet taking up a post with Scripture Union.
1975 saw a Campaign organised by Havering Evangelical Fellowship and led by Mr Dick Saunders at Central Park, Harold Hill. Many of Salem’s members were involved in this work, not only in prayer but also as Counsellors, stewards and so on. Others were members of the Way to Life Choir which was formed as part of the Crusade and continues today with a number of Salemite choristers.
A number of people connected with, or brought along by those at Salem were converted or came forward for re-dedication at the Campaign meetings. Much follow-up work took place.
It was also at this time that Colin Phillips was elected a deacon at Salem.
The problems of repairs and renovations to the church fabric still loomed large and members became aware that it was possible that in the region of £10,000 would be required to carry out the work. Early in 1974 the Buildings Secretary reminded members that various estimates for the works had been received as far back as 1963, but had been rejected owing to the financial difficulties.
Further plans for quite substantial work had been drawn up by Messrs Wiggins and Company which consisted of two phases costing a total of almost £12,000. This was of course a large sum to be raised but members felt that the time had come for a substantial effort to be made to have this work done as to ignore the problems would have resulted in the buildings becoming unfit for use. Suggestions for raising the money included personal loans from members, covenant schemes and other similar ideas. The plans were submitted to the Council for approval and other sources of funds were investigated.
By early 1975 it became plain that the raising of these monies would take longer than first envisaged, and a loan from the FIEC was secured. A few weeks later the deacons were advised that the church’s prayers had been answered as a large sum had been bequeathed to Salem by the late Mrs B E Smith. This enabled further work to be considered and plans were submitted for the building of two vestries and a vestibule under the gallery.
These plans were accepted and at the same time it was decided to carry out further external works. When these were carried out the old gates and pillars from the front of the church were donated to Upminster Tithe Bam Agricultural & Folk Museum where they are still on display. They are of particular interest having been manufactured by Wedlake and Dendy at their Hornchurch foundry. Very few examples of their work still survive. Following completion of the works, which included the installation of a new heating system, a text was placed on the wall of the church with a plaque in the vestibule as a memorial to Mrs B E Smith whose bequest had been a real answer to prayer and had enabled Salem to survive as a place of worship. Despite these improvements an old building such as Salem still requires much maintenance and repair and is of constant concern to both deacons and members.
Saturday September 20th 1975 saw an extra special Harvest Thanksgiving Weekend with a service to give thanks to God for the completion of the works on the hall. Rev. Norman Wright of Main Road Baptist was in the chair and other local ministers were invited to participate.
At a church meeting in May 1976 it was agreed to appoint Colin Phillips as Minister at Salem with effect from the following month. The induction services took place in September. Mr. Phillips was confirmed as Minister having undertaken many of the pastoral duties for some time and with his co-workers had forwarded the work at Salem. It was agreed to rejoin the Essex Baptist Association and on July 9th 1980 Salem was given a standing ovation when it was announced at the Association’s meeting that Salem was rejoining.
A series of studies were undertaken on effectively communicating the Gospel, based on the Fishers’ Fellowship “Time to Advance” course. These were held on Wednesday evenings in place of the usual Bible Study and helped to encourage personal evangelism by members. The outreach in the area, particularly amongst the children in the Waterloo Road Estate, continued and a children’s mission led by Richard Wright in 1977 was a further example of this work.
Salem Today (early 1986).
In October 1981 Rev. Phillips was appointed President of the East London and West Essex Auxiliary of the FIEC. This was an honour, both for pastor and church, but involved Rev. Phillips being absent from Salem’s pulpit for a number of Sundays during his term of office whilst he preached at other churches in the Auxiliary.
Mention has been made earlier of the problems of finding a new Manse. The threat of the Romford Ring Road passing very close brought this matter to a head. Having been assured by the Council that the Manse would not be directly affected, and in view of the fact that the purchase of a suitable property elsewhere was beyond the financial means of the church it was agreed to modernise and extend the Kingsmead Avenue property.
October 1982 saw the commencement of the Luis Palau Crusade which was to be held the following year under the title Mission to London.
Salem played its part by helping with counselling, nurture groups and door-to-door work.
A minibus had been purchased for the use of the church and was found to be of great benefit, especially to the older folk who were unable to travel easily on public transport or was afraid of being out on the increasingly troubled streets. It has also been useful in the youth work and for visiting other Christian activities. Minibuses have been used for a number of Fellowship holidays both in this country and to Holland and Germany.
In 1981 the church was approached by the Local Health Authority to use part of the church premises for a Mother and Baby Clinic one afternoon a week. This was agreed by members as it would be of service to the community and also a means of contacting parents in the area.
It was at this time that the present church secretary, Mr. Ted Baxter, was appointed an Elder on the recommendation of the Pastor and Deacons.
At the end of 1983 the question of electing lady Deacons was raised. Following a well conducted study from the New Testament much discussion took place on this subject and it was agreed in January 1984 that the constitution be amended to permit the election of lady Deacons. Later that year Miss Jill Fountaine and Miss Susan Millar were the first to be elected to this office.
In 1984 Mr. John Spence, who had just completed his studies at Moorlands Bible College, became a full-time evangelist with Europe for Christ, based at Salem but serving many of the smaller churches in the district. Mr. Spence continued in this position until the summer of 1985 when he was called to a similar post at another church.
Another recent development has been the formation of three home groups held on Tuesday evenings and Thursday mornings. These groups evolved from the Mission to London nurture groups and in their three year existence have proved to be a great success drawing members into closer fellowship.
The summer of 1985 saw Gary and Barbara Seithel join Salem from the United States. Gary’s appointment as Assistant Pastor with special responsibility for discipleship and leadership training was another step forward in Salem’s outreach.
1986 Diaconate: Back Row: Roy Phillips, Don Richardson, Jill Fountaine, Susan Millar. Front Row: Ted Baxter (Church Secretary & Elder) Gary Seithel (Assistant Pastor) Rev. Colin Phillips (Pastor) Victor Jesson.
Mention has been made of Salem’s strong missionary interest over the years. It is pleasing to record that a number of people have gone into missionary service from Salem; others have also gone into the Ministry and other Christian work. The following is a list of many of those who have served the Lord in this way:
Rev. Douglas and Mrs Mary Blunt S.I.M. Nigeria
Miss Alene Cobb (Baldock) S.I.M. Sudan
Miss Dorothy Collingwood C.I.M. Thailand
Miss Phyllis Powell (Rigden-Green) B.M.S. India
Miss Iris Hawkesworth (Blaser) Bible Kiosk, Switzerland
Miss Mary Johnson (Colby) R.S.M.T Eritrea
Miss Eileen Moss Home Mission
Miss Dorothy Mount B.M.S. India
Miss Susan Scott Independent, Brazil
Alene Cobb on the Mission Field April 1959.
Mr. Brian Green Hounslow
Mr. Ray Hall Bridlington
Mr. Stan Hall Dereham
Mr. G.J. Humphrey Ardleigh Green Baptist Church
Mr. Ken Huxtable Rochester
Mr. Len Jiggins
Mr. Leslie A Smith Essex
Douglas & Mary Blunt set sail from Tilbury bound for Lagos, Nigeria.
Christian Workers and Lay Preachers:
Mr. Ted Hall Australia
Miss Susan Millar Europe for Christ
Mr. A. Webster Leicester
Alene Cobb & Iris Hawkesworth before they left for the Mission Field.
Phyllis & Paul Rigden Green (served with BMS).
During the last thirty years oversight of the general missionary interest has been undertaken by only two secretaries – Mrs. L. Wash and Mrs. B. Boon. A regular monthly missionary prayer meeting is held in addition to occasional missionary services.
Space prevents us from saying a great deal about many of our Missionary friends. Mention has already been made of Rev. and Mrs. Blunt’s work.
Dorothy Mount served with BMS in India for many years. A recent picture.
Dorothy Mount first came to Salem at the end of 1938. She met Phyllis Powell, who later married and became Phyllis Rigden- Green, towards the end of her training at Southend General Hospital. It was Phyllis, together with the Harvey family, who brought Dorry to Christ. She was baptised on April 6th 1941.
In 1945 both Phyllis and Dorry were valedicted at Salem following their individual calls to serve God with the Baptist Missionary Society in India. Dorothy served in Orissa, India at the Christian hospital until she retired in 197 when she moved to Lowestoft.
Susan Scott became a Christian on August 7th 1948. She came from Belfast to Oldchurch Hospital to train as a nurse. Every suitable occasion was used to witness to the patients in her care and she well remembers her first patient who accepted Christ in his dying hours. She was then called to work in Brazil, where she has brought some 2,115 babies into the world, looked after patients with leprosy and, more recently, those suffering from cancer. She has helped to build up the church in Brazil led by the local people.
The present hospital at Belo Horizonte was built after the old one collapsed. Susan is training the local Brazilian nurses to run the hospital with Christian care.
Our own country too has not been forgotten with former members, who have moved away from Romford, forming Boys Brigade Companies in Wickford and Witham. Others help to run already established Companies and carry out Christian work in their new churches.
As well as the normal Sunday morning and evening services there were many organisations meeting during the week. These catered for both young and old within the church community and also reached out to those who did not normally attend church. Some organisations have endured the passage of time, others have been somewhat less successful. Mention is made in the church minute book of a Salem cycling club for the youth of the church. The motor car obviously rang the death knell for this particular organisation. Other groups, such as the Women’s Own and the Sunday school, have been meeting since the church re-formed and are still active today.
Over the years the Sunday school has seen many changes in scholars, teachers, teaching methods and meeting times. In the 1930’s when the church was reformed the Sunday school met in the afternoon.
One lady, who was a Sunday school pupil at that time and who still worships at Salem today, recalls. “I first remember coming to Salem when I was 3 years old and going to Sunday School. We used to wait outside the school room until 3 o’clock when the bell rang and we marched in to the tune from Scorpio. I used to go to the Sunday school parties and we went to Cottons recreation ground whilst the tables were being cleared. In the evening we had a proper anniversary celebration in which all the scholars took part. I used to play a piano duet with a friend”.
Another former Sunday school pupil recalls “the highlight of the year was prize giving. We were only allowed three times absent or we did not get a prize”. Another well-remembered occasion was an outing to Clacton when the Sunday school hired a whole train – with tea at the Co-op for 1/6d a head. The venues of the outings were varied, with trips to the seaside or to Whipsnade zoo. Sometimes the destination was only local, but all seemed to have been enjoyed with equal relish.
Mention has been made in an earlier chapter of the Sunday School work in Dagenham Road, Rush Green. This was a joint venture with nearby St. Andrews who had to withdraw in April 1940 as they found it impossible to supply teachers.
By the end of 1942 there were 150 children on the roll, but the Rush Green school had to close owing to bomb damage to the hall in which it met.
Until 1942 Salem Sunday School had met both in the morning and afternoon, when the morning school became Young Worshippers’ league and continued to meet as such until recent years.
Since the war Sunday School attendances have fluctuated. Since the building of the Waterloo Road flats every effort has been made to encourage the children to come along to Salem.
In 1970 it was reluctantly agreed to close the afternoon Sunday School owing to the lack of children; as mentioned earlier. The afternoon Bible class continued for a while until that too closed through lack of scholars.
1955 or 1956 The Sunday School Teachers line up just before the Christmas Party.
1937 or 1938 The Bible class outing visited Mrs Noakes (aged 90) at Stapelford Abbots.
The YPF Bank Holiday Outings were popular. This group is enjoying themselves at Windsor on August Bank Holiday 1948. Many of the group still attend Salem. Happy memories
Young Peoples’ Fellowship
This group meets on Sunday evenings following the evening service (today the name has changed to Youth Fellowship). These meetings are of a devotional nature with Bible studies, choruses, and other more light hearted, Bible-based activities. To encourage young people from outside the church to attend a Youth Club was formed. Just after the war the Club was held on Saturday evenings with one couple each week being responsible for arriving early to light the coal fire, prepare the equipment and supervise the games. They were also responsible for providing supper for about thirty people. One member was granted a Catering Licence from the Food Office to enable milk, bread, cheese, baked beans, tea and so on to be obtained during the time rationing was in force.
The water was heated by an antiquated gas boiler with a ring of burners which had to be swung anticlockwise, lit and then returned under the boiler. If this was not done correctly a big explosion resulted and soot covered everything. On one occasion it was someone’s birthday and a special supper was prepared, which included jellies. The boiler was lit, but the procedure was not carried out correctly and soot had to be washed off the jellies before they were eaten!
Often members would go to a convention or an anniversary, those with bicycles meeting the others who had gone by train at the destination Club meetings continued to be held, albeit under different names, although with the advent of computer and video games the entertainment of the eighties is significantly different to that recalled by members of the immediate post-war years.
The ladies of the church have met on Thursday afternoons for the last fifty years. As well as having speakers, Bible studies, and missionary afternoons they often enjoy a visit from a soloist or singing group, finishing their afternoon with a chat, a cup of tea and a biscuit. Over the years many of the ladies have found much blessing, and have had an opportunity to witness to those who go along to meetings, but not to church services.
The annual seaside outing and tea is greatly looked forward to and the opportunity is sometimes taken to visit former members who have moved away from the area.
Missionary Sewing Meeting
Salem’s members have always been interested in the work of missionaries, and in helping people both at home and abroad. As a result of various missionaries visiting and speaking to the Women’s Own meetings, Mrs Foundling felt led by the Lord to ask the ladies to meet on Wednesday afternoons to renovate and make clothes. Among other things they knitted little multi-coloured vests and made patchwork quilts, there being a shortage of clothes in England following the war. As a result many a missionary took a parcel of clothing with them when they left a Women’s meeting.
Missionary Sewing Meeting
Back Row: Mrs L Wash, Mrs Foundling, Mrs B Willis, Mrs Wright, Mrs Campbell, Mrs G Phillips.
Front Row: Mrs M Stimson, Mrs Starling, Mrs Chinery, Mrs Legg, Mrs Ager.
Other parcels were sent to the International Hebrew Alliance. The work continued after Mrs Foundling under the leadership of Mrs Lilian Wash. The ladies enjoyed great fellowship together and much blessing.
It was not “all work and no play” as they enjoyed an annual outing, often to Chalkwell or Clacton. Some members recall the lime they found a set of false teeth in a tin whilst they were paddling. Not knowing quite what to do they eventually took them to the local police station. They were claimed by a man from the north of England and a ten shilling note was received by way of thanks.
The meeting continued until a few years ago when the need for clothing became less important in the missionary effort.
Girl’s Life Brigade
In 1940 the First Romford Girl’s Life Brigade re-opened, as the government had ordered all young people to join a youth organisation. Miss Barbara Smith from Mawneys Baptist Church (2nd Romford) was Captain. There was quite a large group of older girls in the Pioneer Section. First Romford were part of Ilford, Dagenham and Romford Division – “Romford Battalion”. Competitions were organised between the Companies.
In 1944 the Sergeants, together with a 2nd Romford NCO, were chosen to represent the Battalion at the Empire Youth Sunday Parade and Service in Westminster Abbey. The guests of Honour were the Princesses Elizabeth and Margaret.
1957(approx.) Girls’ Life Brigade Display by 1st Romford at London Road School.
The girls were all very smart and marched correctly to their allotted seats and behaved well during the service. They did not even catch a glimpse of the Princesses before or during the service, but as they marched out, the Royal car pulled up on their right and they all forgot the smart formation and the Officers “left, right, left, keep in line girls”, in their endeavour to catch just a glimpse of a real live princess. Princess Elizabeth (now our Queen) was in khaki ATS uniform and young Margaret wore a pale blue dress and hat. You can imagine the roasting the girls got from the Officer in Charge when they were out of earshot of the “Royals”. There was a change of Captaincy when Miss Smith was called into the forces and Mrs. Harry Hall became Captain. All the girls were expected to belong to Sunday School or Bible Class. Church Parade once a month was a rule or all their service stripes would be lost.
Following Mrs Hall, Mrs. Catharine Aris became Captain, followed by Mrs Jean Eyers, then Mrs Gwen Phillips, and Miss Pamela Mott rose up through the ranks to become Staff Sergeant and eventually Lieutenant. The examinations for Officers were quite stiff and it was not just a question of the Church Pastor and Deacons approving, but Headquarters also set a difficult examination and aspiring officers were expected to attend Lectures at Girls Brigade Headquarters.
Each year a big Display was held at the Royal Albert Hall. In 1972 the little cadets were chosen to take part and were all dressed as United Dairies Milkmen, the U.D. kindly loaning the hats.
First Romford won the Explorer Section Competition one year ad came second in the Junior and Brigades competitions. Seniors came first one year and the certificates were displayed in the church for quite a time.
The Boys’ Brigade
The Boys’ Brigade at Salem was originally the home of the 2nd Romford Boys Brigade Company which dated back to the 1930’s, but when Main Road Church was opened in 1934 the Officers, boys and title moved to the new premises. In February 1943 a group of Officers transferred their church membership from Mawneys Baptist Church (8th Romford) to Salem and started a new Company, the 9th Romford. At the first parade evening on February 7th 1943 there were seventeen boys, under the Captaincy of Mr. Harry Hall. During the infancy of the Company, Mr. Hall was assisted by Ted Hall, his son, and Don Richardson as Lieutenants.
9th Romford march through Romford Market Place in 1953 for a Coronation Parade. The old Laurie Hall in the Background.
Although the Company was never really numerically strong, twenty four being the highest number recorded, its achievements were far from mediocre, with hundreds of certificates, badges and awards being gained by the boys, reflecting the high standard and dedication of the officers.
In 1954 the Brigade movement celebrated the Centenary of the birth of its founder, Sir William Alexander Smith. A great London District Display took place on the famous turf of the Wembley Stadium. Ninth Romford represented the Romford Battalion in the tent pitching competition and also participated in the massed P. T . Display by five hundred and four boys.
John Wright & Paul Eyers show off their Queens badges in 1956
In the early 1950’s the Company had a strong Bugle and Drum Band and took part in many Battalion competitions, and also in the Romford Band Festival of 1956. In the same year Paul Eyers and John Wright gained the highest Brigade award – their Queen’s badges. The Company also succeeded in coming first in the Battalion Scripture examination.
Mention has already been made of the Founders Day parade service in October 1962 when the guest speaker was Viscount Alexander of Hillsborough. He was the Leader of the House of Lords and told the story of how he had preached at Salem in 1917 while stationed at Gidea Park.
In 1963 Peter Watkinson and Michael Moffatt were also presented with the Queen’s badges by the Mayor elect of Romford at the Company’s Annual Display. The Company’s only football successes came in 1965 when N. Robertson and Peter Watkinson were selected to play for the Romford Battalion in the London District Shield; and the Company managed to reach the final of the local Boys Brigade Challenge Cup, which was played on the ground of the Romford Football Club. Some boys became officers and are still serving the Brigades with other Companies.
The Young Wives Group was founded on November 12th 1968 by Pam Calicut and Joyce Batten and lasted fifteen years. Various ladies from the church were elected committee members.
Young Wives was born out of a real need in the area at that time for mothers with children of school age who needed friendship, support and new interests. Over the years they found this together and there was always a warm and friendly atmosphere and lots of laughter. A speaker was usually invited and the subjects were varied, often with new skills being learned. There were outings, dinners and Christmas parties at the church and a lot of work went into these. Many funny things happened. A member recalls how “we all got on the coach, which had pulled up a little way past Salem, for the day’s outing, only to find halfway through the journey that we were on a coach meant for another group. Nobody had thought to check with the driver “who wasn’t at all pleased”. ”
There were plenty of opportunities to talk of Jesus Christ and a few of the women became Christians. Quite a number of the mothers sent their children to Sunday School because of the initial contact made.
There was a crèche for the children to give their mothers a well-earned rest. Mrs. Gadbury, a lovely old lady from Main Road Baptist Church, used to look after them and was loved and known by all as nanna.
There was always an epilogue by either the Minister, the speaker or one of the committee members and lively discussion often ensued.
Towards the end of the fifteen years, support for the Young Wives waned and, after much prayer and thought, it was decided in 1983 to close the meeting.
There are many who look back with fond memories of the good times and fellowship enjoyed together.
At the beginning of 1985 three ladies joined together and prayed about the possibility of starting a ladies’ Bible study and discussion group. The group has grown, under the leadership of Mrs. Jenny Phillips, (the Pastor’s wife) and the first anniversary was celebrated at the end of January 1986. Members are encouraged by the way in which God is using it to meet the needs of those attending.
“Go ye therefore and teach all nations, baptising them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost. Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you: and, lo, l am with you always, even unto the end of the world. ” (Matthew 28:19-20).
Since its small beginnings in 1836 there have been those from Salem who have obeyed our Lord’s command, reaching out far and wide across the world, seeking to tell others about the Lord and helping those who are sick. A candle in the darkness that has sometimes flickered but has never gone out. Jesus Christ said.. “I will build my Church and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it”. (Matthew 16:18.)
TO GOD BE THE GLORY