Heald Green United Reformed Church

Colin Barnsley-oval.png

By Colin Barnsley

Mantlepiece Clock-small.jpg

First Published 30/6/2022
Last Updated 30/6/2022

 

 
"The Little Chapel on the Hill"

 

URC1953pre-001b-small.jpg

Fig. 1 Long Lane Congregational Church, early 1950s
© United Reformed Church Archive
Click On Image To View

 

19th Century

“Stockport Etchells, comprising the village of Gatley, and the hamlets of Long Lane and Heald Green is a township in the parish of Stockport …  Thomas Tatton Egerton Esq. is lord of the manor…  A new church, dedicated to St. James the Apostle… has been created in Gatley. There is also a chapel each for Congregationalists and Primitive Methodists…population in 1881, 1,360.” 

So reads an excerpt from the History of the Cheshire County Union of Congregational Churches, first published in 1890.

In about 1862, Mr James Bailey of Cheadle heard from residents about the need for a church nearer to them. Occasional services were first held in Mrs. Walsh’s nearby cottage    [the location of the cottage is unknown, but expanded services were later held at Griffin Farm   ]. In 1867 Mr Bailey erected and opened the first chapel.  Originally intended to be called Etchells Congregational, it was instead named Long Lane.  

 

URC1835-51 Cheshire Tithe Maps Location of Chapel.jpg

Fig. 2 Tithe Map 1844 showing Further Long Lane Field where Long Lane Congregational Church was built
© Cheshire Tithe Maps Online
Click On Image To View

 

Local Leader Alison Haigh very kindly accompanied me on a visit to the church in late August 2021, loaning me the best of their archives to preserve for our heritage site, and putting the buildings and artefacts in context.

"The land the church is built upon was originally owned by the Bruckshaw family as part of Outwood Farm.  They donated the land ; a nominal sum of about £2 was paid.  The graves of various of their family members can be seen in the small graveyard."

“The Long Lane Chapel was surrounded on three sides by fields and was known as The Little Chapel on the Hill…the field in which the chapel was built was known as Further Long Lane Field…it opened in September 1867.” 

 

4

“From its opening, the Long Lane Chapel opened its doors as a day school – and a Sunday school – and 50 children attended both…the Chapel thus became a major force in the community of Long Lane... [as a basic, primary] education did not become compulsory until 1880.  [The number of children attending school at Long Lane] was far higher than the number of children in the area.”    
 

URC1892-001.jpg

Fig. 3 Early Church Minutes, 1892
© United Reformed Church Archive
Click On Image To View

 


"In 1906 Miss Nellie Bailey unveiled a plaque in the chapel in recognition of her grandfather’s work in establishing the church, and this can still be seen hanging in the current church."   
 

4

IMG_5990b.jpg

Fig. 4 1906 Memorial Plaque, 2021
© Colin Barnsley
Click On Image To View

 

20th Century Expansion

“During World War II when evacuees came from Manchester to Heald Green and Long Lane, the chapel, St. Catherine’s Church of England in Heald Green and the Methodist Church on Brown Lane, all provided day schools.” 

This, the re-distribution of local children to these temporary schools, and the fact that some local children were themselves evacuees or kept home to help with the war effort, may explain why class sizes fell rather than grew at Etchells Primary during the war years.

"In 1947/48, the oversight of Long Lane Congregational transferred from Cheadle to Cheadle Hulme Congregational."   

4

URC1948-004b.jpg

Fig. 5 Letter concerning transfer of oversight, 1948
© United Reformed Church Archive
Click On Image To View

 

"Post World War II, the church managed to buy an old Nissen hut, which was brick-built with a (possibly asbestos) corrugated roof.  There was a stage at the end, and storage underneath. It was used for all social events from the late 1940s and early 1950, but became gradually more decrepit.  The old chapel itself began to sink and develop cracks at the end.

Lots of social groups started post World War II ; Brownies and Guides, Boys Brigade, youth club, dramatic club, discussion groups – it was peoples’ social lives then.
Oddfellows met here." 

In 1949, the first of many Harvest Queens (Beryl Smith) was crowned, and many children from the youth groups took part in the parade around the local streets.  There was also a May Queen event, but it is the Harvest Queen for which Long Lane was particularly remembered.
 

4

Harvest Queen 1949 Programme - Cover.jpg

Fig. 6 Harvest Queen Programme, 1949
© United Reformed Church Archive
Click On Image To Read

 

Harvest Queen 1949 c Malcolm Wilkinson-small.jpg

Fig. 6 Crowning the Rose Queen, 1949
© Malcolm Wilkinson
Click On Image To View

 

AP001HM-small.jpg

Fig. 7 The Harvest Queen Parade assembles on
Central Drive, 1950s

© Ann Park
Click On Image To View

 

Harvest Queen 1950s-01 HH-small.jpg

Fig. 8 Harvest Queen Parade as it passes the shops
on Wilmslow Road approaching Merwood Ave, 1950s

© Howard Hunt
Click On Image To View

 

URC1951-001-small.jpg
Harvest Queen c1950 Wilmslow Road (c) Malcolm Wilkinson-small.jpg

Fig. 9 Another Harvest Queen Parade on Wilmslow Road approaching Bradshaw Hall Lane, 1950s
© Malcolm Wilkinson
Click On Image To View

 

"Kathleen and JT Williams (her son) wrote the book Long Lane Cheadle Remembered[much more information on the history of Long Lane Congregational can be found in chapter 7] ; "this is Kathleen's daughter Wendy playing the piano.  Later Wendy became a woman minister, but as a teenager was an accomplished pianist, seen here leading the choir around 1951." 

4

Fig. 10 Wendy Williams and the choir, 1951
© United Reformed Church Archive
Click On Image To View

 

"Pictures from the Christmas fairs, and the Flower and Harvest festivals, give a sense of the old chapel and the beautiful arch in it.  Because so many farming families were involved the displays were amazing."
 

4

FlowerShow1953.jpg

Fig. 11 Sample Flower Show Programme, 1953
© United Reformed Church Archive
Click On Image To Read

 

URC1957-Opening and Dedication - Cover.jpg

Fig. 13 Church Hall Opening, 1957
© United Reformed Church Archive
Click On Image To Read

 

URC1950-003b-small.jpg

Fig. 12 Mrs. Haworth at the Christmas Fair, 1950
© United Reformed Church Archive
Click On Image To View

 

URC1962-002b-small.jpg

Fig. 14 Harvest Festival Display, 1962
© United Reformed Church Archive
Click On Image To View

 

“Does anyone remember the Friday night (I think it was Friday, though it could have been Saturday) Socials at Long Lane Chapel where Mr and Mrs Spencer taught ballroom dancing? They had a daughter Hazel. They taught many dances, Waltz, Quickstep, Foxtrot, Veleta, barn dance, Gay Gordons etc. and we had really great evenings. This would have been around 1958/9."
- Marilyn Connelly, Facebook, 2021

“I remember it well, learning how to dance there. I think we had a lady called Mrs. Glasgow playing the piano; great times."
- Ann Park, Facebook, 2021

"A number of local families had connections to the original chapel, and multiple generations are buried in the small graveyard." 
 

4

IMG_5984b-small.jpg

Fig. 15 A Bruckshaw family headstone.  The Bruckshaws donated the field on which the church is built. Photo 2021
© Colin Barnsley
Click On Image To View

 

4

IMG_5987-small.jpg

Fig. 16 The Diack family headstone.  Early benefactors of Long Lane Congregational. Photo 2021
© Colin Barnsley
Click On Image To View

 

1960s - A New Chapel

“[The original chapel]…was surrounded by a small graveyard which was not closed until January 1964, when there were plans to widen Wilmslow Road (which did not materialise)"  

When ideas for road changes had first came up, it spurred on the church to consider a new building; better suited to a growing congregation.  New local housing meant more families were moving into the area.


[Ed. You can read more about changes to local roads in my article on Transport.]

"In the 1960s when housing went up in the area they built a link between the church hall and the chapel called “The Lounge” ; built flat-roofed in 1964 because they said the chapel was not big enough, so we needed a bigger church.  It was a pre-fab building with a 30 year life and it’s still up today! A link was made between the new church building, hall and chapel, and a link with a kitchen and a room that became the playgroup.

The improvements were funded by various charities ; Congregational and Charitable Trust, Manchester Airport Community Trust Fund, URC North Western Synod."

 

4

URC1963-New Church Proposal-Cover.jpg
URC1960-015b-small.jpg

Fig. 17 Outline Planning Application, 1960
© United Reformed Church Archive
Click On Image To View

 

Fig. 18 Proposed Church and Ancillaries, 1963
© United Reformed Church Archive
Click On Image To Read

 

"We should at this point mention Dora Turner (church secretary in this period) and the Priddle family in particular.  They took on many roles, leading groups and contributing to elders’ meetings (like a parish council)."
 

4

URC1963-007b-small.jpg
URC1963-010b-small.jpg

Fig. 19 Amateur Dramatics at the church, 1963
© United Reformed Church Archive
Click On Image To View

 

Fig. 20 Annual Meeting and Hot-Pot Supper, 1963
Revd. Kenneth Chambers is sat front centre ; Dora Turner (church secretary) to his right

© United Reformed Church Archive
Click On Image To View

 

URC1964-012b-small.jpg

Fig. 21 Mrs. Beaman and son Michael laid the first stone and wrote on the 25th anniversary of the church:- “we still treasure the engraved trowel and a splendid photograph of mother, son, stone and trowel”, 1964
© United Reformed Church Archive
Click On Image To View

URC1964-021b-small.jpg

Fig. 22 Revd. Chambers watches on as the foundation stone is laid
© United Reformed Church Archive
Click On Image To View

 

URC1964-001b-New Church Opening and Dedication-Cover-small.jpg
IMG_5982-small.jpg

Fig. 23 Order of Service for Opening & Dedication of the New Church, 1964
© United Reformed Church Archive
Click On Image To Read

 

Fig. 24 The 1964 foundation stone, 2021
© Colin Barnsley
Click On Image To View

 

“We were married there on 28th August 1965 by Rev. Chambers."
- Malcolm Wilkinson, Facebook, 2021

“Went to Boys Brigade there; Mrs. Goodwin was our leader."
- Tony Rains, Facebook, 2021

URC1964-019b-small.jpg

Fig. 25 Long Lane Congregational Church, 1964
© United Reformed Church Archive
Click On Image To View

 

Mergers and New Buildings

In 1972, the United Reformed Church was formed as a result of the union of the Presbyterian Church of England (of which St. Columba’s was an example) and the Congregational Church in England and Wales (of which Long Lane Congregational was an example).  

Alison recalls,
"I joined in the 1980s -the social aspects had died away by then.  Dwindling congregations meant more shared ministries, joint services, and led to the physical merger with St. Columba’s."
 

4

URC1981-South Cheadle Churches Group Inauguration-Cover.jpg

Fig. 26 Drawing from Order of the Inaugural Service Grouping Cheadle Hulme, Long Lane and St. Columba's Churches, 1981 
© United Reformed Church Archive
Click On Image To Read

 

URC1989-March001b-small.jpg

Fig. 27 Long Lane United Reformed Church, March 1989
© United Reformed Church Archive
Click On Image To View

 

“I was a regular here in the 1970s and 1980s."
- Alison McNeil, Facebook, 2021


"In the late 1990s, the congregation joined with St Columba’s and sold the land there and the promise to the congregation was that there would be a new joint worship area.

David Westhead was linked with Cheadle Hulme United Reformed Church (Swann Lane) and he oversaw three churches (including Long Lane).

In 1997, St. Columba’s and Long Lane became Heald Green United Reformed Church.

Michael Hodgson was tasked to bring together the Long Lane and St. Columba’s congregations in to one, in one building and sell the other off.  He managed the transition stylishly, and after ten years here, moved on to another job."
 

4

URC2001-001-small.jpg

In 2001, the old chapel and church hall were demolished and a new worship area built.
 

IMG_5983-small.jpg

Fig. 28 Setting the new foundation stone, 2001
© United Reformed Church Archive
Click On Image To View

 

Fig. 29 The 2001 foundation stone, 2021
© Colin Barnsley
Click On Image To View

 

"Stones from the remembrance garden at St. Columba’s and plants and soil to represent the ashes were all brought across to Heald Green United Reformed Church. The big blue cross in the middle of church came from St Columba’s.  There was no graveyard there, just garden of remembrance.

The coloured stained glass window of the 1964 church that used to be on the end, was moved to the new church.

Pre-school (the playgroups first name) started in the 1960s, and I worked there for a while. When building work was done around the Millennium, the room at the back was primarily for the playgroup or used for other meetings in afternoons and evenings and built with outdoor area so children could play out.  Before it had been was open land and in it, an enormous container that was used for storage for the district guides (tents etc)."

4

IMG_5991b-small.jpg

Fig. 30 The blue cross from St. Columba's,
in the new church, 2021

© Colin Barnsley
Click On Image To View

 

IMG_5993c-small.jpg

Fig. 31 The stained glass window is now
in the new church, 2021

© Colin Barnsley
Click On Image To View

 

IMG_2066-small.jpg

Fig. 32 Heald Green United Reformed Church, 2021
© Colin Barnsley
Click On Image To View

 

In 2017, the church hall underwent a refurbishment. Today, the church continues to be an open and inviting local church, serving Heald Green and the surrounding areas.
 

URC2022 - HGURC Logo.png

Fig. 33 Heald Green United Reformed Church Logo, 2022
© United Reformed Church Archive
Click On The Logo To View The HG URC's Own Website

 

Can You Help Us Improve The Museum?