A BRIEF HISTORY
Following a Gospel Tent Campaign in Sharston in the 1930’s a small group started meetings in the Sharston Tea Rooms mainly for children. This group comprised of Christians from churches in other areas of Manchester including Stretford, Hulme, Didsbury and Withington.
The original building
The need for a more permanent building to accommodate the growing numbers attending soon became obvious. Therefore about 1942, the first Brownwood Hall was erected on Woodhouse Lane. This construction was a simple wooden hut built by these enthusiastic Christians themselves, some of whom had building experience.
The name ‘Brownwood Hall’ was chosen due to its location near to Brownley Road and on Woodhouse Lane, close by the old “Cedars” where the headquarters of Willow Park Housing Trust is now situated.
After the 2nd world war, various other committed Christians including Arthur Cliff and Ronnie Willington, who had returned from the armed forces joined the group. These folk weren’t around all the time so the growing mission to children and adults was carried on largely by Percy Todd the local Postman and Joe Gill from Sale Moor. Many young people were converted in those days and baptised. They usually joined a small assembly of Christians at Timperley for the breaking of bread but the Sunday school and Sunday Gospel meetings were in full swing at that time.
Gradually a full programme of meetings developed, including mid-week prayer meeting, bible study and children’s meetings. There was also a YSL (Children’s Bible searching). Most people were in full time secular employment until Percy Todd retired from the Post Office.
In the early 1950’s William Morrison moved to Gatley and joined the group. Several others also joined including Reg Smith and Charles Estcourt. Sam Hopton who had helped previously also returned during this time. At this stage in 1952 the ‘local assembly’ of Christians was formed i.e. they started meeting for the breaking of bread in addition to the other ongoing activities.
The present building
In the late 50’s with the growth of the fellowship and the addition of some folk with greater financial resources it was decided to replace the wooden hut with a brick building on the same site, which is the one in use today. Whilst the building was under construction these Christians conducted services for about 6 months in Brownley Green School directly opposite. This is now a housing estate. The new building was duly completed and the first meetings held in 1957.
Since then, the only changes to the structure of the building have been minor. The large main hall has been shortened to allow for the construction of a separate room at the top end which can itself be divided into two rooms. Additionally, pitched roofs have been added to the toilet blocks on each side of the building.
Far reaching influence
During the 1950’s the number of children attending the different activities in the wooden hut had grown considerably. It was not uncommon to have around 200 children being taught on Sunday afternoons, limited space demanding that they be divided into two groups meeting at different times. Mid-week children’s meetings would often have up to 100 attending.
It is amazing to think that thousands of ‘kids’ who have passed through Brownwood Hall will today be living in different parts of the country and even the world. The ‘good news’ conveyed to those young people and adults over the decades has never changed. The message concerning Jesus Christ who is ‘the same yesterday and today and forever’ is still being communicated from Brownwood Hall to this present generation.
Come and be part of it!