Some notes on the church's history

 
LMBC summer

 

We are a small, friendly church in

Langley Mill on the border of

Derbyshire and Nottinghamshire.

We are proud of the fact that we were the first church to be built in Langley Mill. The foundation stone (just visible as a white rectangle in the wall here) says 1839 but our history really starts in the village of Smalley about 3 miles to the south west of us.


 

It was in 1807 that the Reverend William Pickering at that time living at Ilkeston, came from there to preach at a friend's house at Marlpool, in the parish of Heanor, once a fortnight. At that time four of the members at the house group belonged to the Baptist Church at Smalley. When the Reverend Pickering left Ilkeston preaching ceased at Marlpool, however it was revived from time to time by preachers from Smalley. Nine people, in 1833, began to worship at a house in Heanor Lane (now known as Station Road, Langley Mill). The fellowship began to grow and in a short while twenty four people were added to the membership by water baptism (presumably performed at Smalley). The Heanor Lane (at Langley Mill) group had by now risen to thirty three, but still belonged to, and was known as, a branch of Smalley Baptist Church. In 1839 the group decided to purchase a plot of land (some 500 square yards) from a Mr John Bakewell, for the purpose of erecting a chapel.

This was the first church building to be built in Langley Mill, and on the first day of April 1839 the foundations were dug. The foundation stone was laid on the seventh of May, the chapel building being completed and opened on the twenty seventh of October 1839 by the Reverend T. Pottinger of Swanwick and the Reverend Davis of Ilkeston.

It was now decided that the Langley Mill group of Baptist should be allowed to run their own church. On the second of October 1854 twenty of the church members signed a note addressed to Smalley Baptist Church requesting “peacable dismission to conduct their own business”. On the seventh of October 1839 the members met together for consultation thus forming themselves into a Christian church. All meetings were then held in their own chapel in Heanor Lane according to the tenure of the deeds. The first and only deacon at that time was a Mr Stanhope. On the thirtieth of April 1846 the church had thirty nine members the most prominent being a Mr John Bakewell, the owner of a coal pit near to the chapel and later to become the first manager of Langley Mill gasworks.

In Bagshaws Directory fo 1850 there is a reference to Langley Mill stating that a General Baptist Chapel was built there in 1839 at a cost of three hundred pounds.

The cottage where the first meeting was held was retained as part of the church premises, being used as an institute and later by the Good Templars who paid a sum of six shillings (30p) a quarter.On the twenty sixth of January 1909 the deeds of both the church and cottage were put in the hands of the East Midland Baptist Association. In 1918 the cottage was condemned and pulled down, a boundary wall being erected locating the site of the cottage on the left hand side of the church entrance ( this plot now houses a shop) and the cottage garden is now grassed and planted with trees.

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Needless to say Langley Mill Baptist church was one of the forerunners of education in the area.

A schoolroom for day students was added in 1854 at a cost of one hundred and twenty pounds, the Reverend John Felkin of Smalley being the pastor at that time. It is recorded that on the fifth of October 1869 "Miss Grainger is to undertake the running of the school, at a fee of one shilling and sixpence per week" further to this a minute of the sixth of December 1870 states, "We do not approve of a Day School for Langley Mill, but we do approve of a Parish Board and subscribe toward (it) providing the required accommodation to make up the difference in the Parish and that R. Fletcher is empowered to act on behalf of the church at Thursday nights meeting". You were required to pay 3d a week to go to school. In 1872 State Education began and on the fourth of June 1872 it is recorded in the church minutes "It has been decided to hold no more Day Schools in this place".

The heating of the chapel from 1839 to 1910 was either non existent or by open hearth as there were no iron founders in the Nottinghamshire-Derbyshire areas until 1908. It was decided to update the heating of the chapel about 1910 as the Beeston Boiler Company had marketed their new, and at the time revolutionary, idea of heating a large area by steam. It appears that electric heating was not in use until 1967 as there is a minute to the effect that "due to the high cost of electric heating for the last year we hold our evening services in the schoolroom during the winter months" made in July 1969.

The lighting of the church was at first by candles. There is a record on the twelfth of November 1856 referring to "candlesticks to be purchased for the season and that Mr Wilson be asked to get them". In July 1868 gas lighting was installed. Brothers Wilson and Brown were asked to purchase gas fittings, there is also a minute in the church records for the sixth of January 1900 stating that "Bros R.Morton, W.T.Clarke and J.Morton arrange for the improvement of light in the chapel, with a light at the corner of the schoolroom outside to complete the work" It was in July 1948 that a note was sent to the Notts and Derby Power Company asking them to connect the church to their power supply. Electric light was used for the first time in the chapel on Christmas Day 1949.

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Structural alterations and improvements to the building have been carried out throughout the life of the chapel and schoolroom. The first alteration being in 1926 when an extension was built onto the rear of the chapel consisting of , on the ground floor, a vestry and staircase leading to a Ladies Parlour on the upper floor. Major alterations were made to the chapel in 1962, when the balcony was removed, the pipe organ disposed of and the ceiling lowered. The upper room formed had a boarded floor that is used as additional schoolroom space and for social and recreational use. Part of the old schoolroom on the ground floor was incorporated in the church forming a recess on the same level as the baptistery dais. The stage was fronted with an oak rail and wrought iron balustrade. The church entrance was also altered in 1962 to extend the width of the original chapel, with double doors facing the road, toilets and cloaks to the left and stone staircase to the first floor. Another major extension was made in 1982, comprising a large side meeting room and with a separate fitted kitchen.

Some unusual items
On Sunday the thirteenth of November 1910 a church meeting revealed that sketch plans for a new church had been received from the following gentlemen: Messrs A.H.Goodhall of Nottingham, J.Wills of Derby and J.W.Winter of Sheffield, "Building to be started when the church sees their way clear to do so". On the fifteenth of November 1911 it was reported at a church meeting that "The Baptist Union have given us a grant of £300 towards, for the new church" whilst at a special meeting on the twentieth of November 1913 , it was moved and seconded that "we take immediate steps for the erection of the new church and to lay the foundation stone at Easter 1914". Things certainly began to warm up as on the eleventh of May 1914 it was decided that "We give all powers to the architect to to advertise for tenders and to make all necessary arrangements to commence with the building of the new church".
What a bitter disappointment it must have been when on the fifteenth of August 1914 there is a minute to the effect that "Owing to the present state of war, it is thought advisable not to proceed with the new church at present". ... In November 1993 the Church Secretary wrote "to all members and friends" that "The land on which the new church will be built has now been paid for. We praise the Lord and thank all those people He has led to contribute to this achievement. A special fund has been set up to pay for the building itself. "

A deacons meeting and choir practice were brought to an abrupt halt on the thirty first of January 1916 by a Zeppelin raid, resulting in the lights going out when gas was cut off at the mains, plunging the whole of Langley Mill into darkness.

 

Psalm 26 v8 "LORD, I love the house where you live, the place where your glory dwells. "

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