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Avenue's History

1874 Weekly prayer meetings of approximately 20 people started in the home of local resident

1875 Hire of Public Hall in Southend paid for by John Edwards of Camden Town for Baptist Sunday

services at 11.00 and 6.30 with weekly visiting preachers (including at least one woman!)
and a children’s service at 2.30pm.

1876 Purchase of the iron Chapel in Hamlet Road (formerly an Anglican mission hall) at the cost of
£650 as a permanent home for the new Baptist Tabernacle – it seated about 500 people.

1877 The first baptismal service in the new church - two men and four ladies were baptised.

1878 The first full time minister was called (annual stipend £120): the membership stood at 42

1882 Minister resigned and, with 26 members of the congregation, moved to Clarence Road to
form a new church.

1896 The church now had 175 members - 51 men and 124 women (60 married / 64 unmarried)

1899 A new site was acquired at the corner of Milton Road and Avenue Terrace

and the current church began to be built at a cost of £12,000. The building was

originally to have a tall spire at the south west corner but this was never


1901 Thursday 30 May. The doors of Avenue Baptist Church were first opened

for worship in time for the congregation’s 25 the anniversary

1905 The Sunday School had grown so large (451 children and 30 teachers)

that a second storey had to be added to the hall at the side of the church.

On the Sunday School outing they consumed 28lbs of sweets and 28lbs

of biscuits. (28lbs = 12.7kgs)

1918 At least 17 Avenue men had given their lives in the Great War but no

damage to the building

1923 The upper gallery was added to the church on columns that had in faith been included in the
original construction. This increased the seating capacity from 600 to 1,000.

1926 The current manse in Park Crescent was bought for £2,000 and Carey House bungalow was
purchased with a Jubilee offering of 1,139, to be used as a young people’s institute and
caretaker’s house.

1933 The Primary Hall was added at the back to provide for the large number of small children.

1937 Children’s service from Avenue broadcast live on the regional wireless programme of the

1939 3 September. 11.15 am. The caretaker handed the following pencilled note to the Church
Secretary during the morning service: “No answer received from Germany so we are at war
as from 11 o’clock. Churches will not be closed.” But within a year (although black-out
curtains had been fitted to the many windows at a cost of £71) the full programme of
weeknight activities, hundreds of children in the Sunday School and Brigades and all but a
handful of the lively membership of 633 were gone.

1943 A massive land-mine landed just south of the church and made a gaping hall in the roof of
the church, above the gallery and broke the glass in the windows. That Sunday the
congregation met in the hall but went into the damaged and dusty church to sing the
doxology. One member the church was killed during the war.

1948 A new minister was needed! The church required: a good preacher; good with young
people; with evangelical convictions and a ‘fair experience’ of church life and who had not
been for only a short time in his present pastorate. Plus ça change, plus c'est la même
chose. Election of the first lady deacon but it was another 20 years before the next
female deacon.

1952 Seven deacons resigned over whether the Young Wives Club was too secular and frivolous!

1959 Avenue Bible week was started with many seaside tourists joining with church folk. In four
years, the church received 158 new members bringing down the average age considerably.

1973 The derelict Carey House was demolished and six new flats were built next to the church

1976 Communion service was televised live from the Church. It included hymns, a children’s talk,
the Boys’ Brigade band, two Bible readings, two solo songs, a sermon and the communion all
within the allotted 45 minutes. Phew!

1980 The Avenue Trust opened Johnson House accommodation with 4 flats.

1992 The two-storey hall block was demolished and replaced with a single storey multi-purpose
hall giving much needed storage, a new reception area, kitchen and toilets and new upstairs
youth lounge. In faith they constructed foundations that will hold an additional floor if

2010 Church membership stood at 119 plus 110 listed on pastoral care network with nine
Deacons and two church officers. 800 people pass through the church buildings in any one

2016 The whole of the sanctuary was reconfigured – the pews were replaced with movable
comfortable chairs. The choir stalls were removed giving an open raised area at the front of
the church (the pipe organ was sent to a church in Germany). There is a new baptismal pool
in the shape of a cross and four new stained-glass windows representing: Creation Trinity,
Easter, Pentecost, Baptism, Communion and Mission, Justice  Peace


Choir stalls and organ (Before Redevelopment)


New baptistry and stained-glass windows
(After Redevelopment)

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