“….a rally place for religious, social and cultural activities
amidst the newly built streets adjacent to it....”
The land on Lorne Street on which “Milton Hall and Sunday Schools” now stand was purchased by Mr. Josiah Peart Harvey, a corn merchant, in 1880 and given to Church Street Baptist Church that a mission could be built there. At his own expense the church was built in 1890 and first opened for worship on Wednesday 26th November. Records describe it as a building of gothic design consisting of a hall 55ft x 34ft with four spacious classrooms, vestry, cloakroom, apse and buildings for social meetings. By sliding sash arrangements the classrooms can be converted into the central hall affording extra accommodation. The hall could accommodate 350 increasing to 500 by using the classrooms.
In 1900 Mrs. Josiah (Lydia) Harvey announced her intention to provide a Sunday School building and although she passed away before the school was erected in 1901 she had made financial provisions for the whole of the cost to be met.
The Harvey family continued to support “the Hall” through the provision of various fixtures and fittings (hot water system, pews, organ, communion service and chairs for the rostrum) within the church and in 1906 JP Harvey’s son also purchased the house in Lorne Street which was to become the manse until July 1974. Also in 1906 the organ was purchased by Josiah Harvey Jr. second hand from a church in Worcester, and built in the apse, replacing the American Organ (Harmoium type) which had replaced the original orchestra.
The baptistry was opened in 1898 when the first pastor, Rev. LT Harry who was a co-pastor at Church Street Baptist Church in charge of Milton Hall, baptised the first eleven candidates.
A meeting of Milton Hall church members on March 1st 1899 decided “that we do now form ourselves into a Church of Christ after the order as that of the Protestant Dissenters, known as Particular of Calvanistic Baptists, and that this church shall be called Milton Hall Baptist Church”.
Activities at this time included a young people’s bible class, a Christian Endeavour group, Women’s meeting, a wonderfully named activity called the Pleasant Sunday afternoon and a young men’s bible class, affectionately known as Mr. Bale’s Bible Class.
In accordance with its vision of being a rally place for religious, social and cultural activities amidst the newly built streets adjacent to it “The Hall” extended its reach into the community becoming the home of successful Gymnasium and Cricket and Football teams. It was during the ministry of Rev. Rowland Sinnett that the permanent youth organisations of The Boys’ Brigade (1930) and the Girls’ Brigade (1931) were established. Both organisations continue to play an active part in the life of the church today.
Rev. Lewis T. Harry
Rev. Thomas Rowlands
Rev. William Benton
Rev. Peter Brewer
Rev. John Kelly
Rev. Kevan Taylor
Rev. William Wheatley
Rev. J. Paul Holifield
Rev. James Campbell-Lea
Rev. Roger Cuin
Rev. Walter Morris
Rev. John Hopper*
Rev. Roland Sinett
Mr. Jack Bentham*