Miss A Langrish Pugh
It was her kindly thought for two hot Guildry Girls, as they were out in Church Road collecting for Dr. Barnado’s Homes that brought Miss Pugh into our midst at Stoneham Hall. It was just like her to think of these Girls for she was always thinking of others, planning surprises for them and trying to bring happiness into their lives. The Girls told her of their Church and of the need for larger accommodation, and Miss Pugh, enquiring into the need and finding it to be real, hastened to respond.
Since that day she has been the friend of us all and we have grown to love her and morn her loss and honour her memory.
It was in our Church that Miss Pugh confessed her Lord in Baptism; and it was her work at “Stoneham” as she loved to call it, that she found an outlet for her love to Christ. She became an “Honorary Guardian” in our Company of the Girl’s Guildry and every Tuesday found her amongst the Girls’. When Mrs Ray was no longer able to continue the leadership of the Women’s Own, Miss. Pugh, who had been helping here for some time, took over the meeting and under her guidance it was a source of great blessing to many.
Miss Pugh was a great helper in the work of the national Mission to Deep Sea Fishermen and it was through her that thousands of woolly comforts were sent to the men who go down to the sea in ships. Miss Pugh too, was the donor of Guildry House that haven of delight to thousands of Girls in need of relaxation or in search of new health. It was Miss Pugh too who, when the war came, did her utmost to assist the work of the British Red Cross.
For her the race was run, her earthly work ended. For her also the higher Service begun and the trumpets sounded on the other side, for her we know there has been - as there will be for all who trust the Saviour - an abundant entrance into the Master’s presence and one day, if we too love Jesus, if we too are faithful, we shall meet her again in that land where all tears are wiped away. What a joy is hers to-day! What a hope is ours with our faces towards the sun rising we journey onward in the same happy pathway along which her feet have trod.
From an Old Boy:
I was taken to Church as a child and I remember that there were two musicians, violin and cello who played in front of the platform. The Monday afternoon meeting for the ladies was popular and my mother and aunt attended. As the children went to the Salvation Army Sunday School in Hove in 1931 my brother and I joined the 4th BB at Stoneham Hall where Mr Harold Barber was the Captain and one of the Lieutenants was Jim Skinner and Les Piper was the gym instructor. Late, Mr John Sadler was to take over as Captain. I recall that he supplied rags, rubber gloves and oxalic acid with which some of us cleaned the old brass drums which we collected from Holland Road Baptist Church.
A new band was brought into being and led the Company round the streets recruiting boys and reminding people about the services. The monthly Church Parades were special features with Girl’s Guildry and Boy’s Brigade each with three age groups some in distinctive coloured uniforms.
Both Mr F. and Mr J. Sadler took an interest in their “old boys” and used their connections in the town helping some find employment. I know, I was one of them.
- Bill Ford
As the Founders grand Daughter, not only do I have memories of my own experience of the Church since 1929, but also can draw upon the vast number of stories of the ‘early days’ told to me by my parents and grandparents.
Through them all, shining out like a beacon, is the testimony of God’s faithfulness - yea faithfulness to His people who made up His Church in Stoneham Road as well as faithfulness to my family who led the work for so many years.
God was faithful in His provision. As a young married couple struggling to start a chemist’s business, my grandparents had no resources. But God never failed. A huge debt had to be cleared off the cost of the old building - it was miraculously met: The new building attached to the original was opened free of all debt in 1931 - Again God never failed them. I can remember the yearly thanksgiving days when my grandfather sat in his sitting room at 26 Titian Road and all through the day received friends who brought money gifts to help maintain the work. In the evening there would be a great celebration service at Stoneham when the total would be announced. - then we would all sing “Praise God from whom all Blessings flow”. Yes He was always faithful.
God was faithful in providing the teaching ministry in our Church. Sunday by Sunday faithful men of God would come and gladly minister God’s word, my grandfather leading the worship. Once a month he would himself preach in the Schoolroom which was packed to capacity. God was faithful too in saving souls, and many hundreds of people, many now with Jesus, met Him first at Stoneham. God’s faithfulness also provided gifting to many many people who came alongside my grandparents over the years. There was the musical talents and the choir was a feature of the services, seated at the front east corner of the Church, Sunday evenings and leading the singing. They were accompanied by various musicians including the pianist and organist.
The Sunday School was a great feature of Stoneham Road. Before the new building was built the entire Church and gallery were packed with children and their teachers. Not only did God faithfully provide teachers for the two or three hundred children, but gave them His divine protection. No one ever fell over the gallery.
A teacher was once asking her class: “Can you name a local Church?”, .. silence. Then a hand went up “Please Miss. Saint Sadlers”.
God’s faithfulness extended to giving my grandfather a wonderful lady to be his wife. She was selfless and devoted to God and to her husband and backed him totally in the work at Stoneham. She also gave him a son, John, who just like his mother, was selfless and obedient to God. He was willing to play his part and to take responsibility as my grandparents grew older, backed by my mother who was one with them. They are all with Jesus part of that great cloud of witnesses. John passed into the presence of his Lord in September 1992.
- Mary Bicknell
In the early thirties I would kneel on a chair in the front bedroom of my mother’s house in Marmion Road and look out of the window. Often I would be a little mystified at what I saw. A gentleman with a white beard and moustache would be striding along surrounded by happy, laughing boys and girls.
He smiled and chatted away with them; one holding his umbrella, others fighting to hold the hand. Who could that be with such a happy face and possessing such an amazing attraction? Where were they going? Well, over the years I was to become well acquainted with the remarkable old Christian gentleman. I was to learn that this joyful bunch of people were on their way to Sunday School which I later joined too. No-one who knew him could ever forget his twinkle in his eyes and his magnetic personality.
Old Mr Browett was a big man: an ex-soldier and a very keen gardener. Often he could be seen pushing along his home made barrow full of vegetables on his way home to where he lived at the top of Ruskin Road. But one might ask the question, whatever was this to do with Stoneham road Baptist Church? Well, you see, his sizeable allotment was where the School room is now situated.
I recall the monthly youth services, there would be wonderful singing of stirring hymns and choruses led by Mr Frank Sadler. Then, he would stride up and down the platform really preaching his heart out, sharing the good news of God’s love. No preacher ever was more earnest than he in telling of the urgency of accepting the Gospel message. It wasn’t so much a case of him having Jesus Christ as Jesus Christ possessing him.
One evening at home I had just been reading the accounts of the London bombing, for it was 1941, when all of a sudden there was a great noise overhead - the swish of a bomb. We ran for cover under the stairs and realised that it had fallen somewhere close at hand, yet I cannot recall hearing a large explosion. Later we were to learn that Mr Sadler’s house “Fairhaven” in Titian Road had been bombed yet Mr Sadler and his wife were miraculously preserved. At that particular time he had been teaching us a new chorus at our youth services and he was to live out the truth of it:
When nothing remains to lean upon.
And strongholds crumble to dust
And nothing is sure but that He still reigns
That is the time to trust.
This was just one of a great many choruses which he taught us and he was responsible for the lovely melodies to go along with them also. We rejoiced to realise that God saved Mr Sadler from injury or death and likewise his dear wife.
I recall a very special Youth Service during the war when a whole lot of Canadian soldiers sat in a row on the platform of the hall. They formed a choir and one or two led the service: one played a violin if my memories serve me. These soldiers were given warm hospitality from time to time and even today we are in touch with two of them. They have never forgotten Stoneham Road Baptist Church and the fellowship they found there.
Three years after leaving the army I received a clear call from the Lord to serve Him as a missionary in the Belgian Congo (now known as Zaire). In my capacity as printer I superintended the Congo Balolo Mission Press situated at Bongandange. Those were wonderful days for me.
Since the Foundation of the Church in 1956 to, as we know it today - Stoneham Road Baptist Church - The service which was held on the 19th July 1956 was conducted by the Rev. H. V. Larcombe, the Rev. E.G. Rudman and Mr F.W. Sadler.
The following have accepted the call to the Pastorate. The Rev. F. A. Hart, 1958 - 1960. The Rev. E. G. Harris 1960 - 1964. The Rev. D. A. Green 1965 - 1971. The Rev. H. C. Hawes 1972 - 1980. The Rev. D. P. Rollings 1983 - 1989 and our present pastor, the Rev. J. C. Webster who came to us in 1990.
As we look back over the life span of the work of the Church we do indeed give thanks to the many friends who were or have been called to the various work. To the many Lay-Preachers, Deacons, Officers
and Leaders of our boy’s and girl’s work, those who led the Young people’s Fellowship, the Ladies and Men’s meetings and those who led the services by either playing the organ and piano’s etc., and the many other and sometimes unseen jobs that the Church relied upon throughout its 100 years. Without those, many of whom are in glory, and to those who still take up the on-going work, we do indeed praise God for them all, because without their witness and the lives they led, many of us today would not be serving the Lord Jesus Christ as we do.
What of to-day’s Church? Many changes have been made. The old dome that stood at the south west corner of the Church had to be taken down as it was so porous and unsafe. The Church was redecorated following the death of our Founder, this was in response to an almost world-wide appeal being made and a plaque on the wall relates to this appeal. But since that time, the colour has been changed to magnolia and pale pink on the walls and two shades of green on the remaining areas of the Church. The pulpit now has a green carpet. In place of the old electric heating we know have gas fire heating and once they come on we all know the effects of them. We still use the piano that Miss Hopkins left us. In this our Centenary Year, we just brought a new electronic organ which replaces the one that arrived when the Rev. Hugh Hawes came to us, from London.
Also being more modern we have had to replace the south facing large window with one made in UPVC, also the two gallery side windows have been replaced. The west side with new wooden replacement windows and the east side with UPVC as this side takes most of the very cold winter winds. Although new they all tone in with the originals. All the Church doors have wine coloured curtains to help keep out the draughts, the ground floor in memory of Mr Alf and Mrs May Braiden. Those in the gallery were a gift from a Church member. Behind the organ on the wall hangs a banner that our Girl’s brigade Company made for a competition. It shows a ring of hearts joined together with the words of “Bind us together” on it. We are having a new banner for our Centenary, this is being made by one of our Deacons.
Unfortunately like all other Churches we do and still have vandalism. Many of our windows are looking sad, but to replace them is just another excuse for them to be smashed again. And just recently we had a robbery where they got into the vestry and stole the bureau and a video player.
The Schoolroom remains as active as ever. Although this too has had a change of colour in recent years and just recently all the woodwork has been re-varnished by two of our members of the Church. In here we now have quartz halogen environment heaters.
For over 22 years we have been having a Mother and Toddler group and although it was originally planned for the local area, if one should go in on a Thursday afternoon you would find mums and toddlers from an area of Shoreham to Brighton.
Since our present Pastor has been with us, we started a morning playgroup, “Happitots” is its name and happy are the children who attend. They kept the same name as the Mums and Toddler group. This too is a way of trying to build a bridge between the Church and the local neighbourhood.
We have shared in two outreaches in recent years. Back in 1980 we shared with other Baptist Churches in “Sussex 80”. A large group of friends came over from America to share the Good news of the Gospel with their brothers and sisters in Christ. Each Church taking part had teams with them, we had four of them. One was a Pastor, then a husband and wife, a deacon of one of the Churches and a young lad of 16 years of age. Each day and every evening we had different items ending with a Harvest Supper of roast turkey with all the trimmings.
Then in 1990 we had an outreach just for the Churches of Brighton and Hove area. These consisted of the Baptist Churches from Newhaven to us here at Stoneham and Portslade. Again each day we held different things and to help us with that was the Rev. Stuart Davison who was our Sussex Baptist Association Missioner, plus Members from the various other Baptist Churches.
For many years we have held our own Children’s Holiday Bible Club that has taken place during the Spring Bank Holiday Week. Initially we had the help of Mr Ron Bridle who at the time was a Brighton and Hove Town Missioner. But in more recent years many friends at the Church have come together in the planning of the many varied titles these weeks have had. Several were from Scripture Union and some which we have ourselves thought up. It’s been rewarding to see so many children coming along to these, many have started at the age they first could come and stay each year until they felt too old for it, but one thing above all and that is Jesus Christ is the same Yesterday, Today and Forever. And many found Him to be their Friend and Saviour.
I wonder just how many names could be listed of people both young and old who at some time in their lives had connections with Stoneham Road. We know that many today are in glory - many unknown - many left the country to go overseas - I wonder if they still have happy memories of their days here? One day that may be possible when we all meet together in glory. Only then will we know just how many seeds were sown and how many reached maturity.
The Church has passed through two great wars - seen many tragedies and had many ups and downs and despite all these things it still proclaims the love of our Lord Jesus Christ.
What of the future? The lord knows what He has planned for us. We shall soon be starting a new Centenary. Those who perhaps many years ago thought that “Stoneham Road” would not survive have been proved wrong. But one thing is sure - That God Willing His Good News will go out to those who are missing out in life. We have proved that Jesus is the Way the only Way and that:-
Jesus is real to me.
Jesus is real to me,
I never will doubt Him
Nor journey with-out Him
For He is real to me.
So what does the future hold for Stoneham Road Baptist Church? I feel sure that one of our hymns in our Stoneham Praise books gives that and the real answer to those who prayers are:-
We do not know what lies ahead,
The way we cannot see,
Yet One stands near to be my Guide,
He’ll show the Way to me.
We know who holds the future,
and He’ll guide us with His hand.
With God things don’t just happen,
Everything with Him is planned,
So as we face tomorrow,
With its problems great and small,
We’ll trust the God of Miracles
Give to Him our All.
The Following Have Served as Deacons Since 1956:
Mr J.K. Sadler 1956 - 1971
Mrs J. Sadler 1956 - 1970
Mr G. King 1956 - 1964
Mr J. Skinner 1956 - 1967
Mr H. Goldsmith 1956 - 1977
Mr C.J.Pettitt 1956 - 1986
Miss M.Coles 1962 - 1969
Mr D. Hills 1962 - 1976
Mr N. Lawrence 1973 - 1979
Mr J. Piggott 1973 - 1977
Mr J. Ripley 1977 - 1980
Mr R. Whitrow 1980 - 1983
Miss P. Rowe 1975 - 1983
Miss N. Harrison 1970 - 1973
1982 - 1991
Mr R. Michell 1975 - 1992
Mrs O. Piggott 1977 - 1989
Miss M. Sherring 1979 - 1982
1986 - 1989
Mr J. Payne 1981 - 1987
Miss L. Standing 1991 - 1995
Mr J. Mitchell 1968 - 2007
Mr Paul Moore 1989 -
Mr G. Broadbridge 1990 - 2006
Mrs V. Morgan 1995 – 2006
Mr G. King - Miss M. Coles - Mr H. Goldsmith - Mr C.J. Pettitt