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St. Thomas C.E. Primary School

A Family of Fellowship and Forgiveness.
‘Love one another as I have loved you’ (John 13:34)

Astley Street, Leigh WN7 2AS

01942 672730



Church and Parish

Originally published in October 1940 these are extracts from the book written by The Rev. G. Willett, M.A. Vicar of Bedford. The book runs to 60 pages and includes 16 photographs. Download the full Document by clicking the right button on your mouse while it is over this link and select Save Target As..

IN November, 1922, the late Vicar wrote in the Parish Sheet of his intention, if possible, of writing a short history of Bedford Parish. Mr. Lawton was then in his 67th year, and this fact, added to the charge of a large parish, prevented him from carrying out his wishes.

The duty has fallen on his successor, the present Vicar, who has done his best at what has been a difficult but very happy task.

The old Parish Sheets, written by the late Vicar, and dating back to 1894, have been a mine of information, and in addition, I have been fortunate in having easy access to the old Deeds of the Parish, the old Registers, old Minute Books, and other similar sources.

When Bedford Church was consecrated 100 years ago, Bedford was in the Diocese of Chester, and remained so till September, 1847, when the new Diocese of Manchester was formed under Bishop James Prince Lee....

The first Sunday Services to be held in the Church were on October 18th, 1840, the first Sunday after the Consecration, and Sermons were then preached in aid of the Building Fund. The preacher in the morning at 10-30 a.m. was the Rev. William Rigg, Chaplain of the Domestic Chapel of Lord Francis Egerton, Ellenbrook, Worsley; and in the afternoon at 3-0 p.m. by the Rev. Joseph Jones, Incumbent of Newchurch. There was no Evening Service on Sundays in those days, Evensong being held on the Sunday afternoons. Pictures of the old Church, exterior and interior, are included in this short history of the Church, and many people of Bedford will remember the old building.

Now we must pass on to the present building which stands on the site of the old one. The rebuilding of Bedford Church was made possible very largely by the contributions of weekly subscribers of small sums. Throughout the twenty-four years previous to 1910, some of the weekly subscribers hopefully paid on, and a number of people in this way subscribed large amounts...

The plan of building was to build the Chancel first, using the old Nave until sufficient money was forthcoming to rebuild that also. The Foundation Stone was laid by Mrs. William Charles Jones on Saturday, May 31st, 1902, on which day was ended the South African War. There was such a generous response to the appeal then made, that the Committee decided to build two bays of the Nave in addition to the Chancel. ..

The bui1ding of the remaining portion of the Church, the three western bays of the Nave and the Tower, was begun shortly after Easter, 1909, and this portion cost something approaching £6,000. The Dedication of the completed building by the Lord Bishop of’ Manchester, Dr. Knox, took place at 7-0 p.m. on Wednesday, October 12th, 1910, the Seventieth Anniversary of the Consecration of the old Church...

In addition to the East Window, which is a Memorial to those who fell in the Great War, there is a Memorial at the West End of the Church which takes the form of carved oak panelling. The central panel bears the following inscription: 

“To the Glory of God and in Memory of the Men from this Parish who fell in the Great War, 1914-1918, the East Window and this Memorial are erected.”

On each side of the central panel are panels containing 88 names beneath a wreath. On either side of the Memorial are carved figures, one of St. Michael and the other of St. George. In the cresting at the top is the Lancashire Rose, and over the centre are shields depicting the Cross of St. George and the Arms of the Sees of York and Manchester...

In 1908, largely through the generosity of Mr. Ralph Flecther and Mr. Alderman W. J. Smith, the Rev. J.T. Lawton acquired the plot of land, measuring 7,273 sq yards, which borders on Manchester Road and Kenwood Avenue, for £673. More money was raised for the purchase of the land than was required, and the surplus was invested, with the result that in 1937 there was about £1,300 available towards building a Mission Church on the land. By this time, owing to the number of houses which had been built at the Manchester Road end of the Parish, the need of a Mission Church in that district was urgent. Sunday Evening Services had been held in Butts School since about the time when the present Butts School was opened, and so "Butts Mission," as it was called, had gone on for something approaching 50 years, and a number of Bedford Church people had grown very attached to it...

The cost of All Saints' Church, including such furnishings as Pews, Choir Stalls, etc., but excluding many generous gifts, was about £2,500. The architect was Mr. F. Crossely, and the builder was Mr. J. H. Clarke, both of Leigh.

IN the year 1843, the Rev. Moorhouse James obtained a Faculty from Dr. J. B. Sumner, Lord Bishop of Chester, to set apart the Crypt under the old Church as a Day and Sunday School. For this purpose, Mr. James obtained a grant of £200 from the Education Committee of the Privy Council, and also a grant from the National Society...

In the year 1859 Mr. James began to take steps towards building the present Bedford Church School. At this time there were three other schools in Bedford.

THERE are many who can remember the Old School at the corner of Chapel Street and Clarence Street, or rather I ought to say Chapel Street and Brook Street, as Clarence Street was called Brook Street in those days. According to some notes which we have reproduced, written by the late Mr. T. Mercer, Headmaster of the Old School for many years, the School was built by public subscription in 1811. Of course, in those days the School had nothing to do with the Church; Bedford Church did not exist in those days. From what I can gather, the School was known as “The Town’s School,” ‘‘Bedford School,” and ‘‘Bedford Old School.”...

Download the full Document by clicking the right button on your mouse while it is over this link and select Save Target As..