Barnsley church celebrates 80 years serving the community

St Paul’s Old Town Barnsley will reach an important milestone in its history when it celebrates its 80th anniversary next month.

To mark this, a series of events are planned including a week long flower festival in summer and their first event, a concert on March 13.

Members of the congregration have been busy discovering more about the history of their church with its distinctive green dome and Byzantine appearance-– and finding their predecessors found raising money just as difficult then as it is today.

As Geoff Wright explains: “It seems fundraising was as much a struggle then as it is today. During the early 1930s, great efforts were made to raise funds by "selling bricks" for the building of the new church. Other events included the organising of "A Mile of Pennies".

By 1907 it was apparent that a new St Paul’s church would be needed to minster to the area’s growing population. Sir Hickman Bacon, a founder member of the Lincolnshire Automobile Club, gave a piece of land to the church but it was so undermined that it would not support such a heavy building and the site had to be abandoned – so with Sir Hickman's permission the land was sold and the present site was purchased from the Barraclough family.

So finally the building was begun and the foundation stone laid "amidst great excitement and thanksgiving". The Lord Chief Justice, Lord Sankey, had been invited to lay the foundation stone but was unable to be present due to illness so Mr Ralph Frederick Pawsey, senior partner at Newman and Bond Solicitors in Barnsley, deputised and laid the stone in the presence of the Bishop of Wakefield, the Rt Revd "Jimmy" Seaton.

And  on 19th March it will be 80 years since the Foundation Stone was laid -  signalling the beginning of the life of this church with its distinct Art Deco feeling and the subtly tinted windows said to be based on a design by Frank Lloyd Wright. And suspended from the centre of the interior of the dome is a magnificent “cartwheel” light.

Events to mark this occasion include a Flower Festival from the 17th to 21st June. A Concert, given by the St. John’s Singers, on Sunday 13th March, at 4pm, and the church will be open on Wednesday 16th March from 10am to 4.00pm for anybody who wishes to come and look around. Light refreshments will be available.

Anyone wanting to help with the fund raising or for further details about St Paul’s Church or any of our events please contact

geoff.wright8 [at] btopenworld.com ()

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