Centenary 1875-1975

The following is an extract from a booklet produced to celebrate the Centenary of the church building.

“One hundred years ago this year, a group of eighteen men, seeking a place on which to build a new place of worship, approached the Countess of Rosse. After much discussion on the matter, the Countess agreed to donate the land – then valued at £68! At this time the land was known as The Peaselands.

The chapel was to have two adjoining cottages, and the frontage to be in Westcliffe Road. There was a stipulation that should a sale ever become necessary, the proceeds should go to one or more of the religious Denominations in Shipley. Also that it should never be sold as “a place of vain amusement”, e.g. Singing Saloon, Theatre, Public House or Brewery.

For these men, all belonging to the Shipley Town Mission Society it was a tremendous undertaking, because at that time Shipley consisted of a community of only 700 dwellings, which incidentally, had a total assesment value of the magnificent sum of £9,000!

This group of men must have felt very strong in the Lord, for even in this small community, there was already a well established Baptist and Congregational Church, as well as the Church of England. So, if for no other reason, they deserve a more personal mention.

  • William Mosley (Warp Dresser)
  • Jonas Dean (Warp Dresser)
  • Thomas Lord (Warp Dresser)
  • James Wooler (Warp Dresser)
  • Jonathan Alderson (Overlooker)
  • Thomas Foster (Blacksmith)
  • Thomas Slingsby (Quarryman)
  • Cuthbert Shields (*Cordwainer)
  • Samuel Weatherhead (Woolsorter)
  • John Coulton (Woolsorter)
  • John Green (Quarryman)
  • Samuel Dawson (Dyer)
  • Ezra Midgley (Grocer)
  • Eli Midgley (Joiner)
  • George Gill (*Cordwainer)
  • David Nunn (*Cordwainer)

* For the curious a Cordwainer is the ancient name for a shoemaker

At this time the railway was only just being brought to the district and the village of Saltaire had lately come into being, but as yet, there was quite a bit of land separating the two places.

On completion of the building it was to be known as Westcliffe Road Chapel, and the worshipping congregation, the Westcliffe Road Christian Church. A Sunday School also was to be established, for the teaching of the Gospel to the young. Unlike many other places of worship in these unfortunate times, it is still being used for the purpose for which it was built.

When the chapel was first erected it was almost hidden among the little streets and houses, but thanks to a government plan that misfired, we have emerged and are for the time being at least, surrounded by beautiful parkland.

This is almost a reversion to the time when Shipiey was known as Sheep-Lea (the place of the sheep) when this stretch of land was called Ox-Close. Even later it was to become The Peaselands. With a slight change of spelling, changing the ‘S’ to a ‘C’ it becomes Peaceland, what better name could be found for a place on which to build a place of worship?

So then, a chapel was built, built to the Glory of God. A place to bring peace and hope to men’s souls, wherein they can learn of the abiding Love of God, and of his Son our Lord Jesus Christ.

With our emergence into the light, so to speak, many other improvements are taking place. The roof has been re-tiled and the exterior of the building has been cleaned, so that we now almost sparkle in the sunlight. New windows have been put in, too. The cottages have been incorporated into the main building and are now converted into classrooms for the junior members of the congregation.

Their activities are a far cry from the old idea of Sunday School, nowadays after leaving the Primary, they become Adventurers, and then graduate into Boy or Girl Covenanters. This prepares them for their entry into the adult activities of the church, by receiving both spiritual teaching and guidance in their leisure activities.

Recently too, the chapel has been re-wired and new electric lighting has been installed. The big schoolroom has been enlarged, and there are plans for the improvement of the kitchen, to be done in the future.

Perhaps in another hundred years some other hand will be writing the Westcliffe Road story, let us trust in God that it is still a place in which to give Him all the praise and glory that is His.”