Holy Trinity Parish Church


Holy Trinity Church came into existence, chiefly as a result of the efforts of John and Thomas Johnson, who were the chief employers of labour in Runcorn in 1838. They led a number of the congregation of the "Old Parish Church" in a desire to build a place of worship where evangelical services could be held. As a result, and also justified by a need for increased church seating in Runcorn, a new church was built, financed by The Church Commissioners, public subscriptions and fund raising efforts. The architect was Joseph Hartley and the builders were Messrs. William Rigby, both of Runcorn. The church, designed in the Early English Gothic Revival style, has pairs of Lancet Windows along the north and south elevations, providing ample natural light and creating a bright atmosphere for public worship. The oldest element in the church is the one large bell in the tower, dated 1628, and inscribed "Soli Deo Immortalia Sit Gloria". It is interesting to note that 'the sermon, good congregational singing and the use of the Book of Common Prayer' were to be the main features of the services. With this brief in mind, the architect gave the church a rectangular shape with a simple gallery at the rear, an almost flat ceiling and timber 'dado' around the sides of the of the nave. The church completed, "The Sentence of Consecration" signed by John Bird Sumner, Bishop of Chester, was read and promulgated on 13th October 1838. This document was witnessed by Henry Rucker, Chancellor of Chester, Frederick Master, Vicar of Runcorn and Felix Ruyvett, Secretary to the Bishop. Attached to "The Sentence of Consecration" is the original plan of the church indicating its simple form, with Rostrum, Communion Table and Rails, copying that of the large Methodist chapels being erected during this period. A district was assigned to Holy Trinity from the Parish of Runcorn. The boundaries were confirmed by an Act of Parliament and recorded by All Saints Church as being 'The Parish of Holy Trinity' in 1840. In 1838 there was no choir, but a two manual pipe organ was installed in the gallery. Only hymns were sung during the services at this time. The Sunday School was founded in 1839 and the day school commenced soon afterwards with John Wilson being its first master. It is recorded that the church was enlarged and much improved in 1849. It may be assumed that in 1849 the present sanctuary, clergy vestry and south porch were built, together with the addition of the east stained glass window, presented by Sir Richard and Lady Brooke. A small chancel area was created in 1857 by using the space which was originally occupied by the Rostrum. The Psalms were sung for the first time on 7th November 1876 and in 1883 the organist was asked to form a choir of boys and young men, with the choir sitting in the gallery. Land on the south side of the church was purchased from Messrs. Greenall Whitley & Co. Ltd. in 1884. It was transformed into a garden and enclosed by a sandstone wall and cast iron railings in 1887.

The interior of the church was again altered in 1888, with the chancel area being lengthened, choir stalls fitted and the organ renovated and moved from the gallery to the north side of the chancel. The men and boys in the choir were now robed, but not the recently admitted ladies. The year of 1908 saw the installation of a new three manual pipe organ in the chancel. This was made possible by donations by public subscription and by Andrew Carnegie. The oak case was given by the Horsefield family. The church with many valuable additions was now ready for general refurbishment. Such an opportunity came when the Rev'd Charles Tremayne was inducted as vicar in 1923. With the architect Bruce Cunningham, and the Parochial Church Council (formed on 8th April 1920), he set about re-planning the church seating and renewing the church furnishings.      Between 1924 and 1929 trie following work was carried out (1) The ground floor seating was re-arranged in two simple blocks of pews to form a new central aisle and two side aisles. (2) The choir stalls were rearranged to accommodate an enlarged choir. (3)The choir vestry was moved to the west end of the church (the whole choir was now fully robed) (4) A new communion table, cross and reredos were placed in the re-furbished sanctuary. (5) A War Memorial for 1914-1918 was placed on the north wall of the nave. (6) A new font and ewer were placed in the baptistery. (7) a new carved oak pulpit replaced the existing one. (8) An electric blower was added to the organ. (9) A Mothers Union banner in an oak case was placed on the south wall of the nave. During the 1920's, pew rents were abolished and the vicar was given an allowance in lieu. It is also believed that the first Communion Service was held in Holy Trinity by the Bishop of Chester on 3rd July 1925. The following gifts were received in the 1930's - (1) A stained glass window in the south nave wall (2) A stained glass window in the north nave wall - Killick Window, 1932 (3) A carved oak Litany Desk, 1935 (4) A bronze lectern, 1938. The centenary of the church was celebrated in 1938 by services in church on 13th, 14th and Sunday 16th October. A procession of witness around the parish also took place on Sunday, 16th and a Centenary Bazaar in the Baths Assembly Hall was held on 2nd and 3rd November to raise funds for the fabric of the church. Following the end of the 1939-1945 war, the church once again became a hive of activity with Christmas Tableau and Plays and Easter Plays being lavishly staged in the church. The following additions or changes were made to the church during the late 1940's (1) A Children's Corner of carved oak rails, oak screen and table was designed by H.T. Cashin and made by S. E. Hastings in 1948 (2) In 1949, the entire church was re-decorated (3) The nave and sanctuary roofs were re-slated in 1949 (4) A war Memorial for 1935-1945 was designed by J. W. Barrow of William & Segar Owen, Warrington and placed beneath the existing memorial in 1950. More recent additions to the church have included - (1) A pair of candlesticks and a processional cross, donated in 1959 (2) A glazed internal vestibule in 1964 (3) A new centrifugal fan organ blower was installed alongside the organ in 1981 (4) An oak casing surrounding the organ blower was made by J. H. Blythe in 1983.

During a break-in, the organ was badly vandalised in 1982. Pipes from a redundant organ in St. Peter's Church, Liverpool were purchased and the organ was restored by Sidney Reeves of Liverpool in 1983. A clergy vestry cupboard was fitted by J. H. Blythe in 1987, in memory of Eric Turner. In 1986-7, 60% of the internal plastered wall surfaces of the church were replaced and the hot-air heating system was changed from being oil-burning to being gasfired. Also a new heating duct was installed to carry heat to the back of the nave. In 1999, there was again major alterations to the nave - the wiring in the church was totally replaced and new light fittings were installed on the nave walls and under the gallery. Also, three rows of pews were removed from either side of both the back and front of the nave and the chancel platform was extended out into the nave and carpetted. It now provided space for the font (brought from the baptistery) and for the services to be conducted at the front of the nave. A new oak communion rail was also fitted. A new carpet was laid in the nave in 2000. An arson attack on the church, in 2000, caused extensive smoke damage. The church interior was cleaned and all walls were repainted. The main entrance door was badly burnt, and was replaced in 2001. Also in 2000, a new nave altar table was made by J H Blythe and new altar frontals and chasuable were given in memory of Cecil Johnson, as was a circular Cctndle stand. In 2006, a ramp to the front steps was built enabling wheelchair access. Also, in the back north corner of the nave the children's corner was removed and two toilets were installed. In the back south corner of the nave the choir vestry was removed and an oak kitchen was installed. The inner entrance porch to the nave was also removed and the whole back area of the nave was re-carpeted. Space does not permit the recording of all the gifts nor of all the names of the people who have been influential in ensuring that Holy Trinity has existed to this present time, (at the beginning of the third millennium), but we thank everyone, and as we move forward in faith and hope, we pray that God will continue to direct and guide us to serve him at this place of Holy Trinity.

Other Church Property Holy Trinity Day School buildings, built alongside the church, were extended in 1848 and continued in existence as a school until 1968. The Infants School was then used as a "Teachers Training Centre" before finally being demolished in 1998. It should also be noted that in 1853, Messrs. John and Thomas Johnson also erected Mill Brow Mission School within the parish for the education of children. This building continued to be used for services and for Sunday School purposes until 1975 when this work was transferred to Wicksten Drive Christian Centre and Mill Brow was sold to Elim Pentecostal Church. The Main Hall or Mission Room of Mariners Mission Hall was built by the Earl of Ellesmere in 1831. In 1935, an extension named 'The Jubilee Room' was added, which provided kitchen facilities and toilets. The property was sold in 1975 and is now used for commercial purposes.
May 2006

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