History and Description

       In one sense, the history of Emmanuel Church only dates from 1976 when Sidcup’s Methodist and United Reformed Churches joined forces under the combined ministry of Rev. Roy Crew and Rev. Baron Pont.  Before then, the two churches each had a separate existence.

Congregational Church

       In 1866 the construction of the railway and the opening of Sidcup Station brought a steady increase in population. With this rise came a need for more non-conformist places of worship to augment the Baptist Chapel on Sidcup Hill.  In 1876 a meeting was held to consider the building of a Congregational Church and in 1878 the Congregational Lecture Hall was opened in Station Road. The Sidcup Congregational Church was formed in 1879.

       In 1887 the foundation stone was laid for a new church in Station Road (opposite Victoria Road).  The original proposed design included a large tower and spire on the left, but these were never built.  The church opened in 1888 with room for 550 and a further 300 in a gallery.
       During the First World War the Church Hall was converted into an  Auxiliary Hospital and 1065 soldiers were treated.  In 1927 the right of way to the footpath beside the church was sold to the Council for £200 to finance repairs to the church.  The 4th Sidcup Guide Company was founded in 1926 and a Scout Troop in 1934.
     During the Second World War the Congregational Hall was used to shelter homeless families and during September 1940 gave shelter to 500 people.  In 1942 the local paper reported a Christmas party for Belgian refugees.
     In the 1960s the old Manse in Belton Road was sold and 1 Christchurch Road was purchased as a replacement.

Methodist Church

     A group of Wesleyan Methodists sought to establish a church in Sidcup and the first service was held at Unity Cottage, Birkbeck Road in 1882.  The first Methodist Church was built in 1884.  This building is now the Church Hall of Emmanuel Church in Hadlow Road.

The membership of 53 in 1892 doubled in the next three years, showing that the chapel would soon be too small.  A new church was built on the corner of Granville and Hadlow Roads, the present Emmanuel Church, and the old chapel became the Church Hall.  The original design included a central spire, but this was never built.  The church was built  with room for 400 with the ability to increase this to 600.  It cost £4400 and was opened on September 19th 1895.
     A brass plaque in the church hall records that 403 soldiers were treated in this Church Hall during the First World War.  In the late 1920s electric light was installed in the church and windows fitted over the side aisles.  A plot of land beside the Hall was bought and used as an allotment.
     In 1939 the Hall was initially requisitioned as a First Aid Post but instead it became a British Restaurant serving over 200 midday meals daily.  In 1943 the 30th West Kent Boy’s Brigade Company  was founded at the church and formed an active part of the church for over 20 years.
     The 6th Sidcup Guide Company was formed in 1945 and continued until 1974 when it merged with the 4th Sidcup Guides.
     In 1961 the old Manse at 6 Hadlow Road was sold and a new one was built on the allotment land beside the Hall.  New toilets were built in the Hall in 1962 and new lighting was installed in the church in 1968.
     Between 1969 and 1971 a major rebuilding program was undertaken based on designs by Len Griffiths.  A dividing wall was built across the Chancel arch, and a second floor added beyond with meeting rooms.  The East gallery was removed and the organ re-sited in the East Transept.  A new kitchen was built in the Hall and the old one was converted to general use (the Rainbow Room).  The church was re-dedicated on 16th March 1971.

     An important feature of the design was the suspended cross with its two shadows.  It was made by Mr. Mitchell, the woodwork teacher of Craybourne school, using pine from surplus pews.  After being stored in St Mary Cray Parish Church it was carried in procession to Sidcup by the Youth Club on Good Friday.
     Mr. Mitchell and his boys also made the Communion Table, from individually jointed strips of pine, one for each church member.  No glue was used in the construction.  It symbolises both a table covered by a cloth and a carpenters bench.

United Church

     Regular united services were held in the two churches during the Second World War and they continued afterwards on an occasional basis.
     In the 1960s and 70s there were moves towards Christian unity.  In 1971 a 95% majority of members supported union of the Congregational and Presbyterian Churches to form the United Reformed Church.  The proposed merger between the URC and the Anglican Church however failed to materialise.  Between 1973 and 1975 discussions between the URC and Methodist Churches eventually led to a 75% majority of both churches in favour of combining.  For financial and practical reasons the Methodist building was chosen.  The first meeting of the combined church actually took place in the Station Road church because of roof repairs at Hadlow Road.  On March 24th, following a ballot, the name Emmanuel was chosen.  The Station Road church was eventually leased to the Barnabas Fellowship, now the Sidcup Community Church.
     In 1990 the Church Hall was extended by the addition of the Green Room with a capacity of 50 people.  A storage hut for the Scouts and Guides was also built behind the church.  In 2007 toilets for the disabled were constructed in the church and the hall.
     To celebrate the Millennium, in 2000 a full set of pew runners and chair cushions were made by members of the congregation.
     In 2008, a complete re-wire of the Church and improvements to the wiring of the Hall were completed.
     In 2016 a major refurbishment of the church hall was undertaken with updated heating, repainting and floor sanding.

The interior of the church

The organ and pulpit

Millenium Pew Runners and Seat cushions

Blendon Cross

     The wooden cross from Blendon Church (a former church of the circuit) was made from Japanese Oak in the Woodwork Department of Chislehurst and Sidcup Grammar School in the Spring Term of 1973. On Good Friday morning it was carried in procession to Blendon Church.

     It hung in the sanctuary there until Blendon was closed in August 2006, when it was moved to Emmanuel.   It now hangs in the entrance, welcoming all worshippers to Emmanuel.

Page last updated 10-2-2017                                    Photographs by A Howard 2003

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