History of the Sailors Chapel
The Church is believed to be formed in 1889. This date of formation can only be estimated as no hard evidence can be found regarding the founding of the Church. Despite the lack of documentation in the early years of the Church, much is known about certain key events around this time.
The First Building
The Cheshire Lines Committee (CLC) originally owned the land on which the old chapel stood. On 11th February 1886 a Mr. George Jackson made an agreement with the CLC to rent this plot of land situated on the corner of Wellington Road and Grafton Street. This was confirmed to be the old chapel site by a map attached to the agreement. Permission was given to erect a temporary building at a rate of £5 rent a quarter. This building was constructed and used as a cocoa room for three years. Mr. Jackson received a letter dated 9th March 1889 giving permission for the transfer of tenancy to another party.
A receipt dated 30th March 1889 shows that Mr. Jackson did sell the property for the sum of £355 to the Seamen's Friend Society. The Gordon Smith Institute for Seamen was founded in 1820:
‘With the aim of providing for the spiritual and material well-being of sailors arriving at the port’
In the following year, 1890, Gores directory includes “South Bethel at Wellington Road. Minister – Rev J.M.Wilkie.”
The Growth of the Chapel and Independence
The chapel was well up and running and remained in the Wellington road location well into the 1900s. July 1937 saw a significant turn in the prospects of the Chapel. July 1937 saw a significant turn in the prospects of the Chapel. George F. Townson, honorary superintendent at the South Bethel, J. Banks, J. Revera and T. Revera at a meeting with the institute suggested that a full time missionary was required. This was not accepted but the institute suggested that the Chapel might be better under the jurisdiction of a more suitable organization such as the Liverpool City Mission. At another meeting two months later it was stated that no further finance for the Chapel from the institute could be given after 31st December 1937 due to financial situation of the institute. This brings the Chapel into its present state of independence when Mr. John Banks of Dingle Lane on behalf of the "South Bethel Mission" made an agreement with the CLC for the tenancy of the Chapel. This occurred on the 7th January 1938.
Joining The F.I.E.C.
Under the leadership of Pastor Hughes minutes of 1st November 1967 state that the church had been accepted into membership of the F.I.E.C. but as the title implies it was still independent as it is to the present day. A fire occurred in 1968 causing serious damage to the rear hall and this time was a test of faith for the Believers. What made matters worse was the fact that the hall was under the process of redecoration with much already done but the members rose to the challenge and the building was soon restored to its former condition.
The New Building
It had been realised for several years that the old wood and iron building was deteriorating and new premises would be needed and so a building fund was commenced. A compulsory purchase order was placed on the Chapel in 1967 and this made the City Council the new owners. After much correspondence with the Council the Chapel eventually secured permission to build on the land allocated. The rising costs of building materials and labour brought about the decision that the members would need to do as much of the work as possible. Many of the men who helped build the chapel are still faithful members to this day and having dug the foundations themselves know that the chapel stands on more than one solid rock!
The opening day for the new Chapel was the 13th November 1982 and this started with a short final meeting at the old building, then a march led by the band to the new building which after the opening ceremony was bursting at the seams with well-wishers. The first service was led by the last Pastor, Bill Hughes.