His­toric church forced to close

Birmingham Post - - NEWS -

A HIS­TORIC Birm­ing­ham church has been forced to shut its doors for the last time fol­low­ing a dra­matic drop in con­gre­ga­tion num­bers.

The United Re­formed Church in New­ton Road, Great Barr, needed sub­stan­tial in­vest­ment to main­tain the build­ing which the small con­gre­ga­tion was not able to af­ford, so the de­ci­sion was made to close it.

The church’s roots stretch back to the 1750s after it grew out of the Methodist con­gre­ga­tion that met in Bishop Fran­cis As­bury’s child­hood cot­tage home nearby.

For­mer mem­bers of the church re­cently pub­lished a book­let com­mem­o­rat­ing their cen­tury of ser­vice to the New­ton area of Great Barr. New­ton Con­gre­ga­tional Church, as it was first known, was started by Lil­lian Pow­ell in 1917 in a build­ing known as The In­sti­tute on the op­po­site cor­ner to the present build­ing.

The In­sti­tute had orig­i­nally been built by the Methodists in 1808 by a con­gre­ga­tion that had grown out of the cot­tage meet­ing at the home of Frank and El­iza As­bury, the par­ents of the Amer­i­can evan­ge­list Bishop Fran­cis As­bury.

Miss Pow­ell’s neph­ews, Frank and Harry Allen, both wealthy busi­ness­men, of­fered to build a new church in hon­our of their late par­ents, pro­vid­ing it was known as The Allen Memo­rial Con­gre­ga­tional Church, New­ton Road.

The new church was opened in September 1932 and dur­ing the Sec­ond World War the guild­hall was pressed into ser­vice as an Air Raid Pre­cau­tions (ARP) post and des­ig­nated an emer­gency feed­ing cen­tre.

In 1974 the church changed its name for the third time when the Con­gre­ga­tion­al­ists joined other non-con­form­ists and be­came known as the “New­ton Road United Re­formed (Allen Memo­rial) Church”.

By the 1980s there were grow­ing con­cerns that the church was no longer grow­ing and ac­tu­ally los­ing mem­bers.

Then in early 2017 a sur­vey re­vealed the ex­tent of the build­ing work which was re­quired.

> The United Re­formed Church in New­ton Road, Great Barr, has closed after 100 years

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