Eastbrook Hall, Bradford Methodist Mission

Memories

By Geoffrey Stead

I was first taken to Eastbrook Hall, the Bradford Methodist Mission in Leeds Road, at the age off about five, I think, by my parents who, becoming a bit fed up of the rather boring services at Bethel Methodist Church near where we lived, wanted something more lively and stimulating. At that age, I found all services boring, and the earnest preaching of Dr Maurice Barnett, the then minister, made no impression on me whatever. I shuffled and fidgeted on the hard tip-up seats, saw how small I could fold up my hymn sheet and, if my parents allowed, read Enid Blyton's 'Famous Five' adventures up in the gallery, by keeping the book just below the level of the balustrade, out of sight of the preacher. I used to dread the hymns because I was too shy to be seen singing, and a red-nosed gentleman with a booming voice, who sat nearby, often asked my parents, "why isn't your boy singing?"

Dr Barnett moved on in 1964, and another minister, Rev Frank Thewlis became the superintendent. Both my parents and I liked his sermons, because they were liberally peppered with humorous illustrations which often had a tenuous link to the theme, but we had a good laugh, so that didn't seem to matter! Besides, I was in my teens by this time, and better able to enjoy the preaching and the hymns.

                            

 

This page was added by Geoffrey Stead on 08/06/2015.
Comments about this page

I can still see the face of the Rev. Dr. Maurice Barnett.  A man with a ruddy face and a beatific smile, as I sat up in the gallery with my grandparents Clement and Clara Hill.  He shook our hands as we left and his face is as clear in my mind as it was all those years ago in the 50s.  Two 'sisters' whose names I can't remember, sat on chairs either side of his on the platform.

By Barbara Whitehead
On 25/10/2016

I vividly remember Eastbrook Hall. Shortly before my father's appointment as Superintendent Minister he visited the church office, with my sister and I in tow. We were curious and had seen the local Telegraph & Argus trumpeting "Bradford boy makes good" - (dad was brought up in Bolton Woods) so we were keen to know what the fuss was about. We, in our early teens and 'waiting patiently' while dad conducted his business, found a door into the main hall. It was dark, of course, so mysterious, but the overwhelming emotion was of huge warmth. I am not a superstitious person, and of course young as we were we knew something of the historic fervour and emotional power felt by congregations in that magnificent space, so I'm sure we projected our knowledge onto the magnificent octagonal interior. But it felt like decades of passion and power seeped out of the very woodwork. To know that we would soon hear it filled with the enthusiastic singing that we'd been born into and to realise that this was one of the powerhouses of our legacy was an awesome experience. Over the years as we came to know the building and the "people called methodists" in Bradford we learned to live and love with as much open-hearted abandon as we were taught to sing. From formal communions that rolled on for ages to youth visits to Coniston chapel, Eastbrook was of course the centre of our lives for many years. But somehow, that memory of standing there together in the gloom and feeling waves of love has never dimmed.

By Andrew BECK
On 02/02/2017

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