Celebratory service for 150th anniversary of United Reformed Church
10:03am Saturday 23rd March 2013 in News
IT is a hidden gem that has served Bolton town centre for 150 years.
Now the United Reformed Church of St Andrew and St George, St George’s Road, believed to be the place where plans for the Bolton Evening News were first discussed, is celebrating a special milestone.
The 150th anniversary falls on Good Friday, March 29, and a social event to mark the occasion will be held today with a celebratory service at 10.30am tomorrow.
Influential members of the congregation in the past included William Lever, the first Viscount Leverhulme, who founded the soap and cleaning product firm, Lever Brothers, with his younger brother James in 1885, and William Frederick Tillotson, who founded the Bolton Evening News in 1867.
Stained glass windows to com- memorate their lives are still in the church, including a large one in honour of the Tillotson family. It reads: “To the Glory of God and in memory of James Lever Tillotson and his wife Lindsay, Fred Lever Tillotson and his wife Dorothy. Given by their sons and daughters 1969.”
The current minister, the Reverend Mark Bates, who has been at the church for 18 months, said: “The window was there, but it was just a plain window and the family had it all designed and said get it done. It’s marvellous that the family still wanted to contribute so long after the family connection had started to wane.
“You can’t tell it’s modern stained glass until you get close up.
“Originally William Frederick Tillotson, in 1867, was a member of the church.”
According to rumour, says Mr Bates, Mr Tillotson and the incumbent minister came up with the idea to create the Bolton Evening News together, discussing it in the minister’s vestry.
The building was originally occupied by the congregation of St George’s Road Congregational Church and the church mainains a strong non-Conformist ethos.
Situated on the corner of St George’s Road and Knowsley Street, the building also houses Bolton’s Fairtrade shop, Justi- cia, which sells products from around the world, as well as the St George’s Day centre, which helps adults with mental health problems, and disability charity Community Care Options.
The church supports a number of local causes, Mr Bates said.
He added: “I think to have a Christian presence still, in the town centre, is marvellous.
“We are still getting 70 to 80 people on a Sunday morning.
“Our aim as a Christian com- munity is to show the love of God through our actions and our support for those less fortu- nate than ourselves.
“In the current economic climate we also aim to provide a space for community groups and small local businesses.”
Anyone interested in finding out more about room hire or office space can phone 01204 361960.
The preacher for tomorrow’s service will be Val Morrison, lay moderator of the United Reformed Church.