Raising the roof in early 1959
Thanksgiving for the official opening, 7 July 1959
The foundation stone that you can see as you enter the church was laid in a ceremony in December 1958. Alderman Black (later Sir Cyril Black) is pictured just right of centre in the bowler hat. A staunch Baptist, he was MP for Wimbledon and chairman of Surrey County Council who built the Croftleigh estate.
Old Lodge Lane Pastors past and present
OLLBC: A Brief History
Building work started in 1958, and it was July 1959 when Old Lodge Lane Baptist Church was officially opened, but the OLLBC story actually begins back in 1949 when Mr Vernon and Mrs Connie Vail, members of Purley Baptist Church in Banstead Road, started a Sunday School in their home for children in and around Old Lodge Lane.
The Sunday School was one of many outreach activities that members of Purley Baptist were engaged in at the time, and despite a slow uptake at first the classes soon established an excellent reputation. As the 1950s progressed the school grew to the point where there was hardly enough room for all the children. Then Surrey County Council, who were building the new Croftleigh estate, offered a site on the estate to any church prepared to develop it, and Purley Baptist Church gladly accepted. A simple but attractive building was erected at a total cost of about £9,000.
As was fitting, Connie Vail performed the opening ceremony in July 1959, and in February 1960 the Rev. David Kingdon was officially appointed the church’s first pastor. David left after four years to become Principal of the Irish Baptist College in Belfast and was followed in 1964 by Geoffrey Richards, then a mature student at Spurgeon’s College.
Geoffrey was ordained in July 1965 and continued here until February 1967. During his ministry the buildings were extended with the addition in 1964 of a new prefabricated hall costing around £1,250. Thanks to the drive, inspiration and hard work of Bill Aldridge and fellow church members, a lounge was added and came into use in 1970.
During the 1960s Old Lodge Lane became increasingly autonomous. The first move came in 1961 when four deacons were appointed with special responsibility for business affairs. The process was to continue in 1968 when the Purley Baptist membership list was divided between the two churches and the members at the Lane assumed responsibility for virtually all matters affecting their work.
However, the leadership at Old Lodge Lane continued to change frequently. Geoff Richards moved to Hinckley, Leics., and was succeeded by Rev. A.J. Sleeman from Bristol, but he left the following year. Two members of Purley Baptist were deputed to lead the work at Old Lodge Lane until 1969 when Rev. John Pearse became pastor.
In 1971 another newly-ordained minister, Rev John Maile, was inducted, but when he left in late 1974 to pursue further studies and teaching at Spurgeon’s College the leadership role again fell vacant.
Rev Bill Mumby, one of the ministry team at Purley Baptist, was given responsibility for Old Lodge Lane in September 1975. Bill brought stability and spent the next 13 years here. The church continued to reach out to the local community with play school, youth groups and a children’s choir, Joybells, started by Joyce Mumby. A group for elderly people, Golden Leaves, was formed, and as numbers grew it became more and more difficult to accommodate all the activities going on.
The 1970s was a time of runaway inflation, so when a new hall and kitchen were added in the early 1980s the price tag was £51,000, nearly six times the cost of the original building.
It was during Bill Mumby’s tenure that arguably the most significant event in Old Lodge Lane Baptist Church’s history occurred. On 30 June 1984 the church became independent of Purley Baptist. Exactly one week later we celebrated our 25th anniversary.
Bill Mumby remained in post for another four years. When he moved to Brighton in 1988 there followed another period without an official pastor, and oversight was entrusted to Rev Derek Mucklow and Arthur Rowe as Moderators.
In September 1992 Stephen Harrison, another newly-ordained minister, was inducted. He developed the community outreach activities which have always been a feature of Old Lodge Lane Baptist Church, and also oversaw further building works when the toilet area and the corridor connecting the church and hall were installed in 1996.
The final year of the century saw Rev Harrison moving to Watford and also the fortieth anniversary celebration on 11 July, one of the hottest days of 1999, when the church was full to overflowing. The service was led by Rev David Murray, though at the time no-one knew he was to become the next full-time pastor the following year.
David was here until 2005, when he left to become Minister at Thorpe-le-Soken in Essex. He continued the theme of active community involvement and when the Croftleigh Area Residents Association was set up in April 2004 their first meeting was held at the church.
He was succeeded by Rev Nigel Jones as Moderator, assisted by a team of deacons. Then in 2010 our current Pastor, Nick Graves, was appointed. Nick has enthusiastically accepted the challenge and continues to lead the way in taking the message of Christ’s gospel of love to the local community.