Christ Church


In 1840 the Parish of Radford was developing with new housing, factories and workshops creeping eastward towards the town of Nottingham. At that time the town boundary on its western side was the top of Toll House Hill, now Derby Road. At this point three roads converged, Derby Road, Ilkeston Road and Alfreton Road as their names implied they all connected Nottingham to adjoining towns. It was on Ilkeston Road that the proposed Christ Church was to be sited. In October 1843 the Vicar of Radford, Samuel Creswell together with Francis Wright and Francis Welford petitioned the Ecclesiastical Commissioners proposing a new church to serve the growing population of the parish. The population of Radford parish at the time was 23,290. The new district was to be known as New Radford and allocated a population of 5,045. The petition described the residents as ‘persons employed as labouring mechanics, lace workers or in the colliery;’ the Bishop of Lincoln endorsed the petition with the comment ‘the Parish is one of the poorest in Nottingham.’  

The Church Pastoral Aid Society had already made a grant of about £100 to cover the cost of a curate who was conducting services in a former dissenting chapel. A plot of land on Ilkeston Road costing £200 had been purchased with funding from the Nottinghamshire Church Building Society who had also promised a further grant of £1,000 when the building was completed. The plan was to build a church with 1,001 sittings, 800 of which would be free. A parsonage and a school were also to be built on the site. It was estimated that the church would cost £3,600. In addition to the £1,000 promised by the Nottinghamshire Church Building Society £1,360 had been raised by other grants and donations. The Incorporated Church Building Society added a further £500. Costs however escalated in part due to the need to excavate the foundations deeper than planned. In 1845 the estimate for the church was £4,000 with an additional £1,000 each for the school and the parsonage. Francis Wright offered £500 towards the parsonage and wrote to the Ecclesiastical Commissioners asking them to match his offer. Christ Church was consecrated on the 14th of November 1845. The final cost of the church was £4,125 of which £3,625 had been raised by public subscription with £500 from the Commissioners.

The school was completed soon afterwards and by 1911 housed 600 scholars. On Sundays it served as the Sunday school, at the time of the 1851 Religious Census it had a total of nearly 500 children attending its three sessions, morning, afternoon and evening. Although the church could accommodate 1,001 worshippers the 1851 Religious Census reports congregations of just 172 in the morning, 50 in the afternoon and 150 in the evening; 372 in total. The population of the parish at the same date was 8,878. The Census also showed that the 200 rented seats produced an income of £60 per annum and the Parish endowment was £150. The vicarage was never built on the site and in 1874 the land was added to the churchyard. At some point a Mission Hall was opened in nearby Chapel Street. In 1871 a plot of land was purchased on the corner of Southey Street and Lake Street to build a vicarage, this venture again was abandon and the land sold to the Nottingham Cigar and Cigarette Company, John Player and Sons, for £300. No records were found giving the location of the vicarage in the early days of the parish, but in 1938 it is identified as Derby House in the Park and in 1939 Kimboulton Avenue, Derby Road, although both addresses are not too distant, neither are within the parish.

By 1866 Christ Church was promoting a range of both church related and social activities. There was a Young Men’s bible class; one of their duties was distributing tracts to local residents and the Sunday school pupils. The older men could join the Working Men’s Association which had a reading room and organised lectures, all for the charge of 6d a quarter. Nearly 600 book loans were made in the year. A cricket team was also active in the summertime. Nothing is recorded regarding provision for the female members of the church except their management of the Blanket Fund. In the winter of November 1865 to 1st June 1866, 189 blankets were loaned to people in the parish. In July £59. 6s. 6d. was spent on 60 new blankets for the following winter. Home visiting was also a part of the churches remit, one church member, Mr. Lloyd, is recorded making 4,000 home visits during 1866. Pleasant Saturday evenings were also arranged for the families with mainly home grown entertainment provided for a few pence. All the activities needed funding at a level few of the parishioners could afford; fortunately several local employers were generous in their relationship with the church, included in the list of benefactors were William Windley, A. C. Gill, Thomas Adams, J.L. Thackeray and Manley and Elliot.

In 1878 the church was restyled with the organ moved in the chancel together with the 40-strong choir fully robed in white surplices. This created a further 200 seats in the gallery and improved the view of the west window. Not so encouraging was a drop in attending the day school. Part of school was rented to the City Council in 1931 for the sum of £75 per annum. In the same year the Mission Hall, the home of the Old Boys Association and other church activities was closed and sold. The War Memorial lodged there was transferred to Christ Church; it listed 93 names. Despite the loss of the venue the old boys Association, the Girls Friendly Society and other groups continued to function. The church also introduced regular Healing Services.

Throughout the early 1930’s the City Council embarked on large scale social housing developments in Aspley and Broxtowe areas to the west of Radford, moving many of the parish residents to these new homes. This is confirmed by the home addresses of eight of the 16 members of the Parochial Church Council who had relocated by 1934. Declining use of the church prompted a discussion regarding the closure of the church in 1938, but no action was taken until 1943 when closure was for the War Emergency Period. In the announcement it was stated the over 50 local clergymen were serving with the armed forces. One other consideration may have been the reported poor condition of the church. It was announced in 1948 that the church would not reopen, and the unification of the parish with nearby All Souls. Demolition followed in 1951. All that remain today is the most of the boundary wall and a low level section of the south wall of the nave plus a few grave markers set against the east wall of the churchyard. However, as a green garden of rest it does remain a place of peace amidst a busy urban cosmopolitan area, not altogether devoid of its short lived but valued past

The Baptism, Marriage and Burial Registers of the Church 1843-1943 are held in the Nottingham Archives.