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- Sundays at 11:00 am
A short history of St Andrew’s
In 1898, nearly all seats at Christ Church Walmsley were let (though rarely fully occupied by the holders). As it was sometimes impossible for newcomers to secure seating for the whole family to sit together, they either sought other places of worship or ceased to attend church altogether.
Consideration of this and other problems, including the rise in population in the Toppings area, caused the Reverend Chetwyn Atkinson, Vicar of Walmsley, to realise the need for a mission (or daughter) church at the opposite end of the parish to Christ Church for worship and other events.
A local benefactor, Mr H S Hoare, offered one acre of land at his Toppings estate, locally known as the ‘brick back’ on which to build a new church. The vicar then purchased, for a very small sum (£40), an ‘iron church’ from the parish of Haigh at Wigan.
The church, when built, was not to have rented seats but free seating for all and was to free self-supporting from collections. The building at Haigh was dismantled and transported by horse drawn vehicle to Toppings and stored in a mill at Cox Green until the site at Toppings was ready.
The construction of the church was to be of timber and iron frame, set on a brick wall base and covered externally by corrugated sheeting. The interior walls to be lined with pine cladding, music to be provided by a harmonium sited on the left side of the chancel and a front with an engraved base sited at the entrance.
Work commenced in April 1898 and, on completion, the building was dedicated on 15 September 1898. Bishop Cramer-Roberts who was to have performed the Dedication Service was suddenly taken ill and the Vicar of Bolton, the Reverend E Hoskyns took his place. It was named St Andrew’s Mission Church but locally became nick-named ‘the tin tabernacle’ or the ‘iron church’ because it was built of corrugated sheets. Several alterations were carried out to the building over the years. Refurbishments included the provision of a central aisle with two side aisles against each wall.
Later developments included the partitioning of the building at the back end to provide a meeting room for social functions. In 1974, a small pipe organ was installed by Mr J E Mason at the instigation of Mr Bill Knowles, the then organist and choirmaster. The church’s beautifully furnished with rich carpeting, and chandelier lighting. Although originally meant to be temporary, it did infect remain as a place of worship until 1988 when it was found to be structurally unsafe and had to be demolished. It was replaced by a new church, consecrated in 1994 by the Bishop of Manchester, which retains the name St Andrew’s and also houses the Eagley School War Memorial Board commemorating scholars who lost their lives in two World Wars.