The years of 1927-28 following the opening of the new Sunday School hall seemed to bring new life. The cost of the new buildings and the renovation of the chapel building had cost in the region of £3,042 and during the year of 1927 £2,234 had been paid out, including loans. Gifts of furniture and shrubs for the graveyard were given. It was also a time favoured for the musicians and singers; a new piano, a renovated organ with a guest organist of Mr H H North for the 106th Church Anniversary on Easter Sunday 1928, and later that year new church hymn books were purchased.
Life in the Sunday School in the 1920's and 30's
The new Sunday School hall had just been opened when I was first introduced to the joy of meeting with teachers who loved the Lord Jesus Christ. My aunt took me along; she was my father's youngest sister and was in the Young Women's Bible Class. The room each Sunday afternoon was filled with eager faces, the youngest sitting at the front and ranging to young men and women up to the age of around 21 years. The boys on one side and the girls on the other, all sitting on wooden forms, with teachers by their side.
One teacher, in my day the late Miss Winnie Freer, would stand at the front marking the register, for there would be a 100 or more scholars. Our Superintendent introduced the hymns, which were printed on large sheets hung on the wall and after prayers we would move into all the different rooms. How pleasant for the teachers to be able to use the new rooms. Of course, the church and gallery could also be used.
Morning school began at 10.00 am, this was led from the front by one teacher, and at a quarter to eleven we would move into the church for the morning service. Until we reached 11 years of age we could leave before the sermon, but after that we were expected to stay.
I never remember a large number in the
congregation, as friends mostly came just to the evening service.
The highlight of the year was the presentation of special books for regular attendance; how eager we were for this day, and we were so proud. Maybe it was our only book of the year. Some asked for a Bible or a hymn book. A Presentation Bible was given at the age of 21 until the year 1937 when the age was lowered to 16 years. This always took place at the Sunday School Anniversary.
The church became our second home, as we met at different times during the week, and for special seasons of the year: we learned scripture for a yearly examination; there was sewing and handicraft classes; we shared in fun as we sang and recited and participated in a yearly concert, or as we were part of choirs practising for special Sundays. This was our life, and we loved to be sharing and part of it all.
The Church and Music
My introduction as a young child to the church here at Barrow was to really look forward to times when the orchestra, organ and choirs played a very big part of praise and joy. Special orchestral concerts under the conductor the late R H Bennett Snr thrilled my young heart. The Lord really blessed us with men and women who loved music. As the Sunday School Anniversary came along year by year it was an event that we really looked forward to. Mr Bennett knew no other word but 'perfection' and I can see him now teaching us line by line, fiddle in hand, until we could move on to other musicians.
The orchestra faded out by about 1930 for these special programmes, but the organ was in control. As we walked through the church doors we could recognise the organist without glancing at the organ. The choirs and the anthems were chosen year by year and we were all expected to participate. Those of us who knew these years will never forget. I remember how thrilled I was when asked around the age of thirteen to sing in the choir.
At the end of the second world war Mr R H Bennett had passed away, and his son the late R Bennett became choir master; we had his twin brothers on occasions as visiting organists. Mr Charles Peat served the church faithfully as organist for a number of years and R Bennett's two sons, the late Leslie Bennett and also Eric Bennett, who had joined us on two occasions recently with the Cantemus Choir.
The music tradition continued with other organists mentioned elsewhere in this history.
Mention should be made of the musical opportunities in competition with the Loughborough and District Sunday School Annual Festivals, when choirs of children and adults with soloists played their part. All glory to God.
The following years until the outbreak of the second world war seemed to move along with membership around 60 in number; Easter Sunday being the Church Anniversary Day was celebrated with special preachers. A young people's evening was commenced on Mondays, however numbers coming into worship decreased and a note is made that in 1932 only ten members stayed for the Holy Communion Service, usually held monthly after the Sunday evening service. The new Area Superintendant minister, Rev Weaver, suggested names of ministers for oversight of the church, but on all of these occasions the church was unable to receive them.
A special mention is made of the farewell meeting on 4 July 1934 of Mr York and his family. He was retiring as the railway station master and moving to Bournemouth. He had served faithfully over 20 years as a church member; 16 of those years as Church Secretary and a number of years as Sunday School teacher and Morning Superintendent.... Mr York replied, 'I wish the church and Sunday School every joy and success in the winning of souls'. Fruit was seen from his labours and his prayer life ..... he was greatly missed.
In the year of 1935 a tennis court was prepared at the back of the church. This was enjoyed by many of the younger friends and matches were arranged with tennis groups of other churches. Just recently meeting up with Pastor Harry Sutton of the Wigston Bethel Free Church he related with joy of the Christian Fellowship shared here in Barrow. Who knows, we could have had an 'All England' winner!
On Easter Sunday 29 March 1936 a special visit was made of the President of the Baptist Union, Mr H E Wood JP CC.
Three friends were baptised in 1937 and added to the membership.
On 3 April 1939 the Chapel Deeds were transferred to the East Midlands Association.