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St George’s News - Waterlooville’s Parish Magazine

The Website for St George’s Church, Waterlooville and its Parish Magazine St George’s News

Summer 2020 issue

The New St George’s, 1970 - 2010

Chapter 1, Part 1. 1970-1971

Friday 3 April 1970 was a memorable date in the history of St George’s when the Bishop of Portsmouth (Rt Revd John Phillips) came to consecrate the new church. For almost 18 months – since December 28 1968 – all services had been held in the Church Hall, whilst an old Army hut had been purchased and placed on the grass behind the Hall to be used for meetings and Sunday School.

The vicar (Rev Harry Gibson), his two Church Wardens Mr Tom Churchill and Mr John Osmond together with the architect Mr Ken Makins had borne the brunt of the planning and fund-raising. The names of the P.C.C. in 1970 also deserve to be recorded. They were John Randall (Secretary), Christopher Plummer (Treasurer), A Dudley, Chris Dursley, B Morris, Norman Birt, Derek Webster, Doug Kellaway, Douglas Cooper, Mrs Phillipson, Mrs F Shotter, Mrs H Johnson and Mrs Joyce Gibson.

Two curates left just before the new church opened. The Rev M Clarke went to St Peter and St Paul Fareham whilst the Rev L Marsh went to Shedfield. However a new curate (Rev M Ward) arrived and moved into the curate’s bungalow at 5 Warfield Avenue. He was a married man with two children and had been recently ordained having been an engineer in the Merchant Navy for most of his career.

Although the church was now open some work was still required on the flooring. The previous organ had been stolen whilst stored in a compound at the front of the church, so there was a short wait for the new organ to be installed in January 1971. Presumably the organist Mrs Johnson had to make do with a piano. The new organ cost £ 4,800 whilst the total cost of the new building was £44,520, which included the fees of the Architect and Quantity Surveyor.

John Symonds authored the book, The History of the Old St George’s, and more recently worked on a history of The New St George’s, covering the period from the construction of the new church in 1970, to the year 2010. We are pleased to be serialising this account over the coming issues of St George’s News.

Things quickly got back to normal. The first confirmation in the new church came on April 30 when Assistant Bishop Lawrence Woolmer confirmed eighteen candidates.

Before that the first christening – of Peter Gordon Whittaker – had been held on Sunday 5 April just two days after the consecration, and  the first funeral was that of James Gwythe on April 6. The first wedding was held on April 30 when Kenneth Soffe married Vivien Ann Deane of Cowplain.

The Summer Fete, held as usual at the home of Mr and Mrs Borrow, raised £260 and a Gift Day in June raised another £300  most of the money going into the Rebuilding Fund which  now totalled £11,000. One set-back occurred in August when the recently appointed curate resigned as he was dissatisfied with the bungalow in Warfield Avenue. Fortunately he was quickly replaced by the Rev William Haig-Brown from St Marys Portsea. He was a bachelor almost nearing retirement having been ordained in 1939. He settled in well and proved most popular. For much of his life he had served with the Missions to Seamen in Middlesborough, Antwerp, Hong Kong and several other ports. He had also served another curacy in Milton. He was soon to take charge of the Youth Club, assisted by Mr Stan Warren, organising events such as Any Questions, a walk to Hayling Island and a see-saw Marathon. Mrs C Phillipson (widow of a former vicar)  ran the Mothers’ Union  whilst Mrs Lindy Jarman led a Young Wives Group.

The disposal of the old Army hut proved difficult and several attempts to sell it foundered. Eventually Mr Edwards of the Funeral Directors agreed to remove it. The year ended with the usual Christmas services attended by over 300 people, whilst a Carol Service led by the choir was held in the bar of  The Heroes pub.

More fund-raising continued to pay off the rebuilding costs. In May 1971 Mr Norman Birt was appointed Hall Secretary/Caretaker being paid £20 per month. Hiring charges were to be £1.50 per hour for the first 3 hours and £1 thereafter. A new Electoral Roll of 216 names was drawn up at the end of the year. Mr W Hutchings and Mr R P Common joined the PCC in 1971. Mrs Johnson retired as organist in September 1972 and was replaced a few months later by Mr Geoffrey Jones.

John Symonds

•Series to be continued .…