The Parish Church of St George the Martyr, Waterlooville



taken from ST GEORGE’S NEWS, MARCH 1995

In the first of our articles to mark the 25th Jubilee of the rebuilding of St George's our contributor is Tom Churchill,
Churchwarden at the time, who here sets the scene for the new church.

When Joyce and myself arrived to live, with our young son and daughter, at 29 Rowlands Avenue in 1950, Waterloovllle was still a small village on the Portsmouth to London road, in the jurisdiction of Havant and Waterloo U.D.C. The village squires were the Hulbert family, who left when their estate at Stakes Hill Lodge was sold to developers.

There are still a few original families in Waterlooville, the Edwards, Oldings, Mor­gans, Stones, Borrows, Pyle and Faulkners to name a few.

Shortly after arrival, we started worshipping at St. George's, and our children attended the Sunday School, where Reverend John Phillipson had been on service in the R.A.F., but was then seriously ill in hospital, to die fairly soon, as his tablet in the Chapel records. His widow and family remained in the parish for many years after.

The new vicar appointed was Reverend Harold Tate, who had recently returned from the mission service in India after many years. I became an altar server for him for several years, and was first elected to the P.C.C. in 1951.

From this time onwards, Waterlooville developed at a tremendous pace, with new council and private housing everywhere and people arriving from many parts of the country. It became apparent that the small Victorian Church would be unable to cope with this expansion. The job of the P.C.C., during this period, was literally to keep the building from deteriorating too rapidly before it could be replaced.

On the death of Mr Tate, there was an inter-regum of several months and Reverend Harry E. Gibson was appointed in 1962, in the knowledge that part of his ministry would include the building of a new church.

In the re-organising of the P.C.C., John Randall took over from me as secretary, and I was elected Church warden, on the resignation of George Potter, who was heavily involved with Toc. H work. John Osmond was the other Church warden, with whom I served until his resignation, after 25 years, to be replaced by Chris Dursley. Colin Plummer was treasurer of the Council.

P.C.C. meetings, many quite lengthy, now became geared primarily towards the new church, including constant contacts with the Diocesan authorities. The architect, Kenneth Makins, was appointed and soon came up with draft proposals. The general concept was to retain the existing tower and chapel, building the new church much wider, between the retained portions. This would facilitate the new idea of the congregations, grouped around the altar, with the Priest facing them, as channel of God's Grace.

To retain the tower it had to be strengthened. This was achieved by cladding with large slabs of exposed granite, tied to the existing tower, with a cavity between, giving efficient weather proofing. The tower was given greater height, with concrete louvred walls and a modern 'wing' roof. The retained chapel gives a glimpse of the old St. George's.

Whilst the planning processes were proceeding, great efforts of fund raising were taking place, with everyone asked for original ideas, so the money 'barometer' kept rising. The hall was being prepared as our temporary church, in which operation, our hall manager, the late Norman Birt, played a great part. With the loss of our hall, a new venue for fund raising and social events was required. To accommodate this need, an ex-government timber hut was purchased, and erected in the Church-yard, just North of the present hall. This building proved a great asset, and was removed after completion of the church.

The original organ (which had a che­quered history) was dismantled and stored in the retained chapel. Unfortunately, what was believed to be 'curious' youngsters, broke a window and entered the building. The fact of jumping around on the fragile components of the organ, meant that it was useless for the subsequent re-building of the instrument. Luckily, the P.C.C. had been prudent enough to insure the components during the storage, hence the excellent new organ that was built into St. George's. It is an ill wind...

On the return of the tenders, Messrs Marsh of Emsworth were selected to carry out the demolition, and building of the new St. George's Church.

During the period of building, Mr Kenneth Makins would start his conversation with me by asking if I was wearing my Church-warden's or sub-contractor's hat, as our company was supplying the pre-cast slabs for the tower and other components This ensured there was no dispute of inter­ costs and the arrangement proved satisfactory!

As the building proceeded, the attention of the P.C.C. turned to the internal furnishings. One item, which caused long debates, was a focal figure, on the very bare North wall. The P.C.C. had ideas of an opening in this wall, to give a view through to the existing chapel, but this was adamantly refused by the Church Building Board.

John Phillipson, an art master and son of the former vicar, was given a commission for an original design of the figure. Amongst several sketches the choice came between 'Christ in Majesty' and `The Crucifixion', the latter being chosen. A very stark reminder of what death by crucifixion really meant, yet in Christ's face, the shout of victory over death.

Donors were given the opportunity to purchase a window, or pieces of furniture, various charitable bodies were approached for help, in addition to normal fund raising. One stalwart to mention was Mrs Lucy Johnson, our organist, that her new organ was launched, with it's own maintenance fund!

The new St. George's was re-hallowed at an evening service on Thursday April 3rd 1970, by The Lord Bishop of Portsmouth, The Rt. Reverend John L. Phillips. On the following Sunday the Archdeacon of Portsmouth conducted the first Eucharist. Then the work of bringing our Liturgy front the Book of Common Prayer through series 1, 2 and 3 to the alternative service in use today, completed the work of Reverend Harry Gibson, who retired in 1981.

My last duty as Church-warden was to welcome our present vicar on his first visit to St. George's. Since his appointment, Reverend Malcolm Ferrier has carried his ministry forward, to keep our parish, a living family Church, in tile line of traditional values.

By happy coincidence, the 25th anniversary of our new Church, is also a similar anniversary of the Priesthood of Fr. Malcolm.

God bless both man and Church.