No 70: Capel Stanley Road
I mentioned in earlier blogs that I was baptised during 1938 at Capel Stanley Road (Stanley Road Welsh Calvinistic Methodist Chapel), Bootle, and I show an extract from the Chapel's Annual report for 1938 which shows that I was amongst four baptisms that year but unfortunately it doesn't give the date. This splendid Chapel was opened in 1876 and I show the photo on the front of the 1938 Chapel Report. My parents, my grandparents and my father's sister and her husband, Ann and Glyn Jones, were active members. My father was one of the two Superintendents of the Sunday School and my Uncle Glyn later became a Deacon.
Bootle was near the docks and was a constant target for the bombing. In 1939 there were 17,119 houses in Bootle of which 2,043 were completely destroyed, 6,000 were severely damaged and a further 8,000 suffered damage leaving only just over 1,000 houses that were completely undamaged. It is therefore not surprising that the Chapel received a direct hit and was destroyed on 4th May 1941 and I show a photo of the destruction. Only the Schoolroom seen on the left of the photos was left standing but even that was severely damaged. Remarkably the memorial column to those killed in WW1 remained intact and can be seen to the right of the photo.
Ironically the Chapel had been completely refurbished, including the organ, in 1938. The minister had died in July 1938 so there was no minister in post when I was baptised. My baptism service was undertaken by the Rev. John Easter Ellis who was a minister at one of the other Liverpool Presbyterian chapels. The Rev.D Tudor Jones became minister in 1940 and he was the minister when the chapel was destroyed in 1941.
When we returned after the war in 1945 the Schoolroom had been restored and this is where the services and all other activities were held. The rest of the site was clear apart from the WW1 memorial which was still intact. Subsequently the names of those killed in WW2 were added on this memorial which still stands today. The minister at this time was the Rev. Gele Williams. I have memories of attending services there and the Sunday School in particular. I remember Sunday School trips to Loggerheads and to Southport. There were also evening events and events with other chapels including an annual eisteddfod. I have memories of coming home from an eisteddfod on a tram with a group from the chapel who seemed to have taken over the whole of the upstairs. We had won a big cup and there was singing all along the journey.
With some war compensation and a huge fundraising effort the chapel was rebuilt and the new chapel opened in September 1956. A photo of the new chapel is shown and it is seen that the war memorial is still in place. Unfortunately due to a dwindling congregation it was closed in 1996 and it was taken over by Sefton Council and converted into offices.
After my aunt left Litherland in 1954 I hardly visited Liverpool. I went to my friend's wedding in the 60s and when I lived in Wrexham, 1973-1980, I only visited Liverpool about 6 times for meetings to do with my work. When my daughter, Ceri, went to Liverpool University in 1998 I started taking her round the old haunts and my interest in Liverpool was reawakened.
I took Ceri to see Capel Stanley Road and on a Saturday the offices were obviously closed. We saw the war memorial but I was surprised that there was no indication that this had once been a Welsh church. We subsequently went there on a weekday and saw inside the building but again there was nothing to indicate the past history of the chapel. I felt that there should be something on the building to show its past so I contacted the Rev. D Ben Rees, the current minister of Bethel (formerly Heathfield Road) chapel who is an old college friend. He suggested that I write about this in "Y Goleuad" the Welsh Presbyterian monthly which I did. In the following edition Ben had a letter supporting this and he then set about arranging for it to happen.
On Sunday morning 12 October 2003 I had the pleasure of attending the unveiling of a new plaque on the chapel walls to indicate the building's past history as a Welsh chapel by a former member, Miss Eirian Roberts, a nice of the famous Welsh writer Dr Kate Roberts. When I stopped there at the end of August I saw that the building is no longer used by the council and in the hands of a private company who was advertising vacant office space. I hope that they fill the offices quickly in order to ensure the building's future. It currently looks in good condition which in sharp contrast to what's happened to some of the other former Welsh chapels in Liverpool such as the formerly magnificent Princess Road Chapel.
Gwynedd Family History Society, www.gwynedd.fhs.org.uk Meetings for the next four weeks are:
Caernarfon, 29 January (In Welsh, last Thursday of each month) 7.00pm at the Library, Lôn Pafiliwn: Keith O'Brien: "Hanes Camp Milwrol Traws"
Bangor, 10 January (In English, first Tuesday of each month) 7.00pm at the Quakers Meeting Hall, Dean Street: Hywel Roberts "Uncle Tom in WW1"
Conwy, 9 January (In English, second Monday of each month) 7.00pm at Capel Ebenezer, Abergele Road, Old Colwyn: Peter Broadbrent: "Family History: A Bookbinder's View"
Pwllheli, 20 January (In Welsh, third Friday of each month) 7.00pm at Capel Seion, Lon Dywod: Dr Richard Roberts: "Rhydychaen, Paris a Phwllheli: Golwg ar waith John Gwenogfryn Evans"
Dolgellau, 12 January (In Welsh, second Thursday of each month) 7.00pm at the Royal Ship Hotel: Angharad Williams: "Gwaith Comisiwn Brenhinol o Hanebion Cymru"
Llangefni, 19 January (In English, third Thursday of each month) 7.00pm at Capel Smyrna, Ffordd Glanhwfa: Workshop in the NEW Llangefni Archives
Clwyd Family History Society, www.clwydfhs.org.uk
The meetings are held on the second Saturday of each month (except August) at 2.00 pm at locations that rotate within the former county of Clwyd.