Sunday, May 08, 2011

Market Harborough had a tin tabernacle

This is St Hugh's in Northampton Road, Market Harborough, which was opened in 1940. The new parish was carved out of Little Bowden in 1920 to serve the housing that had appeared south of the River Welland since the late Victorian period. (The two parishes were reunited some years ago.)

On Saturday I bought a pamphlet about this church's history:
Following a meeting in November 1892 it was agreed to acquire the necessary land and build a Mission Room. The building was opened on 16th August 1893. The building is still in use as the Church Hall ...

The Mission Room rapidly proved too small and in 1895 a temporary church was built using corrugated iron and referred to either as the Iron Church or as the Tin Tabernacle.

Soon after the Iron Church was opened the parishoners started to think about a "permanent church". Their dreams were realised when the present building was consecrated on 10th February 1940.
So there was a Tin Tabernacle in Market Harborough for 45 years. The odd thing is that I have always knows that St Hugh's was the "Iron Church", but had wrongly assumed that was because iron was somehow used in the construction of the 1940 church. Instead it seems that the old nickname attached itself to the new building.

The pamphlet - "St Hugh's Church Market Harborough, 1940-1990" by C.G. Medley - is not enthusiastic about Tin Tabernacles, quoting a report about the one at St Hugh's from 1913:
"There are many reasons why we must make an effort to find the money required as soon as possible. Among them: the heat in summer and the cold in winter are both intensified in a building of iron. Again, we are very crowded together, it is a difficulty to kneel in comfort. Ventilation without draught is an impossibility, in one part of the building people are calling out for windows to be open and somewhere else they are suffering from draught. There is no spaciousness which is so necessary not only for health but also for dignity."

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