Parkside Hall, Maidenhead
During 2006 the assembly enjoyed times of real blessing and thanksgiving celebrating 50 years in the current Hall. There was an Open Day at the beginning of September when some of those who attended various activities years ago were invited to come and around 200 people attended. We were able to use Kidwells Park which is situated at the rear of the Hall. Later, at the end of the month, we held our annual conference when we were delighted to hear reports and ministry from Robert Revie who had been commended by the assembly to the work in Ethiopia in 1969. In November we welcomed brethren from Scotland with the Ayrshire Bible Exhibition when over 450 local schoolchildren attended, together with their teachers, in the daytime, while some of their parents came in the evenings.
Happy reunions invariably bring questions - ‘How did it start?’ - being one of them.
In 1890, 13 brethren and sisters walked from Maidenhead to Holyport - a village about 3 miles away - to remember the Lord in His appointed way. One of these was Edward Free whose granddaughter is still in fellowship. In 1895 a hall, quaintly known as Oddfellows Hall, was rented in Brook Lane in Maidenhead and about 30 were in fellowship there. Conviction to reach out to the unconverted was ever before them and in 1890 open-air meetings were convened with a doctor from Ceylon in fellowship preaching regularly. Further, a Mr. Tochen visited Maidenhead most summers with his caravan and motorcycle to evangelize the local villages.On one occasion his caravan was pushed into a pond by local youths. One of those was William Smith who later was soundly converted and much used by the Lord for Bible teaching and gospel outreach. Some of his relatives are still with us today.
In 1906 the assembly moved from Oddfellows Hall to the Old Drill Hall in Marlow Road. It remained there until 1940 except for the war years (1914- 1918) when the Drill Hall was being used as a hospital for war casualties. In 1940 a mission hall named ‘Bethel‘ and located in Holmanleaze became vacant. The assembly rented it and enjoyable fellowship was appreciated there. In 1956 we moved to Parkside Hall. A building fund had been started in 1928 and land for a new hall purchased in 1938. In 1943 additional land was purchased which is now the car park. Much discouragement was experienced. For some years it was not possible to obtain a building licence nor planning permission and it was not until 1955 that a local Christian builder from Slough was able to erect the Hall which was opened in December 1956 with a Thanksgiving Service. Imediately following this considerable activity and outreach work took place with Sunday School and gospel meetings being held at Lincoln Road on a new housing estate. Also, in 1958, a ‘Key to Life’ Campaign was held with Peter Brandon and Ivor Powell. This took place in Kidwells Park behind the Hall. The work at Lincoln Road continued to prosper with good numbers in the Sunday School and Ladies’ Meeting which encouraged those responsible to start a regular gospel testimony on Sunday evenings. In 1966 such was the interest that a request was made to consider starting an assembly testimony with the Lord’s Supper being celebrated. In 1969 the Parkside assembly was asked to pray earnestly for 3 months to find those with a real exercise of heart to move and to establish this new assembly which was to be known as Blenheim Chapel. Around 40 members left Parkside to do this and about 80 remained.
After a tent campaign in 1958, led by Peter Brandon, there followed openair meetings in and around the town. An offshoot from the Sunday School were young peoples’ camps which led to many of them being confronted with the gospel. Ultimately, some believed, were baptized and brought into assembly fellowship. In 1972 a flat-roofed extension to the Hall was built. This was improved on in 1982 when a ridge roof was added allowing for an extra room upstairs.
Although the number in fellowship is now much less than 80, there is a real desire to continue the outreach work remaining. Open-air work is hampered by various laws of the local council but in 1986 we embarked on ‘coffee mornings’ on Saturdays. Tables and chairs are placed in the Park and invitations to have a cup of coffee and a chat continue with some people visiting us regularly, and some coming to the gospel meetings. Other activities in which we engage today are gospel outreach, children’s and young people’s work, ladies’ meetings, mums and toddlers and missionary work.
All of this labour for the Lord continues in the assembly and is as set out in New Testament teaching. We trust it is to the glory of God, the exaltation of Christ and a spiritual help for believers and unbelievers alike.