For our Centenary in 2003, our former Church Secretary Mr Charles Poole wrote a history of our Church. This is an extract:
It was in a very different era, a world in which Edward VII was on the throne and space travel, the internet and micro-technology were still many years in the future, when a group of some 73 people gathered together on a January day in 1903 officially to constitute the church known as Brownhill Road Baptist Church. [ Click Here to view the Founding (1903) Covenant ]
The origins of the church were in the last decade of the 19th Century when Archibald Cameron Corbett, a Scottish Member of Parliament acquired a large area of land in Hither Green for the purpose of housing development. He was a man of strong Christian convictions and, mindful of the spiritual needs of the new community taking root, made available plots of land on which places of worship could be created. A large number of properties had already been built when in 1899 the London Baptist Association took the opportunity of securing the site on which our present buildings stand.
A group of Baptists began meeting together in July
of that year at a house in Torridon Road (No.31) before moving
to the wooden and corrugated iron building known as the
'Tin Tabernacle' constructed where our church halls now stand.
The foundation stones of our present church building were laid in 1902, construction work went ahead and the newly erected building, costing £6,243, was ready for occupation, the opening ceremony taking place on July 8th 1903.
Progress.......The Church at Brownhill began with great promise - large congregations and an energetic young pastor. There were difficulties, however, including several early changes of leadership and anxiety engendered by the outbreak of World War 1 in 1914. Over one hundred men associated with the congregation served in that conflict: the names of the twenty men who died are inscribed on a memorial within the church. As a fitting memorial to their dedication and sacrifice it was proposed to erect Memorial Buildings on the site of the Tin Tabernacle, for use of the Sunday School. These buildings, completed in 1925, have been used for work amongst the young people of the area until the present day.
The depression of the 1930s and the outbreak of World War II took their toll on the life of the fellowship, with children being evacuated, young men and women called to serve in the Armed Forces and other church members employed in the various Civil Defence services of the country. When the bombing of London began in 1940 most parts of the Memorial Buildings were requisitioned by Lewisham Borough Council for the storage of furniture from bomb damaged properties in the area. The church itself was damaged by blast in 1944 and not used again for worship until 1947.
The postwar period was a fruitful one for Brownhill, with new initiatives to reach out into the community and growth within the fellowship. We even appeared on television in 1962, when the morning service was broadcast nationally.
As the years have passed we have been constantly reminded that the history of Brownhill is not the story of buildings and their fate, but of a community of people and their relationship with the loving God they seek to serve and honour. A lot can happen in in a hundred years.
Catford is no longer the leafy suburb it must have appeared in 1903. We have moved on from gas-lighting and horse drawn carriages. We are a very different 'mix' of people from those who gathered over 100 years ago - and we praise God for it!
As we look back we are aware of all the individual lives who, through God's guidance, have shaped our history. Some served here for many years tirelessly seeking to reach local people with the good news of Jesus. Others have made a brief impact and moved on. They have served through personal testimony and meetings and organisations of all kinds. Some, supported by the membership here, have sought to serve God in other countries and situations. We have had times of great spiritual prosperity and times of great discouragement too. But through the past 100 years we have proved that while people and circumstances change, the God we serve is faithful, now as then, "the same yesterday, today and for ever".