A Baptist Church
Formally known as West Street Baptist Church
In 1672 at Pendle and in the 1680’s, houses in Bacup were licensed as being “set apart for public meetings for Protestant Dissenters in religious worship”. The church at Cloughfold was founded in 1701. One of the signatories to the document was Richard Holden of Stublee Rochdale.
The church at Bacup was formed at some date between 1720 and 1735.
Rochdale people were members of the Rossendale church from the very first; they were mostly farmers.
The real beginning of the church came with the baptism of nine people in the River Roche on 12th October 1773.
A great crowd gathered on the banks to watch the ceremony which was conducted by a Mr Hirst. A report was circulated the Mr Hirst had demanded five shillings from each person baptised. In consequence, all nine made a solemn declaration that the charge was an absolute falsehood, each signing his or her name to the document - so began a religious cause which has continued for two centuries.
From 1973, in the teeth of much opposition, the Baptists secured a room attached to the Bull Inn at the bottom of Yorkshire Street which they occupied until April 1775. The Church Books at Bacup and Wainsgate record the dismission (or transfer) of the Rochdale members to the newly formed Rochdale Church.
In 1775 a building was erected on a site in Town Meadows, near to the site of the new Police Headquarters.
The first minister was Abraham Greenwood who led the Church for six years from 1775 to 1781; when he was followed by John Dracup.
Extract from Fund Raising Letter dated: 26th January 1831:
The Baptist Church now assembling in Town Meadows occupy a chapel which was built in the year 1773, when the number of dissenters in the town was very small, and they were very much condemned.
The building stands in the very worst situation in the town; every way of access to it being very unpleasant. The walls and floor are extremely damp and it appears upon examination by a builder that the rebuilding of one side of it would, in a short time, be essential to its security. There is reason to believe that on these accounts some persons have deserted the place and that others are deterred from attending it…
The new West Street Baptist Church was opened on the first Sunday in March, 1833.
On the occasion of the 150th Anniversary celebrations in 1923, Miss Sarah Holt wrote (in the Lancashire dialect):
Some of us here tonight knew some who were children then, and even down to old age they told us about it.
The maintenance of the building had become a serious problem and on Sunday, 1st August 1965 the Church met for the last time in the old chapel which it had entered 132 years earlier.
They relocated into the School Rooms located at the rear of the Chapel which was actually located on Buckley Street – but the familiar name of ‘West Street Baptist Church’ was still used as the name of the church.
In the 1980’s the old ‘School Building’ was demolished and the we rebuilt on that site.
In January 2009 we moved to Horse Carrs. We purchased Horse Carrs from Emmanuel Christian School and we have been here ever since.