Parkgate and Neston United Reformed Church
In 1857 a group of notable people led by R. A Macfie of Ashfield Hall petitioned the presbytery of Lancaster to found a church in Parkgate Mr. Macfie was, along with most of the other people involved, a Scot who had made his home on the Wirral. There was already a church in the square at Parkgate (now St. Thomas’). Mr Macfie bought this building from the failing Congregational church and Parkgate & Neston Presbyterian Church was born. The first minister, Rev. A.M. Halkett was called and remained as minister until his retirement in 1873.
Worship continued on Sunday mornings at the church in Mostyn Square under the pastoral charge of Rev. John Towert, who had previously ministered in Scotland, and who remained in office for the next 48 years. At the first Communion recorded during Mr. Towert’s ministry, 55 members were present.
The great event of the year 1884 was the opening of the present church on Moorside Lane. The land had been generously given by Mr. J. Johnston Houghton of Westwood, Thornton Hough. The funds to erect it came not only from members of the church, but from many others, some of whom were members of the Church of England and other denominations. A schoolroom was built under the church as a temporary measure, and this was the only additional space the church had until the present hall was built in 1968. The stone used was Storeton stone and Yorkshire shoddies, and the cost was £3000. On the date of opening £700 remained to be raised and was fully paid in 1887.
Interestingly, although the congregation had the incentive of the new church there were only 38 people at the October communion of 1884.
The manse next door was built in 1900, and is no longer used for that purpose.
Worship continued at the new church, and the congregation grew, albeit suffering as all communities did with losses of several young men during the Great War and World War II. The names of those who fell are inscribed on plaques within the church.
In 1972 the Presbyterian and Congregational denominations merged on a national basis and our church became Parkgate & Neston United Reformed Church, thus uniting in one firm fabric the strands of the two traditions.
During the ministry of Rev. Ron Kidd (1951 – 1981), the congregation raised funds to build the hall, which has since acquired a modern kitchen and facilities, been repainted and updated, with a new entrance foyer and improved heating system. Many members of the community hire the hall for their events.
In the early 2000s the congregation took the bold step of completely refurbishing the inside of the church, which involved the removal of pews and the pulpit, extensive alterations to both the inside and the entrance of the church, the laying of a carpet, and re-decoration. This work, including the wall panels designed by artist and church member Kay Andrews and created by a team of ladies from the church has transformed the church into a colourful, warm and inviting place.
The church continues to provide a haven for worship and fellowship, with its largest membership since its beginnings nearly 160 years ago. Approximately 80 members and friends are regularly present at the morning Communion service; we also have an evening service every Sunday except during August, and we welcome all comers to any of our services. We hold baptisms, weddings and funerals, we meet regularly to read the Bible and to learn from each other about our faith, and we take the reality of knowing Jesus beyond the church building out into our daily lives.
We continue to build on the foundations laid by those who made this church and its building possible, knowing that we are blessed by the gift of this beautiful sacred space, dedicated to worship of God and discipleship of Jesus Christ.