"Thus saith the Lord; consider your ways. Go and build the house; and I will take pleasure in it, and I will be glorified saith the Lord. "
Haggai 1 verses 7 & 8
Twelve months after the proposals for a new school in Wellington Road was agreed in principle, Mr. Stevenson, a deacon on the special Sub-Committee reported to the Church that work had started on the 14th February 1878. Please note this date, for it is the beginning of a period of remarkable and rapid progress.
However, an unexpected delay was occasioned when the workmen preparing the foundation came upon a sewer laid down twenty-six years earlier and not indicated in any way on the plan of the Vendors of the land. This discovery checked operations. In order to overcome this problem it was necessary to "purchase 80 yards more land at a cost of £15".
This unforeseen obstacle was reported to the Church on 4th April 1878. That was the bad news, but the good news was that all the land had been paid for and legally conveyed to the Trustees, and "the building was now three or four feet high and the boundary wall was built. " The Architect, John E. Reeve of Wavertree, kindly offered to present a silver trowe1 for the ceremony of the laying of the Memorial Stone - an offer gratefully accepted and suitably acknowledged by the Rev. E. Hassan.
The Church meeting of the 4th April 1878 must have been a long and detailed one. Having dealt with the foregoing matters in much greater detail than I can usefully record here, the meeting proceeded to deal with the arrangements for the laying of the Memorial Stone "on 24th April 1878.
From the arrangements agreed at this meeting of 4th April 1878, one may picture this exciting occasion.
Wednesday, 24th April 1878 the day of the ceremony, is recorded as being an exceedingly bright one and augured well for the coming events. Wellington Road (probably only partly paved), tree lined and with scattered cottages and houses among fields and nurseries, was a kaleidoscope of colours, broken only by the shadows cast by the welcoming sun.
If there is any exaggeration in these words, one thing is certain, it must have been a wonderful and colourful day. It was a day prepared by God. A day which had been the subject of much earnest prayer and one in which many voices of praise were to be raised in thanksgiving to Him who had brought them thus far towards the culmination of their prayerful endeavours.
The site of the new school building had been tidied up, and more than likely, there were floral decorations around the place where the Memorial Stone was to be laid by Mr. Blyth. It was also necessary to clear and prepare a large area in which the Minister and al1 the Church Officers, notable guests, children and spectators would have the best possible view of the proceedings.
Mr. Blyth, the Rev. E. Hassan and the Deacons and ladies were each fulfilling their respective tasks either at Hunters Lane Church or at the Wavertree Town Hall which had been hired for the afternoon as an assembly point prior to a procession from the Town Hall to Wellington Road.
The number of children alone attending the ceremony was considerable, as the number of scholars in the cottage Sunday School the previous Sunday (21st April 1878) was 171 together with 15 teachers. Add to these the children from Hunters Lane School and one might properly suppose there would be over 300 children and young people in procession. All these children were accommodated in the larger hall of the Town Hall and the visitors and guests in the smaller hall. A half-hour’s meeting was held followed by the forming of the procession, no doubt headed by the Rev. E. Hassan, Mr. Blyth, Deacons and notables, to walk down the High Street, Wavertree Road (later re-named Picton Road) into Wellington Road. The village must have been alive with interest and excitement at such a spectacle and one must conclude that Wellington Road was entirely blocked by the following throng.
Unfortunately, I have not been able to obtain any details of the Order of Service, but the Minutes include the instruction, “Details of the ceremony, hymns to be sung, etc., to be determined at a Committee meeting to be held on 11th instant”. (April 1878).
Mr. Blyth had been unanimously chosen by the Deacons and Church members to perform the stone laying duty and one feels he must have done so with natural pride and joy, and certainly with humble dignity and piety. He was duly presented with the silver trowel, generously supplied by the architect of the school building.
The trowel, with an ivory handle, is beautifully engraved and bears the inscription:-
"This trowel was presented to John Blyth, Esq., by the Congregational Church, Wavertree, on the occasion of his laying the Memorial Stone of the Wellington Road Schools24th April 1878".
Edward Hassan – Minister, John Bridson, John Stevenson, James Fingland, John Blyth, John J. Howell, Thos. C. Best – Secretary.
On the underside of the trowel is an engraving of the architect's drawing of the Building, together with "JOHN E. REEVE, Architect and THOMAS TYSON, Builder", who was a member of Hunters Lane Church.
After the ceremony, the arrangements for which "were carried out in all their details", the children, guests and officers of the Church and schools made their processional way to Hunters Lane School Room, where a substantial tea was provided from five o'clock to half past six. This seemingly protracted teatime was arranged "so as to accommodate twice as many as usually attend our meetings. "
Those waiting for tea or retiring to the chapel after their tea, were pleasantly entertained by organ recitals, and at half-past six a public meeting was held in the chapel, no doubt, after the children' had been sent home. The meeting was supported by "the services of such gentlemen as are in hearty sympathy with our work".