"Remember now thy Creator in the days of thy youth, while the evil days come not "

Ecclesiastes 12 verse 1

This 'potted' history of Wellington Road Mission Church opened with the founding of the Sunday School in 1869 and the subsequent construction of the present building in 1878. The sequence of events and the many personalities involved with them seem to have taken us along a rather circuitous path back to the Sunday School.

Apart from the early attendance records up to 1881, nothing has been preserved of the detailed conduct of the School, except those matters brought to the fore by the Deacons at Church Members' Meetings at Hunters Lane.

Attendance remained relatively steady in 1879, the year after the new School Building was opened, with an average weekly number of 238 scholars, and 20 teachers. The following year, 1880, the average weekly attendance was 270, with as many as 355 being present in August of that year. The average weekly attendance for teachers, however, was down to 18.

All the week-day activities were, at first, geared to the children, such as singing, gymnastics, and other interest programmes, but the main emphasis was on devotional meetings which were extremely well attended by some 200 children.

Concern was soon expressed about attracting youths and adults to all the services, but with largely attended children's services on Sunday mornings and evenings, together with the afternoon school, the grown-ups might well have felt a sense of exclusion. However, dissatisfaction with the situation led to Church meeting discussions at Hunters Lane which, among other things, determined the ultimate appointment to Wellington Road of full-time pastors. Later reports indicated a four-fold increase in attendance.

I joined the Sunday School in 1922, and my teacher was Mr. Charles Beatson. I am sure Mr. Beatson was never a ‘Saul’, but most certainly he was a ‘Paul’. His dedication to and zeal for the Lord resulted in very many young men, including myself, being led to the acceptance of Christ as their Saviour. Previously, I attended some Sunday morning children's meetings to which I was attracted, in the first instance when I saw , on a warm sunny day, a group of youngsters and their leaders all sitting on chairs on the grass outside the Hall, together with an organist sitting at - or was it perched over? - a tiny portable organ. To my great. surprise, the organist was a schoolgirl from my day school class - Lillian Lytle - but neither of us took notice of the other, at least, not then.

When I joined the Sunday School, at the age of twelve years, I had every opportunity of looking around the large hall - no doubt, when I should have been paying more attention to Mr. Beatson's well prepared lessons. My remembrance of the hall of those days will be shared by a few of our present - day members and I trust they will not be aggrieved if my recollections are not so clear as theirs.

Many folk have been, and are impressed by the design of the Main Hall - its functional yet attractive proportions; its very high pointed ceiling; its pleasing and decorative span of roof trusses 'resting' on stone corbels excellently carved with winged angels. Set in the West wall, above the Porch abutting on to Wellington Road, is a large, beautifully designed leaded window divided into five pleasing panels by sandstone mullions, embellished at the top by three ornate circular windows.

Looking at the front of the building from the outside, one will observe a short brick and sandstone buttress on either side of the main doors of the porch, each supporting a sandstone and brick flying buttress which strengthens the West wall. Rising from these flying buttresses and on each side of the large gothic styled window are brick buttresses which, on reaching the sandstone coping of the gabled roof, terminate in slender sandstone pinnacles, standing elegantly to a height above the level of the ridge of the main roof. The top of one of the pinnacles was broken off at the time of the severe bomb damage to the Mission.

The front boundary wall at that time, was the second one to be built, and was in front of the Porch. It was constructed by the local authority in 1895 because of the widening and surfacing of Wellington Road, and in a Deacons' report to the Church Meeting at Hunters Lane on the 4th April of that year, it was stated " the whole of the work (on the front boundary wall) to be executed by and at the expense of the Wavertree Urban District Council and to be done to the satisfaction of the Deacons".

Wellington Road Mission Church in the 1920's

The main sections of this brick and sandstone-capped wall were some six feet high, but its appearance was enhanced by several panels of railings being set into the wall between brick pillars, and by three sets of matching iron gates. It was a pleasing enclosure but was lost when the building was so severely damaged during the Second World War. The present wall was built at the time of the restoration of the building after the 1939 - 1945 war and was designed to give a more modern and open styling to the front of the hall.

Wellington Road Mission Church 1978

The front of Wellington Road Church now attracts a lot of attention by its two large Poster Boards which always carry a Gospel message to the thousands who travel by daily.

Returning inside the Main hall one found the old idea that school walls should be painted green ("it was better for the eyes I remember being told"), applied to Wellington Road Sunday School also. The walls here were a darker shade of green, and "topped" off the dark brown paint of the wood-panelled dado and doors, but one never expected anything different - that was the general practice of the period and into the 1930's.

The lighting of the rooms was by gas until 1925, when electricity was installed. The gas lighting was arranged quite decoratively with double brackets on the side walls between each set of windows, and at the end of the room near to the platform. There were single brackets on the wall each side of the platform arch, and four circular-framed pendants, each having four lights, over the centre of the Hall. Altogether there were no less than some 38 burners which the caretaker had to maintain with incandescent mantles, keep clean - with the help of willing hands, and light whenever they were required. In addition to these, there were the gas lights in six back rooms and two passages.

For these kinds of duties, together with cleaning the rooms, attending the coal fired central heating boiler, lighting open coal fires in four back rooms, sweeping the outside pavements and paths, opening and locking-up the premises almost every day or evening of the week, and being on call at any time, - the caretakers were paid about ten or twelve shillings per week in the earliest days and up to about eighteen shillings and six pence in 1942.

Interior of Wellington Road Mission about 1927

Mr. Lytle (left) and Mr. Gooch. Hall arranged for Sunday School.

One of Miss Blyth's great concerns during the First World War was the Welfare of the families of men in the fighting services, and these she helped in many practical ways. In addition to this work of Christian charity, Miss Blyth encouraged prayerful and practical interest in the men fighting in France and elsewhere. Groups of ladies made various kinds of woollen socks and other acceptable comforts which were parcelled and sent abroad under the supervision of Miss Blyth. The families of service men were invited to supply photographs of their husbands and sons, and these were placed in special frames and mounts bearing the Union Jack and the name of the soldier, naval or airman. The frames were arranged in panels of ten around the large hall and displayed something like one hundred and twenty photographs which served as poignant reminders of the heartbreak and suffering of war, and directed the prayers of the congregation to a personal as well as a general intercession on behalf of the war-torn nations of the world.

The large hall was, as it is today, used for the Junior Department of the Sunday School. The caretaker, with some assistance, had to arrange the forms, into twenty classes so as to accommodate about one hundred and fifty scholars and when Sunday School was over, re-arrange the forms for the evening service. The hymnbooks and Bibles for the scholars were kept in medium-sized wickerwork baskets, one for each class and were placed in the classes by an assistant secretary.

The secretary of the School from 1924 to 1929 was Miss Alice Mellor. I was made her assistant in 1926 and Mr. Bill Gould became an additional assistant in January 1929.

The two middle rooms behind the main hall (later combined into one room, known as the "Sunshine Room") were used by the Primary and Beginners' Departments, under Miss Blyth's leadership, and each room contained what was called a 'gallery'. The gallery comprised timber 'steps', with each 'step' being a bench seat across the full width of the room. There are still some marks on the wall plaster, indicating the position of some of the timber supports.

After the Scout Group was formed in 1926 the gallery in one of these rooms was removed in order to provide more floor space for their activities. Some little time later Miss Blyth re-organised her infants' departments and had the gallery removed from the other room. Primary chairs were purchased about that time and some of them are still being used. The attendance in these two departments ranged from about eighty up to over one hundred on most occasions.

The Bible Classes in 1926 were the Senior Ladies' Class with Mrs. A. Critchley (wife of a former Assistant Superintendent of the School) as leader; the Junior Ladies' Class with Mrs. A. Lytle (wife of the Missionary in charge of the Mission), as their teacher; and the Men's Bible Class under the leadership of Mr. Edward Hopkins.

Mrs. A. Critchley wrote many poems based upon Bible teaching and testifying to her deep Christian experience.

Here is one of them, dated February 26th, 1929


He is able, great His power,
He can save me every hour .
He will wash away my sin,
If I yield myself to Him.                         Hebrews 7 v 25

He is able, yes to keep,
If I keep but near His feet.
If I trust Him with my all
He has said, I shall not fall.                    1 Samuel 2 v 9

He is able, when I'm weak
To strengthen me and keep my feet,
'Tis then in Him I'm made complete,
And I need not know defeat.                 Hebrews 2 . v 18

If I then would know His power ,
I must touch Him hour by hour .
Prayer must be my vital breath,
Until I close my eyes in death.               Jude 24

In January 1929, Mrs. A. Lytle, who had already served as a Sunday School teacher for twenty years, was appointed School Secretary and Treasurer, and in May 1959 was presented with the National Sunday School Union Long Service Badge in "appreciation of the devoted service given for fifty years". When Mrs. Lytle became secretary she relinquished her leadership of the Junior Ladies' Bible Class and was succeeded by Miss Edith Thompson, who was the sister of Mr. Robert Thompson, newly appointed Missionary to Wellington Road Hall.


". . . lead the people unto the place of which I have spoken unto thee. . . "

Exodus 32 v 34

Moses, whom God had chosen to lead the children of Israel out of bondage into the Promised Land, was greatly concerned about their sinfulness and idolatry , and he sought the Lord for His judgement and instruction. God said he would deal with the sin of the people; but, as for Moses, he had to go on leading the Israelites to the place already revealed to him by God. Thank God for His chosen and obedient leaders, and in particular for those servants of the Lord in Wellington Road Mission who have endeavoured by His Grace to lead to Jesus those in their charge.

Mr. Blyth, the founder of the School was its Superintendent from 1869 until his death on 17th November 1915, a period of 46 years. In the early days Mr. Blyth or a visiting speaker such as the Rev. E. Hassan, Mr. J . A. Picton, or one of Mr. Blyth 's assistants, Mr. F. Newcombe, Mr. T. Tyson, Mr. A. Young, gave an address to the whole school each Sunday.

On the 1st January 1907, Mr. Blyth presented his resignation to the teachers of Wellington Road School because of his ill health. The teachers, who declined to accept the resignation, created him Honorary Superintendent and announced that Mr. Thomas Critchley had kindly consented to act as assistant superintendent "for the time being '. Mr. Critchley, however, continued to hold this office unti11929.

On the death of Mr. Blyth in 1915, Miss Mary Blyth was appointed by Hunters Lane Church to be the Superintendent and retained this position until her death in December, 1945. Motivated by the Saviour's love, Miss Blyth passed on that same love to the children and followed the great tradition of her father in devotion and generosity. She maintained a standard in the School which was highly commended by visiting personalities and successive pastors of the Mission and left to her successors an example of dedication and organisation of the highest quality.

In October 1929, Miss Blyth appointed a Mr. Dutton as Assistant Superintendent in succession to Mr. Critchley. Mr. Dutton's service was of relatively short duration, whereupon Mr. Charles Beatson acted as the assistant to Miss Blyth.

The death of Miss Blyth made a sad impact upon the Sunday School, and when Mr. Beatson was asked by the teachers to become the School's Superintendent, he declined to accept the 'title' in deference to the distinction of Miss Blyth's service. However, he proved to be the perfect successor by the constant demonstration of his faith in the Lord Jesus Christ; in his firm and fearless emphasis on the need for gospel lessons prayerfully prepared and properly presented; by the regular meeting of teachers after School for prayer and for the discussion of arrangements for programmes and events.

I would like to include the following words kindly prepared for me by Mr. Tom Shaw, one of our former pastors. Mr. Shaw first referred to the example set by Mr. and Mrs. Arthur Lytle as they were used of God in His service, and then he wrote the following moving tribute to Mr. and Mrs. Beatson:-

“Mr. Charles Beatson was another worker whose quality of Christian service I was to admire. He was a true servant of God and was thus qualified to serve others. He possessed several spiritual gifts, but to my mind his outstanding grace was that of humility. How unassumingly he walked and worked amongst us, and what a spiritual atmosphere he created in any gathering at which he presided or attended! Mr. Beatson held several responsibilities and by the grace of God he adorned them all, but it would be readily agreed by all who knew him in an intimate manner that his outstanding service was of that rendered among young men in the Scout movement of whom he was their beloved ‘Ariki’ I wonder how many young men have been influenced and introduced to the Saviour by the life and work of this Christian gentleman! ‘Their works do follow them.’

And of course it is impossible to think of Mr. Beatson without thinking of his 'helpmeet'. Mrs. Beatson was a devoted Sunday School worker as well as a participator in other spheres of the Mission and one still remembers the thoroughness with which she carried out every duty. The Apostle Paul wrote of the women who laboured with him in the Gospel, and Mrs. Beatson was one who laboured abundantly, and brought forth fruit to the praise of His glory. The consecrated lives and fruitful service of this couple remains so fresh that it seems as but yesterday they were promoted to higher service. ‘His servants shall serve Him, and they shall see His face’ (Revelation 22 vs 3,4).

Now the work continues, and we think of and pray for those, especially during this year of centenary celebration, who continue in the service of the Mission, and while aggressive Christian work is becoming increasingly difficult, may they prove like Nehemiah and his fellow bricklayers in Jerusalem, the good hand of their God upon them. “Ye also, as lively stones, are built up a spiritual house” (I Peter 2v 5)

After Mr. Beatson was called to Higher Service in 1963 Mr. J. W. Tighe was appointed Superintendent of the School, in September of that year, and served in this capacity until pressure of work and indifferent health necessitated his relinquishing the position in 1971.

Mrs. Valerie Rooke kindly agreed to become Superintendent and is still serving in this office in this Centenary year. There are several officers and teachers in, or have been in the Sunday School, who have given dedicated service over a great many years, and it is extremely difficult to single out names for special mention. However, here are those with the longest recorded service:-


Mrs. A. Lytle

1909 - 1966

Mrs. E. Lytle

1916 - 1970

The late Mrs. Gladys Beatson

Over 50 years

Mrs. L. Tighe *

54 years

Mrs. A. Bowerman *

48 years

Mrs. N. Blake *

46 years

Mr. J . W. Tighe

46 years

The late Mr. Charles Beatson

40 years

Mr. Leslie Crane
(an Assistant Secretary)

40 years (excluding war service)

Mr. Eric Beaumont *

38 years (excluding war service)

Mrs. M. Nicholson *

Over 30 years

Mr. J. Connor

1927 - 1960


* Those who are still actively serving the Sunday School.