This page concerns the history of Holy Trinity Church and is taken from a booklet written in 1974 by a former Sacristan of Holy Trinity, Richard Sutton, updated in 1987 by Arnold Jackson.
Prior to 1821, when Christ Church was built the whole of North Meols parish, which stretched from Hundred End in the North to the Birkdale/Ainsdale boundary in the south, was served by the ancient church of St. Cuthbert, Church town, but the growth of Southport in the early 19th century made the provision of a second church essential, and for twelve years or so, Christ Church seemed to meet the need. But the village continued to grow and expand in a northeasterly direction towards Manchester Road which was the main road to the Lancashire industrial towns, and for some years church services had been held in a small, thatched, barn-like building known as “Halls Chapel” which stood near the present Hall Street (and was demolished in about 1853).
It was evident that another church was necessary, and the Revd. Charles Hesketh, who came to North Meols as Rector in 1835, took immediate steps to provide additional church accommodation both in Southport and Crossens with the help of his brother Peter Fleetwood Hesketh, who was the Lord of the Manor. In October 1836 a bazaar was held in the Southport Assembly Rooms under the patronage of Queen Adelaide, in aid of “the provision of two additional churches and schools in the parish of North Meols”. This raised a sum of £450 and the two churches, Trinity and St. John’s Crossens were both built in the following year, from plans said to have been prepared by the Rector.
This first church was a simple structure consisting of little more than four walls, a roof and a tower. It was about 58ft 6ins long by 45ft 6ins wide with five narrow windows on each side, a window of three lights at the east end and a tower at the west end with a doorway on each side. The walls were of brick, cement rendered and lined to represent stone, and the church took the amazingly short time of four months to build.
The Church was consecrated by Bishop Sumner of Chester (afterwards Archbishop of Canterbury) on 1st November 1837 (All Saints Day) a wet and stormy day, but the church was said to have been “crowded to excess”. The Church was consecrated by the name and title “Trinity Church” and it was not until Easter 1863 that it was referred to in the Wardens accounts as “Holy Trinity Church”.
The singing in the church was at first accompanied by a variety of instruments, but it was soon felt that an organ was desirable and in June 1840 a two day bazaar was held to raise money for the provision of a gallery and organ and for the general improvement of the new building. The sum raised was £413 and the organ and gallery were installed. The Parsonage house was built in 1841 and the Schools were built (at the sole expense of Wm. Walker Esq.) in 1843.
Before very long it became evident that a further increase in accommodation was necessary and in 1847 the church was extended eastwards 12ft. and a public clock was placed in the tower. In 1849 gas lighting was installed; oil lamps and candles having been the means of illumination previously.
Further building took place in 1860-62 and this church was in all essentials the church which stood until the beginning of this century, although altered and improved from time to time.
In 1887, a serious proposal was made for the building of a new church, when Dr. G. B. Barron wrote a letter which appeared in the July Parish Magazine, urging the raising of eight or ten thousand pounds for the immediate re-building of the Church. He said that “it was a disgrace that the best site in Southport should be occupied by a church of no architectural merit whatever and belong to the age of sand hills and donkeys.”
It was no, for various reasons, until October 1893 that a meeting was held to consider plans for a new church and it was resolved that a “new church should be built upon the present site and that plans be got out for the building”.
The contract for the building of the new nave was signed with Messrs. Woods of Bolton on 1st November 1903, the 66th Anniversary of the Consecration, and the foundation stone was laid by Mrs. Elder on 12th January 1904. The nave was completed in December and dedicated by the Bishop of Liverpool on the 15th of that month
The Revd. C. S. Hope resigned in September 1909 after 33 years as Vicar and was succeeded in November 1909 by the Revd. F. Lindon Parkyn whose coming brought a period of renewed activity, and a determination that the new Church should be completed with as little delay as possible. Within a very short time the outstanding debt was cleared and work on the construction of the transept and the northeast and southeast porches was commenced. In November 1910 the Vicar announced that Mr. and Mrs. Elder had promised to pay for the building of the tower and Mr. and Mrs. Dewhurst for the building of the chancel, whereupon the Council decided that the Lady Chapel should be built at the same time.
The transept and the two porches were dedicated by the Bishop of Liverpool on 28th January 1911 and the following week the Vicar announced that Mr. and Mrs. Elder had offered to build the west front and this, with the gift of the Lady Chapel by Messrs. W. B. Taylor and J. A. Grundy, enabled the whole scheme of rebuilding to be completed, the new Church being consecrated by Bishop Chavasse of Liverpool on 12th March 1912 in the presence of a large congregation which included 84 of the clergy. At this time the tower was still under construction, but this was completed and dedicated on 15th February 1913. Commenting, the “Southport Visiter” said “Southport may well be proud of such a building as this… .it stands as a great witness to faith and generosity, no less a sum than £26,000 having been raised during the past three years”. Thus the scheme commenced in 1897, to provide what is actually the third Church building to occupy the site, was brought to a successful conclusion rather more than a year before the outbreak of the first world war. Had it been otherwise there is no doubt that the rebuilding would have been long delayed and the scheme greatly modified.
Since 1913, the beauty of the interior has been increased by the erection of the Reredos, Chapel and Vestry screens, Narthex Screen, altar rails and many other gifts from members of the congregation. In 1922 the Crypt was turned into a vestry for the Choir boys by the addition of an internal stairway from the floor of the upper Vestry. (This has been used as a practice/song room for the Choir since 1966). In 1923 the Organ console was moved to its present position on the north side of the Chancel. In 1961 an inspection of the fabric revealed that the stone corner pinnacles on the Tower were very badly weathered and in danger of falling apart, and they were replaced in moulded fibre-glass. This is believed to be the first instance of the architectural use of this modern plastic material on a building of this type in this country. Also in 1961 certain pews at the west end were taken out and the Font moved to its present position by the main entrance door.
The year 1966 saw the provision of a new Book and Magazine display stand on a pillar at the west end of the Nave and the adaptation of the north east porch for use as a Clergy Vestry and the south west porch as a Clergy and Servers Vestry. In 1972 the temporary Aumbry in the Lady Chapel was replaced by a permanent oak cupboard, with light, for the reserved Sacrament, and certain pews at the front of the Nave were removed to facilitate the provision of a platform for music and dramatic productions. More recently the Servers have used the northwest porch. Holy Trinity has always inspired its members to make practical demonstration of their love and regard for the Church and in 1923 the purchase of the former Vicarage by the late Henry Pochin and its conversion into a Club Room and Parochial Hall for the Church is another good example of this. All the many organisations connected with the Church used this building until 1971, when the need for a larger hall for meetings and social functions led to its demolition and replacement by the present building, opened in 1972 at a cost of £26,000.
Help from a different quarter came in 1972/73 when, as a result of generous grants from the Government and Southport Corporation, the graveyard surrounding the Church was cleaned up and landscaped thus providing a fitting framework for so fine a building. From 1974 it was felt that the Church lighting system should be reviewed and in 1976-77 a scheme submitted by Mr. Robin Wright was accepted, an appeal made, the work achieved with high pressure sodium lighting (although the original lanterns were maintained on aesthetic grounds) and the scheme was opened appropriately at Candlemas in February 1978. 1983 saw the installation of a modern electric organ details of which will be found later in this book.
The architectural style of the Church is, in the words of the Architect “a free treatment of the late Decorated Period”. That is, the style of architecture prevailing in England in the second half of the 14th Century. Architectural drawings of the building were exhibited in the Royal Academy and as part of the permanent collection at South Kensington. The overall length of Church is 157ft and the width 70ft. The north transept measures 39ft x 21ft. The Nave arches are 39ft high to apex and the barrel roof 62ft to apex. The Lady Chapel is 36ft long and 19ft wide. The Tower is 142 ft high. The building is faced with thin red Withnell bricks with Bath stone dressings, Portland stone being used on parapets, gables and top of ToTower. The roof is covered with Westmorland green slates. Internally, the pillars and Chancel are of flaked Runcorn stone and the roof woodwork of the best pitchpine.