CRBC is situated just off the high street in Southend. We’re a diverse church, with people coming from many different backgrounds. We share a genuine love for God and for each other. The word ‘family’ is often used in church, and at CRBC we certainly display the positive aspects of what a family can be. We are a church which seeks to be at the heart of the community. Many community groups use our building during the week. These groups range from counsellors to amateur dramatics and many more. Our hope is to be a resource for our community.
A brief history of CRBC
The Church was officially formed on May 7th 1882 by 45 members including Pastor John G. Wilson and 4 deacons. They worshipped in the Public Hall, Alexandra Street, the site of which later housed several entertainment venues – The Empire Theatre, the Rivoli Picture House, the ABC and Cannon Cinema, and The New Empire Theatre. Within a few months the church secured another site. May 17th 1899 saw the opening of a new brick built church. This building could be seen from the High Street via Weston Road. The old ‘Iron Church’ became the Lecture Hall. The Baptist Union handbook 1900 noted the following:
“The elevation was designed in the Early English styled Gothic architecture, with red-brick facings, and stone dressings, and has two bold entrance porches, and a large tracered window. There is also an octagonal turret and spire at one corner. The turret is roofed with green slates and finished with wrought iron finial. Internally the building is roofed with pitch-pine, hammer-beam principals, and diagonal boarding. The span is of exceptional size as it is 42 feet in the clear. The baptistery is placed on the platform with the pulpit behind. The pulpit is of pitch-pine and is approached by ornamental stairs on either side, which lead also to a chair gallery with accommodation for an organ and about 30 singers. Under the gallery are two vestries capable of being formed into one large room if desired. The heating is by hot water and the lighting by incandescent gas. The chapel seats about 400… Messrs. Davey and Sons, of Southend and South Ockendon, were the builders, and Mr F.E. Smee, of 12, West Smithfield, E.C. was the Architect.”
Soldiers used the church premises extensively during both World Wars. Between 1939 and early 1946 a canteen for the troops was opened. It is also recorded that the Hall was used in 1923 and 1932 for the unemployed. After 78 years of service the old Hall was demolished. It was replaced by a new building, opened on September 16th 1961. At a cost of £11,000, the building boasted a stage, a minister’s study, and an upstairs flat with an outside balcony. The old church building, together with the kitchen and toilets, was demolished in 1981. The building had been full of rot and the kitchen and toilets could have won a national prize for damp, snails and overall lack of hygiene. It was described in the Yellow Advertiser dated January 2nd 1981 as ‘too big, too tall and too cold’. The demolition left the ‘new’ hall, vestry and flat in existence. In the Centenary year, 1982, the new extensions were completed, removing all traces of the ‘old’ buildings and making way for the church layout as used today.