The History of Stanmore Chapel
It was June 1932 that Mr Alfred Reed, an underground train driver, received a call to a very small work in the Old Barn, Old Church Lane, Stanmore, where the congregation numbered six adults and two children, and the first offering amounted to six shillings and ninepence (34p). This was the time of the Great Depression. God saved a great many souls, forty-five in three months, and in September that same year Stanmore Chapel became a formally constituted church with a proper membership, a band of deacons and the Reverend Alfred Reed as its first pastor.
The metropolitan suburbs around north-west London, including Stanmore, were growing rapidly and month by month the Lord added to the church until there were over sixty members and the Barn could no longer hold them. The need to build a proper place of worship became essential. The owner of the Barn, who was himself a builder and a member of the church, envisaged turning to the Baptist Union for finance but the majority of members, whilst theologically Baptist, were against this idea, preferring to remain independent*. On Monday 5 August 1935 the church was given formal notice to quit the Barn.
Naturally this seemed to be a great setback, which gave much heartache, but it was agreed to continue to meet in the pastor’s house at 1 Abercorn Road, Stanmore. Even in those confined premises there was great joy, for the church was thrown entirely on the mercy of God, both for provision of a new site and for the necessary money to put up a suitable building.
Building the chapel
And, despite the economic situation, the Lord marvellously supplied all those needs. Many wondrous answers to prayer were realised in those days and each need was met ‘in the nick of time’, first for the land, and then for the buildings themselves. The work was done, by the members, as the money came in. At no time did the work cease for lack of funds. There was great gladness when the Chapel in Marsh Lane was opened on 23 October 1937 by the Reverend EJ Poole Connor; founder of what became the Fellowship of Independent Evangelical Churches (FIEC), to which Stanmore Chapel was affiliated from its earliest days.
The Reverend Alfred Reed was a man of vision and asked God to grant the church a further 50ft of land alongside the chapel. The owner of the land was approached to sell at a future date and agreed, having been given a token payment (made by the pastor himself).
The War then came and the need arose for premises for youth work. Pastor Reed went to approach the man who had received the token payment only to discover that he had subsequently passed away. The new owner resisted the sale of the land for some months, but God gave him no peace until the promise, made in earlier days, had been honoured. Yet, the man had one exception. The church had to purchase 70ft of land, rather than the intended 50ft, or it could not have any! In later years all were able to see God’s hand upon us for good, for the church now had land for a sports hall and also for a manse.
Adding a hall and a manse
The hall was built just after the war. At this time nothing could be used in such buildings that could have been used in building houses instead. But, again, after much prayer, God supplied all of the needs in terms of finance, substitute materials and voluntary labour. Many young people have since met in that hall and have heard the Bible taught, through the Sunday school and various clubs.
The manse was built in the same manner in the years 1958/9, with much voluntary labour and the continued goodness of the Lord supplying all necessary finance. Many found joy and fellowship in working together in this way. Through all these years, during all this work, at no time was the church ever in debt.
In 1969 Reverend Alfred Reed retired after thirty seven years of faithful ministry to God’s people. As well as being a minister, he had remained a full time employee of the London Underground all his working life. Many people acknowledge their conversion and spiritual growth in the church under his ministry.
Since then the Chapel has had a further three ministers and by God's grace continues to witness in Stanmore to the good news of Jesus Christ. Rev'd David Lucke was minister of Stanmore Chapel between March 1970 and February 1987. During this time the Chapel adopted a plural eldership to better reflect the teaching of the Bible.
Between 1989 and April 2016 the church was served by the ministry of Rev'd John Colin Leyshon, a larger-than-life Welshman. During these days the congregation happily experienced increasing diversity as the demographics of Stanmore and surrounding areas changed substantially. Such diversity continues to be a hallmark of the Chapel today.
Today the work of proclaiming the risen Christ continues and, since September 2018, the Chapel has been ably served by the ministry of Chris Tapp as Pastor.
This history is largely based on the recollections of Mrs JE Wilson, daughter of Rev'd Alfred Reed, and member of Stanmore Chapel 1932-2018.
*Members of the original Old Barn congregation were eventually involved in the founding of four churches in Stanmore, three of which remain to this day.