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Spurgeon Memorial Baptist Church - Bletchley
The Spurgeon Memorial Baptist Church -demolished in 1976.
The site has recently been developed as retirement flats, the name of which
recalls the headmistress of the London school evacuated to the premises in WW2.

Currently dominating the skyline of Fenny Stratford is a tall tower crane above what was the old Spurgeon Memorial Baptist Church in Aylesbury Street, writes Local Pages' resident history man John Taylor (the site will soon become a McCarthy & Stone retirement complex - Ed) John has been delving into the church archives.

Built in 1892 for £3,050 it survived until 1976. In recent years the land became a car showroom (finally a Toyota dealership?).

The Church, as with many important communal and civic buildings in the town, played a vital role in WW2.

With the outbreak of war many children came to Bletchley from Islington in London and school accommodation was stretched to the limit.

On October 30, 1939 they began using the Spurgeon Memorial Baptist Chapel Sunday School.

Apart from accommodating a school by late 1940 the church also found room for 'Sunday at 7.30' concerts to entertain troops in the town. With 21 attending the initial gathering community singing proved a much appreciated feature among the several entertainments.

They became very popular and on Sunday, May 11, 1941, a request programme marked the close of the winter season. Promoted by Reg Snelling and Robert Storey 29 concerts had been given by that time, averaging an attendance of between 50 and 60 soldiers. They recommenced on October 12.

By now a nursery school had opened in the Baptist school hall providing care for infants under five who had been evacuated from bombed cities.

As part of the children's routine emphasis was placed on 'clean habits, an afternoon sleep, body building and mentally exercising games' and with two upstairs rooms converted to make the nursery school, the main room contained beds and toys with the smaller room fitted out so that each child had their own place for a toothbrush, comb and towels.

A little picture, each one different, identified each child's place and the same picture was by each clothes peg.

Teachers painted the children's chairs bright pink and green and the left over paint was used on the walls.

In 1942 the popular troop concerts continued and for the 30th of the season drew a record audience of 150.

The ladies who under Mrs S Whitlock managed the catering, were all cheered.

In November 1942 a former member of the church and the Boys Brigade, Cpl Reginald Keen, Royal Engineers, wrote recalling a day in the Mediterranean.

"Returning to Egypt from Crete we were under attack for 12 hours and after we sustained three direct hits I saw men who I thought were hard cases praying.

"If people rag you it is all bluff. Call it and they will respect you all the more!"

In March the church received a letter from Private Fred Marsden who wrote on behalf of 'all the boys who used to be in Bletchley' and many of whom attended the 7.30 concerts.

"What would we give to be sitting in the Baptist Schoolroom when the cakes and buns and all those things we now miss very much came round."

One of his comrades still had the caricatures he sketched during the performances.

By June 13, 1945 and the end of the war in Europe the people of the Baptist Church bid farewell to Miss B Eden the headmistress of the Ecclesbourne Road Infants School.