The relocation of St. Andrews Church.
On the occasion of the centenary of the consecration of St. Andrew’s Church, Queens Road, Hastings (30 November 1969), the celebrations were mingled with sadness:
“Built in a period when church-going was at its peak the church was planned to seat more than 500 people and in its early years was filled to capacity .One hundred years had seen the pendulum take a full swing and today with church-going at its lowest ebb, St. Andrew’s congregation is very small and can be seated in one twentieth of the church’s capacity. For this and many other reasons, the Pastoral Committee has proposed that the Parish of St. Andrew shall be united with that of Christ Church, Blacklands and that the building will be demolished.
The occasion is bound to be a sad one, sad for those loyal few who through difficult years have supported the church they love with devotion. In steering these proposals through the Church Council I have seen, as no one else has seen, the anguish that these proposals brought them.
What has been impressive is that the solid core of these good people have been able to look beyond their immediate loss to the Church about and beyond them, they have seen, what is not easy for them to see, that though their building may be demolished, their church remains within their fellowship and that the presence of the risen Christ in their midst is not dependent on a structure of bricks and mortar”
In 1970 St. Andrew’s was demolished; and the parish of Christ Church Blacklands and St. Andrew’s was created on 1 March 1970.The Lady Chapel in Blacklands was designated the Chapel of St. Andrew;
“This chapel will commemorate the Church of St. Andrew so long as the Parish Church stands and we hope this will be for centuries”
Providentially the sale of St. Andrew’s and its prime site coincided with a difficult time at Blacklands, as the Vicar explained in July 1970;
“In a sense we too are at the end of an era. Time has taken its toll of the building and the pathways and steps approaching it. Our most serious problem is the condition of the church roof and the year 1979 must see the commencement of a staged programme of a complete renewal of the tiling and the repair and replacement of some of the main beams”.
The Bishop of Chichester, at whose discretion the proceeds of the sale were to be applied, had given permission for the estimated cost of the roof repairs (£12,000) to be met, following a cogent appeal from the Vicar to the church Commissioners in April 1969:
“whilst acknowledging the need for new churches in the present population spread, I cannot see the wisdom of diverting money from within the new united parish, when its own parish church is in desperate need”.
Christ Church Blacklands eventually received £50,000 from the St. Andrews proceeds; £66,000 was actually spent on the roof, on heating, on the redecoration of the church, on the transformation of the gallery into a Sunday School room, on the renewal of floorboards and most remarkably, on the building of a link between the church and schoolroom, which was entirely refitted. This constituted the most substantial programme of work on the fabric of Blacklands since the 1890s.
An extract from Christ Church Blacklands, 1881-1981
By Richard Ralph.