Presbyterianism appears to have come to Upton about 1691, just two years after the Toleration Act was passed. The Rev Thomas Lea is recorded as minister of Upton in this year. Among the congregation were several local prominent families, including Mr Robert Wilson of Bidston Hall, the Gleggs of Arrow, the Urmstons of Moreton and the Pembertons of Upton. Thomas Lea remained at Upton for eighteen years, he preached his last sermon in Upton in June 1709 after which he moved to the chapel at Knutsford.
Following the departure of the Rev Lea the chapel at Upton was looked after by the Rev Leoline Edwards, who was also minister of the only other Presbyterian Chapel in Wirral which was at Bromborough. In 1715 the Rev Edwartds was replaced by the Rev Thomas Perrot. Bishop Gastrell (Bishop of Chester 1714 - 1725) records that there were 49 'dissenting' families living in the Wirral.
The Rev Thomas Woodcock followed the Rev Perrot. It is not recorded when he took over, but he was ordained in Knutsford on 8th August 1721 and its likely he took over at Upton immediately afterwards. The Rev Woodcock died in 1728 and was buried in the Churchyard of the Parish Church.
There is no record of any ministers being appointed after the death of the Rev Woodcock and both the Upton and the Bromborough chapels appear to have closed.
It is not known where the chapel was located or what became of it.
It was more than fifty years before Presbyterianism returned to Upton when Thomas Hannay moved into Greenbank around about 1880. In 1882 he applied to the Presbytery of Liverpool to establish a church in West Kirby, however by 1883 Mrs Hannay felt that the distance was too great for young families to travel, so she arranged for services and a Sunday School to be held in Greenbank.
When a new church was built in West Kirby in 1889, the old iron church was split in two, half going to Meols and the other half to Greasby which became the regular place of worship for Presbyterians in Upton.
By 1898 Greasby church was filled to overflowing. Mr Thomas Scott Hannay with, Mr David Richards of the Salacres, bought the site of the present church in Ford Road and gifted the money needed for the building of a new church. The architect Mr P. S. Hind was engaged to design the church and it was built by Thomas Quine.
Presbyterian Church in the 1920s
The first meeting was held in the new church in April 1899, and on 2nd May that year The Reverend James C Smith was inducted as the first Minister. On 2nd July the first Lord's Supper was held in the church. Mrs Kirkland, wife of the Minister of the mother church in West Kirby, gave a gift of a communion set. The official opening service was on 11th May 1900 and was conducted by the Reverend Doctor Watson of Sefton Park Church.
The communion roll for 1899 had 40 names.
The minister's house (or Manse) was in Church Road, so in 1902 Mr Hannay and Mr Richardson bought a further piece of land behind the church for a Manse. Money was not available for the building, so in the meantime, it was laid out for bowls and tennis.
The church was licensed for marriages in 1903 and in the same year the Sunday School, still run by Mrs Hannay, celebrated its 20th Anniversary.
Interior of the United Reformed Church in 2015
David Richards died in 1906, a brass memorial plaque is mounted on the wall below the window by the entry to the church. The stained glass window above this plaque was installed in 1902 as a memorial to Kate (his wife), David Herbert (their only son) and Thomas Richard Roberts (their nephew).
Memorial to David Richards
In 1915, one of the smaller rooms in the hall was rented to Miss McAuslane, for use as a school for young children. The rent, heating and lighting was paid by herself. This school would later become Kingsley Preparatory School.
Thomas Hannay died in 1917, his ashes, together with those of his wife who died in 1935, lie under a brass plaque on the floor opposite the entrance. A memorial plaque is mounted on the wall above them.
Brass Plaque marking the location of the Ashes of Mr and Mrs Hannay
During the first world war, the tennis club stopped using the land behind the church, and it was rented to Mr McCraig for £2 per year to grow vegetables for the war effort, this was on condition that he re-instated the tennis courts when he left.
By 1918 there were 110 names on the communion roll.
The Manse was finally built in 1921, it was designed by W Webb Shannon and built by E Devaney. The Minister moved from his accomodation in Church Road to the new Manse on 5th January 1922.
In 1921, after 38 years, Mrs Hannay resigned as superintendant of the Sunday School.
After the second world war in 1946, a memorial was placed on the wall of the church commemorating the members of the congregation who died in the two World Wars, 4 names where on it:
War Memorial in the United Reformed Church
The 1st Upton Company of the Boys Brigade was founded in 1956, and two years later the 1st Upton Girls Brigade was formed.
In 1957 Miss Wyne, principal of Kingsley Preparatory School, gave notice that she would be leaving the hall at the end of September as the school was moving into its own building.
Plans to extend the church hall were drawn up in 1970, however the congregation was unable to raise the necessary £12,000.
Upton Presbyterian Church became a congregation of the United Reformed Church on 5th October 1972.
The United Reformed Church in 1999
The final service in the United Reformed Church, led by the minister, the Reverend Debie Brown, was at 3pm on 26th July 2015, 116 years and 24 days after the first service. The Church Hall will be used by St. Mary’s Church for the next few months while their own site is redeveloped, during this time Upton United Reformed Church will formally continue.
List of Ministers
1. Early Presbyterian Church
2. Upton Presbyterian Church
3. Upton United Reformed Church
The United Reformed Church in 2015
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