As people moved to live in West Bridgford in the late 19th century many of them wanted an alternative to the parish church.
The Congregationalists were one such group and in September 1897 the Friary church was formed with 25 members, most of whom came from the Friar Lane chapel in Nottingham – hence the name. Other members transferred from Castle Gate, Park Hill and Queens Drive. At first services were held in a room at Trent Bridge Cricket Pavilion.
Building started on the site at the corner of Musters and Millicent Roads and the church hall was opened in March 1899. The main church building, designed by the architect Ernest R. Sutton, was opened in 1901, which is the year of our illustration. As well as Sunday services there were many groups for members to attend. These included a Sunday school, the Friary Guild, Men’s Club, Dorcas Circle and youth organization such as guides and scouts. In 1972 Congregational churches, including the Friary, became part of the United Reformed Church.
The church is built mainly of brick with a tiled roof. There are north and south aisles to the central nave. There is a tower on the north-west corner with a crenellated parapet. The east window commemorates those members who served in the First World War. The original entrance was on the south side. The church hall is reached by a door at the east end. The building suffered from fire in 1937 and 1983 when the church hall was damaged. In 1932 and 1947 it suffered when the River Trent flooded. Despite these setbacks the church continued and in 1996 a major building project included a new central entrance, a lounge area separated from the nave by a glass screen and a balcony reached by a spiral staircase.
Perhaps Friary’s most important work was the establishment in 1988 of the Friary Drop-In which continues to help the homeless and those in need by providing meals and essential social services and support. Although the church has had to close the Drop-In centre continues to help people.
There must be many people in West Bridgford who were saddened when the Friary Church finally had to close its doors in June this year after serving the local community for 125 years.
Written by West Bridgford & District History Society.
The new season of talks of the West Bridgford and District Local History Society starts on Monday 3rd October when Mick Barrett tells the history of the old Trent Bridge in his talk entitled “Hethbeth Bridge”. The meeting starts at 7.30pm in the hall of the Musters Road Methodist Church. Visitors are welcome.
For more information or to contact us, please visit the website at: www.BridgfordHistory.org