Welcome to Birchington Baptist Church

A bit of history

As you can see, we worship on two sites in Birchington. But how did that come about? It is a story of God's faithfulness and blessing.
 
By the start of the 20th century Birchington-On-Sea was growing. The railway station had been open nearly forty years, with the Railway Hotel (now the Sea View) two years later. Station Road was built to serve as Birchington's main shopping street, and at a time of expansion, there was the need for a public meeting place. Just before the turn of the century plans were made for a new building.
The memorial stone was laid on 28th September 1901, and the hope, expressed by the Parish magazine, was that when it “will add much to the importance of Birchington."
 
When the Public Hall was officially opened on April 2nd 1902, a "capital concert" was provided. And it was well used, with a reading room and library. Lectures, evening classes, Penny readings, plays, musical evenings, childrens concerts and magic lantern shows are all mentioned in the Parish magazines.
In 1910 the village embraced new technology from across the pond, and the Public Hall Cinema was started. This was to become it's main function in the next decades, but it's public role continued for some years to come.
 
During the early 1920s, Gladys Cooper, a regular visitor to Birchington and her friend Ivor Novello came down to the village for a weekend visit. There was a musical film showing at the Birchington Public Hall Cinema in which they both starred (probably 'The Bohemian Girl' 1922). Ivor asked Gladys to accompany him to the showing on the Saturday evening, and was greatly disappointed that she refused point blank. 'I wouldn't cheapen myself.' She exclaimed haughtily. 'Well, I shall' came the reply, 'It will be a good advertisement for both the cinema and for me - and I bet I get in free.' He did! 'I got a huge round of applause,' he assured her next morning.
In 1923 a less famous resident of Birchington, one Mr W M Cooper, a Baptist, began a series of Sunday evening services in the Public Hall. So Baptists first met in the Public Hall... we have come home! However, the vision was to build a permanent home for the Baptist believers in Birchington, so work began on planning, funding and building a church in Crescent Road. This opened in 1925 with a formal membership of four, and has been home ever since, being used for church and community events.
According to a book on Kent cinemas, between August and November 1918, the Station Road site was known as 'The Princess'. 'The Select' until 1933; then to January 1936 'The Regent', and until 9 April 1958 'The Ritz'. Its final name, until the closure on 14th October 1961 was 'The Regal'. From the early 60's, its uses were many, including bingo and a social club, plus times as Trader's Pink Night Spot, Sand's Cabaret Club, the Pink Panther Club, and part of the neighbouring Birchington Club. By then the place has seen better days from its grand opening almost 100 years before.
In 2000 Cornerstone Church took it on. They undertook a major work replacing the roof, rebuilding the stage area to accommodate offices, revamping the kitchens and so on. It was once again being used as a place for the worship of God. The church closed in the summer of 2008, and in an act of true Christian generosity,  handed it to us - lock, stock and barrel. What an incredible blessing and amazing grace.
 
We moved in officially on 13th June 2010 with a march between both churches. It has been a challenge to take on both sites, but God has blessed it. Both churches are places to meet and worship God, and we want to let the people of Birchington hear the good news about Jesus. Also, in time, perhaps to regain its original use as a place to serve the community.
 
Crescent Road has seen almost unbroken worship for almost a century, but maybe Station Road has seen a few other things! Imagine it looking out on this community. It has seen Birchington change. Buildings come down, new ones built. Traffic getting heavier and the population growing, with a busy shopping street. And some of the things which would have gone on inside! Discos, films, fun, laughter and tears, songs of worship and the declaring of God's word. It has stood for over a century and despite a few wrinkles the old girl is doing well.
 
The story of the the Baptists in Birchington has always been one of faith, vision and the provision of God. Our prayer is that this will continue, to His glory..