Congregation looked back to post-blitz rebuilding to help inspire them

Shirley Simpson with a name bearing bricks from the original rebuilt Tabernacle church at Hillsborough paid for by her grandfather G Swift
Shirley Simpson with a name bearing bricks from the original rebuilt Tabernacle church at Hillsborough paid for by her grandfather G Swift
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One Sheffield congregation has proved nothing can stop them improving their church, not bombs and certainly not the credit crunch.

Members of Hillsborough Tabernacle Congregational Church were in good company when they decided to fundraise for an extension - their predecessors had done the same six decades earlier.

Hillsborough Tabernacle Church in ruins, 1940

Hillsborough Tabernacle Church in ruins, 1940

Back then the church had to be raised from the ashes after being flattened during the Sheffield Blitz.

This time round the congregation has collected £150,000 to add an extension and it seems not much has changed when it comes to fundraising activities.

There was just 37 and a half pence left in church funds when World War Two ended and it took a huge effort to find the £17,500 needed for a new church.

They held numerous jumble sales, garden parties, games events and coffee mornings until the church was eventually re-opened in May 1955.

Janet Clarke, a church member, said: “The church has a very remarkable history which is particularly poignant being 70-odd years since the Sheffield Blitz.

“This time round we had the inspiration of the people in the past who raised enough money to rebuild the church completely.”

Hillsborough Tabernacle United Church, later renamed Hillsborough Tabernacle Congregational Church, was founded in 1899 on Crookes Place - now Proctor Place - by Rev Andrew McKitrick.

It was just a temporary building in those days and the first church, a single-storey building, was built in 1907.

At that time members could buy a brick with their name on to contribute to the fund and they were built into the entrance.

One brick bears the name G Swift, grandfather of Shirley Simpson who helped with the most recent fundraising.

The church prospered till World War I when many of its young congregation were called to fight on the front line.

After the war the church regained its membership until World War One when once again its young men joined the armed forces.

During the Sheffield Blitz, December 1940, a bomb directly hit and demolished the church and houses behind in Hawksley Avenue.

Among the rubble one wall was left standing bearing the church motto “O Worship The Lord In The Beauty of Holiness”.

Many members saw it as the end of the church but others, including some fighting overseas, were determined to rebuild it.

Today’s fundraisers hold stories of wartime endeavours close to their hearts and are proud to carry on the tradition of determination.

Favourite tales from the blitz include one elderly man who searched through the rubble for nails which he straightened to be used in the temporary building being put up on the site.

Janet said: “We are proud of what we have achieved this year but our pride cannot match that of its members in the 1940s and 1950s who managed to rebuild Hillsborough Tabernacle, affectionately called ‘The Tabs’ when all seemed lost.

“A link with the original church is that the named bricks found in the rubble have now been put in the entrance of the new extension.”

The church is still going strong today and the new extension houses a lift, disabled toilets and meeting room for 20 people.