HISTORY OF ST PAUL’S,
GOLDS HILL, WEST BROMWICH
The Church of St Paul, Golds Hill originated in a mission centre started at the Golds Hill Ironworks of John Bagnall & Sons in 1853. It was replaced by a school which was opened in 1855 for the education of the employees and their families.
It was used as a chapel on Sundays. By 1868 the chapel was known as the Golds Hill Iron Works Episcopal Chapel. It was replaced by the building that is now known as St Paul’s Church in 1881/2.
The Church was originally built and sited in Capponfields, Bilston by the Bagnall family for its workers there. When the recession hit the iron trade the works at Capponfields were closed and so too was the Church.
The Church’s original construction was of cinder blocks, timber and stone. The roof beams, windows, doors and other fittings, except for the cinder blocks, were transported to the site in Bagnall Street, Golds Hill. It was rebuilt and the cinder blocks replaced with local bricks. It was later enlarged to accommodate a new church organ, with choir stalls and other furniture being installed as and when funds became available. The building itself isn’t correctly orientated as liturgical “east” is actually west.
The “east” window was purchased by Bagnall’s Capponfield workers in 1854 while the church was still in Bilston. It was given in gratitude to the Bagnall family for the building of the church. It shows the coat of arms of the Bagnall family and the Lichfield Diocese symbol. The west window is a memorial to Mariann, the wife of Charles Purser, who was a Lay Reader at St Paul’s.
It is unusual in that the face of Mary at the Master’s feet is a likeness of Mariann to whom the window is dedicated.
Another unusual feature is the memorial on the west wall which gives the names of all the men in the parish who fought in the 1st World War and came back. The wood that these names are inscribed on came from the Royal Estate at Sandringham.
Over the years the parish of St Paul has gone through many changes with the demolition of some of the houses which surrounded the church and the building of the Harvills Hawthorn estates in the 1940’s. Harvills Hawthorn school opened in 1949 replacing Golds Hill school, built by the Bagnall family, which stood next to the church for many years. Throughout all the changes the church has always been there to minister to the people of the parish through Baptisms, Weddings and Funerals.
In 2000 the church hall was sold and the money used to adapt the church building to enable it to be used for a variety of occasions. The church was made more accessible by removing the steps outside with a ramp, a disabled toilet was installed along with a small kitchen area. The font was moved to the front of the church which created a large room at the back.
Mr Clive Bradley, Mr John Smith, Revd Susan Emtage,
Mr Joseph Williams, Revd Martin Rutter
There were two windows in the church that had clear glass windows, so the Parochial Church Council decided to fundraise to replace one of these. This was done in 2006 when a beautiful modern window was installed near to the font and 1st World War memorial. The theme of this window is one of new life and remembrance – appropriate to its position next to the font and the memorial tablet. On one side is the dove of the Holy Spirit rising from the water and on the other the light of Christ in the form of a flame. Both panes represent the living water of the river of life that we are baptised into and that we are part of even in death.
In 2010 the only other clear window was replaced by what is called “The Verger’s Window” and is dedicated to Albert Murphy and Brian Stevens who both served as Verger’s of St Paul’s. The three main elements of the design are; the hands giving the Bible/prayer book; the keys; the bells and rope. These were the primary functions of the vergers in the day to day life of the Church. The opening of the Church, the giving of the prayer/hymn books and the ringing of the Church bells. Horizontal movement through the window suggests the passing of time, while the vertical illuminates the main elements from the echoing bells above.
Throughout the years that St Paul’s has stood in Golds Hill, it has been a place of peace and quiet where people have come to meet together, to worship and pray, to learn more about God and be part of a church family and community.
By Mrs Jill Smith
a lifelong member of St Paul's