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Raleigh Road United Church Strapline


Raleigh Road United Church (an LEP) was formed in 1994 by the merger of St Paul's United Reformed Church, Richmond and Kew Road Methodist Church, Richmond. It meets in the premises of the former, which were opened, as St Paul's Congregational Church, in 1957, the original Church, dating back to 1898, having been destroyed during the Second World War. Both churches had their origins in the late 19th Century, at a time when the area lying between Richmond and Kew was being developed following the arrival of the Underground.

St Paul's Congregational Church was founded in 1898, largely as a result of a benefaction from Alderman Sir Charles Burt, a leading member of the Vineyard Congregational Church in Richmond. That parent Church remains active to this day as an independent Congregational Church. The name, St Paul's, was unusual for a Non-conformist Church, where the use of the word “Saint” was customarily avoided. It was proposed by Sir Charles, who regarded St Paul as the greatest of all the Apostles and saw parallels between his missionary work and the tasks he foresaw for the new Church.

The site in Raleigh Road was chosen as lying in a newly developing area (“New Richmond”), distant not only from the Vineyard but also from existing Churches of other denominations. It was a largely working class area, notable for one of the very first council house estates, just being built in and around Manor Road, where there were also a coal yard and a gasworks. Part of the vision behind the creation of the new Church was that it should be socially, as well as spiritually, active. (The coal yard and gasworks sites are familiar today to the customers of Homebase and Sainsbury's, respectively.)

Regular Services commenced on 18 December 1898 and the Church then had a relatively uneventful but successful existence until 1 October 1940, when it was hit by an extremely powerful bomb. The bomb came through the roof and exploded inside the Church building. It seems that the building's substantial structure absorbed the mighty blast and, although itself irreparably damaged, saved the surrounding area from incurring any casualties.

During the remainder of the War, the congregation from St Paul's was kindly invited to use the Church Hall of the Barn Church (St Philip and All Saints CofE). This continued until 1949, when St Paul's was able to acquire temporary Government buildings which had been erected in Raleigh Road.

Plans were then prepared for the construction of a new Church, which was completed and opened in 1956, including a splendid suite of halls and rooms intended to benefit the local community as well as the Church.

Unlike the Vineyard Church, St Paul's voted to join the United Reformed Church (URC) on its creation in 1972, bringing together most of the Congregational and Presbyterian Churches in England and, in the case of the Congregationalists, Wales. In 1995, the congregation of St Paul's united with the congregation of Kew Road Methodist Church, when the new name of Raleigh Road United Church was adopted to reflect the new beginning.

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