When Kirkby was expanding rapidly in the 1950s, it was felt that it needed to be served by more than one church. The first services on the new estate of Southdene were held in Cherryfield School, before moving into a barn, followed by the first church which was built on the current site in 1955 (pictured below).
After a period of expansion, it was felt that a new church building was needed, and the current church building was built in 1964. The first building was deconsecrated, its spire removed, and was turned into the church hall. St. Martin’s was built as a sister church to St. Chad’s, and works together with St. Mark’s and St. Andrew’s as a team of churches, in what became a trailblazing way in the Church of England.
As St. Chad’s was built to showcase the very best of nineteenth century design, so was St. Martin’s built to showcase what was good in the 1960s. The current church building inside is full of light and space, with a wonderful atmosphere of prayer and worship. It had a Willis organ from the late nineteenth century, which when it was played, was a beautiful instrument, coming from the ‘Rembrandt’ of organ builders!
Sadly, not all was good in the 1960s, and the permanently leaky roof was finally replaced at the end of the century, leaving work to be done in brightening the exterior and installing new heating and redecorating inside the building. The leaky roof also took its toll on the organ, which would have needed restoration work to the tune of approximately £40,000 to restore it to its full glory. This led to us taking the difficult decision to sell the organ, which created space for a cafe area at the back of church.
St. Martin was a Roman soldier in the Imperial Guard, one of the highest positions in the Roman Army, when he saw a beggar freezing. He took off his military cloak, cut it in half with his sword and gave half to the beggar. Later he refused to take a bounty from the emperor himself, saying that as a Christian it was not lawful for him to fight. Having been thrown into prison, he was later released, and began to live very simply and prayerfully, focussing himself on God. As a bishop, his mission was in walking around sharing the good news of Jesus with the people around him, while standing up to all forms of oppression from the Roman authorities.
Former Vicars of St. Martin’s:
Rev. Norman Cleugh 1957 – 1961
Rev. John Tilston 1961 – 1970
Rev. Bob Lewis 1970 – 1975
Rev. Philip Burman 1977 – 1983
Rev. Peter Roberts 1983 – 1988
Rev. Alan Green 1988 – 1994
Rev. Jen Morrell 1995 – 2000
Rev. Ken Dagger 2000 – 2002
Rev. Jeremy Fagan 2004 –