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The Unitarian spire.

IT is a good thing that our readers keep us on our toes here at Remember When.

We incorrectly identified the spire in the distance in this photograph of Corporation Road as belonging to the Methodist Connexion Chapel, later the Scientific Institute.

However, as Ann Spencer of Redcar has pointed out this is much more likely to be the spire of the Unitarian Church which was closer to the Empire Theatre than the Methodist Chapel.

Ann says: "I believe that the spire belongs to the Unitarian Church, which was demolished in 1970.

"The register office now stands near the site.

"My own wedding in 1968 was the last one to be held there and my son's christening the following year was the last baptism."

Ann has sent us a picture of the church when it was built in 1873.

Another reader told Remember When: "It was a very friendly church and the services were simple and easy to understand.

"I used to take a turn at playing the organ for the service.

"We had a youth club for years and we all attended church on Sundays and badminton was a popular pastime. The Christmas bazaar was very popular, opened by the mayoress. There were whist drives twice a week and this was also very popular."

It is clear that this little church was at one time the centre of a thriving parish community.

However, as the centre of Middlesbrough changed with large residential districts being demolished such as the Hill Street and Rock Street areas, many thousands of people were re-located to districts away from the town centre. The decline began earlier for the church on Corporation Road, by 1970 attendances had fallen to the extent that what was left of the congregation moved to the Unitarian Church in Stockton.

The church was bought under a compulsory purchase order and was demolished in 1970 to make way for the register office. The exact area where the church once stood is a landscaped piece of open ground between the register office and Corporation Road.

CAPTION(S):

FRIENDLY CHURCH: Corporation Road in 1899, above, with the Unitarian Church spire showing just past the Empire Theatre, and a close up of the church, left
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Title Annotation:Features
Publication:Evening Gazette (Middlesbrough, England)
Date:Sep 5, 2011
Words:371
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