Maidenhead was known as South Ellington until 1296 and its prosperity really began in 1280, the year its first bridge was constructed over the River Thames. It thus became an established market town, at the expense of Cookham, whose bridge was no longer able to divert traffic heading to and from the West of England away from Maidenhead. By 1824 ninety coaches a day were passing through Maidenhead, and its growth continued with the arrival of other services: gas in 1835; railway 1840; waterworks 1876; and electricity in 1902. In 1899 the population of Maidenhead was approximately 12,000 and in considering the background to the formation of the Church, it should be borne in mind that by today's standards the town was little more than a village in 1873. Certainly everybody knew everybody else and with the diminishing influence of its Berkshire background, caused by the number of outsiders coming into the town, it has ceased to be the close-knit community it was at the turn of the 20th century. Today it serves as a commuter area for London


By 1871 a small group of non-conformists in the town were beginning to express an interest in establishing a Baptist Church. On 14th April 1871 Messrs. Reynolds, Bray, Tuck, Stewart, Brown and Jones wrote to Charles H. Spurgeon, the famous preacher, expressing their interest. His offer to help was a ?50 donation for the first year's support and a promise of ?100 towards the chapel building if an equal amount was raised by the members for both purposes. Meetings thereupon commenced in the Old Guildhall, the first one on 4th June 1871, conducted by a Mr. Glanville, a student. At C. H. Spurgeon's recommendation, following a visit by him to the neighbourhood, a Mr. Irving took over the services in November 1871, followed by other students from Spurgeon's College.


Joseph Wilkins (1873-1880) At a meeting held on 16th September, 1873 fourteen members discussed the matter of the first pastor of the Church and unanimously resolved to invite Joseph Wilkins, having received prior recommendation of him from Charles Spurgeon On September 23rd, 1873 in concluding his acceptance letter, Joseph Wilkins wrote the following. And now the one desire and prayer of my heart is, that, as God has blessed me, so he would make me a blessing. I do yearn for souls; may we so live brethren, that God may be able to give them us in large numbers, and may we, together with multitudes who have not yet crossed the threshold of His house, have cause to bless God in eternity for the commission this day ratified. Amen. and Amen. Yours affectionately in the bonds of Christ, JOSEPH WILKINS During his ministry Rev. Wilkins saw the Church grow rapidly to a membership of 85 by 1879. The Church joined the Berkshire Baptist Association in 1876. On 14th February, 1878 a public meeting was held recording the repayment of the building debts and thus by the time Rev. Wilkins accepted a new ministry in Boston, America the Church was fully established, a Sunday School having commenced on lst April, 1875, and the church membership standing at a healthy 96.


John James Irving (1880-1886) Three months later on 13th September, 1880 the Church invited John Irving from Swadlincote to the Pastorate. On a salary of ?100 p.a. with a family totalling 10 persons, it was a great act of faith. This was the same Mr. Irving who had preached in the Town Hall more than eight years previously before the Church was constructed; and whilst awaiting his arrival the Church accepted his suggestion to adopt a weekly offering in preference to a quarterly subscription. In the autumn of 1886 Irving went on a three months trip to America, and whilst there, accepted a call to a church in Morris, Chicago. Thus, the first two pastors of the Church had been removed to America.


Harry John Preece (1888-1897) In May, 1888 the Church appointed Harry Preece, a member of the Church since 1882 and baptised here, as its Pastor. He had close connections with the Boyn Hill Church and used to go to Mrs. Crockford's cottage meetings. During his first year's ministry, the Church acquired for ?50, from Henry Timberlake, the piece of land at the rear for an extension to the Sunday School. The site upon which the manse is now located was acquired at the same time by Rev. Preece and eventually purchased from him in 1896. On 25th March 1897 he resigned and accepted a ministry in Tewkesbury.


Richard Walker (1897-1898) The next Pastor stayed only for ten months. He came from Poole, Dorset and in its letter to him offering him the vacancy the Church referred to the loss of membership "so that our position has gradually but surely become weaker, although the Town itself has rapidly grown". No further information is available in respect of Rev. Walker.


Robert Ronald Williams (1899-1906) Mr. Williams, of Regents Park College, commenced his ministry on 30th April, 1899, and during his ministry the Church membership grew rapidly, reaching its highest ever membership in 1905 of 170, a remarkable achievement. He was a young welshman, described as having "plenty of get up and go" He was also a dentist, and took great delight in inspecting the teeth of the children, much to their alarm. It was due to his forwardness that the Church acquired a pipe organ, despite the satisfaction of a fair number of members with the little harmonium being used. In 1901 the pastor's manse was erected at an approximate cost of ?500. The pastor resigned with effect from 29th October, 1906 and accepted a position as assistant pastor to Rev. Rowntree Clifford of the Old Barking Road Baptist Tabernacle.


Thomas Wreford Way (1907-1920) In February 1907 Rev. Way from Chalk Farm commenced the second longest ministry in the history of the Church, that of fourteen years duration. He was a very quiet, gentle man. The main feature of his ministry was the interruption caused by the First World War (1914-1918). Several thousands of soldiers came to Maidenhead for training and in 1914 the Church offered the school premises as a Club room for the visiting soldiers. In 1916 a soldiers' prayer meeting commenced on Tuesday evenings. There were inevitable war casualties to the membership, the most remembered being that of Arthur Ada, the organist and in 1920 a Memorial Tablet was added to the choir rostrum rail in memory of those who gave their lives for the country. Rev. Way resigned in August 1920 and was transferred to Shepton-on-Stour.


E. J. Crofts (1920-1925) Rev. Crofts commenced his ministry in November 1920, coming from Biggleswade, Leeds. Dr. J. B. Meyer led the induction service. He was very different from the other pastors of the Church. There was an atmosphere about him in the pulpit that made the congregation sit up and listen. He had an oddity in that he believed that the Church decoration should only be carried out by `experts'. When the front of the Church was re-designed everyone sighed with relief at the disappearance of the cluster of grapes! On Sunday, lst January 1922 the School and Lecture Rooms which were made of wood were destroyed by fire caused by a faulty old furnace. It was only the fact that a little boy, who was never identified, gave the alarm and that these rooms were separate from the main Church building that prevented a major disaster. The choirs of the Free churches in Maidenhead held a sacred concert the following Thursday in the Wesleyan Church which was attended by 725 people, with at least 100 persons being turned away. Over 80 choir members sang Gaul's cantata The Holy City as part of the concert. Altogether ?50 13s, Od. was collected by the town and even the Young People's Union members were given 1/- each to turn into a greater sum. Rev. Crofts resigned in September 1925 for a Pastorate in Hitchin.


John A. Gard (1926-1932) Rev. John Gard commenced his ministry in 1926. He was a short spare man and had an Irish Wolfhound, weighing 11 stone, and three feet tall at the shoulder, which was reckoned to be the largest dog in Great Britain. The dog was known as the `chapel dog' and the two of them were familiar companions to be seen in Kidwell's Park and about the streets. He played a large part in the success of the Maidenhead Open Air Evangelical Fellowship on Sunday evenings commenced in January 1929. He resigned in February 1932 and went to Ibstock Baptist Church.


Arthur S. Martin (1933-1950) Rev. Martin from Wisbech commenced his ministry in September 1933. He was, without doubt, one of the most loved of the Pastors that the Church has had during its life-time, and his eighteen years ministry, the longest in the Church's history, is evidence of his popularity. Within three years the membership had increased to 129. His wife was also an accomplished organist. The young people in particular loved him, and he was affectionately known among them as `Pop'. Rev. Martin also became the Free Church Hospital Chaplain and Chaplain to the soldiers who were training at Waltham and a Church parade was held for them once a month. The Second World War (1939-1945) brought him his own personal grief in that he lost his son Derek, in a flying crash in Scotland. During the war years the Church and Mission Hall were used for Child Evacuees. The Church opened for intercessory prayers during these years. Some of the members wished Mr. Martin to remain until his retirement, which was only a few years ahead of his resignation in December 1950.


John Mudd (1952-1957) Rev. Mudd's ministry commenced on 10th August 1952, having previously been at Waterham, Bacup and prior to that a missionary in China. He was a shy quiet and studious man and was well liked by his congregation. Transport was a problem even in those days, and Rev. Mudd did most of his pastoral visitation by means of a bicycle until in June, 1955 the purchase of an autowheel was suggested. This enabled him to make over 2,000 home visits by 1955. He left Marlow Road to work for Dr. Barnado's Homes and is now Warden of the Methodist Missionary Guest House at Solihull, Birmingham.


Ralph John Stephens (1959-1969) Inducted on 10th September 1959, Rev. Stephens came from Somersham, Hunts. He had been brought up in the Slough Baptist Church and the preacher at his induction was his former pastor, Rev.P.H.Crunden. He was a gentle man, articulate, with a philosophical turn of phrase. During his ministry, there was a definite upturn in the spiritual side of the Church and his departure to Clacton at the end of 1969 was much regretted. His wife and four children were very much an integral part of the life and work of the Church.


Peter B. Crowhurst (1972-1987) After over two years without a pastor, the Church called the Rev. Peter Crowhurst from Hanham to its ministry, the induction taking place on 15th April, 1972. Shortly afterwards he exchanged pulpits with the minister of a Church in Newport News, Virginia, U.S.A. for a few weeks; and was in April of that year invited back there to conduct a Gospel Rally.


Terry Murphy (1986 - 2005) Terry was invited to lead the church in 1986 after completing a course of training in ministry at Spurgeons College. Before that he worked as an architect in Kent. His heart was then and is now to see Jubilee Comunity Church function as a community, helping people find freedom in Christ. Terry stepped down from the role of Lead Elder in 2005 to make way for Stuart Otto.

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