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Brief History of the Church

The Early Days - the 1860's

For some time prior to 1866 the Methodists of East Oakley had been holding meetings in one of the cottages on the south side of Hill road, now known as Hunter's Moon.

A Mr Blackburn owned a pair of cottages called Railway Croft (now called "Allan's Folley") together with a small adjoining piece of land which was between the cottages and Hill Road.

In March 1866 Mr Blackburn agreed to sell this small plot of land to the East Oakley Primitive Methodists for the sum of £5. Work was commenced immediately on building a new chapel and the first service was held on 3rd June 1866; by the autumn of that year the Sunday School was started.

afollyw1

Allan's Folley & the church in 1999

 

1944 Addition

 

In 1944, a room was added at the side of the chapel for the use of the Sunday School. It was built by Mr Wyeth and had a sloping tin roof. Although electricity had been installed by this time, there was no water supply and no connection to the sewerage system.

Membership Decline

By 1965 the membership had declined to five and the church faced closure. However, the membership refused to accept this possibility and shortly Oakley started to expand in parallel with the huge town expansion scheme in Basingstoke. As a consequence of this the membership started to grow and this trend has continued to the present day when membership hovers between 40 and 50.

Modernisation 1968 - 1971

Work started in 1968 on a modernisation programme and this took 3 years to complete by voluntary labour. The room added in 1944 became a dual-purpose room , doubling up as a kitchen, and a cold water supply was installed together with main drainage. In addition, an overhead electric heating system was provided in the Chapel.

1972 - 1990

This was very largely a period of quiet consolidation. Membership was gradually increasing and the church was becoming better able to meet the financial burden of maintaining the building itself in good condition. In 1977 the building was re-roofed and new double-glazed windows were made and installed in the main part of the building. In 1981 the floor was replaced, and as a part of this operation a "time capsule" was buried containing a number of items, including a membership list, services plan, financial statements, coins and 'bus tokens, and a copy of a newspaper in which the marriage of the Prince of Wales to Lady Diana Spencer was reported. In 1989 a suspended ceiling was fitted and 1990 saw the installation of storage heaters which removed the problem of damage to the fabric and decorations previously caused by condensation.

A Major Extension

Prior to 1990 there had been much discussion as to the adequacy of the accommodation - extra space was really required to cope with the increasing numbers etc. Grandiose schemes such as constructing a basement and/or a balcony were talked about and then dismissed as being impracticable. What was really required was a completely new plot of land in the right place so that a new church could be built - and, of course, enough money with which to do it! However, there was virtually no land left in the centre of the village and in any case the cost of land acquisition and the subsequent building costs seemed to be prohibitive. It was then decided to extend the existing kitchen area so that virtually every square inch of the plot was built on. A separate store room was provided, the toilet accommodation was extended and improved, and a vast improvement was made to the kitchen facilities, including modern cupboards and work surfaces and a hot water supply both to the sink and the hand basin in the toilet area; a storage heater was also installed, making a total of five in the property as a whole. Outside, a ramp was constructed to facilitate wheelchair access and wrong iron fencing was erected around it. Also, the flat roof over the whole of the new extended kitchen etc area was renewed.

The Future

We are currently in a period of gradual growth in and there is no reason to suppose that this will not continue. If, indeed, this trend is maintained questions will undoubtedly be asked once again as to the adequacy of the premises. Who knows what the future may hold? All we can do is lay the foundation now for what we hope are greater and better things to come.

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