(Part of) Introduction, Page 3/3

Sizes of the missions varied; the larger ones were of brick (some of which were initially called missions although they were substantially churches such as Abbey Gate Baptist and Wesley Hall in Hartington Road) but some were of timber construction and others of the corrugated ‘tin tabernacle’ type (shown as ‘iron’ church in lists). A good example of this type is still in use, though not as a mission, at 330 Abbey Lane. The smallest were merely converted terraced houses or hired rooms.
As Leicester’s population grew rapidly in the late Victorian era, missions were set up wherever rows of new houses were built in the expanding urban areas and sometimes in the borough’s surrounding villages (of which areas of Knighton, Humberstone, Aylestone, Braunstone, Evington and Belgrave became part of Leicester in 1892). Usually they were a provisional measure before a conventional church could be established, and this continued to happen on occasions in the twentieth century with Leicester’s expansion into large housing estates.
A more recent trend has been the conversion of existing properties into places of worship. This has occurred especially with Asian temples and mosques, the first in the late 1960s. Buildings of all types have been converted including industrial premises, schools, shops, large houses and public houses. Redundant churches have also found a new lease of life. Since closure, St Paul’s Methodist chapel in Melbourne Road, for example, has been both a Polish Roman Catholic Church and a temporary Muslim mosque, whilst Oxford Street Congregational Church has been transformed into a Jain Temple. There are many other examples.
For both economic reasons and to cater for the changing make-up of the population, there have been other tendencies which are evident in the lists. There has been unification of different Christian denominations and shared services as happened with the Cavendish Road Methodists being joined by the nearby St James Anglican church, and on Clarendon Park Road there has been unity between Baptists and Methodists. In many instances nowadays Churches share accommodation with other faiths. The Antiguan Moravians have shared Wesley Hall since 1962, and recently worshipping at the Bishop Street Methodist chapel have been a further three denominations.
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Where Leicester Has Worshipped © 2008 Andrew Moore, Laurel House Publishing.