Tom Dodson - 'The Church'

'The Church'

Approx. Image Size: 14" x 18"

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My younger brother and I went along to enrol at St Clement's Sunday School.  We looked forward to hearing our group teachers telling us stories from the Bible but I enjoyed it particularly because we were given coloured crayons and scrap paper, so that we could draw pictures of what the teachers had told us about.  My pictures were nearly always hung on the wall because I 'had made a good effort'!

When we were older, we began to attend church.  I will never forget my first impressions as I entered the great wooden doors.  I had never seen a room so large; its great stone pillars rising up into the top of the church until they were almost out of sight.  The great Lectern and the rails around the Altar were made of pure gold - or so I always thought.  Then one day I spoke to the Verger, Mr. Carter, while he was hard at work polishing them with Brasso and he told me that, unfortunately, they were only made of brass.

It was very quiet in church as we waited for the service to begin.  Then, in the distance, I heard the sound of Angels singing.  The sound grew louder, then the choir appeared and made its way down the aisle towards the choir stalls.  The music grew to a crescendo and the great organ blasted forth the final chord.  Then, all was silent until Mr. Ward, the Rector, began to speak and the congregation settled down to hear his message.

Church Organ

As I grew older, I used to help the Verger and, eventually, I was asked if I would like to take on the job of 'organ blowing.'  I was to go every Sunday morning and evening and would be paid fifteen shillings a quarter; a fortune compared to my usual two pence a week spends. Each quarter, I would give my pay to Mam and she would give me a little back.   I felt rich and immediately joined the Christmas Club, paying for my first Meccano set by instalments.

Mr. Willoughby, the Organist, showed me into a small, dark passageway in which I was to spend my Sundays.  It was a little frightening at first.  At the end of the passageway was a large handle; a thick wooden bar which stuck out from the great bellows.   I had to pump this handle up and down, filling the bellows with air, without which the organ could not function.  I did not like the bass notes because I had to pump even harder then to stop the bellows emptying.  It was the Organist who caused the trouble.  He was a good organist and Choirmaster, but how he loved those bass notes!

Ormskirk Parish Church

This historic and beautiful building is one of the only three churches in England possessing
both a tower and a steeple, and is unique in having them both at the same end.   The small
'steeple' tower dates from the fourteenth to the early fifteenth century, but the original steeple
blew down in 1731 and was rebuilt in 1790 and 1832.  The massive west tower was added
around 1540-50 to house the bells of Burscough Priory after the dissolution.   The oldest bell,
now retired and standing in the back of the church, is dated 1497 and 1576 after its recasting.
It is probable that stone from the priory was reused in the construction of the tower.