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Page 6 – The History of Rosebery Park Baptist Church and Pokesdown: Into a new century, 1900s and First World War

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It was during Rev. William Perkin’s ministry, 1899 to 1918, that Rosebery Park Baptist Church, until then an independent Baptist church, was accepted into membership of the Baptist Union.36

An article in the ‘Bournemouth Guardian’, from 1906, describes Rev. Perkins as “esteemed from one end of the town to the other as a Christian gentleman, as an earnest worker, and as a most strenuous pastor” to a church of “very earnest and struggling people”.37

In 1912, thanking attendees at a sale of goods, Rev. Perkins describes the church as “not absolutely poverty stricken” but “a poor church” which “needed outside help”.38

The 1914 ‘Bournemouth Guardian’ report on the church’s annual sale includes the explanation from the church secretaries: “We are obliged by the necessity of maintaining our pastoral work to hold our annual sale of work. Urgent requirements alone compel us to this course, notwithstanding the great war claims of this year… our pastor’s large dependence for his stipend upon the produce of this sale leaves us no option in the matter.”39

Rev. William Perkins, Minister at RPBC 1899 to 1918.
Photo property of RPBC.
article in the 1906 Bournemouth Guardian about the sale of work at Rosebery Park Baptist describing Mr Perkins as esteemed from one end of the town to the other.
Newspaper image © The British Library Board. All rights reserved. With thanks to The British Newspaper Archive.

In January 1915 we read the sad announcement in the Bournemouth Graphic of the funeral of Eleanor Perkins, Rev. Perkin’s wife.40

We don’t have full details of what the church or church members were doing during, specifically, the duration of the First World War. We have a Bournemouth Guardian article on 22nd November 1919, which speaks of a social evening to welcome back seven returned service members (see below). We know that the Minister who started at the church in 1918 was a Chaplain with the forces during the war41, and that the church collected money for the wounded soldiers and sailors fund.42 In addition, we can get a picture of life in general in the Pokesdown area from M.A. Edgington’s booklet ‘Bournemouth and the First World War’.

Overall, Bournemouth had to accommodate 16,000 troops. Infantry and mounted men, including troops from New Zealand, were billeted in Pokesdown, Boscombe and Southbourne. Plus there was an encampment at Iford. As part of the efforts to provide recreational facilities for the men, a new YMCA hut was built at Pokesdown near the railway station. Pokesdown Technical Institute, on the corner of Hannington and Christchurch Roads, was the home of the ‘Bournemouth War Hospital Wood Work Depot’. The local scouts helped collect wood, which the men at the depot made into useful articles such as crutches and bed tables. An Empire Club for girls was started, by the same women who organised patrols to shoo the girls away from the soldiers! Activities for the girls included physical training, drill, singing classes and dressmaking.43

At his farewell service, October 1918, it was said of Rev. Perkins that he was a scholar with a very extensive knowledge but what justified him becoming a minister was his deep spirituality.44 A 1921 article, about the long campaign for a new school, describes him as one of the “old stalwarts of Pokesdown”.45

The tramway from Lansdowne to Warwick Road, Pokesdown was opened in 1902, after a series of legal battles between the British Electric Traction Company and the Bournemouth Corporation. In 1905 it was extended to Christchurch, via Seabourne Road, Pokesdown.45a

newspaper cutting from the Bournemouth Graphic in 1905, praising the extension of the tramway to Pokesdown
Newspaper image © The British Library Board. All rights reserved.
With thanks to The British Newspaper Archive.
c.1911 Tram by Poole Station, on its way to Boscombe and through Pokesdown to Fisherman’s Walk.
Source: Tramway Badges and Buttons courtesy of the National Tramway Museum.

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Rosebery Park Baptist Church, 812-814 Christchurch Road, between Boscombe and Pokesdown, Bournemouth, BH7 6DF