Portswood Mission History

Portswood Mission

Having been established for nearly ten years, the members of Avenue Congregational Church wished to do some Christian service in a poorer area of the town. In 1901 they took over a room at 1 Somerset Road, Portswood, and started a successful Sunday School. The parents of these children soon wanted an evening service, so this was started, and was run by the Avenue Church Young men’s Bible Class. The following year the ladies of Avenue started a Portswood Mother’s Meeting, and ran jumble sales to raise money for a temporary church building. The iron church was situated on the corner of Bowden Lane and Arnold Road, and became called The Portswood Mission. It was opened on 20th April 1904. In 1906 a Boys Brigade was set up and shortly after a Girls Brigade. In 1907 Avenue set up the Portswood Guild of Help, to help those who would have drifted to the Poorhouse, and Avenue ladies set up a soup kitchen for up to 200 families. There were Saturday evening concerts for their entertainment. By 1909 the Sunday School was so large, so it took over rooms in the nearby Portswood Primary School. A purpose built mission hall was opened in 1910, and ran until 1964, when new maisonettes were built on the site. In the 1920s a weekly Men’s’ Club was set up. Although the mission ran in Portswood, throughout its existence it was strongly supported by the Avenue Church. Avenue’s Mr Trim devoted his life to it. There was a lay ministry, but at times it had its own clergy such as Rev J. Weller and Rev Frederick J. Smith B.Sc.