CHAPTER IV.
The Jubilees.

The retirement of Rev. Heyworth brings to an end the first half of this story. To us now, the first part is the most interesting, not only because the recent history is more familiar, but because the stalwarts of those early days seem such colourful characters. Life in the first fifty years of Edgeside's history was very restricted. Work was hard to come by and wages were small. There were long hours of toil, and none of the modern counter-attractions against which the Church's witness has now to be made. The folk put all their passion and interest into the Chapel life. Here on Sundays in their best suits and bonnets, they were for a time different people. On the Sabbath life took on a new dignity. A man might be the meanest of servants, a small cog in the industrial machine, even out of work dining the week, but on Sundays he was a child of God, saved by grace. He had a status as a church member and teacher, and there was always work to be done in the Kingdom of God.

We must not thing, of course, that in those days everybody went to Church without being pressed, or that the children were little angels ! Here is a series of decisions made at a Deacon's meeting on December 1st, 1901 :—

1. That steps be taken to secure more reverent and orderly behaviour before and after the chapel services.

2. That the deacons and officers be each appointed to some post for this purpose.

3. That Thos. Sutcliffe stand in the vestibule, Lawrence Hy. Howarth and one of the secretaries at the top of the gallery steps, Wm. Sellers and Wm. Thos. Sagar in the chapel bottom, to keep order. I t sounds like the battle orders of a general, preparing for a siege ! Mr. Heyworth did not live long after his retirement. He died suddenly at his Accrington home on September 21st, 1900, aged 68. A memorial service was conducted at Edgeside by Rev. F. Overend, of Bacup. Some ten weeks later, the Church welcomed Rev. Wm. Piggott, of Cheltenham. At this meeting Mr. Thomas Sutcliffe was the chief spokesman for the Church.

Very soon after Mr. Piggott settled, plans were begun to mark the Jubilee. Here is a quotation from the "Rossendale Echo" of April 15th, 1903:—

"Eastertide 1903 will stand out in the history of Mount Zion Baptist Chapel, Edgeside . . . the Jubilee was celebrated in a series of meetings and services which passed off most satisfactorily. The place is making steady progress. A large number of former teachers and scholars assembled from various towns, while many others sent letters."

It was a snowy Easter. Mr. Piggott, the minister, writing years afterwards, says, " I well remember that in spite of driving snow, friends came from Burnley, Nelson, Holmes Chapel, etc." The personalities and atmosphere of the meetings can best be given by a summary of the meetings held.

Good Friday morning the minister presided and gave a summary of the chapel's history. Then came speeches from the oldest deacon, Heyworth Nuttall, and from the youngest, Arthur Pickup. The attendance was better in the afternoon when Cornelius Greenwood, of Nelson, presided, and allowed his memory to go back and pick out some of the old workers. Other speakers were men already mentioned in this account — C. Hitchen, John Hanson, Thos. Sutcliffe (who composed and recited a poem for the occasion) and James Dean. Messages were read from Canada, New York and New Zealand, all from former scholars. The speakers were reminiscent, as for example, this from the speech by Cornelius Greenwood :— "

William Proctor was one of the great men in those days. I can see him now, coming up Tom Lane hat in hand, wiping the sweat from his face. He was always in his place, cloud or sunshine. Another was James Nuttall, School Superintendent. We called him 'Owd Nutta', and 1 remember how he spoke very gently to us rough lads, stroking our heads and asking us to be good. He came to week-night services from Waterbarn, always in his clogs and blue apron. On Sundays, though, he had a 'tall shiner'. One who will always stand out as a shining light at Edgeside was Billy Collinge. He was once considered the worst lad in the district. He wanted to get into the the drum and fife band, and promised if he did, to sign the pledge and be teetotal. But the members voted against admitting him, and gave him the 'blackball', till my brother William pleaded for him. It is well-known that he stuck to his guns, and became one of Rossendale's foremost temperance workers."

During Mr. Piggott's ministry, the " Rossendale Free Press" had this entry : " Owing to the lack of accommodation, the people at Edgeside Baptist are considering enlarging their premises, but no plan has yet been decided upon." This was in 1902. The folk then hardly thought that it would be another 45 years before the enlargement took place.

Mr. Piggott's ministry ended in 1907, owing largely to ill-health and increasing deafness. Though a com≠paratively young man, he had to retire into the country. He was followed by Rev. J. E, Bottoms, who, after work with the Manchester City Mission, and a spell as Lay-reader in the Church of England, became a convinced Baptist. He was called to the pastorate in 1908, and remained eleven years. His salary was raised to £100 per annum, with which he supported his wife and family. After leav≠ing Edgeside he went to Southend, and afterwards back to the North, including a pastorate at Radcliffe which, like Edgeside, is in the Bury and Rossendale Association of Baptist Churches. With Mr. Bottoms, we enter the definite memories of members still active. We are proud to recall that two of his children are today doing great service in the Baptist cause. Rev. Walter Bottoms is the minister of New Park Road, Oxford, and Dr. Jim 'Bottoms has a fine record of service with the Baptist Missionary Society, being in charge of the Chandraghona Hospital in India. Frank Bottoms, the other son is at present on service in tropical waters as Captain of a Missionary ship. Mr. Bottoms died in retirement in June, 1951.

Under Mr. Bottoms' ministry the Band of Hope, Mutual Improvement Class and Sunday School continued to flourish, while a new venture was the Brotherhood move≠ment, with its pleasant Sunday Afternoon meetings, the like of which could be paralleled at that time all over the country. The moving spirit of this was Mr. Arthur Pickup, who, in addition to other offices, was leader of the Young Men's Class. Then a Christian Endeavour was formed ; it had 25 members and many will remember the prayer meetings during those years.

Mrs. Bottoms laboured faithfully at the side of her husband, and, in spite of the responsibilities of a young family, was able to play her part in the work of the Church. She was the Founder and first President of the Ladies' Guild, which soon became an important part of church life.

In 1909, Mr. John Sutcliffe, choirmaster for 44 years, and his daughter Nancy, afterwards Mrs. Guy, who had been organist for 25 years, were presented with suitable gifts from a grateful church as a mark of their united labours. In 1912 Nancy had to relinquish the organ, after 28 years, through ill-health. She played the organ subsequently on many occasions, and is affectionately remembered by all who knew her. A few months before her death in April last year (1952) she presented to the Ladies' Aid, the silver urn which had been presented to her on her 21st birthday by the Church. Now at teas or social functions when the urn is in use, the sight of it will always evoke memories of a true saint of God.

The staircase leading from the " long room" to the choir was built in November, 1920, and was dedicated to the memory of John Sutcliffe who was choirmaster for a total of 54 years.

The tragedy of War in 1914 brought its consequences to Edgeside as to other places. The upheaval in social life, the splitting-up of homes, the sad loss of life among the best workers in the church were blows from which the church suffered much. But Mount Zion put a brave face on, and pressed forward with the second Jubilee, this time to mark the 50th Anniversary of the building of the Chapel. Once again Easter was the season, in 1915, and the account in the " Free Press " is flanked by recruiting advertisements for the Army.

This Jubilee was a repetition of the earlier one — even to some of the speeches. The meetings began, as before, on Good Friday. Rev. Bottoms presided and placards both inside the Chapel and out, said " Welcome." The newspaper accounts pay tribute to the " energetic and obliging secretary" — none other than Josiah Gregory, who had done so much to make the Jubilee a success. The same Jos. Gregory was to do fine service during the Second World War, when his letters were so much welcomed by the men in the Forces.

Even the hymns sung in 1915 were the same as 1903 ; 44 Lead Kindly Light," "Far down the ages now," and especially the closing hymn, the good old Lancashire one, 44 Farewell my friends belov'd." One of the speakers told an interesting story of a picnic, long past, to Hard-castle Crags with the choir. The party got to the station for the homeward journey rather early for the train. It was getting dark, but they sat in the waiting train singing hymns. Presently the station-master came along while they were singing " There is a. Green Hill," and said, " If you can sing as well as that I will have to give you a light." So the choir's carriage was the only one lighted on the way home." There is no mistaking the note of affection for the old place which marks the speeches. Speakers included John Hanson, W. Nowell, W. Bricknell, A. Pickup, G. H. Gregory, W. Boocock, C. Greenwood and J. O1. Ashworth. Mr. W. Birtwistle, presiding in the afternoon, said he was there in place of Mr. L. H. Haworth, the School Superintendent. " I refused at first," he said, but then the Pastor pressed, and when that happened there was no refusing."