Bearwood Baptist Church

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Bearwood Baptist has been a place of Christian witness for over a hundred years. Before that Smethwick was part of the parish of Harborne and for centuries the people of Smethwick would make the 2-mile trek to St Peters in Harborne.

In the late 18th century Smethwick 'Old Church' was built as a chapel of ease. Over the next century or so Smethwick grew very rapidly, with famous factories, such as Soho Foundry where Boulton and Watt built their steam engines. Chances glassworks, Mitchells and Butlers brewery, GKN, Tangyes were all located within the town and throughout the 19th century churches of all denominations were established including Smethwick Baptist church.

Bearwood was until the end of the 19th century simply a crossroads, Bearwood Road leading from Smethwick to Harborne, crossed the main Hagley Road and also the road from Birmingham to Rowley (the present Sandon Road). Inns stood at each of these crossroads and a few cottages around the junctions.

In the 1890's the rapid expansion of both Smethwick and Birmingham arrived in Bearwood and within a period of about 15 years the area was fully developed with good quality houses in relatively wide streets, it became a popular place with people working in Birmingham and Smethwick.

Smethwick Baptist church felt led to establish their work in the area and in 1898 began holding services in the newly built Bearwood Road school.

The church rapidly established itself and within a short time a site was bought on the corner of Bearwood Road and Rawlings Road. A church and schoolroom was planned and the Schoolroom was built and opened in 1903. Services and other activities were held there until a new church could be added. The building is currently used for a variety of purposes such as Boys and Girls Brigade meetings and is available for hire to the local community.

In 1915 Bearwood became an independent church, having been successfully nurtured by Smethwick Baptist.

The plans were to build a large Gothic styled chrurch attached to the schoolroom facing the Bearwood Road. One consequence of these plans to form linked buildings is that the side of the hall, facing the present church, is built of cheaper bricks than the rest and a close look shows that the windows were cut into the wall at a later date.

It may have been the First World War that led to a change of plans and in the early 1920's the church was built. Only the front entrance, reached up steps from the Bearwood Road, was intended to be permanant. Behind the entrance the main building was timber framed with cement sheeting on the roof and walls.

Although only intended to last a few years the building was used by a large and growing congregation for 40 years. However, by the early 1960's the condition was such that demolition was the only option and with the benefit of a large bequest by a previous member, Annie Brown, a building fund was set up. In 1965 the present church was built. 

History of Baptists in Smethwick.

History of public services in Smethwick.

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