St Peter’s church was beginning to be used by the college on Sunday evenings for an alternative service of some kind and it was not long after that it became redundant in 74 and we realised something had got to be done about it. Jake Seamer was Mayor, luckily, having come back from the Sudan, and taught at the college and he said when the council were beginning to say what are we going to do about St Peters, one alternative I’m told was to knock it down and make a roundabout instead. He said you can’t do that, you can’t destroy St Peter’s, I am not going to allow it, I will form a trust and see that it is saved. So he did, and it took four years before he got his trust formed, got the first few thousand pounds together and it was recognised as a charity and that was in 1978. It wasn’t until I retired in 1980 that he or John O’Regan who was the other real leader in sorting the place out, said would I come and be Treasurer. So I said yes, fine, thinking it would just be collecting five quid off a number of people, and it became rather more when John said he thought he’d had enough of being Secretary so would I do that as well, so for about eight or ten years I was Treasurer, Secretary, floor cleaner, organiser of plays, concerts, whatever.
There were other people, Lillian Ross, another ex-mayor, and one of the main things was John O’Regan had organised the Tourist Information Centre in there, which we ran with voluntary help, a lot of us just put in a morning or an afternoon or a day a week until eventually Kennet, having moved it themselves to nearer the middle of the town, which I resisted for some time until I discovered that we had a person who wanted to run what we now have the Art and Craft Centre at the west end of the church, so I said right do shift and they moved. They are now talking about doing away with that TIC which doesn’t seem to me to be very useful. Then Tom Brooks, who started the Art and Craft Centre, started scraping away and discovered the tiles were there, and we realised it wouldn’t be all that difficult to clear that. Tom actually then moved and by the time we got working on it Alan Crane had arrived, who is really the man responsible for the enormous reconstruction, repairs and so on which we’ve done in the last few years. And then Deborah Reynolds said do you think we could set up a base in the North Aisle to sell Christian books and things and to run a restaurant. So I said well lets try and after a bit it was clear that they could manage it so they set it up. So that has been one of our two major things which has gone on in the church ever since.
The Methodist church that was in Oxford Street, which is now the Masonic Hall because the Wesley Hall was not built then, and the new chapel down New Road which is now Christchurch, that was opened in 1911. I gave the collection speech: