Trafalgar Street Church, Hull
This month we are pleased to share a contribution from Council member and Baines enthusiast Stuart Leadley.
The Grade II listed Trafalgar Street Church stands on the corner of Beverley Road and Trafalgar Street in Hull. Its foundation stone was laid on 7 December 1904 and the church opened for worship as the Hull Central Baptist Church on 22 February 1906. The church is one of a series of churches in an ‘art nouveau’ free perpendicular style with a distinctive flint and terracotta facing built to the designs of the prolific chapel architects George and Reginald Palmer Baines between 1895 and 1908 in locations as far apart as London, Brighton, Cambridge, Liverpool, and Hull.
The site had been purchased in 1890 with a school-chapel opening in 1892 which subsequently became the school after the opening of the Baines church, and which has now been converted into flats.
For a total cost of £9,000, the completed church had 850 sittings, with seats arranged in circular fashion in the nave and in galleries. An organ (by T Hopkins & Sons of York) was set above and behind the pulpit, which is in turn above the baptistery. By 1916 the church membership had risen to 415, with 33 Sunday school teachers and 245 scholars. By 1936 membership had declined to 139 with 106 scholars.
In 1938 the church ceased to be a member of the Baptist Union, becoming a ‘undenominational’ evangelical church which it remained until it closed in 2002. Since closure the building has been empty and subject to the attention of vandals, despite planning consent for conversion into an entertainment venue being granted and being identified as a ‘high priority’ project in Hull City Council’s Beverley Road Townscape Heritage Scheme. SAVE Britain’s Heritage included the church in their ‘Buildings at Risk 2010-2011’.
The Baines practice was credited with designing over 200 church and school buildings in the RIBA Journal obituary of George Baines in 1934.
George Baines was born in Huntingdonshire in 1851 and after serving an architectural apprenticeship in London and Great Yarmouth, set up independent practice in Accrington in 1871. He relocated to London in 1884, and took his eldest son Reginald Palmer Baines (1879-1960) into partnership in 1901. From then until George retired in 1929, most works are credited jointly to father and son. The practice produced a variety of chapel designs in both gothic and other styles, in accordance with changing fashion and church budgets. There are concentrations of their buildings in Lancashire and in the home counties, but there are also examples in many parts of England, from Newcastle to Lowestoft to Southampton.
- Pevsner, N and Neave, D; The Buildings of England: Yorkshire: York and the East Riding Second Edition (1995)
- The Baptists of Yorkshire (1912)
- The Baptist Handbook (various dates)