Speer Road Church

(United Reformed Church)

Thames Ditton


Church Family News

To all at Speer Road Church

I am sorry to say that Sheila Francis has had a severe stroke and is in Kingston Hospital waiting to move to a nursing home. Please pray for her and the family at this time.

Every Blessing,


Rev. Peter Flint,
United Reformed Church Minister,
New Malden and Thames Ditton,

Tel: 020 3754 0940
Mobile: 07436 119626
Facebook: www.facebook.com/newmaldenurc/

Church Closure

Linda has written an article for Thames Ditton Today to inform our community about the possible church closure. Click on the link below to read it

Memories of the Church from our members

Memories from Helen Osborne

Too many memories to count during my 52 years at Thames \Ditton!!
Harvest time and the church decorated in every corner.
Packed church singing the good old Harvest hymns led by the choir. Extra chairs in the aisle. Harvest Festival and the Harvest Supper- Ella always working away in the kitchen with the stew. All the ladies helping or serving up the apple pie and cream. No choice!

Memories from Beth Odom

I am grateful to Speer Road Church for letting me lose over a stone in weight without even trying in time for my son's wedding! I should properly credit the refurbishment of the foyer and kitchen as its completion and The Day ran neck and neck. However, every crisis is now forgotten and I got so much pleasure from seeing so many different groups using and enjoying this new space. Now we must look forward to being able to meet up there again and catching up with months' worth of news.

Memories from Dorothy and Geoff

The church has been part of the fabric of our life for over 40 years. Shorty after joining our son Lindsay was christened by Keith McNichol. Sam and Charlotte, two of our grandchildren, were also christened in the Church while visiting from Canada. Both our children Alex and Lindsay enjoyed attending the Sunday School where Dorothy was one of the leaders.

We have met many interesting characters over the years although sadly with the passage of time many have passed away. Rosalind Goodfellow, Simon Archer, Phyllis (Lady) Lloyd, Mike King and John King are names that come to mind although there are many more. We have been grateful for meeting each and every one of them.

Memories from Ella and Bob

We have so much to give thanks for in our 52 years at our family church.

When Bob and I, with Elizabeth and Margaret moved to the area in 1968 we hadn’t a clue about which local church would meet our needs. We checked out The Church of Scotland in Pont Street, London but realised it would not be suitable to travel up to London every Sunday long term. When we first attended a service at the Congregational Church in Thames Ditton we were engulfed in the friendship and welcome into a strongly influenced Christian fellowship. We were “home” and have been here ever since. A big thanks to God for guiding us here where we would spend the rest of our days. Very quickly we were absorbed into the life of the Church. We made wonderful lifelong friends. One of our daughters was married there and two of her children were christened there. During our active life in the Church we served as treasurer (Bob) and elder (me) and thoroughly enjoyed being involved in the many diverse social activities.

The Congregational Church became The Thames Ditton United Reformed Church in 1972 and then later The Speer Road Church but fundamentally we are the Church we joined in 1968.

Thanks be to God for all these wonderful memories.

And finally from a man of very few words: Graham Ashton

The church had been closed during the War, but reopened in 1948 The main church building was much the same as it is now, except at the vestry end. Where the step up to the altar is now was occupied by an old harmonica type organ, and next to that was a curtained-off small area where the organ pump was situated. Some of us took it in turns to do this job, taking up our position well before the service started, and emerging several minutes after it had ended. There was a chair in there for the occupant, and a wooden handle for the air pump that powered the organ. Before each hymn started it needed a bellows full of air to get it going, and during most hymns a topping up. If you lost concentration in the minutes before the hymn this resulted in an embarrassing silence, then frantic pumping as the music accelerated, peaking in tempo, and for really long hymns as your arms tired, slowing up. Along the road, where our hall is situated was a small cottage where the church caretaker lived, fronted by a narrow fenced garden. And behind that, the hall. Old and rather gloomy, with a stage at the far end. This was where the children went for Sunday School during the sermon, and for other church functions, ranging from Church Meetings to jumble sales.

Mum and Dad had come to live in Thames Ditton in 1938, buying a house in Thistledene, having previously lived in Mill Hill, NW London. Peter, my twin brother (now living in Cape Town) and I came with them, and our sister, Jennifer was born in 1940. When the War started Dad became the Head Warden ARP, and for most of the Battle of Britain our front room was the Thames Ditton Wardens’Post, the front window protected by a wall of sandbags. Later they moved to a new building constructed in the grounds of the Home of Compassion (now a care home near the river). Peter and 1 were evacuated twice during the war, to Torquay from November 1940 to September 1941, and later in 1944 during the Flying Bombs, to grandparents in Chipperfield, Hertfordshire. St Nicks was the only church in the village right through the war, until our church opened in 1948, with Rev Frank Wheeler DSO (presumably from the First World War) as our Minister. Numbers grew quickly, including ours and many other families. After a few years Frank Wheeler retired, to be succeeded by Rev Jack Newport, together with his wife, Bunty. By then most Sunday mornings would see all the pews full and the aisles full of chairs being brought in from the hall. An evening service was held at 6.30pm.

Social and fund raising events were held in the hall. The Christmas Fair was a big event, opened one year by Cliff Mitchellmore and Jean Metcalf, presenters of the popular radio programme ‘Forces Favourites’ They were members of another Congregational church in Surrey.

A lively youth group was formed, led by Dad, Olive Thomas and Bob Humphrey and others. The highlight of the year was a weekend at an old schoolhouse at Wanborough, just off the Hogsback between Guildford and Farnham. These were the years of post war austerity, rationing in full swing, virtually no one had cars and we cycled everywhere. Most Easters a dozen or so of us would set off on our bikes to stay in youth hostels in the Cotswolds, the Wye Valley and Dorset and other places.

Peter and I were now fully occupied at weekends with cricket, playing for Thames Ditton on Giggs Hill Green. One youth group member Brian Gourlay was called up for National Service and sent to a place near Bath and had friends with Argyll Church there. The church had a cricket team which played every weekend. We arranged a match between our church ( recruiting a few outsiders) and Argyll, went down to Bath for the weekend, and beat them.

By then it was time for school exams, thoughts about what we would do next, work and for us, National Service. They kept brothers together, and our RAF posting was to a small unit at an old airfield in a place called Hixon, in Staffordshire. Most Saturday afternoons we would (separately) hitch hike down the M5 to London, then home by train. One afternoon I had just started, standing on a main road around 20 miles north of Lichfield, when a car stopped. It was the Wolfenden family, from our church, on their way home from the Lake District. They dropped me on the Hampton Court Way and I walked from there

After demob it was looking for a new job. I was luckily to fall into a new career, with the first generation of commercial computers, writing programs in machine code to be squeezed into 1 KB. (this kept me employed for the next 42 years, right up to working on systems for internet banking) Years went by and then computer work took me to live in Australia..

In 1964 my sister Jennifer was married to Mick in the church, Jack Newport took the service, I phoned her from Canberra. After six more years in Oz, then back on a bus from Calcutta to London, getting married to Lauris, then three years living in Swansea on the DVLA project, buying our first house at Caswall Bay on the Gower, then two and a half years in Hong Kong, renting a house for three months in Hurst Park while we found the house where we still live in St Leonards Road

By now the Congregational Church had become the United Reformed Church, the old hall cottage and hall had long gone, and Hamish was the Minister

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