THE BRANCH CHRISTIAN SCHOOL
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The Branch Christian School is currently located in the Dewsbury Revival Centre (DRC). The DRC is owned by the Dewsbury Gospel Church (DGC), and is the main place of worship for the DGC congregation. The DRC was formerly an Anglican Church building known as St. Mark, and is located at the junction of West Park Street and Halifax Road in Dewsbury, West Yorkshire.
The St Mark Church building is constructed in High Gothic tradition, and was built in 1864 (and consecrated in 1866). It’s tracery (ornamental stone openwork, typically in the upper part of a Gothic window) and mouldings (ornamentally shaped architectural outlines) reflect the English Decorated period, and its construction shows the very best of Victorian craftsmanship and high quality masonry. The stones used for the building were sourced locally in Dewsbury.
In the late 1990’s the building became redundant, as the Church of England made a decision to close the church down and move the congregation to the main Anglican church in Dewsbury (the Dewsbury Minster Church). As a consequence the building went up for sale, and after a long and protracted purchasing exercise, finally in the year 2000, the DGC bought the St. Mark Church building. To complete the sale, the Queen of England had to formally allow the building to be transferred. A number of years delay occurred as work was undertaken to commission architects for the new development, obtain all necessary approvals from the local council authority, and of course raise the required funds to commence the refurbishments.
Around 2004 the DGC began renovation work on the building, which was largely undertaken by volunteers from the congregation. Of course a number of major tasks had to be completed by professionals including a full rewire of the building, and the installation of an under-floor heating system. The work was eventually completed in 2010, and the DGC moved in and began to hold its weekly services and other church meetings there.
As the Branch Christian School needed new premises, the Church invited the school to use the premises Monday to Friday during school term times, thus providing a very cost effective use of the building. The school relocated in September 2010. Students of the school past and present also attend Sunday Church services as well as the regular Youth Services. The Church is also used for Prayer Breakfasts and Joint Services for Churches Together in Dewsbury.
A very interesting historical fact about the building is the close links with the story of the Titanic, and in particular the band master, Wallace Hartley.
Wallace used to attend the St. Mark church and was involved in the music ministry. Born in Colne, Lancashire, in June 1878, he and his family later moved to a house a few doors away from the church building on West Park Street. During 1909 Wallace got a job with the White Star Line, entertaining passengers on liners such as the Mauretania and the Lusitania. After working on these liners, Wallace was given a job as the bandmaster on the Titanic.
Wallace spent much of his time with his fiancée, Maria Robinson, who lived in Boston Spa, near Wetherby, and he was planning to marry her upon his return from the maiden voyage of the Titanic. Of course history records the full events that took place during that ill-fated voyage to America - Wallace Hartley set out on the Titanic, from Southampton, on Wednesday 10 April 1912, and on the 14 April, the ship collided with an iceberg in the North Atlantic Ocean, and then sunk on 15 April 1912, at just after 2am. Over 2,200 passengers and crew were on board, and sadly 1,517 people lost their lives that morning, Wallace regretfully being one of them. It is widely acknowledged that as the Titanic was in difficulties, Wallace and his band played soothing music for the passengers to keep them calm. It is understood the hymn they played, as the Titanic began to sink, was “Nearer My God To Thee”. Wallace’s body was recovered soon after the disaster, and was returned to England for burial.
To commemorate the close connection the building has with the Hartley family, we have, just inside the DRC entrance, created a small museum of memorabilia and other interesting items relating to the Titanic and the events of April 1912.
By Aimée Thomas - February 2014
Our Titanic Museum