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Twentieth Century



The laying of the six foundation stones took place in November 1955. Plans for the church were first proposed in 1947 when the council told the Free Churches Federal Council that a site on the Temple Hill Estate had been reserved for a Free Church. The possibility of forming a union church, one for members of all Nonconformist churches, was discussed, but the idea was dropped. Eventually in 1951, the pastor and deacons of Highfield Baptist Church were asked to accept responsibility for overseeing the building works.

Part of the cost of the new church was met by a war damage claim on a church at West Norwood. Music at the laying of the foundation stone was provided by the Dartford Salvation Army band. The total cost of the building and furnishing was £1023. The new church was opened by Sir Herbert Janes, President of the Baptist Union in May 1956.

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The site on the corner of Brent and St Vincents Road (formerly Fulwich Lane) was purchased in 1902 for £330. An application to build a Wesleyan Chapel was made in September 1905. After the erection of this new building in 1906-7, the site remained unchanged until 1910 when an extension was added to the north side of the building for use by the Methodist Sunday School. In 1952 a further building was donated. This was linked to the original chapel.

In 1960, the East Hill and Brent Methodist churches agreed to join forces, sell the East Hill church buildings (Dartford Primitive Methodist Church until 1932) and erect a new church on the vacant land at The Brent, to be linked up with the existing buildings on the site. The stone laying ceremony took place on 24 March 1962 and the church was officially opened on 17 November 1962. The premises were further extended in 1994.

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The church transferred from Darenth to Watling Street, Dartford, in 1910. The present Church Hall in Watling Street was built and furnished for £1250 and was opened on 12 March 1910 by Sir Henry Robson. From 1910 until the building of the present church in 1961, the church served as both church and hall.

The dedication to St Andrew was only adopted for the new church in October 1960. Previously the church had been known as Dartford Presbyterian Church. The United Reformed Church came into being in October 1972, bringing together the Congregational Church in England and Wales and the Presbyterian Church of England. One of the most interesting furnishings within the church is the baptismal bowl. It was once the incense bowl of a Chinese magician who was converted to Christianity.

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Dartford's earliest Pentecostal congregation originally met in a building on East Hill opposite the Eleven Cricketers pub. In the mid 1960s a decision was made to move the Pentecostal church to the church building further up East Hill, formerly owned by the town's Primitive Methodist congregation. The work cost the Pentecostal Church £7,000; all the money was raised by church members. The old chapel building was transformed into a light and airy church, equipped with its own baptistery. Special features of the new church building were see-through doors that allowed passers-by to see right into the church and watch the worship. Chairs replaced pews.

The opening ceremony at Emmanuel Church took place in December 1965. More than 300 people worshipped at the first service conducted by Pastor Veyne Austin.

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This church was founded by George Wilson Heath, a scientific instrument manufacturer. He conducted tent missions at Dartford, Crayford, Slade Green and Erith. The work at Dartford was commenced in 1905 as a tent mission in Shenley Road. The tent was replaced by a wooden hut, before the present church building was erected. The name Fulwich Hall was derived from the name of the road before it was changed to St. Vincent's Road. The fiftieth anniversary of the church in September 1955 was concluded with a Jubilee Procession of Witness in the neighbouring streets.


Next topic: The Salvation Army in Dartford


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