The Independent Chapel
now Chapel Street Congregational
in the Parish of Southport
The introduction to the Baptismal Register 1824-37 provides an insight into the foundation of this Tabernacle or Independent Chapel at Southport:-
“The Independent Chapel, at Southport, was opened for Public Worship on Decr 18, 1823: Baptisms solemnized previous to those recorded in this Register by the Xtians (probably shorthand for Christians) usually called Independents, will be found in the Register belonging to the Independent Chapel at Church Town, in the same parish; now under the Pastoral care of the Revd Wm Alexander. Geo. Greatbatch - the former Minister of Church Town, now Southport.”
Rev. George Greatbatch was the driving force in the construction of the Chapel. Prior to its establishment he used to preach at Southport on Sunday afternoons during the bathing season, returning to his congregation at Churchtown in the evening.
Originally facing into Eastbank Lane (now Eastbank Street), the Chapel was rebuilt to accommodate upwards of 400 persons. The new buidling faced into Chapel Street and was in the classic style with a Corinthian portico. It closed in 1963 and was demolished in 1964. In 1825, a ‘commodious’ school was erected intended for use as both a Sunday and day school1, while the Chapel also had a graveyard, laid out for 300 plots, which was cleared in 1965.
Unlike practice in the Established Church one parent, normally the father, was required to sign the Baptismal Register. The document thus provides a perspective on those individuals who were drawn to dissenting Protestantism in this area in the early nineteenth-century. In over 75% of cases, the parent signed rather than marked the Register, while in a further three in four cases the father’s occupation was that of an artisan or tradesman.