In 1827 Hartlepool was little more than a village, with a population of 1,300, mostly fishermen there were a few people known as Baptists, but there is no written record of them until 1842 were church minutes show a desire of the Baptists to form a church.
The Church Is Born (1843)
On January 22nd 1843, the church formed, acknowledging no authority but the Lord Jesus Christ as Head of the Church, and no other rule but the New Testament. It was decided at a meeting held on the March 16th 1845 to leave the Scottish Baptist Order and join the new English Baptist Order. This decision was conveyed to a meeting of the Association of Baptist Ministers of Stockton on the May 12th 1845 with six ministers agreeing to preach at the church once a month for six months. On July 27th 1845 the Rev J Snaith of South Shields preached both morning and evening. In the afternoon he met the dissolved church, organised the new church in the English Baptist Order and held strict communion, seven individuals giving to each other the right hand of fellowship and having their names written in the Church Book.
The Church Spreads into West Hartlepool
By the 1840’s the area inland of Hartlepool grew to become known as West Hartlepool. Several church members were living in that area, so it was decided to create a new church on Tower Street. With other Baptist churches (Oxford Road, Owton Manor and West View) were formed as the need to serve different areas grew around the town.
The Church Grows
By 1851 the church had grown to 62 members in a town of ten thousand people. The church elders consisted of Rev John Kneebon and two deacons; Mr George Booth and Mr James Mowbray. The Sunday School was attended by about 60 children.
Our First Chapel
The corner stone of the new chapel was laid on Monday the 19th May 1851 by J Lindsey Angus Esq of Newcastle-upon-Tyne. The new chapel was a stone structure and the front elevation is somewhat ornamental. The door way occupied the centre with a window at each side and three windows above having rusticated dressings the angles terminate with pilasters and the roof finishes with a pediment. It would seat about three hundred and seventy people in the hall and a further one hundred and thirty people in the raised gallery which was across the east end of the chapel. It was opened for worship in February 1852.
The First World War (1914)
On December 16th 1914, the First World War (known at the time as the Great War) the Battle Cruisers Seydlitz, Moltke and Blücher, part of a flotilla which slipped over the channel to make a lightning raid on the Yorkshire coast, struck Hartlepool. There was damage to many buildings on the Headland from the shelling.
A New Chapel Is Needed (1920)
With the chapel damaged and the church needing a place to worship, it was decided to demolish the chapel and build a new building which would have the option of growing with the church. In a meeting of the building committee on June 5th 1920 it was agreed to name the new chapel the “Baptist Church (Bombardment Memorial)”. In this meeting it was also agreed to have a day of brick laying for the children. Finally the great day arrived and on the 14th July 1920 the stone laying ceremony was held. The ceremony was held on what was to be the entrance on Regent Street. The ceremony was overseen by the architect, George J Bell. Mr J S Illingworth, the building secretary left some mementos in the cavity before the stones were laid. The following also laid stones in the ceremony; Mrs Granger, Mrs Kay (wife of Rev Harry Kay); Mrs Bean; Miss Smith and Mr Duncan L Innes (Church Secretary). The new Baptist Church (Bombardment Memorial) chapel was opened on June 20th 1921. The church was to become known as Hartlepool Baptist Church (Regent Street) or normally shortened to Regent Street Baptist Church.
Expanding the Church, upwards (1965)
For a very long time the church had dreamed of building another floor above the existing school room. In fact this was in the mind of Mr George Bell, the architect of the chapel at Regent Street. On December 4th 1965 the opening ceremony2 took place. The Rev Frank Winstanley of Billingham presided and the N.B.A. Moderator, Mr Edward Roberts MSc, gave the address. The new hall has certainly been a great addition to the church ever since.
Modernising The Chapel (2005)
In 2005 work started on the renovation of Regent Street Chapel. This will include an updated kitchen, new entrance on Baptist Street, which led to the church being renamed. The total cost of this building project was approximately £85,000 of this total, 75% has come from the church members. The remaining 25% came from donations from various organisations, benefactors, and charities. On Sunday 9th April 2006 after the extensive alterations to the church building had been completed, the church was packed with members and friends of the fellowship to celebrate. An opening service was led by David Coffey with guest speakers Chris Mepham, John Claydon, John Singleton and David Lennox.