Eastbrook Hall, Bradford Methodist Mission
I was first taken to Eastbrook Hall, the Bradford Methodist Mission in Leeds Road, at the age off about five, I think, by my parents who, becoming a bit fed up of the rather boring services at Bethel Methodist Church near where we lived, wanted something more lively and stimulating. At that age, I found all services boring, and the earnest preaching of Dr Maurice Barnett, the then minister, made no impression on me whatever. I shuffled and fidgeted on the hard tip-up seats, saw how small I could fold up my hymn sheet and, if my parents allowed, read Enid Blyton’s ‘Famous Five’ adventures up in the gallery, by keeping the book just below the level of the balustrade, out of sight of the preacher. I used to dread the hymns because I was too shy to be seen singing, and a red-nosed gentleman with a booming voice, who sat nearby, often asked my parents, “why isn’t your boy singing?”
Dr Barnett moved on in 1964, and another minister, Rev Frank Thewlis became the superintendent. Both my parents and I liked his sermons, because they were liberally peppered with humorous illustrations which often had a tenuous link to the theme, but we had a good laugh, so that didn’t seem to matter! Besides, I was in my teens by this time, and better able to enjoy the preaching and the hymns.