EXACTLY 85 years ago this month plans were revealed for the first time of a building that is now an established landmark of one of Southampton’s booming suburbs.
The acclaimed architect, Herbert Collins had designed a new Wesleyan Church Hall for Swaythling featuring a beacon on the building’s roof that would flash an intermittent light out across the Southampton skyline.
Today the building, which was originally partially funded by the Rank Trust, is still very much part of the community and continues to be used as a church and as a focal point for local people.
In 1931 Swaythling’s popularity as a place to live was rapidly growing and what was once just a small village was quickly becoming one of Southampton’s main suburbs.
The Daily Echo reported at the time: “The need of a hall for worship in Swaythling has long been realised by the Wesleyean community in the town, who have taken the earliest opportunity of meeting the need.
“Within the past few years thousands of people have gone to reside in the district, and with the restricted development area of the borough it is reasonably certain that there will continue to be a large influx of population there.”
A site in Burgess Road, about an acre in size, was chosen for the main hall, institute hall and associated buildings that were initially estimated to cost £25,000 to build.
“When the plans were prepared it was found that the type of building desired would cost much more than that, but in the negotiations which followed Mr Collins was so anxious that the type of building should not be impaired that he agreed to find the difference between the original sum and the final cost of the building,” said the Daily Echo.
“It will be left for Southampton Wesleyans to furnish the hall and provide the organ, which will require about £3,000.” The new hall, with its straight gallery at the west end, was proposed to seat 850 people while the other buildings accommodated a further 400.
“A beacon light sending out its rays intermittently over the town as a reminder to Sotonians of the guiding spirit of the Christian Gospel may be one of the features,” said the Daily Echo.
“Simplicity will mark the interior design. The white brick walls will be relieved by lines of yellow bricks. A novel effect, though one quite in keeping with the character of the building, will be given by the copper roofing, which, light in weight and durable, should prove weather-worthy for many years.
“The action of the elements on the copper will in time produce verdigris which, besides having a pleasing colouring effect, helps preserve the metal.”
Now 85 years later Herbert Collins’ building, known the “Methy” by many of the local Swaythling people, still remains much as it was first designed although an extension was built in the 1940s.