St Alban’s in the full flower of life

First published in News

IT grew up with Southampton's Flower Estate and now the 75th anniversary bells are ringing out loud and clear from St Alban's Church.

Back in 1933 the church was built to serve a new parish with giant housing estates north and south of Burgess Road.

St Alban's has over the years become the community heart of the estate through its good and bad times.

The Vicar of Swaythling, the Reverend Gary Philbrick, who has been in the parish for eight years, says: "People are people wherever you go. There are some problems but it is the minority.

"Most people on this estate are good, neighbourly and friendly."

Turing back the clock 75 years the vicar said: "How things have changed.

There were fewer cars on the estate, no televisions or computers. There were trams in Burgess Road.

"There were large numbers of people involved in the St Alban's Players or attending dances in the hall on a Saturday night."

Today he says that the Flower Estate is an incredibly rich and varied society.

He says: "I have Romanian, Muslim and Sikh neighbours. Students live in some of the houses on the estate."

The vicar has noticed more young professionals moving onto the estate - "They can afford to buy their first house here more easily than other parts of the city."

A series of events, starting next weekend, are being held at the church to celebrate the 75th anniversary.

There will be a special Songs of Praise Service on Sunday, June 15 at 6.30pm and Mr Philbrick says: "We shall look back over each of the decades since the church was built.

"We will be hearing memories of those who have been part of the church's history, singing favourite hymns and looking forward to the future."

On Sunday, June 22 which is St Alban's Day there will be a special 75th anniversary service at 10.30am.

The former Vicar of Swaythling, the Reverend John Moore will be the visiting preacher. It will be followed by a parish lunch.

Mr Philbrick say there is open invitation to both services.

The church is currently staging an exhibition by well known local artist Barry Davis called The Bible in Paint and Poetry, which runs until June 22.

On Saturday, June 14 there will be a complete performance of Brahms Orchestral Works by a student orchestra from 9.30am to 7pm.

Mr Philbrick, who is Area Dean of Southampton, said: "St Alban's holds a special place in the hearts of many people as a place of worship and community.

"We are very much looking forward to celebrating its 75th birthday. The church has changed, just as the estate has changed, but we look forward to the next 75 years with optimism for the future in this fascinating part of God's earth."

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