Manchester’s Radical Mayor: a New Biography

Joanna Williams

Victorian Manchester led the way in terms of new and radical political and social ideas, which challenged the old, landed order of British society.  One of those who stood at the forefront of the Manchester radicals was Abel Heywood, who, having worked his way up to wealth and renown from the most poverty-stricken beginnings, was a Bowdon resident for the last twenty years of his life.

Joanna Williams, a historian and member of St Mary’s Choir, has published a biography of Heywood, the leading light behind the construction of the Town Hall, and who, as mayor, opened it in 1877. It was clear that many of his social and political aspirations would not be achieved in his lifetime. Many have been realised since his death but others still remain unfulfilled and the work continues.

He was acknowledged in his own time as a great father of the city; in 1891 he was given its freedom, a rare honour.  His most striking legacy is the iconic Town Hall, recently the scene of vigils for the victims of the terrible atrocity at the Manchester Arena.  He would have been very proud of the way the city has pulled together to face tragedy.  It is the vindication of his constant faith in ordinary people, and a fitting manifestation of the success of the efforts that he and many others invested in the city he loved.

“Manchester’s Radical Mayor, Abel Heywood: the man who built the Town Hall”, by Joanna M Williams, sponsored by Living Ventures Group, is published by the History Press.

Joanna will address the Ladies’ Continental Breakfast on Sat 19 May 2018.


Ladies’ Continental Breakfast

Ladies’ Continental Breakfast (Photo: Patricia Jones)

On the third Saturday of the month the ladies meet in the Parish Centre from 9 to 10.30 am.

We enjoy a delicious breakfast of croissants and home-made bakes followed by a stimulating speaker. The range of topics covered has been diverse: from reconciliation and the Lance Armstrong doping scandal to Women in the Early Church.

The Breakfast was launched over six years ago to be a time and place where women of all ages could relax, socialise, connect and discuss a range of issues. I have been there from the beginning and at a recent meeting it was truly pleasing to see a crowded room with much laughter. We also support local causes. Recent donations have been made to the choir and to the Trafford South Food Bank.

Topics coming up include: Christian meditation; “Love in Action” in Salford; the history of Altrincham churches; cello music; the Booth Centre; the radical Manchester mayor who built the Town Hall; and the work of a local charity in South Africa.

So why not come along? You will be made very welcome.

 Patricia Jones

The Ladies’ Breakfast Committee:

Sue Coles, Christine Bainbridge, Patricia Jones, Hilary Gartside and Christine Scott-Dunn  

Choir trip to Canterbury Cathedral

St Mary’s Choir at Canterbury Cathedral (Photo: John Lambie)

The visit of the Choir of St Mary’s to Canterbury Cathedral in August was the first annual choir trip in which I had taken part, despite having joined the choir over four years ago. Had I known how much fun it was, I would have gone before.

The trip began early on Monday morning 21 Aug.

With far more luggage than was needed for one week, we piled excitedly onto the bus (kindly provided by Altrincham Preparatory School) for the journey down.

Many songs and jokes later we arrived at our wonderful Christ Church University accommodation, a stone’s throw from the cathedral.

We sang for seven services and performed a wide range of music. Two of my personal musical highlights were the intimate Abendlied by Rheinberger and the larger Hear my Prayer by Mendelssohn.

During the course of the week we were able to have a tour of the cathedral, where we learnt about its history, and a candlelit pilgrimage tour. These made it even more special in which to sing.

On our day off we caught the train to Margate, a seaside town where we could play in the sea and go on Britain’s oldest rollercoaster! The most important thing I gained from the trip was making wonderful new friends – many from Mellor Choir, who joined us for the whole week.

St Mary’s Choir to me is like an extended, nurturing family. My love of choral music, as well as the extensive knowledge that our choirmaster Michael imparts, and the confidence that I have gained, have definitely played a part in my gaining a place at Chetham’s School of Music.

Our choir is incredibly unique and, although we came back tired, I have no doubt that we are all refreshed, ready to learn more music and to welcome new choir members.

India Lord, aged 16

Diamond Services

Four baptisms in the Parish Centre (Photo: Richard Vince)

As well as the multiple Christian denominations, you may be aware of other terms used to describe different theological interpretations and styles of worship, such as ‘liberal’, ‘evangelical’ and ‘charismatic’. These terms can be confusing, especially when they mean different things to different people.

Former Bishop of Durham Tom Wright made a neat sidestep to a question posed to him at a Christian festival a few years ago. When asked ‘What is an Evangelical?’ he suggested in return that a more helpful concept might be ‘What tasks is God calling the church to in our generation and what resources are there in different traditions that equip us for this task? If there was ever a time for defining parties, it is now long past, and the only purpose such a task could serve would be a negative and inward-looking one at a time when the world needs a positive and outward-looking one. It is time to forget boundaries and concentrate on the gospel, the church and its mission, clear thinking, and the Spirit of the living God.’

We aim to model outward-looking unity in a globally diverse church in a small way in our own parish this term by warmly inviting you to try a style of church service that differs from that which you would normally choose, as a one-off.

For those who would prefer the majesty and dignity of St Mary’s, why not try a visit to Zone2 (15 October at 10.45)? For those who might choose the contemporary informality of Zone2, please come along to a St Mary’s service (29 November 10.45).

We have called these Diamond Services to highlight the fact that our styles of worship within the parish are multifaceted like a diamond. The facets, rather than detracting from the whole, are an essential feature of its beauty.

If you come and try something different, you may learn what others find valuable in worship, and perhaps discover new ways of meeting with God for yourself.

Julia Dow, Parish Development

Simple words

Bowdon DofE Silver teams’ prepared rucksacks at Darley Bridge this September (Photo: Cllr Sean Anstee)

It is very likely that the name Jemima Layzell won’t mean very much to many of us, but to eight people Jemima is probably the most important person in their lives.

Jemima was just thirteen years old when she died, unexpectedly and suddenly.

Through the organ donation scheme, Jemima saved the lives of eight people – the largest number of people helped by a single donor.

It’s hard to imagine how the recipients of Jemima’s organs must feel. Their lives can continue only because Jemima’s life stopped. But we can be sure that the strongest, deepest and most heartfelt response must be one of incalculable gratitude. They have been given life when – without Jemima’s gift – they knew their time to live was fast running out. How could those people possibly express the extent of their indebtedness?

There are some words that are Tardis-like in their ability to convey a weight of meaning far beyond the simplicity of how they sound. These are not long or complicated words; they don’t look very impressive. They’re over so quickly that you have to go back and say them again. But they somehow manage to say all that needs to be said directly, straightforwardly, honestly and fulsomely.

These two words: Thank you.

Supermarkets these days bewilder us with such a vast choice of food that it’s always a question of what we shall eat, not whether we shall eat. In the process of digesting the superabundance of food on offer, we have largely lost the use of our gratitude muscles.

Harvest is that time in the year when we deliberately pause and try to express to God our indebtedness for his daily provision of our most basic life-sustaining needs. Our response is unlikely to be at the intensity of the people saved by Jemima’s organs, but we will fill those two simple words as best we can with a year’s worth of meaning. If you would like to say ‘Thank you’ with us, please do join us for one of our Harvest services. You’ll find the details in this Bowdon Church News.

Ian Rumsey, Vicar

New Wine 2017

This summer our family went with a group from church to New Wine, a Christian festival at Shepton Mallet showground. New Wine brings hundreds of people together for teaching, worship and children’s and youth activities. Camping with families and friends from church was brilliant. It enabled new friendships to be made and existing ones to be developed. A real community was formed in the mud, rain and occasional sunshine!

The Wood family at New Wine 2017 (Photo: Simon Wood)

There was teaching for everyone on a variety of subjects with speakers from far and wide. The teaching about resting on the Sabbath will shape our lives as we move forward together as a family. The children’s and youth ministries are exceptional. All children of every age were given space to worship and to learn about our living God. For our two girls it has been a faith changing experience.

Worshipping with a huge number of people is so encouraging and powerful. The Spirit moves you to praise God and the deeper things of God begin to break through.

Please consider joining us all next year. Our children are already looking forward to it. When you give space to God in this busy world then awesome things happen.

Katie Riley

Parish Centre & St Luke’s Caretaker Vacancy

Vacancy: Parish Centre & St Luke’s Caretaker; flexible hours amounting to 10 hours per week, to start in Oct 2017. Around £11 per hour with paid overtime.

Key responsibilities: Light maintenance and repair work, identifying and reporting more major repairs when required, liaising with contractors, regular safety checks, arranging key maintenance contracts, reordering and checking of consumables, managing the cleaning staff and being aware of any special event requirements through liaising with the Parish Lettings Administrator.

Full details: or phone Parish Centre Office
0161 929 1537

Previous experience of this kind of work is highly desirable and a DBS Check is required.

Please apply with CV and covering letter by email to or by post to Mrs Kay Holt, Bowdon Parish Centre, Stamford Road, Bowdon, Altrincham, Cheshire, WA14 2TR.

Closing date for applications: Monday 11th Sept 2017

St Mary’s 10.45 service structure

We are developing our pattern of Sunday morning services at St Mary’s from September.

This is partly in response to feedback about how much our choir and music are valued. Services with a prominent choral component are often particularly well attended. We have therefore decided to modify the service structure to introduce Choral Matins services on 5th Sundays and occasional Choral Eucharists.

Matins is an uplifting Morning Prayer service based on the liturgy from the Book of Common Prayer and there are many wonderful Matins canticles written by a wide range of composers. The choir has been regularly singing these and Choral Eucharist settings when away on cathedral visits, such as the recent week in Canterbury, and is looking forward to sharing this repertoire with the congregation at St Mary’s.

We have also decided to replace the monthly all-age worship on the 2nd Sunday of the month with another Common Worship Eucharist service. This change will be complemented by occasional whole church services across the year to mark festivals and to bring the Zone2 and St Mary’s congregations together.

Easter Day 2017 in St Mary’s with choir and orchestra
(Photo: Caroline Sinagola)

A summary of the changes is as follows:

i.   5th Sundays – Choral Matins

ii.  2nd Sundays – Common Worship Eucharist to replace the all-age services

iii. Choral Eucharist approximately every other month, typically on the 4th Sunday to coincide with the BCP liturgy


Michael Dow, Director of Music

Why join a small group?

Joining a small group or house group was the key to me developing my faith.

One of Bowdon’s Duke of Edinburgh gold teams on this summer’s Practice Expedition in the Yorkshire Dales
(Photo: Lupine Adventure)

I had done an initial course, caught the bug and knew I wanted to go further, but so many unanswered questions remained and I had little idea of how to move forward. I was even still unsure if I had any sustainable faith at all.

Working with a group of people who shared these perspectives made all the difference, and I have continued participating in and leading groups as the best way of sharing the journey, with all its doubts, challenges and times of joy and bewilderment.

Finding that small group that fits can be complicated as the options and variations are wide ranging. Some groups specialise in bible reading, others range across a broad selection of materials. There are groups running once and twice a month, in the daytime and the evening. Some are newer, and may be better suited to beginners, while others are more experienced and established.

When considering joining a group it is helpful to speak with the group leaders to get a sense of what makes the group tick. Most groups are happy for people to try them out. Helping to point people in the right direction is also one of the roles of the Adult Discipleship team.

If you aren’t in a group of any sort – even if you think that you don’t have time – let me encourage you. There is nothing better than a good small group when it hits its stride: life changing and faith affirming.

For more information please contact the adult discipleship team:
Mike Duncombe 07971 233328,
Tim Borthwick 07803 077302, or via the Parish Office.

Tim Borthwick

New Beginnings

Although January is the official start to the year, it seems to me that September is also a month for new beginnings.

For those in education, September marks the start of the academic year, and it is also a time of seasonal change as we note the leaves turning to their autumnal colours.

Calum Piper, Jess Piper and Ian Rumsey at Jess’ Ordination

For me, although I have been here for two months, September feels like the more formal start of my ministry here in Bowdon.

When we turn to the Bible, we see that new beginnings are a thing of God. God says: “See I am doing a new thing, do you not perceive it?” (Isaiah 43.19). In the Book of Lamentations, written at the time when Jerusalem was sacked by the Babylonian Empire, God is praised for his steadfast love and mercy which is “new every morning” (Lamentations 3.22-23).

I wonder how that makes you feel? Often, when we are about to embark on something new, we feel a mixture of excitement and nervousness. God is in the business of creating, and he always has new things in store for us, both as individuals and as a community. This is because his love for us is inexhaustible and faithful. And the best way to know that love? By building up our relationship with God.

I invite you, as someone who will be experiencing some of these things for the first time myself, to use this September to take a look at our parish publications (the website, the BCN, the Parish Guide), and to consider what it is that you might come along to as a way of getting to know the God who longs to take us to new pastures.

There is plenty on offer, for people of all ages and backgrounds, so why not come and join us on this exciting adventure, and discover what God is doing in our midst. It’d be great to see you!