Mission Hall

The origins of the Mission Hall in Newtown Road are not known, it was possibly built as a Seaman’s Mission- (date unknown); it did later become the Plymouth Brethren Gospel Hall and was in use in 1933 but was apparently closed by 1952. It did re-open again at a later date because by 1970 it was back in use; this was when the Reverend Thomas Black and his wife Verna arrived in Highbridge from America.

A Mr. Loach of Weston-super-Mare had run the hall, however, because of ill health he wished to retire.  This gave the Reverend Black the opportunity to use the hall. In 1973 the South and West Evangelical Trust gave the Reverend Black the use of the building and over the next few years a lot of work was done on the building including roof repairs and the laying of a new floor. An attempt was made to purchase the land at the rear so that they could build toilets, but they were not successful. The hall had been renamed the Gospel Tabernacle Evangelical Church. During this time the Reverend and Mrs Black were holding meetings for children and, over the three years to 1976 this had grown to five meetings a week, some 60-80 children attending and by now adults were also starting to attend the meetings. In 1991 the Reverend Black retired and with his wife moved back to the States together with two of their sons. A third son, Kelton Black remained in England, moving to this area from Crewkerne where he had been living. He continued with his father’s work at the Gospel Tabernacle in Newtown Road.

It was obviously going to be impossible to improve the facilities at the Gospel Tabernacle in spite of all their efforts. However, a new opportunity was about to come their way, this time to a more modern building that already had many of the facilities they needed. During the mid 1990’s the Salvation Army Citadel in the old Burnham Road came on the market, being purchased by a builder. No development took place and at a later date the Citadel was again put up for sale and was purchased by the South and West Evangelical Trust. The Trust then gave Mr Kelton Black the opportunity he was praying for, a ‘new’ Gospel Tabernacle Evangelical Church.  Kelton Black, with his followers moved into the Citadel, their first service was held on Easter Sunday in 1998. Since 1999 this building has been renovated, it now has new windows, toilets and a modern kitchen. It is used regularly for services; on Wednesdays coffee and lunches are served to local people. Various Community groups also have the use of the;

(Information supplied by Kelton Black)

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