The facilities consist of:
Access is by steps and ramps and there is a large car park.
Regular users of the centre include the After School Club (open to other schools in the area); Guides / Brownies / Rainbows; Alcoholics Anonymous; Bereavement Support Group; Coffee Shop; and other church activities including two New-To-You sales; summer and Christmas fairs; quiz nights; beetle drives, Harvest and Dedication lunches and other social events.
It houses the Parish Office and is also the home of Home-Start Blackpool and Fylde, (01253) 728615.
The running and maintenance of the Centre is the responsibility of a management committee.
A Community Centre Booking Form and our Facilities and Terms and Conditions of Hire document are available to download from our Downloads page.
Based on "A History and Description of St Thomas's Church, St Anne's-on-the-Sea," by A.J. Cave (Assistant Priest 1965 to 1968). Additional material by Peter Watson.
Painting of St Thomas's Church by Tom Eccles, 2000
St Anne's-on-the-Sea is a 19th century planned town, officially founded on 31st March 1875. It was one of the first English towns to be built on a grid pattern. St Anne's absorbed the village of Kilgrimol, which is believed to have been founded by Vikings in around 900AD.
The Parish of St Thomas is the southern part of St Anne's and stretches from the sea front right back to Lytham Moss.
The Formation of the Parish
The Mission Church
The history of St Thomas Parish began in 1893. In that year, a Mission Church was built to serve as a "Chapel-of-ease" within the Parish of Heyhouses-on-the-Sea. That parish, in its turn had been formed out of the ancient Parish of Lytham in 1875 and from the dedication of its Parish Church to St Anne, the modern town of St Anne's takes its name.
The Mission Church was constructed of corrugated iron and wood and stood in Orchard Road, on the site now occupied by St Anne's Synagogue.
At Easter 1898 the Revd. C.H. Ellison became Curate-in-charge and the present church was begun in 1900. Two years later, on 12th August, 1902, the Parish of St Thomas was formed and on 21st November in that year, the Revd. C.H. Ellison was instituted and inducted as the first vicar.
The Building of the Church
Plans were prepared by Messrs. Austin and Paley of Lancaster and a site was given by John Talbot Clifton, the Squire of Lytham.
The whole of the immediate area of the site was in those days covered by sand dunes, none of the houses in St Thomas's Road having been built. Work was begun in clearing and levelling the sand in 1898 and on 5th April, 1899 the foundation stone was laid.
Before the tower was added
It had been decided to build only part of the church consisting of chancel, vestries and as much of the nave as would accommodate about 400 people. So successful were the efforts to raise money for the Building Fund that it was decided to build rather more of the nave and increase the accommodation from 400 to 670. As the building now stands, this represents the first four bays of the nave. A careful observer will be able to detect marks on the top of the pillars of the fourth arches from the front of the church where a metal "stay" was fixed across these arches to take the strain during the time that a temporary west wall ran across the church at this point.
This part of the building was consecrated by the Rt Revd James Moorhouse, Bishop of Manchester, in whose diocese St Anne's then was, on June 22nd, 1900.
In October 1904 the completion of the rest of the building was undertaken. The two westward bays were added to the nave and the present west-end and the tower were built. These additions were dedicated a year later, in November 1905, by the Rt Revd E.A. Knox, Bishop of Manchester.
The 1904 extensions under construction
A Description of the Church
The church is built of red stock brick with window stonework in cream Yorkshire stone. The major arches, arcades and pillars are in red sandstone.
The main internal fittings are in oak whilst the pews are made from an unusually attractive brown pine.
Externally the noble tower provides a landmark to be seen for a considerable distance in this generally flat area. The tower is also unusually placed, being set away from the main building of the church to which it is joined by a short covered arcade.
The stone font was presented by the children of the parish in 1905. The fine carved oak and counter-balanced cover was added in 1930. The font stands in a noble setting with the great west window behind it, and is backed by a series of carved oak panels. On either side will be observed the Wardens' stalls, also in carved oak.
The Chancel and Sanctuary
The chancel is divided from the nave by a wrought-iron screen erected in 1903 in the memory of Jean Watson Bagley. The floor of both the chancel and the sanctuary is covered by a very fine marble pavement laid out in 1930 in memory of Margaret Ada Mather. The furniture of the choir and the reredos are carved in oak. In the reredos, which in 1911 replaced the curtain that formerly hung behind the communion table, are figures of eight of the northern saints. In the centre is a canopy containing angels. The whole is set upon an alabaster base.
The eight carved saints may be identified in the following order:
|St Kentigern||St Cuthbert||St Columba||St Chad|
|St Hilda||St Etheldreda||St Oswald||St Aidan|
The great east window was dedicated in July, 1920 in memory of the men of the parish who fell in the Great War of 1914-1918. Their names are recorded on a tablet in the south aisle. The theme of the window is the Benedicite and study of the many features in it will reveal the symbols of earth and heaven, sea and sky, which that canticle calls upon to praise, and magnify the Lord. It is sometimes thought that the upper pinnacles of the reredos obscure the lower part of the window. That the designers of the window Messrs. James Powell and Sons allowed for this, will be seen during a walk round to the outside of the east end of the church, where a panel of plain glass moulded to the shape of the top of the reredos will be observed.
Other furniture in the sanctuary includes the Bishop's chair and also two oak standard candlesticks which were given in 1967 in memory of James John Upton, priest.
The Side Chapel
The Side Chapel
The small chapel at the east-end of the south aisle is dedicated in honour of Mary, the mother of Jesus, and is used for week-day services, prayer groups and other acts of worship when only a small number of people are present.
The chapel was originally dedicated in 1906, but was extended eastwards in 1911.
Near this chapel stands an oak case containing the Book of Remembrance. In this book the names of those whose ashes are interred in the Garden of Remembrance on the south side of the church are recorded.
Also near here stands a splendid model of the church, constructed by the first Vicar, Canon C.H. Ellison. It is an accurate portrayal in every detail, both externally and internally of the church as it was before 1911.
Built in the year 1905 by Hill and Sons, the instrument in St Thomas's church is a product of a period when this firm were producing instruments of unsurpassed tonal design, blend and balance. It is a well balanced three manual organ with an attractive oak case and possesses thirty-one stops and couplers and is equally satisfactory for service accompaniment and for recital purposes. The tonal resources available to the player make this a really outstanding instrument.
In addition to the east window mentioned in an earlier paragraph, the church contains a great wealth of modern stained glass. The great west window has as its theme "The Creation." It will be observed that in each of the six lower panels is an angel supporting a circle containing a symbol for each of the six days of God's creative work. This window comes aflame with brilliant colours as the sun is setting on a summer's evening. These colours are repeated in the two smaller windows which flank it on either side. The west window itself was given in memory of Robert Slater Boddington, a founder of St Thomas's Church and Churchwarden from 1900 to 1919 and of his wife Maud who died in 1931, whilst the two flanking windows commemorate members of the Neild family.
The remaining windows form part of a unified scheme and depict scenes from our Lord's life. Several of these windows have been given in memory of former parishioners, including the first window on the south side which commemorates those who gave their lives in the first World War and the window immediately to the right of the tower entrance on the north side which is in memory of the first Vicar, Canon C.H. Ellison.
One other small window remains to be noted. This is the "Music Window" which can be found tucked away high up beside the organ loft. Among other musical symbols in this little window will be seen St Cecilia holding her organ.
The Community Centre
The foundation stone of the Community Centre was laid on 3rd July 1984 and it was officially opened on 17th March 1985. It replaced a wooden Church Hall which had been burnt down. Although in a modern style its brick construction and tiled pitched roof blend in with the Church building to which it is attached. The architect who designed the Community Centre was the late Derek Buckler, who was a Licensed Reader at St Thomas's and a member of the Parochial Church Council for nearly 50 years. As part of the ceremonies connected with the opening of the Centre each of the Sunday School children put something into a time capsule which was buried outside the main entrance.
Thomas, also called Judas Thomas Didymus or Jude Thomas Didymus, was one of the twelve apostles of Jesus. The Gospels and Acts list this "twin" (Thomas means twin in Aramaic, as does Didymus in Greek) among the apostles. He is often known as "Doubting Thomas" because at first he refused to believe when the other apostles told him about the resurrection of Jesus. However, when Jesus appeared to Thomas he declared "My Lord and my God" and on this account, he is called Thomas the Believer. Thomas in St John's Gospel is portrayed as a loyal and thoughtful apostle. There is a tradition that he later founded a Christian church in India.
Our Pastoral Care group meet regularly to pray and discuss the needs of our housebound and sick parishioners. Together we look after and care for members of our congregation who can no longer join us at regular services in church. Our Readers regularly take Communion to them at home.
Our trainee Reader is a member of the lay chaplaincy service at Blackpool Victoria Hospital where she visits both our own parishioners and others who are ill.
The Pastoral Care Co-ordinator is Peter Watson (01253) 729725 who should be contacted about any Church members who are in need of visiting or home communion due to illness, hospitalisation or infirmity.
The Pastoral Care Team have produced our Pastoral Care Policy, which may be obtained from our downloads page.