There has been a church on our site in Tate Road since 1897, although things would have looked very different in those days!
Back in the 1890s, a small group of Christians were living in an area popularly known as East Cheam (many years before Tony Hancock’s time), in and around Gander Green Lane. The area was surrounded by brickfields and smallholdings, between Cheam village and Sutton – which was then only a village itself.
Whilst meeting initially in various homes in the area, it was decided to find a site to erect a building in which people could worship together. Only a little money was available and a small site (being part of a field in Cheamhall Farm) at the end of a row of houses in Tate Road was bought. On the site a corrugated iron and wood frame building was built. It was placed at the back of the site to allow for future expansion, and the building could hold about 30-40 people. It consisted of a storm porch, main hall, preaching platform and vestry. A baptistery was positioned at the very base of the platform, and the vestry could be divided into two, providing the male and female changing rooms. Outside, and as the back of the building was the infamous single toilet. The building was painted cream and brown, the brown being that Victorian moc woodgraining, liberally varnished. Heating and lighting was by gas, with large cast iron radiators each with its own gas jet. The wooden floors were scrubbed white, the seating was on wooden benches, a pedal organ was donated to provide the music…and all was ready for the church to open its doors as East Cheam Baptist Church.
Over the years which followed the Baptist Church became Sutton Pentecostal Church, in affiliation with the Assemblies of God….and over time Sutton Pentecostal Church was renamed as Sutton Christian Centre.
There have been changes in the fabric of the building and in personnel….but one thing that has not changed over the years is the faithfulness of God to those who meet together in Tate Road. One verse has adorned our church wall throughout our history and through all of the changes. It’s from Hebrews 13:8 which says,
‘Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today and forever.’