Here is a photo taken of some 300 children taken in the early 1900's, who all belong to Christ Church Mount Pellon Sunday School. Back in the 1800's many working class families sent their children to work 12 hours a day, six days a week. There was terrible poverty and working conditions, and children had no education and no hope for the future. It was the churches that built Sunday Schools and taught the children to read and write as well as the Christian faith. It also gave the children and their parents hope for a better future. Every year there was an annual Sunday School celebration and parade through the streets of Halifax, and each Sunday School had their own Banner that led the procession. This photo was made into a postcard, and the church has a copy posted in 1908.
This postcard is the reverse side of the above photo.
Here a young lady is writing to her friend at St. Lukes Vicarage in Ramsgate on the 26th of July 1908. She reveals that the photo is of the Sunday School of Christ Church Mount Pellon and its mission churches, and the event is of the Whitsuntide Hymn Singing. This was a big event for the church and children over 100 years ago, and no doubt the teachers and children were proud members of the Sunday School and what it represented.
Christ Church Mount Pellon was built in 1854 at a time many churches were built in Halifax and around the country. Sunday Schools were of such importance to the church and local communities, it would have been a matter of some urgency to start the Sunday School at Christ Church as soon as possible. As every Sunday School had its own banner (this one was made by CH.S.S. Institute London) This one was probably made shortly after 1854 - some 167 years ago!
This Sunday School Banner and photo, is a valuable piece of our local history. For those children in the photo and descendants of those Sunday School children, the Sunday School banner represents hope, freedom from poverty, equality and justice for the poor.
For those researching family history through the 8,500 residents buried in our graveyard, it provides them with a fascinating insight into the lives of our ancestors during the Victorian era.
For our church, it represents the time we helped to play an important part in the education of the children, helping to change children’s lives for the better. And helping to bring education and hope to the working classes of Great Britain.
None of the members of our church can remember ever seeing this banner, and it was recently discovered in the church boiler room. It was dirty, faded, falling apart at the seams, with twenty small holes and a couple of tears, and the letters and flowers were faded and scratched.
We are hoping to have our banner repaired and restored, and for the banner and photograph on permanent display in our church, for the benefit of visitors and our local community.
The Halifax Sunday School Jubilee
1856 Illustrated London News.
The fifth commemoration of the Sunday School Jubilee in Halifax took place on Whit Tuesday in the Halifax Piece Hall, built for a trade which has now wholly changed its character, but never fully used except on these commemorations.
Upon this occasion the additional accommodation for spectators was on a gigantic scale. The galleries of the hall are capable of holding something over five thousand people, but standing room was found for three thousand more by the erection of temporary wooden platforms, ranging almost entirely around the building. The orchestra for the musicians, put up on the east side of the hall, reached from the basement story to the floor of the topmost gallery.
The procession of the several schools to the hall was an imposing scene. The gates of the hall were opened at ten o’clock, and in an hour the whole of the galleries from east to west, from north to south were lined with occupants. By eleven o’clock every street leading to the south and west gates was packed with scholars and two impenetrable lines of lookers-on. They came four abreast, in every direction, headed by bands in every costume, and playing various tunes, and with banners in every variety, size and colour.
For an hour and a half, without interruption or delay, two living streams continued to pour in, and flood the area of the hall. Twelve o’clock came, you glanced through the archway of the west gates ad there was the same crowd besetting the doors, there was the same hurrying of feet, and apparently the same line of scholars filtered between uoi and the light. You looked on that open archway, on that eager crowd, and on an endless train of children. At length all were in, the last school had been edged into its place, the last straggling band had seated itself upon the orchestra, and everything was now ready for Mr. Dean the conductor.
The interior of the hall at this point of the proceedings was strikingly grand. It was utterly impossible to rest the eye upon a foot of vacant ground, or to discover the least break in the lines of spectators filling the galleries. The vast area thick with scholars, resembled an immense flower-bed, the showy bonnet capes and dresses of the girls contrasting admirably with the dark hats, capes and coats of the boys. Standing above the orchestra, looking below, in front, to the right and to the left the eye took in at one sweep an area of up-turned faces, a multitude of swinging banners, a distracting flutter of silks, satins, and ribbons, and a ceaseless motion of parasols. It was a scene to be remembered. The company in the reserved seats included members from the principle families in the town and district.
The independent denominations (says the Halifax Courier) were represented by 22 schools, numbering 961 teachers and 7054 scholars. The Wesleyans sent 17schools, comprising 697 teachers and 2898 scholars. The Methodist New Connection had 11 schools present, embracing 609 teachers and 2586 scholars. The Methodist Free Church and Wesleyan Reformers assembled to the number of 10 schools comprising 683 teachers and 2841 scholars. The Baptists sent seven schools including 417 teachers and 2133 scholars. The Primitive Methodists had present eight schools numbering 400 teachers and 1431 scholars. The Wesleyan Association had three schools in which were 182 teachers and 570 scholars. And under the head “various” there were six schools with 142 teachers and 418 scholars, making a total again of 24,787 teachers and scholars. Besides these there were 500 instrumental and 336 vocal performers, making a total again of 25,623 for the area of the hall. If to this number we add the 8,000 spectators accommodated in the galleries, we shall have a grand total of 33,623 persons congregated within the walls of one building.
At about a quarter to one o’clock the conductor entered is box, amidst a deafening cheer, the drums also rolling their note of welcome. In a moment or two Mr Dean turned towards the orchestra, when the monster brass band at once uplifted their bright and shiny instruments. One wave of the baton evoked a preliminary roll of the drums to mark the time, four bars of an introductory movement by the cornets succeeded, and then came the majestic crash of instruments such has never been heard in Halifax before, to the tune “Braganrs,” to which the fist hymn was adapted.
A placard was then raised bearing the words “All Sing” – the conductor turned round, and so faced with a vast sea of upturned faces, and then forth rolled the volume of sound in full chorus, added to the blast from the band.
We have not the space for the details of the performance of the three hymns. At the close of the first part, the children accompanied by the full band, sang, with grand effect, the grace before the meat, “Be present at our table, Lord,” to the tune of the 100th Psalm. Refreshments were handed to the children, and the instrumentalists proceeded in a body to the Odd Fellows Hall, where an excellent lunch was provided of 190lb of beef, 1cwt of cheese, 650 large currant buns, 120 loaves 2lb each, 95 gallons of ale, and 20 gallons of coffee. Meanwhile 24,000 currant cakes were distributed to the children. The beverage supplied was pure water, which was conveyed into the hall by pipes, and ten taps were placed at various parts of the hall, and drawn into 5,000 pint pots.
The first wave of the baton before commencing the National Anthem was a signal for the removal of hats and caps, the multitudinous effect of which was very significant of a mass of loyal teachers and children. The noble hymn was sung with heart and soul, nearly the entire audience joining in the chorus. At its conclusion cheers loud and long burst forth from every part of the hall, which were renewed when a large placard was exhibited on the orchestra with “Mr Dean” printed upon it. That gentleman bowed his acknowledgements. At the termination of the National anthem the scholars began to file off to their respective schools, and the audience slowly dispersed.