Ilford church readies itself for centenary celebration

PUBLISHED: 12:44 22 September 2014 | UPDATED: 12:57 22 September 2014

Vicar Fr Stephen Pugh

Vicar Fr Stephen Pugh


A church which has adapted to a changing landscape - both demographically and culturally - is preparing to celebrate its centenary next month.

St Margaret’s Church, in Balfour Road, Ilford, was built at the beginning of the First World War and survived “a few blown out windows” despite sustained bombing at a nearby munitions factory in Ley Street about half a mile away.

Father Stephen Pugh, parish priest at the church for 14 years, has been preparing for the centenary since 2012.

He said: “It is a really important landmark - we have seen a number of changes in the community.

“St Margaret’s was here when the community started to develop a century ago.”

Woodford author Stephen Smith, a former member of the congregation, has written a book, called A Century of Change: Life in the Parish St Margaret of Antioch, Ilford, documenting the last 100 years.

“Not only have the demographics changed but also the way people spend their leisure time,” added Father Pugh, who worked on the book closely with Mr Smith.

“The big social change was 100 years ago women would stay at home - but church would provide an opportunity to get together with the various groups on offer,” added Father Pugh. “Now women go out to work.”

The church received £9,000 funding for the centenary project, but Mr Smith said securing the funding was one of the toughest obstacles the church has faced ahead of the celebrations.

“It seemed such a straight forward task when we set out what we wanted to achieve,” he said.
“But needless to say it was not as easy as all that.”

Mr Smith thanked Redbridge Museum and Redbridge Information and Heritage for their help in providing information.

- The church will hold an exhibition, called St Margaret’s at 100, on September 27 and 28 and October 4 and 5 at the Balfour Road church, from noon to 4pm.

- A Century of Change book launch is on October 10 at 7.30pm at St Margaret’s Church Hall, in Balfour Road, Ilford, IG1 4SL.

Read more:

- Garden overhaul complete at St Margaret’s Church, Ilford

- Bishop of Exeter to return to St Margaret’s parish in Ilford

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