our history

St Michael’s is proud to be the now grown-up daughter of All Saints Church, Hoole.

In October 1965, the dual-purpose church hall was opened on some earmarked land on the north east corner of the recently-built council Kingsway estate. It formed the culmination of thinking and planning by the vicars (Revd Pat Gell and then Revd Anthony Martin [left]) and PCC of All Saints for some years previously. The church was dedicated by the Bishop of Chester, Gerald Ellison, on 16 October 1965.

Its first curate-in-charge was Revd Joe Burrows [right] (1964 to October 1967) and his wife Cath. The single Reader in those early days was George Edwards.

The early ministry was centred around a flourishing Sunday School, which had met for the previous year at Woodfield School. From 1965 this Sunday School met in the Hall on Sunday mornings, so the only morning services which were held were the monthly family services on the first Sunday in the month at 10am. (This is still the pattern 35 years later). But weekly evening services were held from the outset, and 8am Holy Communions were held two or three times a month.

Little by little the church grew. Revd John Malbon [left] was the next curate in charge (Sept 1968 to Sept 1971), and he and Janet also were the first to live in the newly acquired curacy house at 44 Ullswater Crescent.

Housegroups and an increased number of Sunday morning services, plus the continued work with the Sunday School and Pathfinders were the growth points.

In March 1972, Revd Brian Snelling [right] and Vera succeeded to the curacy, and they continued the good work with a well remembered squeeze box at the now weekly Sunday morning services. Brian was responsible for the start-up of Evangelism Explosion in about 1975.

During these years, three more Readers joined the ministry, Mick Bull, John Harston and Geoff Lawson. John Howell, the local area CMS rep also joined the ministry when he had time.

Revd Lloyd Williams [left] and Margaret led the ministry from Feb 1977 to April 1980 and in these years a number of further initiatives were undertaken, including an expansion of the activity on Evangelism Explosion.

Services were by now regularly held, morning and evening. During these years we held the first of the now annual church camps/houseparties (to Bala on a scorching weekend). Also during this period, the curacy house was enlarged by the building of an extension to the dining room and kitchen. Yet another Reader was licensed, David Blackmore.

From June 1980 to Oct 1984, Revd Ian Hobbs [right] and Joan were in post. During these years, the Vicar of Hoole Canon Anthony Martin moved away (Jan 1984), having overseen the growth of the daughter church for all those years.

In the same period, the church building plant was expanded to provide the main church auditorium. The name St Michael’s dates from October 1982, when the new church was opened by the new Bishop of Chester, Michael Baughen.

Hitherto the church was simply known as All Saints, Newton. Brian Fisher trained and was licensed as Reader in this period, and Alan Spall and John Thompson (CMS area rep) also joined the Lay Reader team.

Revd John Darch [left] and Madge arrived from Jan 1985 to Feb 1988. They built on the foundations of both people and plant, and the church grew gently in numbers, as well as maturity.
During this time, our first missionary partner went abroad, Anne de Reybekill serving with Scripture Union (later with Interserve) in Lahore, Pakistan. The Readership was further strengthened by the licensing of Christine Blackmore.

Revd Bob Kiteley [right] and Alison came to us from June 1988 to Dec 1999. The church was ready for some important strides.

First of all, and after much discussion with our mother church and its vicar Revd Brian Reeve, the church became a parish in its own right (in October 1991). It was agreed that the boundary would be the railway line between Hoole and Newton (now the cycle path). And so Bob Kiteley in October 1991 moved from curate to be our first vicar.

Secondly, we were beginning to overspill our church accommodation, and so the PCC agreed to build on top of the existing siderooms, whose flat roof anyway was inclined to leak. For the whole of the summer, the church held its worship services in Kingsway High School auditorium. The refurbished church hall was dedicated by Bishop Michael Baughen in October 1991.

Thirdly, an opportunity arose for the move from the rather inadequately sized curacy house to a properly sized vicarage house which became available in 1995.

And lastly, the land at the back of the church (an old hard tennis court in Pinetops) came up for sale, and the church acquired it at auction in 1995 as a strategic purchase as well as a provision of a garden for social events etc.

The ministry team enjoyed the arrival of Paul Brigham as a Reader for a few years, before he left the area. We also gained the ministry of two retired ministers: first Revd John Mayoh and then Canon Michael Botting. Revd Alan Ward (the diocesan youth officer) was with us for a while, and Revd Arthur Roberts (the Chaplain at the West Cheshire Hospital) joined us for fellowship and his wife Judith became a member of the Reader and Pastoral helper team. Christine Davies trained as a Parish Assistant and served in that capacity.

In December 1998, Bob Kiteley left us after 10 years for an appointment in Guildford diocese.

In September 1999 the Revd Bob Toan [left] and Pam arrived as our new vicar. It was the first time St Michael’s had ever had anybody more senior than a curate join us, and in Bob’s case he even had been a Rural Dean from Birkenhead (and shortly became Rural Dean of Chester).

Bob Toan’s ministry saw a phase in which several people went abroad in the Lord’s service. Early in 2000, Andy and Ruth Bull left for service in Asia. And a year later Jon and Jayne Price went out to East Africa, Jon to work as an office manager and Jayne in a nursing capacity. In addition, a new member and retired doctor, Olive Frost, went on a succession or lecture tours to Central Asian Republics to contribute her medical skills to these places. And also Chris and Liz Blunt went to the Far East to contribute skills of civil engineering and language teaching.

Back at home, three other initiatives were coming to fruition. The overcrowding of the morning services at Devon Road, coupled with the need to get closer to the west end of the parish, led to the planting in autumn 2002 of a new church at Newton School on Sunday mornings. Our new curate Andrew Buchanan became the new and temporary curate in charge.

And the call to serve the needs of the community led to the leasing of a corner shop on Kingsway parade, and the setting up with help of Kingsway Chapel of a community coffee shop. After much refurbishment, King’s Way Café opened to the public in early 2003. Judith Roberts took on the task of part-time community worker.  She was later succeeded by Darren Andrews, then Tina Peters, the present manager.

A third initiative arose when the diocese suggested that the vacant ministry at Christ Church, Newton, be filled by our curate Andrew Buchanan. So in summer 2003, he moved down to this neighbouring parish, and in the autumn also took on the role of assistant chaplain in the college.

Meanwhile in summer 2003, Revd Joanna Jepson was ordained deacon and joined St Michael’s as curate. Joanna helped us explore new ways of worship with things such as Film Services and Candlemas Celebrations.  In September 2006, she moved on to a joint role as Priest-in-Charge at St Peter’s, Fulham and as Chaplain to the London College of Fashion.

In June 2007 Tony Mitchell joined St Michael’s as curate.  Tony & his wife Lorna moved to Chester from theological college, St John’s, Nottingham.  In February 2010 Tony & Lorna moved to St Mary’s, Halton & Christchurch, Castlefields, Runcorn where Tony became Priest-in-Charge.

In February 2009 Bob & Pam Toan left St Michael’s to serve God on the mission field with Interserve in Cambodia.

In July 2011, Patches Chabala [right] was ordained in Chester Cathedral and joined St Michael’s as curate. He and his wife Zenaida came from Zambia, and trained at St John’s College, Nottingham. In October 2015, after 4 years of joyful ministry with us, he was licensed as Team Vicar at St. Mary’s Ferndown, just north of Bournemouth.

In December 2010, Andrew Buchanan and his wife Suzanne moved on from Christ Church to serve as  Vicar at Ruddington, Nottingham. His successor, Graham Shaw [left] and his wife Anna arrive in November 2011, having been curate in St Paul’s Camberley, Surrey. At this time, Christ Church was reinstated by the diocese as a separate parish, and thus the brief period of the United Benefice with St Michael’s came to an end.

So for the last 40+ years, the Lord has been at work in the fellowship of St Michael’s, showing us his love and encouraging us to share it with our neighbours and friends and all who would hear. The work began with a thriving Sunday School, and even today on a Wednesday morning, the Hall echoes to the noise of some 80 or more mums and toddlers. Some may even be the children and just possibly the grandchildren of those early children who first came back in 1965.

As the foundation stone of 1982 at the church door says, ‘God my Praise.’


“40 Years Young – The History of St Michael’s” by David Blackmore was published in October 2005 to celebrate the church’s 40th anniversary.  Copies are available (£5) from the church office.

2 Responses to “our history”
  1. Brian Snelling says:

    Just reading with interest the web history of the church. To put the record straight, Evangelism Explosion at Newton began after I, as Curate-in charge, attended the first UK Clinic – probably in 1974 or 75, held in London. Among those part of our initial team were Nic Laycock and, I seem to remember, Anne de Reybekill.
    We continue to pray for St Michael’s.

    Brian Snelling

  2. Dear David and friends

    Great to read all this history and news of God’s work continuing in grace and power at St Michael’s. It is a long time since I caught up with this, as I have moved far and wide since I last had the privilege of worshipping with you there, but your excellent website and well written article has just refreshed me. After having spent some time in The Gambia we (wife Sally and 3 boys) are recently back in the UK living in Rickmansworth, Herts, and worship at Mill End Baptist Church locally. Indeed I also need to catch up with David’s son James in Leeds when I can get organised. I will always be so grateful for the wonderful foundation in faith received at St Michael’s when I became a Christian in 1983.
    Every blessing

    David Conway

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  • Where are we?

    From the city - along Hoole Rd, left onto Newton Ln. Right onto Kingsway. Left onto Coniston Rd. The church is on the right.
    From the Wirral / Upton - along the A41, right at the footbridge onto Plas Newton Ln. Left onto Coniston Rd. The church is on the left.
    From the M53 – Exit J12 A56 Chester, and head towards the city. At Hoole Hall roundabout turn right (A41). Left at the footbridge onto Plas Newton Ln. Left onto Coniston Rd. The church is on the left.

  • How to find us

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