Happy 50th Birthday to St Martin’s Cambridge

untitledI’m getting a bit ahead of myself, but I wantedd you all to know about this in good time so you could send your own good wishes and join in the celebrations.  St Martin’s Church was consecrated on 7th October 1961 and church and parish took their place as part of our mission and ministry to the city of Cambridge.

In 1930 a new housing estate was started on the East side of the railway line. The Vicar of St Paul’s, Mr Ainsley, had a vision for ministering to the people on this new estate, and he approached the Master and Fellows of Jesus College, who gave sufficient land on which to build ‘Suez Road Hall’.

Money at this time was not easy to find; the Vicar prayed and wrote to friends in the parish, and in response Mrs E.M. Rowcroft offered sufficient funds for the work. The Hall was built in 1932, and an Evening Service, Sunday School and Women’s Fellowship began.

The original plans allowed for a proper church building on the site; at the end of the Second World War in 1945 a fund was opened, to which the congregation made donations. Around 1950 a Nissen hut was purchased to enable the flourishing Sunday School to grow. An architect was engaged and plans were drawn up. In April 1956 St Martin’s became a Conventional District, taking in parts of the parishes of St Paul’s, St Andrew’s Cherry Hinton and St John’s.

The Rev. Peter Barratt was appointed as the first Vicar of the new parish, and took up his duties in July 1958. A new architect was appointed, and work began in April 1960. Parts of the new building were in use from May 1961, and it was consecrated by the Bishop of Ely on 7th October 1961.

That of course was only the beginning of the story.

Peter Barratt moved on in October 1968 and was succeeded by the Rev. Peter Phenna from All Souls, Langham Place, in London. Under his leadership the church extended its ministry of the elderly and the less fortunate, both within the parish and outside.

An over 60’s club started, and was followed in 1972 by a Day Centre for the elderly. Lunch was provided 6 days a week; people were collected first in cars and later in a purpose-built ambulance. An extension was added in 1972 at the East end of the Church to provide a lounge area for the Day Care Centre.

128 Suez Road was started as a home for adults with learning difficulties. Romsey Mill was set up with other churches as a youth and community centre.

In 1980 St Thomas’s Hall, in Ancaster Way, was built to reach the area of the parish on the East side of Perne Road, and part of the St Martin’s congregation was established there.

Peter Phenna was succeeded by Rev. Martyn Smith, who emphasised the healing work of the Holy Spirit.

When he left to head up the work of Vineyard Ministries in the Manchester area, he was followed in September 1989 by Rev. David Armstrong, formerly a Presbyterian minister in Northern Ireland, who did much pastoral visiting in the streets immediately surrounding the church building and strengthened the links between the church and the local community.

David Armstrong moved on in September 2000 to become Rector of the Carrigaline Union of parishes in the Diocese of Cork, and was succeeded by Rev. Stephen Leeke from September 2001.

And Stephen is still Vicar, celebrating his tenth anniversary there as I write. The church today still looks to the Holy Spirit of God to lead it into the future:


Our Motto for the year

Heart and soul, mind and strength for God


Our Mission

  • Inspired by the Holy Spirit we will devote ourselves wholeheartedly to God
  • Led by the Holy Spirit we will care for those in need, and for God’s world
  • Taught by the Holy Spirit we will widely share Christ’s teaching
  • Urged by the Holy Spirit we will lovingly support each other

The Anniversary service will be on Sunday 9th October though we have had a year of celebrations including beating the bounds (a bit different in the Mill Road area of Cambridge, pictures below) and an open air service on the recreation ground. They have had a bank holiday walk along the river to Waterbeach and an International Barn Dance, in the church, is planned for Saturday 24th September.

Bounds 23Bounds 20

In August the church sent off two couples who are preparing for missionary work overseas (in Indonesia and China) and they are committed to a share in their support. They are planning a £300,000 improvement and extension to our church hall which was the original Suez Road Mission Hall on the site before the church was built.

A few links:

2 thoughts on “Happy 50th Birthday to St Martin’s Cambridge

  1. This made me feel quite tearful as St. Martin’s was the church I grew up in. I remember Stephen telling me they still pray for me and others who have gone from St. Martin’s to different kinds of ministry. I knew their anniversary was in October but thought it was next year as I thought the church was consecrated in the month I was born- wrong. I wish it many more years of being a blessing to this part of Romsey town. Mum still lives not far from the church.

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