The development of our Church: a look back through the years...
1939 - 1945
Walter Bisset meets his wife Eliza when he is stationed in Edinburgh during the war. When he is demobbed he receives a gratuity which helps him to buy a house at 28 Wellington Street (now known as Marlborough Street) in Portobello. This house has a large basement where Walter starts Portobello Spiritualist Church.
Walter Bisset purchases a large wooden hut situated at 25C Bath Street. He becomes a Minister of the Spiritualists National Union, and the Church becomes Affiliated to the SNU.
Bernice and Jack Winstanley serve the Church for the first time.
Just a few months before Walter dies, he asks Bernice and Jack
if they would look after the Church, and hands them the keys.
1961 – 1963
Due to Walter’s illness the attendance has fallen at the Church. Both Bernice and Jack work together with a strong committee
and the Church attendance increases so much that they decide
to leave it and continue their travelling to other churches in Scotland.
The Hut is sold and the Church buys the property at 20A Bath Street for £720. The Church holds 68 people, which consists
of 58 cinema seats and 10 folding chairs.
The current President Alex Gardner contacts Bernice and Jack to ask them if they would take over again as the attendance is falling. For the next few years they help the Church get back
on track, then once again continue their travels.
The Church closes its doors due to lack of numbers in February.
Margaret Pratt, the President of the Scottish District Council
of the SNU, arranges a meeting for anyone interested in re-opening it. Bernice and Jack attend the meeting,
and with the backing of all agree to re-open it. The Church re-opens on the first Sunday in May to a packed congregation.
After two special general meetings of members, in October the Church disaffiliates from the SNU, as a result of the SNU’s direction to remove Christian symbols, including crosses and bibles.
Jack Winstanley passes to Spirit, but Bernice continues as President and Minister.
The Church successfully applies for the spare ground at the back of the Church which is then turned into a car park. This lets the Church have a back door for the first time.
In July the Church becomes an Associate Member of the SNU, allowing freedom to follow its own rules and include Christian teachings.
Plans are drawn up by Patrick to extend the building and work starts administered by Patrick. Additional funding of £45,000 was needed to bring the original building up to standard. This was largely met by the sale of June's Mum's house when the proceeds were gifted to the Church which also brought in significant Gift Aid.
The first service in the new building was taken by Mary Duffy in October. At the age of 72, Bernice decides it is time to hand over to a younger person. June Herraghty is elected President of the Church.
The building work is complete and the new Church is officially opened in February, with the dedication by Nita Saunders. Bernice continues as Honorary President and remains actively involved in Church duties. June takes on the duties of Minister.
Walter and Eliza Bisset
Bernice & Jack Winstanley
Bernice & Mary Duffy
Bernice & Nita Saunders