The Former Beckenham Memorial Uniting Church

Beckenham Memorial Church March 2017

The Former Beckenham Memorial Uniting Church, March 2017

Have you noticed the construction work currently happening at the intersection of Wentworth Avenue and Botany Road? It is part of a $170 million project to improve the flow of traffic between Wentworth Avenue and General Holmes Drive.

To build this link, a handful of buildings were resumed by the State Government. This included the heritage listed Beckenham Memorial Uniting Church. Though the building will remain standing, its congregation of 25 to 30 people had to move.

Jean and Jim's Wedding

Jean and Jim’s Wedding, 1947. The couple met at the Beckenham Memorial and were later married there. (Courtesy of Jean Dunn)

Jean Dunn, who attended this very church for 78 years, has many fond memories.  ‘People think church is dull but in those days that was your fun’ she told us.Before cars became commonplace, the Church hosted a packed schedule of activities that included Sunday School, sporting clubs, picnics and fundraisers. It was through such events that Jean met her late husband Jim.

Jean’s photos clearly show the sense of community that once existed among the congregation.

Sunday School Anniversary Beckenham Memorial c1946 interior

Sunday School Anniversary c. 1946. This event took place in a now demolished hall to the north of the church (Courtesy of Jean Dunn)

Sunday School Anniversary Beckenham Memorial c1946 exterior

Outside group photo. Sunday School Anniversary, c. 1946 (Courtesy of Jean Dunn)

Barn Night at Beckenham Memorial

Barn Night c.1950s (Courtesy of Jean Dunn)

Jean Dunn Junior Physical education class Mrs Horner and Margaret McMillian

Junior physical education class Mrs Horner and Margaret McMillian (Courtesy of Jean Dunn)

Jean Dunn with Reverend Horner and his wife Beckenham Memorial

Jean Dunn with Reverend Horner and his wife (Courtesy of Jean Dunn)

For 26 years, Reverend S.S.W Horner ministered the church and became a well-known identity throughout Mascot. When he unexpectedly died in 1950, his funeral was attended by over 1000 people, including the then Deputy Premier J.J. Cahill. According to newspapers, Horner’s funeral was the biggest Mascot had ever seen.

Horner’s hymn book and a handful of other mementoes associated with the church are currently on display at the museum’s Our A- Z exhibition which closes on 13 April. For a glimpse inside the former church, check out this article from the local newspaper.

Though some might lament the loss of the Beckenham Memorial, Jean acknowledges, “The church is the people” not the buildings where they meet.

Samantha Sinnayah, Museum Curator

Beckenham Memorial Uniting Church as see from Botany Road March 2017

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3 thoughts on “The Former Beckenham Memorial Uniting Church

  1. Thank you for these wonderful images. I am writing a small life story of former parishioner Gwen Crossley for our church magazine and will pass this history onto her. I understand her husband Harry was a former church organist when Beckenham was a Congregational Church. Gwen was very sad too, to hear of the demolition especially as the developers had promised not to do that.

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    1. Hi Jan. Thanks for your comments. When you have finished writing up Gwen’s story we would love to read it or hear more. Later this year we will also be collecting memories relating to the growth of Sydney Airport and its impact on the local community. The Beckenham is a good case study on the airport’s perimeter. Feel free to contact us via email: museum@bayside.nsw.gov.au

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      1. Many thanks indeed. As soon as I have finished, I will send on to you. Such a wonderful story in so many ways, while at the same time sad.. How Sydney changed! It was once my birth and home town too and I am still very fond of her, although moved away a long time ago. Jan

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