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IN THE BEGINNING...
This page is a brief summary of the history of St Mark's up to 1948.
On 13 February 1846, the new Parish of St Mark, Dukinfield, was formed and the Prime Minister, Robert Peel, appointed the first Curate in charge. St Mark's was completed in 1847 and consecrated by John Bird Sumner, Bishop of Chester, afterwards by the Archbishop of Canterbury, in 1849. The church is dedicated to St Mark, one of the four gospel writers and one of Jesus' disciples. The symbol for St Mark is a winged lion representing the kingship of Jesus.
The Revd William Heffill MA (1849-1882) was curate at St John’s Church, but the new parish of St Mark was formed at the other end of Dukinfield because industry was growing and a new church was required. He accepted the challenge. The new town was rising rapidly and there were new mills near the river Tame. Mission meetings had been held in 1846 and a Sunday School also operated in the Queens Hotel in King Street.
Mr Heffill was also instrumental in raising funds for the building of a large school attached to the church which was opened in 1843 to accommodate 850 pupils.
St Mark's Parish Monthly Magazine of September 1912 showed the accounts of a Children's Tea Party, held at Wharf Street School in January 1851. There were 250 children present and the amount of provisions and prices were:
1.25 lbs of tea - 6s.3d; 16 lbs of sugar - 8s.0d; 4 lbs of butter - 3s.4d; 26 plain loaves - 10s.10d; 8 currant loaves - 10s.8d; 6 quarts of milk - 1s.3d; and 24 lbs of ham - 12s.0d. A total of £2.2s.4d.
In 1852, the lower part of the tower was built, its construction being traced by the inscribed stones set in intervals in the walls. Only the gallery at the back of the church remains of those built in 1861 to extend the church. The tower was completed in 1881. It is a square pile visible for miles over the River Tame, and was designed to harmonize with the existing building. The Turret Clock was constructed by John Potts of Leeds and is operated by huge weights. The escapement is a complex piece of machinery regulated by a huge pendulum. The original flagstaff was presented by Mr G H Walker.
In 1887, three longitudinal lights were erected at the east end of the Church to the memory of William Heffill, MA, depicting the Adoration of the Shepherds, The Crucifixion and the Ascension.
In 1895, Albert Bassil JP, who was for many years Schoolmaster and Voluntary Organist at the church, was elected Chairman of the District Council and attended Divine Service in St Mark’s Church. The Choirmaster was the Curate, R Vardy. St Mark’s Choir each year regularly sang “The Crucifixion" just prior to Easter with very little augmentation from other choirs, well into the 20th century.
Albert Bassil was one of the keenest workers in the parish, and a stone tablet to him was erected in 1908.
The Revd Richard Salkeld MA (1882-1903) wasthe new Vicar, and in his time the parish of St Luke’s was formed, considerably reducing the parishes of St Mark’s and St John’s. The parish had decreased in size but increased in population. Mr Salkeld introduced holding Midnight Services on New Year’s Eve so that the end and the beginning of a New Year was held in God’s House. Mr Salkeld passed away in 1903. Mrs Salkeld, and members of the Bible Class, gave the Lectern to the church in 1887.
There have been many gifts to the church since the beginning of the life of the parish by families and individuals both in money and furnishings.
The new Vicar of St Mark’s in 1904 was The Revd Godfrey Michael Vincent Hickey MA, (1904-1911) a strong advocate of temperance. Mr Hickey left St Mark’s in 1911.
The Reverend Sandford Woods (1911-1915) standing in the
gateway of St Mark’s Church.
Mr Hickey was succeeded by The Revd Sandford Woods BA (1911-1915) who was therefore at St Mark’s at the outbreak of the First World War, during which time 200 of St Mark’s men had joined the armed forces. The names of the men who gave their lives are commemorated in stone on the War Memorial which stands in the church yard.
In August 1912, the Mens Class Savings Club completed its third successful year when over £536 (including interest at 5d. per 6d. share) was paid out.
In September 1912 The Revd Sandford Woods wrote in the Parish Magazine that he was always a firm believer in people who attend church regularly sitting in the same seats Sunday after Sunday which was the practice at St Mark's. As visitors and newcomers were unaware of this, there was some confusion about which pews were regularly occupied and so in order to avoid this in future, it was proposed to number the pews and place a tablet upon them with the names.
The Revd W H F Palin LTh (1915-1926) accepted the living of St Mark’s in 1915 and was appointed Vicar of St George’s Altrincham in 1926. It was from Altrincham that the next Vicar came, The Revd Herbert Victor Aspinwall MA, LTh. (1926-1932) Mr Aspinwall formed the St Mark’s Church Brigade and Church Girls’ Brigade (St Mark’s Company), which were inaugurated in November 1931 at a Brigades Commission Service, and many of the St Mark’s men still parishioners in the 1960s were members. Mr Aspinwall composed the hymn “Far Round The World” and left St Mark’s in 1932.
The Revd Edward Porter Tyson MA (1933-1951) succeeded Mr Aspinwall. He was a kind, yet outspoken man. Mrs Tyson helped him with his parish duties, particularly in the work of the Mothers’ Union (MU). In 1946, the men of the church who had served during the second world war were presented with a Book of Common Prayer and a leather wallet. Four men, sadly, were added to those on the church’s War Memorial.