History of CCC
The Church, on Fraser Street in Chiswick, looks very different from the building, which was erected here in 1880. Chiswick itself, was a very different place. It was a new developing area, which, although it had existed for centuries, only starred to grow with the construction of the district line railway.
The start of what was then the Chiswick Mission began with a nineteen year old man, Robert Smith. He was very distressed by the waste of money and lives being caused by men visiting the ‘public houses’ on their way to work. As a reaction to this set up a ‘coffee stall’ outside ‘Thorny crofts’, the boat builders, which he ran from 5am every morning for 6 days a week. This earned him the nickname ‘Coffee Smith’.
The First Building
The owners of Thorneycroft’s wanted to establish a Christian Centre for the poor so they gave Robert Smith a corrugated iron building in Fuyre Street, where the estate flats opposite the present church now stand, and paid him 1 pound per week. The church started Sunday Services and Sunday Schools, mother’s meetings and provided soup for the poor. It soon became apparent that the building they had would be too small. Friends of ‘The Mission’, the Watts family, who lived in Dukes Avenue, gave the land on which the present building stands as well as the money to build the brick building.
The Mission Begins
It was opened on the 22nd November 1880, and the external walls and some of the internal ones of the present building are the same as the originals. The aim of the mission was to see the needs (physical, emotional and spiritual) of the community around it and attempt to meet some of them. They became part of the ragged School Union (later to become the Shaftesbury Society), which gave them access to help, and resources, which they could never have obtained on their own.
Ministering into the heart of the Community
The work grew and developed and the mission soon gained a reputation as a place to cook your meals (most people did not have their own ovens at the beginning of this century) and also for the quality of the children’s activities, particularly the Boy’s and Girl’s Brigade which were often to be seen marching around the surrounding street’s. The Mission was also famous for providing lunches for the elderly, which often meant busing people into the Mission in all types of weather. This work is still carried today by the Buzz Club.
Closure and re-birth
During the 1980’s the original ‘Mission’ church was renamed ‘Zoe Christian Fellowship’ and then later briefly became the ‘Chiswick Vineyard.’ Following a change in leadership however, a decision was made to close the work. Following a break of 6 months Gareth and Janet Lewis and a group from Kensington Temple Church in Notting Hill Gate were invited by the Shaftesbury Society to start a new church in the building, which became Chiswick Christian Centre.
Having pioneered the church Gareth and Janet were called to Northampton Elim Church. Phil and Caroline Whitehead were then invited to lead the church, pioneering many different forms of community outreach. The church now regularly holds conferences and training seminars with an emphasis on equipping Christians to find and move in their callings.
The Centre has now developed into a vibrant multi-racial church ministering the gospel into heart of our community and beyond. Although many things have changed since the founding of the Chiswick Mission over 100 years ago, Chiswick Christian Centre is still just as committed to achieving some of the original goals-to see the Good News of Jesus Christ preached to the community of Chiswick in a way which is relevant, caring and powerful.