Current Issue 2

Gospel Hall closes its doors after 154 years of worship

Successful towns never stand still but evolve over time to accommodate changes in fashion, commerce and the local economy. One measure of the success of a town like Horsham is the speed with which buildings and shops which fall empty are refashioned and reborn in a new form. We are seeing this as the impact of the internet is changing the face of our shopping streets. Favourite shops close, as do some where one wonders how they clung on so long, only for others to take their place. The shift from places to buy goods to places to consume services and enjoy experiences is moving ahead apace. Nail bars, hair salons, coffee shops and cinemas and yes, shops to browse, make impulse buys and collect internet purchases, rapidly fill empty spaces. We are lucky that such is the confidence in Horsham’s local economy that we have a smaller proportion of voids, as empty shops are called, at any one time, and they fill faster, than many less fortunate towns. But it’s not just in shops that we see such changes. In December the Gospel Hall in Denne Road (pictured above) closed its doors after 154 years as a place of worship. It was built in 1863 in a simple, functional style by Charles Eversfield, owner of Denne Park. It became one of the largest meetings of its type in southern England, made up largely of local tradesmen. The church has now moved to Appleyards at 72 Brighton Road and changed its name to Appleyards Bible Church. The Gospel Hall has been sold and there are plans to convert it into a hair salon. It will be good if an interesting building with such deep historical connections with the life of town has found a new use so quickly, and one so emblematic of the early twenty-first century.