A Brief History

ST MICHAEL’S – ITS BEGINNINGS

Christianity has been the principal faith in Britain since Roman Times – since before the days of the martyrdom of St Alban.  Each community had its Church from time beyond recall.

Watford was no exception, as St Mary’s in the town centre dates back many hundreds of years.  But it was in the first years of this century, as the town spread out, with the prosperity brought by the railways and new industries, that plans were made for a new Church to serve the growing population in the west of the town.

Two People of Vision

A site was chosen on the corner of Mildred Avenue and Durban Road West, and at first worship took place in a building which later became the Church hall when the fine new Church was largely completed in 1913.

Two people of vision and energy were mainly responsible for this initiative.  Canon Walter Littlebury was charged, as a young man, with the job of starting this new Christian Community.  This he did, and stayed to consolidate this work until almost the time of his retirement in the 1940’s.  Alice (“Mildred”) Schreiber, a well-to-do, socially minded lady was enthusiastic that a new Church be built, and, with her forceful personality, encouraged others to set up Christian work in West Watford.

St Michael’s became the centre, not only of a faithful, worshipping congregation, but of a strong social and community life and of much caring work among less privileged people at home and abroad.

 A Changing Community

St Michael’s was originally near enough in the middle of its parish.  But as West Watford has expanded, with the building of the Cassiobury Park Avenue area, and particularly the Holywell Estate, the Church found itself  “up-one-end” of the parish.  So a partnership with West Watford Free Church (opposite the shops in Tolpits Lane) was a welcome strengthening of the Christian presence in the area.

The parish is now an exciting mixture of different people, religions, and housing.  The original Church hall is now the Multi-Cultural Community Centre, catering for the needs of many local people.  Housing has greatly expanded, with whole new housing developments bringing new people to the area – estates like Chiltern Pines and the Swallows.  Some people stay a long time, others see West Watford as a temporary home until they can afford a bigger house, or employment moves them on.  Great changes have taken place locally in work-places, with printing, lorry manufacture and electrical engineering giving way to service industries and small enterprises.