The current church buildings bear little relationship to the original ones, yet the spirit and vision of the church remains the same as we worship and work within the local community.
Ipswich Road Free Church (as it was known from 1955-1972) was established as a satellite church, by members of Princes Street Congregational Church in Norwich. It took four years of discussions with City Council before the church opened in 1952, using an ex RAF wooden hut, on the outside of which was written the number of enemy aircraft shot down!
Initially there was just an evening service, but in September 1952, a ‘Sunday School’ was begun and 60 children arrived for the first session. This was followed by the first Youth Club in October 1953 and by 1958 there were three Sunday afternoon sessions to accommodate all of the children.
The church began to develop its ministry with the local adult population. In 1959 it appointed its first minister and an Arcon hut was erected on the site of the current Blake Room. (Named after the first Church Secretary and his wife who were mainstays of the church for over 50 years).This was replaced by the permanent building in 1973. Morning services (started in 1958), could now include separate groups for the children-a practice continued today. In 1960 the manse was built in Irving Road and in 1961 the church became independent from Princes Street.
The cross on the front of the Sanctuary was erected in 1965 and in the following year a third youth club was started with a 4th to be added later.
In 1968 the original black hut was dismantled and replaced by the current ‘North Room’. Two smaller rooms and the coffee bar were added, the kitchen was enlarged, a garage built on the manse and the car park laid out. Gradually worship and children’s activities merged.
In 1972, following the national union between the Presbyterian Church of England and the Congregational Church, the church was renamed Ipswich Road United Reformed Church.
By 1990 there was a need for further expansion and the Sanctuary was extended. The congregation could now be seated “in the round” instead of serried rows.
The church today is very much a community church but with members also coming from several miles away, attracted by the style of worship and informal atmosphere. There are regularly two services on a Sunday as well as the Junior Church, with house groups on weekdays. The premises are used daily by church organisations, local residents and other groups.
A coffee Drop-In, Teddies for very young children and their mothers, a children’s club, holiday clubs, a youth ‘Drop In’ (held at Harford Community Centre), a singing group, indoor bowls and a friendship circle for those more advanced in years are among the activities run by the church for the local community. However the building also hosts regular railway society, sewing and art groups, Pilates, the Residents’ Association and other groups.
1959-1967: Rev David Viles
1967- 1973 :Rev Clifford Charlton
1975-1980: Rev David Sparkes
1981-1996 :Rev Ian Fosten
1998-2006: Rev David Littlejohns
2008+ part of the United Reformed Church Norwich served by a team ministry with a minister assigned to groups of churches
2010-2015: Rev Matt Stone