The History of PSBC
Park Street Baptist Church was founded in October 1812 by the newly formed Hertfordshire Union of Baptists and Independents, along with 15 other village churches around St Albans. For the first eight months meetings were held under a large chestnut tree along Watling Street, next to what is now the Overdraught public house. We were a daughter church of Dagnall Street Baptist Church, St Albans. The following June a barn in Bury Dell Lane, between the mill and the river Ver, was formally registered as a place of worship, and Sunday evening services were held there for the next 56 years with oil lamps for lighting, men sitting on one side and women on the other!
Following the dynamic Christian revival in St Albans in the early 1860s, when each fortnight 1,500 people met for evangelistic services in town (with a population in those days of only 7½ thousand), a flint-faced brick chapel was built in 1869 in Branch Road, which served until the move in 1976 to our present site in Penn Road.
Chestnut tree where PSBC started in Oct 1812
For 50 years until 1937 at least 250 students from Regents Park Baptist Theological College, then in London, led many of the services, and from 1921 until the College moved to Bristol in 1937 it provided student pastors, which explains why until fairly recent times our church was well known throughout the UK Baptist Union.
In June 1939, three months prior to WW2, our church became independent of Dagnall Street Baptist Church. London Colney Baptist Church also became independent and for a few years we shared with them our first full-time minister, Rev. Fred Bateman. An interesting record in one of the 1939 church meeting minutes detailed how the building was to be evacuated in the event of an air raid!
Park Street Chapel in 1950's in Branch Rd
In 1897 the Sunday School that was started three years after the chapel was built had grown to such a size that a large schoolroom was added, which was also used by the thriving Women’s Meeting, Young People’s Christian Endeavour group, and Men’s Brotherhood Society (of 46 members). A St Albans Times article of 1912, celebrating 100 years of the church’s existence, stated that “this little church is pulsating with vigour and enthusiasm, a radiating centre of Christian and social activity, shedding a lustrous influence over the whole village.”
In 1963 our second minister, Rev. Andrew Simpson, a retired life-long missionary to Congo, Africa and a student pastor here in the early 1920s whilst studying at Regents Park, purchased the 4½ acre green-belt field that is our current site, with a view to developing a new church building and complex on it. This ambition has existed now for over fifty years, and we still look forward to its fruition in, hopefully, a few years’ time.
Current building for PSBC in Penn Rd
Meanwhile, in line with the Declaration adopted by the initial members in 1939, our worship of the risen Jesus and our heavenly Father and our witness to the vitality of the eternal life he offers to us continue as the foundation of our individual and community life.
(Thanks to Ian LaRiviere for this article).
In this section
Leadership and Pastoral Teams
What we believe
History of PSBC
What is Christianity