A new Church for the Parish
After the Second World War, Bursledon in common with other parishes located near to towns or cities, had to find building space for many new houses which were required. Pilands Wood copse was chosen as a site for a new housing estate with building work commencing in the early 1950s.
At that time a large portion of the estate fell within the parish of Hound. The Vicar of Hound, the Rev’d A J Beech, with the approval of the then Vicar of Bursledon, the Rev’d F G Reeves, seized the opportunity to build on the new estate a new building to provide a spiritual home for the people living there.
Work on the building, a prefabricated building erected by Reema Construction Company began in May 1958. The total cost for the works was £6,000, of which approximately £1,000 was provided by residents and the Parochial Church Council (PCC). The balance was allocated from the War Damage Assessment for the old St. Paul’s Church, London Road, Southampton, which was totally destroyed in one of the bombing raids of the Second World War. This is reason why St.Paul’s Church in Bursledon retains this name of this patron saint.
On 9th November 1958, St. Paul’s was dedicated by the Bishop of Winchester, to serve Pilands Wood, Hound and Old Netley.
Two early gifts to the church were, the Bell Cross given by Mr G L Townsend-Rose in memory of his wife, and the font with a hand- beaten copper bowl presented by Dr Lucy Carden. The copper bowl was fashioned by a craftsman at the Southampton Technical College.
St. Paul’s serving Bursledon
When the original St. Paul’s was built, Monday afternoon Mothers & Toddlers groups were run by a Health Visitor with the assistance of paid helpers from Social Services. When the Health Visitor retired, Edwina Stubbs took over as the parish worker at St. Paul’s and extended the Mothers & Toddlers to three days a week.
The Rev’d Walsh also started a Pathfinders group and, when he moved on, this became a youth group and then eventually a youth club. However, the youth club was disbanded because of the increasingly difficult behavior of the young people at that time. St. Paul’s was also used by Social Services to help one-parent families in the locality.
Of course St. Paul’s was also used to serve the spiritual needs of people in the area, and the Mother’s Union was an ongoing group at the Church. There had always been a Sunday School at St. Paul’s, and this grew in numbers as children were brought up from the main services at St. Leonard’s. Latterly, as St. Leonard’s was always very overcrowded, some members of the parish attended Sunday morning services at St. Paul’s because they found its more peaceful environment an aid to worship.
The transportation issues and overcrowding led to a recognition that either St. Leonard’s must again be made larger or that a new larger church was needed at St. Paul’s. An engineering survey of the land around St. Leonard’s showed that it was far too unstable for further building and therefore the decision was taken to redevelop St. Paul’s.
Coincidentally, the redevelopment of Pilands Wood estate provided a wonderful opportunity as it made the larger site necessary available, complete with extensive car parking facilities adjacent to the community centre. Further advantages of the available space were that it allowed us to house all the activities under one roof and that the beauty of St. Leonard’s would not be endangered by a modem extension.
After a period of consultation with all the groups in the church, a design was given to a number of architects and the scheme designed by Michael Cardin of Radley House Partnership in Winchester was accepted. Fund raising was then started to raise the significant necessary funds to complete the construction.
St. Paul’s has always served the spiritual and social needs of the local Pilands area and, to a certain extent, the parish in general but the new church, opened in June 2000, with its greater purpose built facilities, can now provide much more for the whole parish.