West Watford History Group

History of West Watford and environs

"tin Mission"

The Good Samaritan Mission or Tin Mission, as it was known locally, stood on the site of Nos. 29 to 35 Holywell Road.

A tin tabernacle is a type of prefabricated ecclesiastical building made from corrugated galvanised iron. They were developed in the mid 19th century initially in Great Britain. The Church of England was initially sceptical about corrugated iron buildings and  William Morris, founder of the Arts and Crafts movement, wrote a pamphlet in 1890 decrying the construction of corrugated iron buildings "that were spreading like a pestilence over the country." However, Churches, chapels and mission halls were built in new industrial areas as towns and cities expanded with more than 4,000 churches erected during the mid 19th century as an upsurge of nonconformism led to a demand for even more buildings. 

The population of King’s Ward (West Watford) was to grow by 5.5% in 1913, faster than in any other ward. Its population reached 16,650 by 1914. 147 new homes would be built in West Watford in 1914, when another Mission Church at Cassio Bridge was mooted to meet the needs of the growing population.

Services and activities were already taking place in the Good Samaritan Mission, a pre-fab metal structure in Holywell Road. A Mr Crabtree joined the church (St Michael and All Angels) from college as a lay reader, with good experience gained in Manchester. He would superintend the Good Samaritan Mission.

Apart from Youth Clubs to encourage the young, parishioners were involved in a variety of community services. For example, they were asked to donate ingredients for a soup kitchen which operated from the Good Samaritan Mission throughout the winter of 13/14. School children of working parents were provided with a hot lunch and the sick and elderly with jugs of soup. 300 children “in need” were entertained at a Christmas party on Boxing Day in the Institute, each going home with a small present.

The Church scout troop which had started in 1911 and which previously met in the Good Samaritan Mission, transferred to the new hall and still had a few places for boys 12-16 “of the right stamp” who would benefit from scout-type activities and “a course of steady drill”. As an “up to date branch of the Church Lads’ Brigade,” it was intended to prepare boys for “Christ’s army” not the military. 

Several tin tabernacles survive as places of worship; some have listed building status and some have been converted to other uses.  

The Tin Mission (Good Samaritan Mission) that stood in Holywell Road 

 References: Members of the West Watford History Group - see website menu "St Michael's WW1 Exhibit"