The original church built in 1862
The church was destroyed by an air raid in 1940.
When war broke out in 1939 everyone expected to see enemy planes appearing in our skies almost at once and invasion forces landing all along the south coast by sea or air. As it happens we were in for several months of what was called the "Phoney War", with nothing happening on the home front. But even so, Redland Park was affected in several ways. One was the necessity of preparing for attacks from the sky, and complying with blackout regulations. A church is a difficult building to effect this, but Mrs Thompson, Mrs Steadman, Mrs W Harris, Mrs Murray, Mrs Deayton, Miss Whitson and other ladies stitched diligently, and in a short time managed to make curtains to cover all the windows at a cost of £50.
The church was destroyed by an air raid in 1940. Meanwhile the cellars under the church were strengthened and set up with seats to be ready for possible use in case of air raids. Some meetings were moved from evenings to afternoons including the Women's Hour, members preferring to be indoors during the blackout.
A much greater affect was that so many members were being whisked away from Bristol. Nearly all the young men and women of the church were enlisted into the forces or into essential occupations. Month by month The Recorder published the Roll of Honour listing those on active service. In October, 1939, the first 22 names were listed, men of all ranks in all the services. Each month the list grew longer and promotions were mentioned.
The church's first prisoner of war, after Dunkirk, was Mr W W Ritchie Hill, who returned at the end of the war and was subsequently a Deacon of the church. Its first woman was called up in June, 1940 and subsequently several more joined the ATS (Army), the WAAF (Air Force) and the WRNS (Navy) as well as the Land Army.
In May, 1942, The Recorder states that there were nearly 100 members of the Church and Boys' Brigades in the forces. Fortunately only three were killed in action. (In the carnage of the First World War, 29 Redland Park men were killed, including the three sons of Mr & Mrs LP Nott).Two members were killed in air raids on Bristol: Mr J C Mann died during a freak daylight raid on the centre of Bristol in August, 1942; and the other was Mr Herman Hartley, a brilliant young man, the son of a Congregational minister, who died during a night raid while fire-watching for the firm where he worked.
Each year during the war, three or four times, a personal letter was sent by Mr Thompson to each member or adherent serving in the forces, enclosing a small present from the church. Once it was socks, knitted by ladies of the congregation. From time to time The Recorder published extracts from letters received in a "Home thoughts from Abroad" column from different battle fronts, from ships at sea, and from unspecified hush-hush locations. All were grateful for the presents and valued their continuing link with Redland Park. Most of them returned when the war was over and many later held office in the church.