A little bit of History
The assembly was started by Harry Beer who purchased a corrugated steel building from the Devizes army camp and erected it on a piece of land he had purchased at Highbury cross probably late 1919 or early 1920.
There may have been an evangelistic campaign arranged by the Christian brethren before this, but certainly, the old corrugated hut existed by 1921 (see picture).
John Beer lived at Vobster in St Edmunds Farm, as a tenant of Mells Park estate (then owned by the Chancellor of the exchequer - William McKenna). He drove a horse and cart to Devizes in 1920 to pick up the second hand sections of a ex War Camp Hut, which the War Department was selling off. He brought it back to Coleford and set it up on its present site. The journey must have taken him at least two days! He and his wife were in fellowship in those early years with their children also attending Harry, Roland and Goldsworthy. John Beer moved to Oldford, Nr. Frome but Harry Beer continued as the tenant of the farm. He had four children, John, Michael, David & Joy. (David Beer had a son Tim Beer who is now serving the Lord in Zambia as a missionary.)
In 1925 Harry Beer purchased a small plot of land opposite the old corrugated iron hall to build a more permanent building, but this fell through because of the 1926 general strike. The future was made uncertain by these events, and some had to move from the district to find employment. However, the plot of land was used by the assembly as the location for tent missions. As far as can be recollected the following missions took place: -
Garner Thomas - Early 1920's
Mr Hindmore - Late 1920's or early 1930's
Jimmy Hodgson - 1932 (see picture)
David Hyslop - 1946
As a result of this last mission, three were baptized:-
Treacey Nicholas, Nancy Collier and John Beer. The baptism took place at Trowbridge Gospel Hall.
David Hyslop - 1947
A mission was held in the Temperance Hall in the 1920s by an unknown evangelist, and a number professed salvation, including Leonard Collier and Minnie Nicholas. (She was baptised shortly after the birth of her daughter Treacey Nicholas and continued in fellowship until being called home at the age of 99 in the late 1990s). Leonard Collier said later that after his conversion he walked up through the village as if he was walking on air! He also said that within a week or so, he was preaching in the open air. A group of the brethren would ride their bikes on a Saturday afternoon to neighbouring villages to preach the gospel.
Also in what is now Mendip Vale (next to the Old Oak tree in what was then a field) during June or July of 1970 David and Eileen Willcox (Counties Evangelistic Worker for Somerset) held a tent mission for two weeks. In Rush Ash Farm's garden, then owned by David and Shirley Cooper, Ray Mead and Geoff Bennett from the Frome Gospel Hall held a tent mission for one week in 1973. In 1975, David Wilcox held a tent mission, this time on the sports field (on the site of the present floodlit sports facility).
A Sunday School has been run from the earliest days of the assembly. During the 1930s the numbers attending were approximately 100. Minnie Nicholas was a Sunday School teacher and had 12 girls in her class at this time. It must have been difficult coping with such high numbers in the small corrugated hall.
The Sunday School has continued with only a short break in the late 60's early 70's. Each year since 1970 - 2014 an annual S.S. outing took place which included many of the villagers - the destination was Swanage (one year also to Brean Sands, another to Sandbanks and another to Weymouth). Each year since 1971, the weather has been fine for the children in spite of rainy starts at Coleford!
Each year since 1970 an annual children's mission has been held usually in early October. Various evangelists have assisted with these including David Willcox, Ray Mead, Clive Williams, John Baker, Sid Mountstevens, Jim McMaster, Robert Plant, Steven Baker, Gordon McCracken and David Loveridge. Also in February since the late 1990's a Holiday Bible Club has been held with similar help from various evangelists and local brethren and sisters.
Carers and Toddlers
Since 2004 a carers and toddlers group is held every Thursday during school term time from 9.00 a.m.
During the 1970's a monthly Saturday night outreach meeting took place showing a Christian film or inviting along various evangelists. Various young people were converted to the Christian faith as a result of these activities.
At various times young people's meetings have been conducted on week nights. Presently meetings take place as announced on Fridays.
Weekly Gospel meetings continue to be held and literature distribution takes place periodically both in Coleford and the surrounding villages. Attractive annual calendars for the next year with pictures and bible texts are distributed in December.