1850s - 1899
This is a picture of Mr Thomas Wainwright taken around 1907. At this time he was 89 years old and Greetland's oldest resident. Importantly for this site, 46 years earlier he was one of the first to worship at the newly built church of St. Thomas' on Rochdale Road. He would have been about 43 years old at the time.Prior to the church being built services in Greetland had taken place in the row of attics facing on to Rochdale Road at Howcroft Head, a one time hand loom weaving shed. These comprised a long room a small square room which contained a trap door leading down to the back-to-earth cottage of a Mr Sam Jagger, the caretaker.

In 1857 the Rev T Snow was appointed Curate in Charge and a building committee was formed; the men who had the task of raising money to erect a church in Greetland. Contributions were received from areas around the country, Ripon, Cambridge, York, Northampton, Lincolnshire, Birmingham, Liverpool and London. The estimated cost for the build was £3,000.

Before the church could be commissioned, it was necessary to raise the £1,200 as an Endowment fund, half of which would be met the Ecclesiastical Commissioners if the equivalent could be subscribed. One notable effort to raise money was a three day bazaar held in the National School in Elland. This was attended by the ‘nobility’ from many parts of West Riding of Yorkshire. No ordinary bazaar this, many ladies sent ‘choice and family articles,’ some produced by ‘with their own hands;’ costly goods such as rugs in Berlin wool, embroidered screens and smoking caps. The bazaar was select rather than extensive.

By November 1860 the church was opened for public worship although it had still to be consecrated. Mr Snow read the licence from the Bishop of Ripon to hold divine service in the church. The sermon was delivered by Cannon Stowell, M.A. of Manchester, without manuscript or notes and occupied almost an hour! [note to reader: current day priests are far more succinct ]

On 23rd March 1861 the Rev. John Marshall was appointed as Curate, beginning his ministry the following April. On 7th November 1861 the Consecration Services were held and St Thomas’ and the church became a benefice in its own right. The act of consecration was performed by the Lord Bishop of Ripon.

From the time of the opening of the church in the previous year, music had been provided by a string orchestra which gradually degenerated until only one cellist was left. One Sunday morning, even he failed to turn up and records say the survivor of the band vanished and took his cello with him!

In June 1862 a District was assigned to the Church by Order in Council, comprising the whole of Greetland except that part from the ridge of the hill looking northwards. In March 1879 the District was extended to take in West Vale and in the following year the Daughter Church of St. John the Evangelist which was consecrated on September 1882. By 1886 St. John the Evangelist became a separate Benefice. Between the years of 1863 and 1877 land amounting to seven acres was given for the Glebe of St Thomas’ Church by Sir Joseph Radcliffe, Bart, of Rudding Park , Wetherby. The land was cultivated and fenced and from donations and subscriptions farm buildings were erected. Continued