As the foundation stone to the right of the front entrance doors commemorates, Hesters Way Baptist Church was established in 1957 by the joint partnership of Cambray and Salem Baptist Churches in the town centre.
In the 1940s the area now known as Hesters Way was largely undeveloped, and Ashlands Road was farm land with a few cottages. With the arrival of GCHQ to Cheltenham there was an urgent need for housing for the workers… and it was this context which prompted Christians (from Cambray and Salem) to explore the formation of a new church. With the support of the area Baptist Association and the Baptist Union, along with Government initiatives to encourage the building of churches, after a period of negotiation a piece of land was identified in Ashlands Road.
Work on the new building started in December 1956, and was completed in time for an opening ceremony on the 1st June 1957. The Gloucestershire Echo reported the event as follows:
‘In the presence of more than 200 people, the new Baptist Church on the Hesters Way Estate was opened on Saturday in brilliant sunshine. The new church, on a square off Lechmere Road, is conveniently situated, surrounded by houses and blocks of flats. “It will serve as a witness to the neighbourhood” said Mr Ellis in opening it. At an estimated cost of £3, 877, the church was built by H.W.Tilly & Co. and designed by Mr Claude E.A. Andrews. Cost of the building is being found by Salem and Cambray churches.’
(Echo, 3 June, 1957)
Thanks to God’s goodness and the generosity of Salem and Cambray, the building was completed and the venture launched without a debt of any sort. Nor did the commitment end there; members from these two churches living near the new church were encouraged to transfer their membership and Hesters Way Baptist Church was born… in time appointing its own officers and deacons.
We thank God for all His ministers who have heard and answered the call to serve the Hesters Way fellowship during the past 60 years:
(Adapted from Hesters Way Baptist Church 1957-2007 history)