St Stephen on the Cliffs is a fairly young parish, the first church (now our parish centre) was only opened in 1912.
However we still have a fascinating history, having for many years been connected to Blackpool's entertainment world.
The history of the parish and church starts in 1908 when informal worship, singing hymns around a piano began on Sunday evenings.
By 1910 with the increase of housing in the north shore area a decision was taken by to buy a plot of land on which to build a mission church with Rev FB Freshwater, a curate of All Hallows Bispham being given responsibility for it the following year when the corner stoe was laid.
The church was consecarted in 1912 by the Bishop of Manchester, and due to it's location was dubbed 'The Church on the Cliffs' by the first People's Warden.
Housebuilding continued in the area and by 27 June 1918 St Stephen's was created as a parish in it's own right and Fr Freshwater was inducted as it's first vicar in October of that year.
By 1925 with the parish continuing to grow, the original mission church was becoming too small and the first sod on what was to be the present church was cut by the Mayor of Blackpool.
In 1927 the new church was consecrated by The Bishop of Blackburn, the first church to be consecrated in the new Diocese of Blackburn. However the financial position only allowed for the building of the east end and first two bays of the nave. The church would not be completed (although to a slightly different design) until 2002.
St Stephen's connection with Blackpool's entertainment world was strengthened when actors and artsites subscribed to create the Actors' Chapel in 1928. The chapel features a reredos with a double procession of carved singers, dancers and musicians above the marble altar. The side panels bear the names of theatrical benefactors, and many famous names can be seen, such as Noel Coward, George Formby, Arthur Askey and Ivor Novello. The additional panel, which bears the names of donors who were members of the theatrical profession, was unveiled by Gracie Fields in May 1929.
In 1949 St Stephens made history again by becoming the first church to incorporate a columbarium, the chapel of repose for the ashes of departed parishoners.
1952 - The Silver Jubilee of the ‘new’ church – a full week of worship, thanksgiving and celebration. The new vicarage is built, a new ‘temporary’ organ is installed, the BBC broadcasts two services and plans are made to start up the daughter church which will become St Anne’s, Greenlands
1957 - In March the exterior aspect of the Church and its grounds is enhanced by the gift of a professionally laid out garden. The new Chapel of All Souls, once the Columbarium, is consecrated by the Bishop of Lancaster in June
1959 - The Centre-Stone of St. Anne’s Greenlands is laid by Lawrence Wright, the song writer and publisher
1965 - To call the people to worship, there is a new bell named John in memory of a child
1974 - The ‘temporary’ Hamilton organ, installed in 1952, needs replacing. The end of the year sees the new Willis organ transported from St. Philip’s, Blackburn. The Vicar celebrates his Silver Jubilee in the Parish
1997 - The Garden of Repose is consecrated by the Bishop of Lancaster
2000 - Work begins on the completion of the church with building of a Narthex and Baptistry
2002 - The Narthex and Baptistry are consecrated by The Most Reverend David Hope, Archbishop of York
1918 - 1950 The Reverend Canon Frank Bertram Freshwater
1950 - 1981 The Reverend Canon Geoffrey Gower Jones
1981 - 1994 The Reverend Canon Anthony Ainsley
1995 - 2003 The Reverend Peter Walsh
2004 - Present The Reverend Canon Andrew Sage
Fr Tony shows Michael Williams the church during the filming of Angel Voices in 1988
Students from the College of the Resurrection during the 1985 mission