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Thomas Barrass, Baptist Minister

Baptist minister, Rev Thomas Barrass (nicknamed ‘the Nonconformist Bishop of Peterborough’) whose popularity was behind the construction of a new building on Queen Street capable of seating 800 people in 1870.

The building only lasted for 35 years until, early in the morning of October 16, 1905 the chapel and most of the “Barrass Memorial Hall” built in 1904 alongside were completely burned down leaving only the shell of the buildings standing. The cause of the fire was unknown, but it is listed among the ‘great fires of Peterborough’.

Pictured below are the buildings before the fire and the devastation afterwards, along with smartly dressed onlookers !

Church Parade on Broadway (1914)

A nice 1914 postcard captioned “Reserve Battery R.F.A Church Parade Oct 25” and probably featuring the Northamptonshire Battery, Royal Field Artillery unit of the Territorial Force based at Queens Street.

RFA was the Royal Field Artillery who provided artillery support for the British Army. It came into being when the Royal Artillery was divided on 1 July 1899, it was re-amalgamated into the Royal Artillery in 1924. The Royal Field Artillery was the largest arm of the artillery and was responsible for the medium calibre guns and howitzers deployed close to the front line and was reasonably mobile. It was organised into brigades, attached to divisions or higher formations.

Queen Street Baptist Chapel (1905)

The morning after the fire that destroyed the Queen Street Baptist Chapel on 16th October 1905 with a pre-fire image below.

Barford & Perkins

A petrol driven Roller from Barford & Perkins probably being tested at their Queen Street base.

Queen Street meets Queensgate

Where the old Queen Street met the new Queensgate shopping centre with the buildings soon to make way for the Argos store.

Before the Queensgate development this was the Grapevine public house and prior to that it was the Bays public house.

Thanks to Chris Allen for this image.

Queen Street (1970s)

Looking along Queen Street towards Westgate in the early 1970s and not long before this entire scene was buried under the Queensgate shopping centre. Today you would be inside the centre looking towards the Westgate exit/entrance with the Michael John Hair Salon on the right just behind the parked lorry !

Queen Street Baptist Chapel pre-1905

The ornate interior of the Baptist Chapel on Queen Street before the infamous fire on 16th October 1905 that destroyed it.

Heightons Depots Ltd, Queens Street c.1912

Heighton’s Depots Ltd, Motor & Cycle Store stood on the junction of Queens Street and Deacon’s Street which are both now buried under the Queensgate shopping centre – about 100 metres in from the Westgate junction with North Street ! 

Baptist Chapel & Barrass Memorial Hall c.1905

Pictured sometime shortly after opening in 1904 on Queen Street and most definitely sometime before they were both badly damaged by fire in October 1905. After the fire, the baptists moved to new premises on Park Road.

Queen’s Street c.1908

The Cowgate end of Queen Street looking towards what is now the Queensgate Centre.

The building on the right is the Bedford Temperance Hotel and the angled building behind it is the Drill Hall.