St. Paul’s Bay
When the layout of the little seaside resort of Clacton on Sea was projected, 150 years ago, no provision was made for a church. By 1874, however, J. H. Page of Thorrowgoods Farm was planning development of his land to the east, as far as Victoria Road; for some time the eastern limit of the Marine Parade. It was in one of these new streets he generously offered a site for the erection of Clacton’s first church. A committee was immediately formed, designs were prepared by G. Gard Pye of Colchester, the architect of some of the town’s earliest buildings, and in August a tender of £88 was accepted.
On 16th June 1875 St. Paul’s was opened for worship, and on 15th August 1878 it was consecrated by the Bishop of St. Albans as Clacton was then in his diocese. It had cost, altogether, £1,250 and was built of concrete; for a time standing alone in the fields. Its dedication no doubt recalled the early association of Clacton with St. Paul’s Cathedral as, in ancient times the kingdom of the East Saxons included London as well as the present county of Essex, and the whole area was in the diocese of London with St. Paul’s as the cathedral church.
The ecclesiastical parish was formed in December 1878 and covered the area likely to be developed. Boundary stones were placed at the north end of Pier Avenue and in Holland Road, opposite Victoria Road but these were later removed although one was later salvaged and preserved in St. Paul’s church. There was repeated criticism, however, that the church was too remote from the town centre, so in 1888 a corrugated iron mission hall was built in the High Street; the hall was destroyed by fire five years later and replaced.
Although enlarged in 1881 the church soon proved too small for the growing town, and even after St. James’s parish was formed in 1907, on the western side of town, it was still inadequate. A new church was proposed and a building fund started but owing to the war and increasing costs it was not until January 1965 that the present St. Paul’s was started.
Designed by G. H. B and Roy Gould the new building proved to be light and attractive, in complete contrast to the old Victorian church. A stone was laid by Sir John Ruggles Brise, H. M. Lord Lieutenant of Essex, on 12th June 1965, and the building was consecrated by the Bishop of Chelmsford on 15th July 1966.