8n 1823 London Township had been set off as a circuit of the Wesleyan Church, with the Rev. Robert Carson in charge. London was a small village visited irregularly by the traveling minister.
In 1833 the first Methodist Church was erected on the west side of Rideout Street at the corner of Carling.
This location was sold in 1938 and a new church was erected on the southeast corner of King and Talbot Streets in 1839.
In 1842 another move was made to Richmond Street on the east side between Dundas and King Streets.
This church was sold in 1853 and one was built on North Street (Queen’s Ave.) which was known as North Street Methodist Church. Later following the destruction of this church by fire, First Methodist Church, now Metropolitan Church, was built on Dufferin Avenue.
In 1853 London had a population of roughly 10 000 and extended north to Huron Street. The district between Piccadilly Street and Huron Street was sparsely settled. The members of the North Street Church looked ahead and decided to start a mission in St. George’s ward. This was the beginning of our church.
The mission, a building 30’ x 40’ was on the north side of St. James Street, a short distance east of Waterloo Street. The lot was donated by John and W. Carling and the cost of the church was 210 pounds, exclusive of furnishings.
At first, it was known as St. George’s but in September 1854, the records contain the first reference to the church at the St. James Street Church.
On January 4, 1859, during a rowdy political election campaign in London, the Church was burned to the ground. The members were granted the use of St. George’s School as a place of worship and took up the task of raising money for a new Church.
With sufficient funds, a new site was chosen, and the lot on St. James Street was exchanged for one on the north side of Pall Mall Street near Colborne Street. The tender of Edward Garratt at $ 770.00 was accepted. The building was 30’ x 40’ and bore the inscription in marble on the front of the church: “Wesleyan Methodist Church, AD 1859”.
The building was insured for $ 800.00 and it was decided to rent the centre pews at $ 3.00 each and the side pews at $ 2.00 each. The Chapel Keeper, Mrs. Holland, received $ 36.00 per annum.
In 1888 because of the growth of the district and of the membership in the Pall Mall Church, it was decided to secure a site for a new church. The old site was exchanged with Mr. John Christie for a new location, 100’ x 130’ on the southwest corner of Colborne and Piccadilly Streets.
The church was dedicated on December 15, 1889. The total cost of the building was $ 18 174.70. The cost of the furnishings amounted to $ 900.00 and was defrayed by the Ladies Aid.
The first minister from 1889 – 1891 was the Rev. E. B. Lanceley.
The parsonage at that time was on Piccadilly Street, two doors west of the church.
In 1903 – 04 the new parsonage was built on Colborne Street adjacent to the church. (Now Colborne House Apt.)
The mortgage was burnt on November 17, 1913.
1914 - 1918 - 52 adherents or members in armed forces - 7 died
1925 - Church Union - Colborne Street Methodist Church voted to join the United Church of Canada. The land title documents were not amended to recognize this change until 2019.
The history of our church was compiled from the 100-year history of Colborne Street Church, printed in 1953.
Additions since this article
Established in 1853 as Colborne Street Methodist Church, the congregation has since had three locations in the neighbourhood with the present location having been built in 1889 and with its establishment, helped to attract the flow of settlement in the area.
Designed by the noted High Victorian London architect, George F. Durand, the Church prominently stands on the southwest corner of 711 Colborne and Piccadilly Streets. The eastern façade of the building is distinguished by truncated twin towers which frame the Gothic pitched roof, symmetrically arranged stained glass windows, and textured white brick.
The side elevations are variations on the design of the main section of the façade. The north side of the building facing Piccadilly Street has a smaller profile with gables almost exactly matching the size and setback of the streetscape. The plan of the sanctuary design is based on the Akron plan with an interior arrangement that provides for semi-circular seating. The structure is loosely modeled on the ideas of Henry Hobson Richardson (Richardsonian Romanesque)
In 1953, the original Christian Education wing on the west side of the building was leveled and replaced by the present white brick structure.
The sanctuary was designed with wonderful acoustics, especially for chamber-style music. A three-manual Casavant pipe organ graces the chancel and was completely updated in 1992 boasting 2223 pipes in the side chambers and a solid-state console system with 8 channels of memory. The organ also operates a set of chimes and a Zimbelstern. The organ compliments our 4 ½ octaves of handbells, 3 octaves of Suzuki hand chimes, and Young Chang grand piano.
In 2010 the congregations of Empress United Church, Robinson Memorial United Church, and Colborne Street United Church amalgamated at this location. The “New” Colborne Street United Church brought stained glass windows from the other two former Church buildings and installed them in the window frames as well as in illuminated cabinets created to house them adjacent to the Chancel and in the balcony.
In subsequent years, stained glass windows were installed in the transoms over the front sanctuary doors.
The banners representing the liturgical seasons of the year were created by the London Embroidery Guild and dedicated in 2015.
The thematic motto of Colborne Street United Church which expresses who and what we endeavour to do and be is “UNITING IN LIGHTING THE WAY.”
We welcome you to Colborne where members of our congregation will guide you on the tour of our building.