Brief History

Wood Lane Baptist Church
Wood Lane Baptist Church
Wood Lane Baptist Church
In the beginning...

Dagenham first appeared in historical records in a charter of Barking Abbey dating back to 666 AD. However, the town as we know it today largely began its development in 1921. Over 300 acres of land were compulsorily purchased, primarily in Dagenham, to help alleviate overcrowding in East London. This initiative was part of the ‘Homes for Heroes’ scheme following World War One, stemming from the Housing Act of 1919, which promised to provide ‘homes fit for heroes to live in.’ The London County Council commenced the construction of a vast housing estate in 1921, a project that took over ten years to complete.

Dagenham hosts four Baptist churches, built between 1927 and 1934, with Wood Lane Baptist Church being the third, established in 1932. The Baptist Building Fund provided a free loan of £400 to secure the land for the first building, and the remaining portion of the site was retained by the London Baptist Property Board. A school chapel was constructed with a donation from Mrs. Halley of Leigh-on-Sea, in memory of her late husband. This building became known as the Halley Memorial Baptist Church. The furnishings were provided by the ladies of the Baptist Women’s League, and interest in the church extended far beyond Dagenham.

For three years, the National Baptist League took responsibility for supporting the deaconess in charge, Sister Margaret Evans, who was later joined by Sister Kathleen Simmons. An additional £20 was contributed for another three years. In 1935, the Essex Baptist Association opened a special account known as the Deaconesses’ Fund, allowing individual friends and churches to share in the financial responsibility. The church was officially opened on April 14, 1932. The following Sunday, over 250 children attended Sunday school.

Within three years, there were 850 scholars enrolled, and the Women’s Pleasant Hour had 200 members. For two years, representatives from the Essex Baptist Association, the Manor Park Church, and the Eastern group of the Baptist Women’s League formed a committee of oversight in place of a diaconate. Faith Hall was opened in 1936 to accommodate a growing youth program.


Dagenham has long been associated with the Ford Motor Company, which has operated in the town since 1931, peaking at 40,000 workers in 1953. While the workforce has now decreased to around 2,000, the area has transitioned from pre-war unemployment to post-war material prosperity. Despite these advancements, the need for the saving gospel of Jesus Christ remains as pressing as ever. The challenges are significant, but so are the opportunities.

According to the 2021 census, Dagenham has a population of 218,900. As the town has evolved over the years, our church has transformed alongside it. Today, we are proud to be a truly multicultural congregation, representing a diverse array of backgrounds and life experiences. Our community is united by a strong passion for worshiping our Lord Jesus. We celebrate and embrace the rich variety of cultures within our church, recognizing that this diversity strengthens our fellowship. We see each other as family, fostering an environment of acceptance, love, and mutual support. Our church is a place where everyone is welcomed and valued, and where our differences are not just tolerated but celebrated as a reflection of the kingdom of God.