In the late 1930s the Westlands Helicopter factory was expanding rapidly and there was a need for houses for newly recruited staff. Thus, the Westfield Estate came into existence and St Peter’s was established as an outreach mission chapel just before the outbreak of WW2. The church building had a dual purpose. It served as a church, but a screen could be brought down in front of the altar and the building used for dancing and other social activities. The hall was added in the 1950s. This was purchased as a chicken house from Hebditches in Martock and assembled by members of the church led by Gordon Taylor.
For many years the church was run by members of the Church Army including Captain Weston (1938-1955) and Captain David Gilbert as well as ministers from St John’s and St James’. In 1986 St Peter’s separated from St John’s church but maintained its ties with St James’. The church has never had large numbers but it had a good-sized choir and at times a Sunday School of a hundred or more which met in the hall. The Sunday School was held every fortnight so that the children could attend church on the other Sunday.
At the start of the 21st century, there were a number of major developments. Firstly, the lay reader Gordon Taylor had the vision to replace the brown wooden box entrance with a proper brick porch. In March 2009 the porch was officially opened by the local M.P. David Laws. The second development was the partnership with Yeovil Community Church to renovate the hall and use it as a base for a youth outreach programme to the neighbourhood. This was successful for a number of years but has now been replaced by a Tea and Toast club, aimed at teenagers, run by church members, that met on Tuesday afternoons after school and Messy Church aimed at younger children which met monthly on Saturday mornings. Later a Sunday Club was started, meeting at the same time as the morning service, aimed at the local children. A community coffee gathering began on Monday mornings in the church and proved very popular.
The hall was heavily used by various local groups and the church realises that it is now time for a more modern structure to be built to serve the needs of the local
Eventually the state of the 60-year-old Chicken Shed was beyond repair and the facilities definitely not up to modern standards, and so a project was launched to replace it with the brand-new St Peter’s Community Centre which opened in October 2019.
The knock-on effect for the church is that we had to insulate to modern fire regulations, and the disruption and damage of the building work meant that we had to redecorate and refresh the church building as well. We now have a well-insulated building with a modern central heating system, new audio visual systems and a fully equipped servery for tea, coffee and light meals, with level access into the community centre for toilets, a professional kitchen and café area where we can spill out when it gets too crowded.
We are also able to open the church for prayer and chill out during the week via the Community Centre. However, the Community Centre is now so busy that more and more activities are happening during the week in the church building, especially during school holidays. Messy Church happens every second Saturday of the month at 10.30, except in August. It is aimed at families with primary age children. It can be our most attended “service” of the month and takes over the whole community centre and church. Tea and Toast continues on Monday after school, but at present is “girls only”, as we have to restrict to manageable numbers