“A History, 1927 – 1977” by E.A.Thurman (condensed)
The Diocese of Johannesburg was proclaimed in 1922. Prior to that date Johannesburg was part of the Diocese of Pretoria. In that same year the chapelry of St.Francis, under the wing of St.George’s, Parktown, was founded by an increasing number of residents of Parkview. By November 1922 sufficient finance was amassed to purchase stands 193,194,195 and 196 Parkview from the Transvaal Consolidated Land and Exploration Co. Ltd for 1.750 pounds.
Building was started in 1922, the first stone laid on 30th September of the same year by Bishop Arthur and by May 1923 the Parkview Church Hall (the present hall) was completed for a cost of 832 pounds.
Although still part of St. George’s, a Parochial Council was formed by December 1923 with Revd.H.F.Cranswick in charge and Messrs H.S.Tomkins and J.S.Brown as church wardens and Mr.Leeds as secretary and treasurer.
In 1925 the Diocesan Assessment was increased from 150 to 200 pounds. In order to meet this and the general church expenses, a variety of fund-raising activities were introduced (mainly by the Ladies Committee), the hall was used by “The Sons of England” and certain collections dedicated to this purpose.
On 2nd May 1927 St.Francis became an independent parish and the first confirmation was celebrated in December of that year. The rectory plus outbuildings and a small chapel were erected on stand 196, with stand 194 and 195 being reserved for a bigger church building. Necessary fundraising, through dedicated giving schemes, were not overly successful and other fundraising activities, such as fete and jumble sales continued to be organised by the Church Women’s Society. A seven year building loan at 6% was arranged from the Transvaal Consolidated Land and Exploration Co.
Persistent ill-health of Revd Ramsden forced him to leave the parish in 1931. He was replaced by Revd F.C.Black from Springs., who remained with us for 10 years and saw the easing of the financial situation as well as the steady development of the parish.
Co-incidentally the hall was “re-floored” at the same time that the Badminton Club was started in 1933! In 1936 gas heating was installed in the hall and in 1938 the first parish car, a second-hand Plymouth, purchased for Revd. Black.
As a result of continuous fund-raising initiatives, the building loan was liquidated in March 1939. Also in that year the bishop suggested a large church be built in neighbouring Parktown North; an idea not favourably regarded by the parish council which was busy establishing a foothold in Greenside. Instead, the parish was determined to go ahead with plans for a bigger and permanent church building. The hall would continue to be used for a variety of purposes.
At the Vestry meeting in 1940 the name of John Webb appeared forte first time as church warden. E continued to serve as warden and treasurer until March 1965. His sister Marjorie was equally active in church affairs.
In 1941 Revd.Black was moved to the parish of Rosettenville and Revd.H.Scott Ram appointed in his stead. Also, a firm decision was taken to proceed with the building of the church. The foundation stone was laid by the bishop on 25th April 1942 and the church dedicated on St.Francis Day, 4th October 1942.
Although originally planned to seat 350 people, the seating had to be reduced to 250 as the cost would have been excessive. The result was a rather truncated church: The Tyrone Avenue side finished abruptly at the present back aisle. The original plans were finally implemented by December 1957 and the enlarged church opened by Bishop Ambrose.
(Condensed from “A History, 1927 – 1977” by E.A.Thurman).