Bringing together St. Andrew’s and Gorleston Baptist churches to form the Cliff Park church plant was indeed a marriage made in heaven. But it had a long courtship which in some ways had its origins just after WW2.
Gorleston Baptist had been demolished in a wartime bombing raid. The church had temporary shelter in Stradbroke School before settling for several years in a redundant Methodist Chapel in Nile Road. The church thrived after the war while working hard to create a new building at its original site, finally moving back to Lowestoft Road in the early 1950s. They had enough to do.
Meanwhile severe wartime damage to housing in Great Yarmouth led to a whole new housing estate springing up in southwest Gorleston with the Vicar of Gorleston Canon Ernest Corbell coming up with the visionary idea of St. Andrew’s first attempt to plant new work in that area. A Sunday School was opened in outbuildings at the Station Hotel, opposite the Lowestoft Road main entrance to Gorleston Station, which ran for several years until St. Mary Magdalene church was built to serve the fast-growing housing estate. As a four-year-old in 1955 Tony Mallion attended that Sunday School.
In the 1950s the Cliff Park estate area was open farmland as was the site now occupied by the James Paget Hospital and Beacon Park. However, by the 1960s the Cliff Park estate was constructed and from the earliest time St. Andrew’s continued its interest in the southern end of the parish by housing curates there. In the 1980s when a new minister, Graham Licence, came to Gorleston Baptist he first suggested the idea of some sort of church plant at Cliff Park though this wasn’t followed up at the time.