St Clements & P&G


The firm of Thos.Hedley was founded in Newcastle-Upon-Tyne in 1837.By coincidence the Cincinnati based Procter & Gamble Company, which took over Hedleys in 1930, was also founded in 1837. In 1940,when the battle of Britain was at its height, the first case of soap rolled off the production line at P&G's newest factory in West Thurrock.The factory was served by a new road,called Hedley Avenue in honour of its founder.Hedley Avenue crossed the old manorway to St Clement's.The year 1987 marked the sequicentennial of this well known manufacturer of soap and detergents.To commemorate their 150 years this company offered to take responsibility for the church and churchyard.

St Clement's church was returned to the community use in the company's 50th Anniversary year at West Thurrock. In the restored church on the 18th Sept.1990 the Bishop of Chelmsford received the 99years peppercorn rent in a silver and glass pepper mill.the lease from the Church Commissioners was based on confirmation by the Queen's Most Excellant Majesty in Council that the property should be appropriated to use'as a monument and for purposes ancillary thereto'.It became effective on 3rd March 1988.

Before deciding how to proceed with the rescue operation the Company sought the advice of local people on what future use could be made of the church. Replies varied from baton twirling to offices,from church services to educational visits. As a result the principle was formulated that the church would be made available for suitable community educational and cultural purposes.These would be on once-off occasions at no charge to the participants; it should be seen as a privilege to be able to use St Clement's

In carrying out the work the Company recognising that,though it was expert in management and in factory operations, it was not expert in such things as stained glass or medieval buildings,sought specialist advice wherever this could be of Value.The principle was adopted to conserve what exists rather than to restore to what might have been, using 20th century materials where this was appropriate. The Company would also aim to refurbish the church by re-using significant items from other redundant churches which might otherwise be lost or have to go into storage. Those most closely connected with the project are remembered in appendix 8 of the book "The Story of St Clement's" by Christopher Harrold.

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