The formation of the parish was the result of a committee meeting held at the Leeds Church Institute in April 1876 and presided over by the Vicar of Leeds, Dr Gott. This included W.L. Jackson, the future Lord Allerton and MP. The site for St Martin’s was confirmed in June 1876 and architects Adams & Kelly were appointed. Subsequently, the boundaries of the new parish were decided upon.
The first Vicar was Reverend F. C. Kilner, who served from 1880-1892 and under his guiding hand the Church went from strength to strength. The great generosity of many people enabled the Church interior to be furnished. The building fund was also generously supported.
St Martin’s became known as a ‘musical church’ with excellent organists and large choirs. In 1890, the choir membership was 39; nine basses, eight tenors, four altos and eighteen boys. Annual choir trips were also held. There was a thriving Sunday School, a Communicant’s Association and Flower Services which continued annually until 1914. There were also social evenings and Parish Teas, which were held in the Parish room, as there was no Institute at the time. In 1883, the Vicar formed a Church Council (men only). This was to answer questions from the congregation.
The second curate, Reverend R.G.P. Bullock was appointed in 1885, serving until 1891. He then became the Vicar of St Luke on North Street. Sadly, Reverend Kilner’s wife died on Christmas Day 1891. In May 1892, he became the Vicar of Bingly and St Martin’s was offered to the Rev Bullock; he was inducted in July 1892.
In August, the Rev Kilner returned to St Martin’s to be married to a Miss Casson of Newton Villas and the Rev Bullock was his best man. So great was the interest, that admission to the Church was by ticket only.
In 1896, the Vicar Rev Bullock passed away very suddenly from spasmodic asthma. He was a bachelor and only 36 years of age. The congregation decided that the baptistery would be built as a memorial “to our beloved and honoured late Vicar”. This was dedicated by the Lord Bishop of Ripon in 1897.
Helen Broadbent – St Martin’s Church Archivist