The history of
Railway Street Presbyterian Church, Lisburn would be incomplete
without mentioning the tremendous work done by Harold and Meta
Patterson at the Y Club, the Inter Church camps and the Sunday
Night Youth Fellowship, (S.N.Y.F.) all of which were attended by
many young members of the congregation.
Harold and Meta Patterson
Patterson grew up on a farm in Ballyhomra, near Hillsborough and
the family worshipped at Anahilt Presbyterian Church. After
leaving school, he started working in his father’s shop – ‘Smyth
Patterson’s Ltd.’ which was founded in 1936. His father died in
1949, and the family moved to Clonevin Park, Lisburn and joined
Railway Street Presbyterian Church.
As a teenager, he became a
Christian through his Sunday school teacher at Railway Street
Church, and commenced his lifetime involvement with Christian
work. He showed cine films up and down the country and was
involved with ‘Youth for Christ’. He became a Sunday School
Teacher at Railway Street Church in 1946 during the ministry of
the Rev. John K. Elliott (a photo of his 1946 Sunday School
Class is shown in Chapter 8) and was ordained to the eldership
of Railway Street in 1950 at just 21 years of age and is still
active in visitation of his district.
Meta grew up in Dublin where her family were Quakers. She
became a born again Christian at 12 years of age and was very
active in Christian Endeavour. She loved working with teenagers
and was leader of a Bible Class for teenagers.
Harold and Meta were married in Dublin in a Quakers Meeting
House in 1957 and moved to Lisburn. When this article was
written in 2004, Harold and Meta Patterson’s three children, all
married, had four grandchildren.
They lived in ‘Argyll House’ on the Limehill Road,
outside Lisburn. They wanted to get to know other Christians,
so they held “squash” evenings in their home once a month on a
Saturday evening. They invited anybody and everybody, and with
up to sixty young people attending, it really was a ‘SQUASH’.
The fellowship was great and different speakers came and gave
very interesting talks.
Harold and Meta’s home ‘Argyll House’
where in the late 1950s, up to sixty young people
attended a “squash” evening once a month on a
Saturday evening. The elevated site of the house on
the Limehill Road provides a panoramic view of
Patterson Ltd., Timber and Hardware shop in 1957.
Pictured outside is Harold's Austin Ten car, and at
the bottom of the entry is the timber yard. The
Lisburn city centre shop is now a modern
In July 1966, a summer camp was organised
in Donegal for most of a week, assisted by leaders from the
Saturday night ‘squash,’ this was the first of 33 years of
camps. There were about sixty young people at the first camp,
the girls slept in the Manse house and the boys slept in the cow
byre. They all ate in a large marquee and Michael Perrott was
the guest speaker. The aim of the camp was to challenge young
people about their Christian faith and encourage a new
commitment to Jesus Christ.
Pim House, 3 Wallace Avenue,
The Y club operated from a former Y.W.C.A.
hostel called Pim House, at 3 Wallace Avenue, in Lisburn. The
building, which was nearly 120 years old, acted as a home for
young women over the decades. The Y.W.C.A. hostel, which housed
up to 15 girls at one time, was founded in memory of Miss Anna
Pim, a Quaker lady who devoted her life to helping others.
Despite the success of the hostel, the demand began to wane in
the early 1970’s and it slowly became used more for elderly
people, than its original purpose. The Y.W.C.A. decided to
close the Hostel.
Meta Patterson was a committee member of
the Hostel, so with the help of Harold Patterson and Michael
Perrott (then Y.M.C.A. secretary, Belfast) a new committee was
formed, and the Y club was born. Almost £15,000 was spent
renovating the inside of the building, walls taken down etc. and
in October 1976 the Y Club was opened. The American Lunar 15
astronaut, Col. Al Worden, officially opened the club on 6th
Membership of the club grew to 130, with
ages ranging from 15-twenties meeting every Friday and Saturday
night from 7.00 to 10.00pm and on other nights for Bible study.
All sorts of games were played including snooker, pool,
bar-football, table tennis, darts etc. The coffee bar was very
popular and provided a place for all to meet and chat. Tommy
Nelson, and his band of 20 voluntary assistant leaders kept
things going. The members used the Lisburn Technical College
sports hall once a month for football, volleyball and indoor
The first Inter Church camp in 1966. Railway
Street Church members in the photo are: Meta
Patterson, third from the left with Trevor (left)
and Hazel (right); Heather Henry’s head can just be
seen over Meta’s shoulder; Doreen Anderson is
directly behind Heather Henry; Carol McClelland (now
McBurney) is sixth from the right in the front row;
Smyth Patterson is directly behind Carol; Dorothy
Rea (now McClelland) is on the right of Smyth; Edith
McConnell is extreme right - front row, and Heather
McClelland (now Bittle) is in the back row second
from the left.
The last Inter Church camp in 1998. Railway
Street Church members in the photo are: Colin
Jamieson with his daughter Sarah-Jane is on the
extreme left. Second row: Alan Meban (2nd
from left) Andrew Coggins (3rd from
left). Standing: (first row) Claire Mitchell
(left). Standing: (second row) Laura Bittle (4th
from left), Stuart Bittle (behind Laura), Abigail
Gowdy, Roger Gowdy (white T-shirt) and
Allister Brown behind Roger. Ryan Wilson (back row
on the right). In the very back row: (centre of the
picture) is Aaron King who was a faithful and hard
working leader of the Y Club since it opened in
The success of the Y Club was due to the
committee, board of trustees and great voluntary leaders. The Y
Club broke down barriers between all sorts of young people, from
the unemployed to university students, all denominations and
Over the years, the Y Club treasurer Ted
Gould was responsible for obtaining education grants that helped
modernise and maintain the 120-year-old building. When
interviewed in 2004, Meta Patterson said of the Y Club, “The Y
Club met the needs of many young people for about 23 years, and
a lot of romances and marriages resulted from those years.
The Inter Church youth camps were the
highlight of the year for many young people. Annual Easter
camps held in Ballycastle Primary School for 4 nights were
packed out with 120 young people attending. The one-week summer
camps were held in different schools in Scotland. Special guest
speakers were very important and were chosen to communicate with
the young campers and many lives were changed.
The American Lunar 15 astronaut, Col. Al Worden,
pictured at the official opening of the Y Club on
6th April 1977.
The Avenue, a Coffee House and Business Venue,
located on the ground floor of the former Y Club
building, is a social economy business which is a
development of Stepping Stones NI, a charitable
organisation which unlocks the potential of people
with learning disabilities by providing progressive
preparation for the world of work. The Manager of
the Avenue is Carolyn Kerr. Carolyn is pictured with
lecturers from the Lisburn Institute of Further and
Higher Education who have dropped in for lunch at
‘The Avenue’. L to R: (seated) Karyn Eldon - Head of
Applied Science, Kathy Davison and Meg Courtney.
Harold took cine-films at each Inter Church
camp from 1966 to 1984, which have been transferred to a 1¼-hour
video giving a clear understanding of their enormous popularity.
The video, narrated by Harold and Meta’s son Trevor, shows camp
venues that include Donegal, Scotland, Ballycastle and Kilkeel.
S.N.Y.F. - 1976 to 1996
A Sunday Night
Youth Fellowship (S.N.Y.F) which was held in Railway Street
Church’s Minor Hall, ran for 20 successful years, from 1976 to
Led by leaders
from the Y Club, it was well attended each week. With a varied programme, which included lively music,
singing, drama and Bible teaching, it was an extremely popular
venue for the young people. On many evenings the members
visited Harold and Meta Patterson’s lovely home at 38 Limehill
Road, near Lisburn for tea, coffee, biscuits, Bible study,
praise and prayer.