Reginald Heber Radcliffe


       Heber Radcliffe ¹

Heber Radcliffe (named after Bishop Heber) was born to the Radcliffes in 1855 in Liverpool. Despite having a Christian upbringing it wasn’t until the Moody/Sankey crusades in 1875 that he was really converted and offered himself for Christian service. One of the people who influenced him during his early life was Hudson Taylor, who came to stay with his parents. It was like having an angel in his hour, he said, because his face literally radiated love. Such people like him and others who stayed in his house, had a great influence on Heber and made him long to be like them. He followed his father into the legal profession and whilst his parents were abroad in Europe and Russia he managed their financial affairs. In order to raise funds for their oversees missions he set about developing large empty pieces of land owned by them. He got builders to put up rows of working class homes, and roads all around sprang into being. Many of the roads were named after the places where his parents were ministering such as Moscow Drive, Russian Drive, and Kremlin Drive, all in Stoneycroft. Like his father he wasn’t a great preacher but as soon as the anointing came upon him, as his daughter testified, it was as though it wasn’t him speaking. The Holy Spirit took over, she said, love flowed from him, people were bowed in their seats and many of them got converted.

Heber and his wife chose a site in Bootle to build a hall for evangelistic meetings and they named it Sun Hall (also referred to as Sun Evangelistic Hall). In a short while the crowd became so great that a gallery, holding 500 more people was added and still the crowds increased, with 1000 children attending the Sunday School. They then decided to build another hall in addition to this in Kensington (another part of Liverpool), which would seat 5000 people and this was opened in 1905. A number of people had wanted this to be used for the second Torrey/Alexander Crusade, but he didn’t agree to this and the Tournament Hall was used instead. It was, however used for one of the Evan Roberts crusade meetings, with around 6000 people being present at that meeting. ²

In the first year of the new Sun Hall, over 300 families came to the Lord. They regularly had 2000 people attending the afternoon service, which his wife took and 5000 people in the evening meeting. A special hymnbook was produced for the meetings, which was entitled "Sun Hall Hymns" and contained around 800 hymns and choruses. After a while Heber found it too much for him to run both halls and he, therefore, entrusted the Bootle Hall to his sister, Miss Catherine Radcliffe. She was a gifted speaker, and had taken and helped in missions in Canada and the USA. However, she wasn’t a good organiser and she therefore asked another of the Radcliffe family, Gershon Radcliffe, then in his late 20’s, and an able speaker, to take responsibility for this.

Heber died at a young age in 1915, when only 60 years of age.

The content of this article has been drawn from a booklet by his daughter, Elizabeth Green, entitled "My father’s faith. The story of Heber Radcliffe," which was published in 1969.

¹ Permission is being sought to use this photograph.

² The hall was also regularly used for orchestral concerts, and political rallies. Amongst those who spoke there were Lloyd George, Campbell-Bannerman, and Winston Churchill.