On Hope Street in Liverpool you can stand and look up at the statue of Hugh Stowell Brown, the subject of my biography: Hugh Stowell Brown, A Ready Man, which is being published by Instant Apostle. But who was Hugh?
Hugh Stowell Brown was born in Douglas on the Isle of Man in 1823, the son of a Church of England minister and the brother of T E Brown the national poet of the Isle of Man.
After working in England as an engineer he started to train to follow his father’s footsteps as an Anglican minister, but he knew in his heart he was more inclined to the beliefs of the Baptists. He gave up his training and his looked for another calling.
He was soon asked to speak as a visiting preacher at Myrtle Street Baptist Church in Liverpool, and afterwards called to be their minister at the age of 24, with little experience or training. For the next forty years he served the same church and his reputation soared as a preacher, lecturer, scholar and man of the people.
Over the years he served the poor of the town by working for better housing, against drunkeness and for the seafaring community. He started a Workman’s Bank – a savings bank for poorer people. He served his church as president of the Baptist Union and he was a friend and mentor to the ‘Prince of Preachers’ C H Spurgeon.
Brown was best known for his public lectures. On Sunday afternoons he would speak in a public hall about topics of general interest that appealed to “working people” – those who were often not seen in the “respectable” churches. Thousands came to hear him. When he died many thousands mourned his passing and attended his funeral.
The statue raised in his honour by public subscription was placed outside his church on the corner of Hope Street in Liverpool. When the church was demolished it was moved to Toxteth, then later removed and lost. After it was rediscovered in 2007 a campaign to restore it led to it being placed once more on Hope Street as a lasting memorial to the great man, a Liverpool hero.
My book about the man and his statue: Hugh Stowell Brown, A Ready Man, is being published by Instant Apostle and will be available in Autumn 2019.