St Johns Church is one of the buildings explored in the second of the Streatham Societys heritage trails, which covers Greyhound Lane. in this weeks heritage feature, local historian John W Brown explores the history of one of this long forgotten church.

Standing next to the former Streatham Vale library in Eardley Road is a large brick building erected in 1893 by Immanuel Church to serve the spiritual needs of the residents of west Streatham.

It was dedicated as St Johns Church, to commemorate St Johns College, Cambridge, which was attended by the first vicar of Immanuel the Rev Stenton Eardley after whom the road in which the church stands was named.

In the mid to late 1890s, St Johns became famous for its annual hospital Sunday egg services. At these gatherings, parishioners would bring gifts of eggs for presentation to local hospitals.

The scheme was the idea of the vicar of St Johns, the Rev Samuel Johnston.

His parishioners were mainly poor, working class families many of whom could not afford to give money to charity.

However, most kept chickens in their small back yards and the Rev Johnston believed the donation of an egg would be well within their means.

Little did he realise how his simple idea would blossom and capture the imagination of the neighbourhood. Over the six years in which the services were conducted, a total of 16,708 eggs were donated.

The first service was held in 1894, when 220 eggs were given. Gifts more than doubled the following year, when 452 eggs were received.

The 1896 service saw the number more than treble as 1,618 eggs were carefully presented.

The service continued to flourish and in 1899 a record breaking 5,768 eggs were donated, with only 20 being broken during their packing for delivery to local hospitals.

People travelled miles to make their gifts and many sent money so that eggs could be bought locally on their behalf.

These included the Duchess of York, who sent a sovereign to the vicar asking that fresh laid eggs be purchased for presentation at the service on her behalf.

When the Rev Johnston left the parish in 1899 the egg services ceased and with the creation of the Holy Redeemer Parish in Streatham Vale, St Johns stopped being used as a church in 1928.

It was subsequently con-verted for commercial use and is now occupied by the Kite and Balloon Company, which sells a wide range of balloons.

The company also holds the world record for the largest balloon release, having set free 1.59 million at Longleat on August 27, 1994, for the European launch of Disneys Aladdin video.