Three hours before Sunday morning regulars mill in to clink glasses smoke and chatter, Mass is said there for some 300 local Catholics.
They are part of I,000-strong congregation that newcomer Fr. John C. Leighton has to serve now that he has taken over the newly-formed parish of Gidea Park with no money and no church.
The parish includes parts of Harold Hill housing estate, Romford. and neighbouring Upminster. Fr. Leighton faces a
debt of MOO price of a plot of land in Brentwood-road where he plans to build a temporary church.
Idea for the lounge-bar Mass came last month when Fr. Leighton took a second look at the large public housc on the corner of Squirrells Heath-lane next to his cottage in Brentwood-road.
Said publican. Irish-born Mr. Jim McMorrow: " Fr. Leighton turned up out of the blue one morning and asked if he could use the pub for Mass on Sunday mornings. I was only too happy and so were Ind Coope, the brewers."
The first Mass in the pub was celebrated last Sunday. In the congregation was Fr. Leighton's 71-year-old mother, Mrs. Essie Leighton, who had risen at 5 a.m. and travelled from Colchester. Several people outside could not get in.
Said Fr. Leighton afterwards: " When I saw the great crowd surging in through those doors I almost lost my nerve. It was a wonderful morning for me and for our parish."
From this Sunday there two Masses in place initial one. will be of the