Introduction

In the biography of the life of Charles Thompson entitled "On his Master's Service," written by Mr B Essington Fay in 1904, shortly after Mr Thompson's death, he said that "his life had left his impress on the social life in Birkenhead, and his name will there be held in veneration for many a long day." How right he was, for the name of Charles Thompson, over 100 years after his death is still a well known one today and in a poll conducted by the Wirral News Group in 2003 of the thirty greatest Wirralians of all time he was voted the third most popular person by their readers. This was not far behind William Hesketh Lever and John Laird, and well ahead of such famous names as Wilfred Owen, Dixie Dean, Fred Perry, Harold Wilson, Patricia Routledge, Glenda Jackson and Ian Botham. The building that he purchased in 1892 in Hemingford Street is still there today, situated in the heart of Birkenhead, and although it may look a little drab on the outside, there is still a very active work going on there today, which meets the needs of many people in Birkenhead and the Wirral.

It is so inspiring to read in this materialistic and selfish age of one who the author described as being thoroughly imbibed with the spirit of self-sacrifice, who devoted his life to the widow and the orphan, the friendless and the outcast, and the criminal and the despised, to whom he was a true and genuine friend. Even in his own day, which surprisingly the author described as being "an age of commercialism in which worldliness and self-seeking were paramount" his sacrificial life to help others very much stood out as a beacon of light to all those around him.

The impact of the life of Charles Thompson and his Mission was far reaching, both in Birkenhead and the Wirral and beyond, and at the time of his death, representatives of every phase of religious and political thought spoke feelingly of the loss which Birkenhead had sustained by his passing. Even Queen Alexander, writing from Buckingham Palace on 8th March 1903 spoke of her "sadness at hearing of the death of a man like Mr Thompson who had done so much for the benefit of others." The turnout at his funeral, which will be mentioned later on, was a testimony to the great affection with which the people of the Wirral held Mr Thompson.

In this short biography I trust that the life of this great man will be an inspiration to all that read of it as much as it has been to myself.                       

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