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About the Bloomsbury Project

Bloomsbury Institutions


Open Air Mission

Also known as Open-Air Mission


It was founded in 1853 by John MacGregor, philanthropist and pioneer of canoeing, to preach the Christian religion in the street

C. H. Spurgeon was one of its speakers

Its Secretary was the philanthropist Sir John Kirk from 1873 to 1879, and it was also one of the many philanthropic and Christian organisations supported by Lord Shaftesbury (Oxford Dictionary of National Biography)

It is now a registered charity which continues to preach the Christian gospel in public places around the country

In 2002 the Mission decided to relocate its headquarters; the move from 19 John Street to new headquarters in Luton took place in 2004 (audited accounts for the Charity Commission, 2004)

What was reforming about it?

It was intended to to reach those who did not attend any church

Where in Bloomsbury

It was based at 19 John Street from 1853 until 2002, when it moved out of London completely

Website of current institution

www.oamission.com (opens in new window)

Books about it

There is a short history by Alan Greenbank, “This is the Lord’s Doing!” available from the Society; for details, see the Mission’s website (opens in new window)

See also Andy Banton, ‘ “That excellent society!”: The Work of the Open-Air Mission, 1853–2003’, Evangelicals Now (June 2003), available online (opens in new window)

An annual report has been produced by the Mission every year since its foundation


None found

This page last modified 13 April, 2011 by Deborah Colville


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