The main house at Westbrook

Westbrook: Hope and resilience since 1948

3rd Dec 2020

Sir John Laing, the acclaimed philanthropist wartime builder and founder of Westbrook, once said, “works go well when they’re tendered properly”. It has always been the case that successful people ensure the quality and reality of their plans. Such it was with Nehemiah and the rebuilding of the walls of Jerusalem after their destruction – a solid practical plan, which incorporates worship and prayer, prospers by God’s blessing.

“O Lord, let your ear be attentive to the prayer of your servant who delight in revering your name. Give success to your servant today and grant him mercy in the sight of man!” Nehemiah 1:11

Westbrook, Urban Saints’ large residential centre near Seaview on the Isle of Wight, is a testament to that approach. Westbrook was founded in “the new normal” of 1948; the widespread damage and desolation of war, a swathe of fatherless children and a significant proportion of its landfall still given over to farming for the national food supply. Like Nehemiah, Sir John was no stranger to loss and change, however, his heart was set by the Lord upon securing and bolstering a place of protection and honour for a demographic that needed it profoundly. A place where the living God could be worshipped without fear, a place of security and sense, a place with its eye constantly turned to the Holy Temple that is Christ.

COVID-19 is changing the fabric of the nation, especially as it relates to youth work and the centres and sites that provide it. As we continue to venture into the unknown, Westbrook must move for a time at least, from the overnight residentials that it knows well into newavenues and schemes that will protect its interests and secure its future in providing great adventurous youthwork.

So much is unknown and uncertain in these strange days – however we build our walls on the bedrock of Christ, our sure foundation, from that high vantage point we see something of land that lies outside of the city limit and those that dwell in it. Like the exiled Jerusalemites of Nehemiah’s day, COVID-19 has taken much from the young people of this nation. When the dust settles you may be well assured that they will need well-founded, well organised spaces like Westbrook which constantly look to Jesus.

Jonathon Baynham
Westbrook Centre Manager

Westbrook is currently closed for residential youthwork in line with Government Guidelines. However, enquiries for future bookings are very welcome. Visit, phone them on 01983 811118 or email


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