Exterior view of Bloomsbury Central Baptist Church. Bloomsbury Central Baptist Church in Shaftesbury Avenue was built by a wealthy railway contractor in 1848, and designed by John Gibson. It was the first prominent non-conformist church in central London. Its predecessors had been placed more discreetly in back streets. Non-conformist or free churches, including the Methodists, Baptists and Congregationalists, were particularly active in the second half of the 19th century.