Stockton Road, Hartlepool TS25
A 1950s church built on a site established as a Catholic mission half a century earlier. It is typical of the work of Crawford, with a pleasing, if conventional interior. The building is sited to contribute positively to the streetscene. The church retains some good quality oak joinery and nave seating but the sanctuary reordering has introduced fittings of indifferent quality.
St Cuthbert’s began as a daughter mission from St Joseph’s, when a school was built in 1914. West Hartlepool was a poor area and Mass was said in the school until funds could be raised for a hall, built in 1932 by Fr O’Sullivan. The presbytery was built in 1928, the year the parish was erected. Fr Dowd raised funds for the present church, seating around 400 and costing about £30,000, which was opened on Whit Sunday, 31 May 1955 by Bishop McCormack. The builders were Coultas & Shaw of Thornaby. The sanctuary was reordered after the Second Vatican Council, when oak fittings including panelling, the high altar, reredos and sanctuary rails were all removed.
The aisled, five-bay church is aligned with the sanctuary to the west; for this description liturgical orientation will be used with the sanctuary assumed to be to the east end.
The church is faced in red brick laid in stretcher bond, with a soldier course to the plinth. The roof is laid with graduated slate and has coped verges to gable ends, with cross finials. The style is a plain interpretation of Romanesque with tall arched windows and a gabled west front. On the west front, the central doorway is set within a concrete framed recess, with deeply recessed arched window above, containing a small statue of St Cuthbert. The sanctuary is expressed by a lower roof and apsidal projection to the blind east gable. The lean-to aisles have screen walls to the west, and flat-roofed chapels to the east, acting as ‘book ends’. Leaded windows have steel hoppers for ventilation and are protected with polycarbonate sheeting. Rainwater goods are now plastic, with modern boxed eaves.
The interior has four-bay nave arcades and sanctuary arch of plain semi-circular arches, formed from solid brick, plain plastered and painted white. Pairs of arched windows light the clerestory, with single arched windows to the south aisle. Walls are plastered above a red brick dado, with oak panelled doors to the confessionals along the north aisle. The ceiling has oak ribs to rectangular plaster panels. The sanctuary is side-lit with pairs of lancets, and single lancets within the apse which contains the tabernacle. Sanctuary liturgical fittings are late twentieth century brick and stone, but 1950s oak pews survive in the nave, designed in revival style. An octagonal stone font stands at the west end, below an oak-panelled gallery. The floor is carpeted. The pipe organ has a Gothic-style oak case and appears to be late nineteenth century, from another church.
Architect: Thomas Crawford LRIBA
Original Date: 1955
Conservation Area: Yes
Listed Grade: Not Listed