Shibdon Road, Blaydon-on-Tyne, Tyne and Wear NE21
A large and strikingly-sited early twentieth century Gothic Revival church by Charles Walker of Newcastle, with an elaborate interior with hammerbeam roof. The church and presbytery were built primarily through a generous legacy from Mrs Blanche Leadbitter of Ryton.
From 1831 Blaydon Catholics were served by the large Stella mission. The population grew after the arrival of the railway and with Irish immigration in the 1840s, but it was not until 1870 that Canon Wrennal built at Blaydon one of several schools in his large mission territory. From 1898 this also served as a church, and survives today as the parish hall/community centre.
The present church was built through the generosity of Mrs Blanche Leadbitter of Ryton, who left £6000 towards the building of a church and the maintaining of a priest at Blaydon. The interest from this legacy was spent on purchase of the site and the building of a new school in 1896. The Buildings of England and the list entry credit ‘Shibdon & Walker’ with the design, but contemporary accounts name only Charles Walker of Newcastle as architect. The foundation stone of the present church and presbytery was laid on 30 September 1903 by Bishop Preston, and the buildings were completed in 1905. Again, the architect was Charles Walker, with Frank Hepple of Dunn Street, Newcastle the contractor. The stone-built church was designed to accommodate 800 worshippers, and was 136 ft long and 54 ft 8 ins wide. The cost was about £9000.
The church was dedicated by Bishop Thorman on 1 May 1930, at which time it was rededicated and a new altar added.
The church is described in the list entry, below. This attributes the design to Shibdon & Walker, but no information has been found about a practice of that name, and contemporary accounts credit the design to Charles Walker. The nave does not have a plastered and panelled ceiling as described in the list entry, but an elaborate timber hammerbeam roof with boarding under the rafters, which must have been covered at the time of the listing. The nave windows have early twentieth century stained glass. The sanctuary with its elaborate Gothic reredos has been redecorated recently. Much of the original sanctuary furniture survives, and was made for the church by William Carroll, a pattern-maker at Swan Hunter’s shipyard in Wallsend (information in church).
R.C. parish church and attached presbytery. 1905 by Shibdon and Walker of Newcastle. Rock-faced undercroft to church of snecked sandstone with ashlar dressings; Welsh slate roof with roll-moulded gable copings. Church: aisled nave; short transepts giving access to canted-apsed side chapels of chancel. Perpendicular style. 6-bay nave has north entrance in second bay from west: 4-centred-arched door in square surround with triangular parapet. 2 small cusped windows to each aisle bay; tall cusped clerestory windows recessed under elliptical-headed arches. Round west window above two 3-light windows. 2-bay chancel has tall cusped windows under eaves dentil table; tall gabled buttresses flank large round east window above central gabled buttress. Cross finials to roof.
Interior: rear-arches to clerestory windows. High, pointed chancel arch. Wagon roof to crossing and chancel; plastered panelled nave ceiling. Gothic style altar and reredos. West organ loft.
Presbytery of 3 storeys, 3 bays by one, with 2-storey rear wing. Door in one-storey porch rear; symmetrical street front has 2 windows on ground, 3 on first and 4 on second floors. All windows sashes with upper glazing bars.
Architect: Charles Walker
Original Date: 1905
Conservation Area: Yes
Listed Grade: II