Building » Birmingham (Castle Bromwich) – St Wilfrid

Birmingham (Castle Bromwich) – St Wilfrid

Shawsdale Road, Castle Bromwich, Birmingham B36

A large and impressive design of the mid-1960s, displaying popular motifs of church design of that time, and in particular echoing Coventry Cathedral in its traditional longitudinal form, staggered window arrangement, and use of large figurative sculpture applied to plain brickwork. The tall campanile is a local landmark.  

The parish was erected in 1959. Mass was celebrated in the newly-built school until the present church opened. This was a large building, seating 650, and designed by Louis Hayes of S. N. Cooke & Partners. The cost was approximately £70,000 (including fitting out).


The church is not orientated, but this description follows liturgical conventional, i.e. as if the altar were to the east.

A large church, built to a traditional longitudinal (but slightly tapering) plan. Brick, with reconstituted Portland stone dressings. The external composition is dominated by a tall semi-detached campanile, its upper belfry stage apparently rebuilt. At the west end the ‘frontispiece’ entrance consists of an enlarged western bay encompassing an internal narthex and gallery. The west elevation is dominated by a giant window, enveloping the entrance. The brickwork on the north side of this frontispiece is left plain, in order to accommodate a large sculptured relief in cement fondu, depicting St Wilfrid on horseback, designed and made by R. F. Kings. Staggered windows at the side are lit on the western side only, reminiscent of Spence at Coventry. The nave is also lit by tall clerestory windows. Above this, a shallow roof, clad probably (originally at least) in copper.

The interior has not been inspected, but is described in The Catholic Building Review (1965) as follows:

‘The church …follows the traditional form, with some modern features including a spacious sanctuary with tall windows concealed from the congregation but which light the wall behind the freestanding altar, specially designed in white and grey marbles. The two side chapels are open to the nave and sanctuary in the form of transepts and may be used to accommodate extra-large congregations. A special feature is the excellent stained glass designed by the architect, in close collaboration with Messrs John Hardman Studios of Birmingham. The glowing colours of these windows add greatly to the strong lines and lofty character of the interior with its ribbed ceiling of original and unusual design’.

The original sanctuary arrangements appear to survive, including the canopy over the altar. The Stations of the Cross were also designed by R. F. Kings.

Heritage Details

Architect: Louis Hayes of S. N. Cooke & Partners

Original Date: 1965

Conservation Area: No

Listed Grade: Not Listed