Chelmsford Avenue, Grimsby, Lincolnshire DN34
A handsome brick church in the modern Romanesque style, serving a post-war housing estate. The broad west tower is a local landmark. This is one of a large number of churches built in the Diocese in the post-war years by Reynolds & Scott. The interior was radically and successfully reordered by Peter Langtry-Langton in the 1990s.
The church was built to serve a new housing estate, on land given by Sir Alec Black, a Grimsby ship owner who died in 1942. Development did not start until May 1955 (the foundation stone was laid by Bishop Ellis in November of that year), and the first service to be held was Midnight Mass at Christmas 1957. The church was solemnly blessed by Bishop Ellis on 12 June 1958 (figure 1). It was built to seat 380, from designs by Reynolds & Scott. Wilkinson & Houghton of Cleethorpes were the builders and the cost was about £17,000. The church was dedicated to the then newly- canonised Pope Pius X, and was the daughter church of St Peter’s Grimsby (demolished in 1969).
In 1993 the church was radically reordered by Peter Langtry-Langton of Bradford (builders Sullivans of Cleethorpes). This involved enclosing the chancel arch and reorientating the main space, with the altar placed on the south side of the nave. A new projecting baptistery was built on the north side of the nave at the same time.
The church consists of nave, circulation side aisles, apsidal chancel and side chapels, baptistery and sacristies. There is a western tower enclosing a narthex and choir gallery. The church is faced in local light-coloured brick laid in stretcher bond with artificial stone dressings and slate roofs, and is in the modern Romanesque style. The tower is broad and shallow, a bold westwerk. At its base is a large square entrance with splayed reveals; above this is a statue of St Pius. The belfry stage has small round-arched louvred openings, and behind the tower parapet is a hipped slate roof with a metal cross on the ridge. There are projecting single storey vestibules at the corners. The flank elevations are simply treated, with paired windows (single in the end bays) within recessed brick surrounds. There are single storey porch and baptistery additions on the north side (1993) and a boiler house and brick chimney on the south side. At the east end, the chancel is apsidal, with raised and banded brickwork between the high-level windows.
The internal narthex (which has an organ and choir gallery over) is enclosed and contains a fine polychrome statue of St Peter, brought from the demolished St Peter’s church. The narthex leads into the main space, now reorientated and remodelled, so that the sanctuary is on the south side of the nave, with a recess formed in the south wall for the tabernacle. Originally fully aisled, the central bays have been opened up to create a squarer worship space, with the seating arranged around the new sanctuary. A large (mainly for acoustic reasons) and brightly coloured canopy hangs over the sanctuary. Opposite this, on the north side, is the new (1993) baptistery, containing the wooden font from St Peter’s church. The old sanctuary arch has been enclosed with a Diocletian arch with three openings below, and with a large amount of glazing, to create a separate weekday chapel. There are a number of good modern furnishings here and in the rest of the church, but the artists have not been identified.
Architect: Reynolds & Scott; reordered by Peter Langtry-Langton
Original Date: 1957
Conservation Area: Yes
Listed Grade: Not Listed