Malvern Gardens, Lobley Hill, Gateshead NE11
An early work by David Brown, in a fairly traditional style and with a conventional longitudinal plan. The interior is made striking by the wide arches which articulate the walls and by a bright modern colour scheme. The church has a certain landmark quality.
The parish was erected in 1949 and the present church built in 1960 to serve the growing post-war population of Lobley Hill, a suburb of Gateshead. The architect was David Brown of Newcastle, who was responsible for a number of designs in the diocese, this being an early example. It was built at about the time that Brown took over Robert Burke’s practice, and the design may in fact be Burke’s – it is very similar to his church of St Mary, Bishop Auckland (qv). The main contractors were Shield Brothers of Swalwell.
The church is in a simple round arched style which might loosely be called Romanesque. It was constructed using reinforced concrete frames with brick cladding and concrete detailing. The external walls are of red sand-faced brick laid in stretcher bond with cast stone dressings, while the roof is covered in interlocking clay tiles. The plan comprises a nave with a tall west porch, a northwest baptistery and a short lower sanctuary. Nave and sanctuary have pitched roofs, with flat verges to the nave. The west end wall has a round-headed entrance door with a round window over all contained within a round-headed frame. Over this is a statue of Our Lady. The north side has a small projecting baptistery with a segmental roof and a roundel in the end wall, then two wide bays marked by concrete columns with three small windows between concrete mullions. At upper ‘clerestory’ level are three triple windows with round heads. On the south side the arrangement is reversed, with two bays of triple windows on both levels and then a small Lady Chapel with a segmental roof and a triple window in its south end wall. The sanctuary has a single lancet window on each side.
The interior has plastered walls, with straw coloured sand-faced brick used for the round arches and piers, with cast stone caps and bases to the piers. The main frames are exposed into the ceiling which has a flat central section of insulation board. The side walls of the nave have three full-height semi-circular arches of brown brick which frame two tiers of triple clear-glazed windows, except in east bay on the south side where smaller twin arches open into the small Lady Chapel. A partition with folding doors the full width of the nave has been installed between the second and third bays from the west end, to allow the west part of the building to function separately as a hall. This was probably not the original arrangement. At the west end of the nave another semi-circular brick arch encloses the organ gallery and at the east end is a corresponding arch to the sanctuary. The sanctuary and the gallery both have plaster-finished barrel-vaulted ceilings and the sanctuary has a parquet floor. Against the east wall is a tall canopied reredos panel. Some of the furniture, like the nave benches, may be original, but the sanctuary fittings and the chairs in the hall part of the nave are clearly later introductions.
Architect: David Brown
Original Date: 1960
Conservation Area: No
Listed Grade: Not Listed