The Avenue, Linthorpe, Middlesbrough
One of a number of churches by Thomas A. Crawford for the Diocese of Middlesbrough. It is a carefully-designed 1930s brick church which forms a prominent landmark on its corner site. A notable feature of the interior is the furnishings by Sir Frank Brangwyn.
The Marist fathers came to Linthorpe in 1904, purchasing Oakleigh House on the corner of Eastbourne Road and The Avenue (the home of the Alexian brothers). The intention was to establish a secondary school and a parish. At first a room in the existing house was remodelled and embellished to serve as a church but in 1905 a temporary tin church was built on the site of the present parish hall. The present church was begun in 1937 (foundation stone 20 October) and opened the following year; the builder was Mr McCreton who, like the architect, was an old boy of the school. It was consecrated on 30 October 1957. The tin church survived as a parish room until the present hall was built in 1974. In 1992 the Marists handed the building over to the diocese. Their former house is now occupied by the curial office (photo above).
The church is oriented east so directions are both geographic and liturgical.
The church is built of thin red bricks with heavily recessed pointing and laid with five courses of stretchers to one of headers. It consists of an aisled nave, southwest tower, long sanctuary, small southeast Lady chapel and a southeast vestry. The main roofs are pitched behind plain parapets and covered with clay pantiles: the other roofs are flat. The tower has a low pyramidal capping beneath which is a stone stage with three rectangular openings per side (below this it is of brick like the rest of the church). The nave a three-light rectangular window in each bay: the sanctuary has three round-arched lights on either side of its wide part and single lights on each side where it is stepped inwards. The east wall is blind. At the west end is a deeply recessed arch, panelled on the embrasures and embracing three round-arched windows above a square doorway.
All the internal walls are plastered. The nave has five bays, the west one of which is occupied by a narthex/gallery. The arches of the arcades are round and have a single step. The aisles are scarcely more than passages and have transverse round arches marking each bay. There is no structural division between the nave and the sanctuary. South of the sanctuary is a small Lady Chapel covered by a plastered hemispherical ceiling which is pierced by a pair of windows on the south side. The roofs of the body of the church are seven-sided and panelled. At the west end the screen with three depressed arches separating the nave from the narthex is composed of what appears to be bare, artificial stone. The lower parts of the walls are lined with good-quality timber panelling. The original glazing remains and consists of dimpled panes with attractive rectangular Art Deco-style blue frames around lozenge details and which are set in the middle of the clear glass. A notable feature of the interior is the fourteen Stations of the Cross, oil on canvas, by Sir Frank Brangwyn RA, commissioned in 1938 by Fr John William Jones SM. Brangwyn provided these paintings (based on his earlier series of lithograph Stations) as a gift, charging only for transport. In 1945 he also provided a painting of The Last Supper, mounted on the east wall. In 1990 a fire in the vicinity of the Lady Chapel destroyed the fourteenth (southeast) Station: this has been repainted, presumably from old photographs.
*Entry amended by AHP 18.03.2023*
Architect: Thomas A. Crawford
Original Date: 1937
Conservation Area: Yes
Listed Grade: Not Listed