Building » Middlesbrough – St Joseph

Middlesbrough – St Joseph

Park Road South, Grove Hill, Middlesbrough TS4

An Italian Romanesque church built in 1933-4 from designs by Bishop Thomas Shine which is a landmark on the Marton Road. 

In the 1920s the suburbs of Middlesbrough were expanding southwards and there was a need to provide for Catholics in the Acklam area. A temporary tin church was erected in 1925 along with a school (architect Thomas Rodgers of Darlington) in 1927. On 18 February 1933 The Tablet reported: ‘His lordship the Bishop has designed the plan for a new church, which it is hope to begin building shortly. The growth of the Catholic population in this part of Middlesbrough has been rapid and extensive; and looking ahead, his lordship is arranging for a church to sit about six hundred worshippers instead of the two hundred and fifty accommodated in the present building. A feature of the new St Joseph’s will be a tower rising to a height of ninety feet, flanked on the other side of the western front by a shorter tower terminating about the level of the gable. The main entrance, facing Marton Road, will be under a portico upheld by stone columns. Generally, the building will be in the Norman style, and its cost is estimated at £7,000’. The builder was Frank Spink of Bridlington, who also built St Francis of Assisi, Acklam. The church was opened by Bishop Shine on 15 May 1934.


The church is oriented west so directions given here are liturgical.

The church, designed in Italian Romanesque style, consists of a tall, four-bay nave, north and south aisles, northwest campanile, a shorter southwest tower, south transeptal chapel, and an semicircular apsidal sanctuary. It is built of brown brick laid in English garden wall bond (three courses of stretchers to one of headers) with red brick dressings. It is roofed with modern grey imitation slates (replacing red tiles). The fenestration consists of a traceried oculus in the west façade, graded triple round-arched clerestory windows, single round-arched lights in the sanctuary and pairs of square-headed windows in the aisles. The campanile is of two stages and has pairs of large open belfry lights in its top stage. Between the two towers is a five-bay columned portico over which stands a large statue of St Joseph. Over the doorway into the campanile is a mosaic tympanum bearing the arms of Pius XI (Pontiff when the church was built).

Inside, the wide nave has four arches to the narrow, lean-to aisles. The piers are round, taper slightly upwards and have circular capitals with Byzantine-style foliage: the arch heads have three orders of brick very similar to those at St Francis of Assisi, Acklam. The aisles have an unusual treatment in the way the wall plaster is curved upwards without interruption on to the underside of the lean-to roofs: each bay is marked by shallow pilasters which are also curved upwards. The sanctuary arch is almost as wide as the nave and has a round-arched brick head.

The Lady Chapel lies in a transeptal projection on the south side and its walls and semi-circular ceiling are covered with mosaic. The walls of the sanctuary also have extensive mosaic work in the same style as that in the Lady Chapel: sadly the domed vault which appears to have had tesserae ornamentation of some kind has been painted over. Against the east wall of the sanctuary is a tall reredos with a mainly white marble canopy above a mosaic depiction of the Last Supper.

*Entry amended by AHP 11.3.2023*

Heritage Details

Architect: Bishop Thomas Shine

Original Date: 1933

Conservation Area: No

Listed Grade: Not Listed