Balmain Road, North Kenton, Newcastle upon Tyne NE3
A large church of 1960 by David Brown, serving an area of post-war housing. Typically of its architect, it has a large internal volume, with the reinforced concrete frame a dominant feature, while the exterior is clad in traditional materials. The church was extensively and imaginatively reordered in the 1990s by Pascal J. Stienlet & Son.
A school and mission chapel was built at Coxlodge in 1861, dedicated to St Charles. The parish was erected in 1939, whereupon the school-chapel was rededicated to St Cuthbert. The decision to build a new church in Kenton was driven by post-war housing expansion in the area. The church and presbytery were built in 1960, schools having been built in 1956 and 1959. The architect was David Brown of Newcastle and the contractor Thomas Curry & Son of Newcastle. The church was opened by Bishop Cunningham on 3 February 1960. The Coxlodge building was demolished in 1976 to make way for a new church, St James’s, which was itself demolished in 1993.
A major reordering of St Cuthbert’s in 1995 by Pascal J. Stienlet & Son saw the original entrance blocked and replaced with a window, creation of a parish room at the west end and the addition of a narthex connecting the church, hall and presbytery, with a diagonal entrance porch. New furnishings were by Gilbert Ward (font, altar, lectern) and Ralph Pattisson (sanctuary window).
The church is in Brown’s familiar manner of the early-mid 1960s, in what might be called a modern reinterpretation of Gothic, with a reinforced concrete frame, externally clad with golden brown bricks, laid in stretcher bond (except for the apse, which is in Flemish bond), with stone dressings. The visible roofs are covered in copper sheeting. It is a tall building with varied massing, the long elevations projecting and receding. Originally there was a western apse, with the ritual east end at the west; this was reversed in 1995, and this description uses the present ritual orientation. The original east entrance has small two-light windows flanking a round-headed doorway, now a window, in a concrete surround with low pointed head. Above, a bracket supports a canopied statue of St Cuthbert in a niche; high above that are three small round-arched windows under a low-pitched pointed coping. The flanking narrow projections have lower small square towers in the angles. The windows are tall and narrow, with round heads, single, or in projecting bays, groups of three below a round light.
Inside, the reinforced concrete frame is heavily expressed; the tapered trusses turn through forty five degrees at the eaves, so forming the effect of ribbed vaulting. The liturgical furnishings are of 1995. The sanctuary has two curved steps, with the ambo placed to the side on the lower step. Below the altar, a semicircular step down leads to a screen blocking Pattisson’s dalle de verre window, which represents a view from Lindisfarne. At the west end is a massive tooled stone font.
Architect: David Brown; Pascal J. Stienlet & Son
Original Date: 1960
Conservation Area: No
Listed Grade: Not Listed