Lobster Road, Redcar
Built on the eve of the First World War, this is a late and relatively modest example of fully-developed Gothic Revival church architecture. The design has some architectural distinction, particularly internally. An unusual feature is the use of terracotta for most of the dressings.
In 1874 four furnaces were erected at Warrenby, attracting an influx of workers, many of them Irish and Catholic. To provide them with a place of worship Canon Riddell purchased a site in Thrush Road on the outskirts of Redcar for £500, and a dual-purpose brick school-chapel in lancet Gothic-style was built for £1,000. The building later became a Methodist chapel. In 1905 the presbytery was built, from designs by Brodrick, Lowther & Walker of Hull and Bridlington. It seems likely (on stylistic grounds) that they also designed the present church, which was built in 1913-14 (foundation stone laid 18 June 1913 [inscription] and opened 17 June 1914 [Devlin, 1974 parish history]).
In 1915 the Lady Chapel was enriched, as described in The Tablet (24 July 1915):
‘Former visitors and benefactors to Redcar will be interested to learn that, on the Feast of Our Lady of Mount Carmel, Mass was celebrated, for the first time, at the beautiful lady altar, presented to the Church of the Sacred Heart by a generous member of the congregation. Although the altar has been in position for some time, the full scheme of decoration has only recently been completed. The altar itself is of light carved oak, in Gothic style, enriched by seven panels, painted by a well-known church artist. The central panel depicts Our Lady of Perpetual Succour, the Patroness of the diocese, and, on either side are Stella Maris, the Immaculate Conception, Regina Sacratissimi Rosarii, Sancta Maria de Monte Carmelo, the Assumption, and Regina Sanctorum Omnium. The altar has been further furnished by the same lady with an exquisite antependium of Honiton point lace and a rich blue cover, beautifully embroidered by the Poor Clare Colettines of York, with the words, “Show Thyself a Mother.” The statue of Our Lady, endeared to the congregation by loving memories of graces received in the old school chapel, now also finds a place in the new lady chapel, and before it burns constantly a silver and blue lamp, given by two other friends of the parish, in memory of Mgr Benson, who had preached in Redcar as a non-Catholic, and who had promised, if possible, to preach in the new church’.
The article goes on to say that there was still a large debt on the church, and it was not consecrated until 4 June 1948. Reordering took place in 1970.
In front of the church is a crucifix memorial to the parish dead of the first world war.
The church is faced with buff, rock-faced sandstone and consists of a nave and sanctuary in one, aisles, a chapel either side of the sanctuary, all under grey slated roofs. Most of the dressings are of buff terracotta. The style is a free adaptation of Decorated Gothic. The sanctuary has a three-sided east end with a vesica-shaped window in each face, filled with cusped tracery. There are square-headed clerestory windows to the nave, the form of which is replicated in the aisles. The west façade to the street has a single-light bellcote on its apex, two lancet windows with a vesica above them, doorway with a niche either side.
The interior has arcades of four bays with pointed arches, foliage capitals and cruciform piers. As with the outside dressings the piers, capitals, arches and window dressings are made of buff terracotta. The chapels flanking the sanctuary are approached from the aisles through arches with large-scale pierced cusping. The roof is steeply pitched, has three tiers and is of the hammerbeam type: there are tall wall-posts. Unusually arched braces are thrown across between the ends of the hammerbeams forming a brace between them and the lowest purlin. The lean-to roofs of the aisles have arch braces: there is pierced tracery in the spandrels abutting the arcades. At the west end is a gallery with a divided organ, built by Jules Anneessens in 1923 (BIOS register).
The most prominent fitting is the mosaic on the east wall. This is in memory of John Gerard McClean, Bishop of Middlesbrough, and Mgr Michael O’Sullivan, provost, who both died in 1978. It depicts the Last Supper. The Lady Chapel (further described above) is embellished with a mosaic floor, revetted marble dado, and a rich reredos made of green and white marble and a tiled Byzantine-style depiction of the Virgin and Child. The north chapel also has a mosaic floor.
Amended by AHP 24.03.2023
Architect: Probably Brodrick, Lowther & Walker
Original Date: 1913
Conservation Area: No
Listed Grade: Not Listed