Mill Road, Shelfield, Walsall, West Midlands WS4
A modestly-sized steel-framed and brick building of the 1930s, originally planned to serve as a hall for a church which was never built.
A Mass centre was established in 1890 from St Patrick, Walsall, by Canon Hymers, the first Mass being said on 15 February 1891 in the clubroom at the Four Crosses Inn nearby. This arrangement continued for a while thanks to the landlord, Peter Aspinall, who was a generous contributor to the mission. He gave the site in Mill Road on which the school-chapel opened on 14 April 1893 (chancel and infants’ classroom added 1909). It was designed by S. Luxon of Walsall and Cannock (and survives as the parish hall). A presbytery was added in 1894 and served also as a school-house.
In 1913 additional land was secured for a future church. In 1924 the Franciscan Friars Minor took over the parish (they withdrew in the 1970s). They changed the dedication from St Peter & St Paul to St Francis of Assisi and in 1930 started to raise funds for a new church. The present building, opened in 1932, was intended to become the parish hall for a grander church, never built. The church was designed by W. C. Mangan (a prolific Catholic architect who did not otherwise build in the Archdiocese of Birmingham) and built by J. R. Deacon of Lichfield and Walsall. The overall cost, including fittings, was £2,600.
The church was built as a hall and is of plain design, steel framed with local brick facings under a red pantiled roof. It is 80ft long and 26ft wide. There are no aisles but on the south is a small Lady Chapel. On the north side are the sacristies. The windows are tall, narrow and round-headed. The sanctuary east and north walls are blind. The interior is plain and has plastered, painted walls under a shallow segmental ceiling. The wooden altar in the side chapel is Victorian, brought from St Patrick’s in Walsall; the frontal is of painted glass panels. The high altar reredos marks a fitting termination to the church, plainly detailed and with the Crucifixion in the centre.
Architect: W. C. Mangan
Original Date: 1932
Conservation Area: No
Listed Grade: Not Listed