Building » Shildon – St Thomas the Apostle

Shildon – St Thomas the Apostle

Byerley Road, Shildon, Co. Durham DL4

An inter-war brick church, quite cheap and small in scale and with some simple, but imaginatively treated, architectural detail. The interior is particularly appealing and welcoming.

Before the building of this church, Mass was set in a ‘tin tabernacle’ higher up the road, built through the generosity of Mrs Harding of Barnard Castle and opened by Bishop Collins on 24 October 1906. The present church was built to meet the needs of the expanding Catholic population of Shildon in the 1930s, then a township based on coalmining and railways and a place of substantial immigration. The driving force behind the new church was Fr Bernard Bucknall. The church was opened on 3 April 1934. A hall was built to accompany the church but it was demolished c.2007 and a social space was created within the west end of the church. The land to the south and east was sold off and no longer belongs to the church.


The church is oriented west; directions given in this description are liturgical.

The church is built of thin red bricks and has a basilican plan consisting principally of a nave, narrow aisles, a short polygonal sanctuary, a southwest porch and a sacristy at the southeast corner. The west end, facing the road, is attractively articulated with a variety of angled walls (e.g. a three-sided projection in the centre) and varied roof lines. The windows are all round-headed and in the aisles are arranged in pairs. They have attractive tilework between the round heads and pointed superarches.

The porch now leads into a western narthex/meeting room with a toilet and kitchen. This was created about 2007, taking in the western bay of the nave. The wall between it and the nave was carefully detailed to harmonise with the 1930s building (e.g. pairs of round-headed windows). The nave now consists of three-and-a-half bays. It has brick piers to the arcades with round arches thrown between them. Over the nave is a low segmental-shaped ceiling which is cut away to respect the heads of the arcade arches. To the sanctuary there is a slightly pointed, plain arch. The walls have bare brick in the aisles, whilst the sanctuary is plastered and whitened.

There are no fixtures or fittings that require particular notice.

Heritage Details

Architect: Not established

Original Date: 1934

Conservation Area: No

Listed Grade: Not Listed