Silver Link Road, Glascote Heath, Staffordshire B77
A large complex typical of its 1979 date that includes all the facilities a modern parish church needs, but with little architectural distinction.
The church is reverse orientated, with the altar at geographical west. For the purposes of this report, the altar will be presumed to be at the east.
Tamworth expanded in the 1960s as a Birmingham ‘new town’, though it didn’t have that official status. From a population of 25,000 in 1961 it reached 64,000 twenty years later. The hamlet of Glascote to the east was filled with housing (much over former mines) and the congregation of St John the Baptist Tamworth bought some land here in 1978 for a new church. The initiative was led by Rev. Pat Duffy of the Missionary Society of the Sacred Heart assisted by Rev. Jerry Daly. A church with integral social facilities and convent was opened in 1981. It was built by a builder-priest, Rev. Christopher Clonan (d.1998 in Australia) and it is not thought an architect was involved. The parish remains closely linked with St John’s and the joint parish priest now lives at Glascote.
Around 2000, Andrew Capper of Brownhill Hayward Brown reconfigured the ground floor to make a social club and function rooms on two floors, with a better entry, more WCs and reconciliation rooms on the ground floor. The northwest corner was taken off the church to create a day chapel and folding doors introduced to the west wall to link a meeting room space with the church for large congregations.
The original building is roughly cross shaped, built of red brindle bricks with concrete tile roofs and brown wood and metal windows. The church forms the geographical western arm, the original narthex formed the south arm, a small convent to the north was linked to the church by the sacristy and office and the large two storey social block covered the centre and east arm. A two storey house was built more recently to the east of the social block for the deacon and his wife. The original convent with three gables to the north is now the presbytery, as the former presbytery at St John’s Tamworth is used for parish purposes.
The church is rectangular with a dominant east-west roof bisected with subordinate gabled north/south units. To the west is the virtually flat roof of the taller social area and on the north, the presbytery has three gables. The north church gable overlooking the large roundabout contains ‘Sacred Heart Catholic Church’ in large white letters, which is the only clear indication that this is a church. The east gable contains two thin windows above a low tiled chamfered extension (the sanctuary) with a window in each chamfered wall. A similar low tiled extension below the north and south gables covers three triangular units that have windows facing east (a distant derivation of the side walls of Coventry Cathedral).
The church is now reached from the large south side car park through a double door and narthex area that also leads to the social spaces. The angled southwest door stands next to a small diagonally-set day chapel in the original entrance area. The external north and south gables are not expressed internally, as timber clad beams run across the top of the glazed triangular units under the wall beam of the east-west steeply pitched roof. This is divided into five bays by timber clad steels with diagonal tongue and groove for the ceilings between, from which hang small light fittings. Vertical tongue and groove timber covers the west gable over the folding doors. The low walls are of exposed brick, except the painted and plastered sanctuary east wall; timber is the dominant internal material.
The sanctuary platform is up two steps and projects into the seating area, with the small reconstructed stone font at church floor level to the north. The east wall is formed of two polygonal recesses with windows only to their outer side walls. A crucifix hangs on the central intersection; the tabernacle is on a shelf to the right. Above the sanctuary are two windows containing coloured leaded glass; Christ of the Sacred Heart to the left and St John Baptist baptising Christ to the right. The statue of Our Lady stands in the southeast corner, an Easter Garden to the northeast. The furnishings and open dark wood benches are contemporary.
Architect: None known to be involved
Original Date: 1981
Conservation Area: No
Listed Grade: Not Listed