Building » Wallsend – Our Lady and St Aidan

Wallsend – Our Lady and St Aidan

A functional design of the 1970s, dramatically transformed by Vincente Stienlet in 2011. The chief interest of the building lies in its internal volumes and design; the external appearance is unremarkable, and there are no internal furnishings of particular note.

The parish was formerly called St Aidan’s and by association with the ruined medieval church of the area was sometimes referred to as Holy Cross. Willington Quay, where the parish originated, was an industrial area beside the Tyne, where there were ballast hills, colliery wagonways, chemical works, firebrick works and lead works, as well as coal mines. By the mid nineteenth century there were also shipbuilding yards. A Catholic school was established there in 1857 in the Red Lion Inn. The Catholic population increased with the arrival of Irish immigrants from Kilkenny, and Sunday Mass was said in the Old Rose Inn. In 1865 Willington Mission was separated from that at North Shields. A school was built which also served as a chapel until a church was opened in 1907, designed by J. Flemming Davison of Newcastle and Willington Quay. That church was demolished in about 1977 (Centenary booklet). As old property was cleared in the last decades of the twentieth century, new housing estates were built, near the 1930s ‘Coast Road’ linking Newcastle with North Shields and Tynemouth. When the 1907 church became inadequate for the parish, this one was built in 1977 beside the new parish school in a large housing estate. The architect was David Brown of Newcastle. In 2011 the church was dramatically remodelled by Vincente Stienlet. 

The 1977 building has a high, blank wall of darkish bricks facing north to Coniston Road. This is the ritual east of the church and ritual orientation will be used in this description. At the centre of that wall a shallow projecting bay (housing the altar) has side and roof lights. In the ritual west wall the double doors to the church are recessed; a ramp leads to half of this entrance. At right is the patio window to the parish room. Set back above the 2011 red-tiled roof is a vertical strip of double-glazed aluminium windows (information for this and other 2011 work from Vincente Stienlet). Inside, the church was remodelled and given a curved suspended ceiling (figure 1), the walls lined with acoustic and plywood panels, and the Stations of the Cross set on ply wall panels. Uplighting at ritual west is from a curved-plan gallery. Pews face the altar in angled blocks; the sanctuary platform is extended and the altar set on two steps; the ceiling has an elliptical tunnel leading to the high light in the east wall and focuses on the figure of Christ above the tabernacle stand. The simple sanctuary furniture of 1977 has been retained. Sliding glass doors at the west end lead to the parish room.

Heritage Details

Architect: David Brown; Pascal J. Stienlet and Son

Original Date: 1977

Conservation Area: Yes

Listed Grade: Not Listed