Dartmouth Avenue, Walsall WS3
A traditionally-planned brick church of 1959-60, built to serve a housing estate. It has simple, elegant lines and its tall campanile is a local landmark.
In 1958 the Rev. James Curtin was appointed priest to a newly-formed parish for the Coalpool and Harden area. At first he used Edgar Stammers School or Coalpool Library for Sunday Mass but these temporary arrangements were superseded by the building of the present church on farmland in Dartmouth Avenue. Work began in October 1958, the foundation stone was laid on 1 July 1959 and the church was completed in 1960. It is now served from St Peter’s, Bloxwich (qv).
The church is in a stripped hybrid Byzantine-Romanesque style, brick built with attractively varied tones to the bricks, under a Roman tile roof. The building comprises the nave (with narthex under the west gallery), western porch under a semi-circular covering, northwest campanile, two transepts, semi-circular sanctuary, and a pair of sacristies and a small crypt (used for storage). The main windows are tall single lights; at the west end there is a circular window.
The interior has a great sense of spaciousness, with a wide nave and transepts. The walls are plastered and painted an off-white colour. The ceiling is of shallow segmental form and is painted red, possibly denoting the martyrdom of St Thomas of Canterbury. On the south side are projections from the nave behind rectangular openings for two chapels and the baptistery. There is a gallery at the west end with a fine modern Riga organ from Austria, said to be one of only four in the country. The reredos is a prominent piece, cheaply constructed of plywood but with a good presence at the eastern termination of the church. There are two stained glass windows of the Nativity and Last Supper in the sanctuary (maker not established).
Original Date: 1960
Conservation Area: Yes
Listed Grade: Not Listed