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St Thomas the Apostle



The area around St Thomas has changed considerably. Gone are the famous railway arches and football stadium, enter the M32 motorway, Tesco, IKEA and many other retail shopping outlets. This view from Tesco's car park is one of the few vantage points left to legally take pictures of the way the church dominates the tiny terraced back-to-back housing that surrounds the church on three sides. (The best view would be from the motorway but hey! I am NOT that stupid!). Here can be seen the double bellcote over the chancel arch , and the massing of the deep transepts and chancel.

The architect was H.C.M.Hirst, and the church was built in two stages. The chancel, transepts and eastern part of the nave were built in 1889, the rest of the nave and aisles were completed in 1903. The planned north-west tower and spire were not built and the modified west front (below) has two porches flanking the west end of the nave. Another porch is tagged on to the south transept.The church remained in use by the Church of England until 1976, the parish having been joined to St Anne, Greenbank in 1974.

The church was sold to a pentecostal congregation, and is now The New Testament church of God. The interior had already been subdivided in 1967 into halls on two floors in the west of the nave and aisles, leaving only the transepts and chancel area (what was built originally!) as worship space.

The interior was of some merit, and was a little "rogueish". The arcades had slim round piers on big high bases, circular capitals and arches with banding of red and cream stone. The responds rest on big luxuriant capitals carrying two slim shafts. The chancel arch details began halfway up the height of the nave! And the plate tracery of the east window is great fun too, with a heavy Y-shaped divide and cusped wheels, and I have never seen a single transom so close to the foot of the window as here!

This Y-division was also applied to the side walls of the chancel as this early photograph shows. To the north was an organ chamber and to the south a chapel.

These three photos were sent to me by Hugh Alexander and show the subdivided interior as it was in 2005. At the time there were plans for further interior alterations, which Hugh hoped would be more in sympathy with the original architecture than the partitions and suspended ceilings which he found.

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page updated 29th June 2009