This year for the first time since the inauguration of the Trust’s annual award, two buildings demanded special attention from Trustees, both of them churches. One, Elvet Methodist Church, has undergone a remarkable internal renovation, with changes respecting the harmony and integrity of the original building. But what persuaded Trustees to give the award to St. John’s Church, Neville’s Cross, was the additional external element in the project.
The westward extension of the church is highly successful in terms of concept, massing, detailing and execution. As a consequence, from the outside one is not conscious that it is, in fact, an extension. The ‘natural! shape has continued westward and the original facing materials have been respected by the use of Bradstone, with reconstituted sandstone for the sills. A further challenge, a restricted site, has been overcome by a south bay, behind the new west end of the church. In this elevation has been grafted some of the original stone removed from the west end.
Inside the building the former chancel screen, now glazed, provides a natural divide between the main body and the new units. The latter consists of, on the ground floor, a welcoming entrance area and foyer, meeting room and kitchen and other facilities; on the upper floor is a meeting room, parish office and facilities. The building is thus now able to ‘open for business’ on a daily basis.
The architect behind the scheme was James W. Samson of South Shields. He acknowledged the forethought of the original architect (1896), who incorporated a west gable arch in anticipation of a possible later extension, and also the constructive partnership with his clients, headed by Mr. Colin Williams. The City Planning Office also had an input. The quality of the detailing is a tribute to the contractors, Palmer and Chicken of Chester Moor.
Building began in August 1993, was completed in February 1994 and officially opened by the new Bishop of Durham in October. Much of the £180,000 cost was shouldered by the congregation; generous grants were given by the Diocese, St. Margaret’s Estate Trust and the Priestman Trust.