Friday, September 28, 2012

St Michael`s, Newcastle upon Tyne

Yesterday I was fortunate enough to have the opportunity to visit St Michael`s church in Newcastle. The last time I was there was about ten years ago or so when I was asked by the then bishop, Ambrose Griffiths, to go along in response to a request from a film company making a Catherine Cookson film, who wanted an adviser for the filming of a convalidation as it would have been performed in 1903.

This is my favourite church in the diocese: I`ve not seen every church in the diocese but it would have to be good to beat St Michael`s. Bryan Little`s Catholic Churches since 1623 [in England and Wales], has this to say about St Michael`s: 

St Michael`s is far more pleasing than Pugin`s church which had become the Catholic cathedral in Newcastle; it was probably the best of many Dunn and Hansom churches in Roman Catholic Northumbria.

This church was built between 1889 and 1891 by Dunn and Hansom for a cost of almost £20,000. The Elswick area in which it is situated is near the famous Scotswood Road ( of `Blaydon Races` fame) and was where many who worked in the factories along the Tyne lived. I grew up in Elswick until the age of five and was baptised at St Michael`s.

As you can see this church has been spared the destruction that has afflicted many sanctuaries and is ideal for the Extraordinary Form. Fr Bellamy, the parish priest for the last forty years has just recently retired and the future of this grade 2 listed building is under discussion. Much work needs to be done and the cost will be in the hundreds of thousands of pounds which the present small congregation will never be able to raise. Let`s hope an imaginative solution is found which respects this wonderful building.

The sanctuary

Closer view
The Lady chapel

Sacred Heart chapel


The crossing

The nave

The font


1569 Rising said...

Thank goodness Fr Bellamy didn't join the sledgehammer brigade. The interior looks most impressive, and I hope the Diocese has a plan for it which does not involve demolition, or even conversion to a mosgue, temple etc.

It is good to know that the parish registers have now been deposited with Tyne & Wear Archives.

Rubricarius said...

A very pleasing interior. It has almost an eighteenth century style. Much better, IMHO, to the standard Victorian Gothic revival of the period.

Mike Forbester said...

Lovely photos! This was my dad's parish. He was born just a few hundred yards down the road (at 252 Westmorland Rd) and baptised here the same day as it was thought that he wouldn't survive the day. This was back in January 1929.

I can remember going to church here when visiting my grandparents at No. 252 - sadly no longer there now.

St. Michael's once had a legendary choir. Perhaps David O'N will be able to tell you more about it than I can!

Anonymous said...

Got quite a start when I saw the font I was baptised in! I am 75 now so it must have been around 1938. My mothers family worshipped here, the Lazzaris, and I know my grandfather was a member of the Choir. I lived in 57 Northbourne Street and have many happy memories of this area.
George Baxter

Great Salterns said...

I stumbled across this page whilst doing some family history research. My Grandparents were married at St Michael's in 1919 and their three children were Baptised there, my Aunty went on to marry there too. The family name was Moran and O'Brien and they lived in Bell Terrace. Can anyone tell me about the area at the time or even more would anyone recognise these surnames!!!

Michael Conroy said...

was in St Michaels parish unil i was 10 sang in St Michaels choir as a soprano. I remember the lazzaris and the forbesters also remember zaraggas and miss james the organist

Unknown said...

Nice to find this site. I was born at 258 Westmorland Road in 1955, attended St. Micheal's School was an alter boy for many years. I was taught by Pat Forbester and used to accompany her when she practiced playing the organ at St. Micheal's church. The Forbester's were great good friends of the family. Danny White was the choir leader for many years.

David O'Neill said...

Having just read this (July 2015) on Fr Brown's new blog 'Gateshead Revisited' perhaps I may add a few words about the 'legendary choir'. Noreen James was my godmother & organist for many years at St Michael's. I joined the choir aged 8 (1946) & stayed until the choir disbanded (finally about 1970). My first choirmaster was Joe Gribbin & was later replaced by Danny White. The choir had about 50+ men & boys in cassock (maroon) & cotta & sang from the chancel every Sunday at 11am Missa Cantata or Missa Solemnis (once each month). Canon Peter Corcoran was PP & had 3/4 curates including Fr Joe Rossi, Frs Raymond & Gerard Crumbley & Fr Walls (an Irishman).
The choir was superb singing 4-part Tozer Proper each week, a 4-part Mass, 4-part Asperges, 4-part motet & 4-part Domine Salvum (we still had a king) Fac. It was accepted that there were 3 really good choirs in the diocese; St Dominic's Newcastle, St Bede's Jarrow & St Michael's. Sad to say the cathedral choir was a poor 4th.
Anyone requiring more info may contact me at

Anonymous said...

Baptised here in 1947, attended Mass there until l moved aged 10. l attended St. Michaels school for 10yrs. infant, junior and seniors. l had an uncle and brother who sang in the choir and the Lazzari family where friends of ours and we stayed at their boarding house in Whitley Bay some summers. The priests at St. Michaels were great and my mam covered for their housekeeper when she took holidays.