Byker - St Michael's Church

The church was built in 1862-63, to the designs of W L Moffat, to serve the burgeoning population as Newcastle expanded with the growth of local industry. Until this time Byker had been a small village, of which nothing now remains, though the church stands roughly on its location. The site was quarried for stone and there were also coal mine workings in and around the hill, which may be partly responsible for the subsidence problems which affected the now demolished church hall.

The church is considered unusual in having been conceived from the beginning on so large and grand a scale for a purely working class community. The original church consisted of nave, south aisle, chancel and vestry, with a tall tower over the entrance porch near the south-west corner. The church was expanded in 1936 by the addition of a gabled north aisle, elongation of the chancel, and the addition of organ chamber, vestry and choir. Material from the recently demolished St Peters Church, Oxford Street was used.

The church is dominated externally by the tall tower, which stands proud of the rest of the building over the main entrance porch. The broach spire is indeed visible from some distance, and can clearly be seen against the horizon on arrival into Newcastle by train. The tower is 25m (79 feet) in height, of which approximately half is the spire. This has one two-light traceried window with louvres in each broach face. Below this is the belfry stage with pointed triple-lancet windows with louvres. The middle stage has narrow pointed lancets. The lower stage has the main doorway, pointed with nook-shafts and three orders of chamfers. The tower has angle buttresses.

The nave and aisles of the church have separate gabled roofs, and buttresses with two weatherings, as has the chancel. The style of the architectural details is Decorated, with the exception of the 1936 additions which are Perpendicular, with small square headed windows in the vestry and side walls of the chancel extension. Several of the original windows from the north nave wall, and the chancel east window, were inserted into the walls of the 1936 extensions. There is a doorway directly opposite the south porch.

In 2011 half a million pounds was spent creating The Byker Community Garden, a community space for people to meet, learn and grow food. Use of this garden waned until the site was derelict. More on that further down this page.

In 2023 plans for Lighthouse Project were announced in which the church is to be transformed into a multi-million pound community hub. As of 2024, work has now begun and every entrance to the church yard has been boarded up limiting my chances of any photos while the work proceeds.

Grade 2 Listed. Source: Church Of England

23rd March 2024

St. Michael's Vicarage.

Around 100 yards to the east of the church, the vicarage is one of the old buildings which was retained in the Byker Redevelopment. Now Nos. 1-6 Old Vicarage Apartments.

Source: Sitelines

11th March 2024

8th March 2024

16th February 2024

23rd June 2023

Avondale Road Entrance.

Remnants of The Byker Garden project.

St Michael's Church.

20th September 2021

13th April 2021

2nd October 2018

8th February 2015

29th April 2013

The Byker Community Garden was created in 2011, it transformed the derelict church yard of St Michael's Church into a community space for people to meet, learn and grow with stunning views across the Tyne Valley, the city and its famous bridges.

The 6,600 sq m site is one of Community Spaces' Flagship projects, funded through a £450,000 CS grant and £30,000 each from Community Builders and Newcastle City Council.

The garden includes mature trees and shrubs, a gardening area with log cabin potting shed, an amphitheatre featuring a mosaic at the centre, a marble plinth identifying local features of interest, a sandstone timeline which records significant dates and events affecting Byker and a metal play feature winding through the trees.

Seating has been installed throughout the garden to give rest points and allow visitors to admire the spectacular views.

Gates at the pedestrian entrances have been designed by a local artist in conjunction with local children, forming an important artistic element of the scheme.

Time-lapse video of the creation of Byker Community Garden.

26th June 2011

Clearance for The Byker Garden project.

29th April 2008

6th July 2007

3rd March 2006

23rd June 2005

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See my other photos around Byker:

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