Designed by Stienlet & Maxwell and opened in 1931, St Joseph's Church is an impressive neo-Byzantine style building located in a prominent position at the junction of Armstrong and South Benwell Roads. While externally the building has remained much as it was when built, over the years a number of internal changes were made, including the introduction to the main church space of an impressive coloured glass screen by Leonard Evetts in the 1980s. The building remained in use by the Roman Catholic Church until its closure in February 2013.
On 22 November 2013, The Jesmond Trust completed the purchase of the building from the Roman Catholic Diocese of Hexham and Newcastle. The agreement was on condition that we invested in it the significant sum necessary to put the building to rights, and that we only used it for church purposes. The building was a remarkable gift of God, not for our sakes (we knew this would be costly in all kinds of ways) but for the sake of the spread of the gospel in the West of Newcastle and Tyneside.
Work began in January 2014 with the removal of asbestos. This was followed over the next few months by teams of volunteers who stripped out old carpets, removed fixtures and fittings and even demolished partition walls in the basement areas.
At the same time, designs were worked up and in August 2014 a detailed planning application was submitted to Newcastle City Council for approval. Full details including copies of all the plans can still be viewed on the Council's website here.
From September 2014 to September 2015 the building was comprehensively refurbished. Work included complete replacement of all mechanical and electrical services throughout (wiring, plumbing, heating, lighting, ventilation, fire and security systems). Many of the internal spaces were remodelled to provide new rooms and facilities, including church offices, meeting spaces and kitchens. To improve circulation and accessibility a new central stairway and lift were added between the main church level and lower ground floor and a new accessible entrance and car park were built on the south side of the building.
We thank God for his provision of a building that will serve the needs of a new and growing church at the heart of Benwell and the West End of Newcastle.