St James Church, Benwell
The church was designed by John Dobson and built on land donated by John Buddle. Several coalmines in the neighbourhood led to a growing number of industries along the riverside, but at the time, Benwell was a largely rural area of farms, mansions and private estates with a resident population of about a thousand.
It is one of the few heritage buildings that has managed to survive the many waves of clearance and 'regeneration' that the local council has inflicted on the area.
1830 - plans launched
1831 - foundation stone laid
1832 - consecration of church and churchyard
1833 - first celebration of Holy Communion
1836 - first resident minister
1843 - separate parish of Benwell created with Rev W Maughan as first incumbent
1858 - churchyard extended
1864 - church extended with addition of chancel and south aisle, designed by Dobson
1879 - organ chamber and vestry added
1884/5 - new baptistry and tower with spire and clock, choir vestry added
1899/1900 - further extensions to churchyard
1903 - north aisle added
1910 - chapel added to north aisle
1980 - conversion of south aisle to church hall
The original Chapel of Ease, built in 1831-2 and designed by John Dobson. Stained glass windows include some by William Wailes, and a stone carving by Eric Gill can also be seen.
Added to the original building in 1864 by creating an arch out of an outside wall. The east wall features a set of three stained glass windows by William Wailes. The alter was made in 1932 for the church's centenary service, by the firm established by Ralph Hedley, who was responsible for much of the woodcarving in the church.
Added in 1879.
BAPTISTRY AND TOWER
The Baptistry was created in 1894, along with a spire with a clock and spiral staircase being added to the tower. The church bells were made by Charles Carr of Smethwick; the tenor bell weighs 15cwt (1680 lbs, 762 kg).