A SHORT HISTORY OF THE UNITED REFORMED CHURCH IN CENTRAL SUTTON COLDFIELD

BUILDINGS

The Foundation Stones of ‘Park Road Congregational Church’ were laid on 30 June 1879, by Alderman Manton and Mr George Parkes. The building, to hold 400, was completed in April 1880 when the opening service was held. The first building consisted of the nave as far as the transept with a dividing wall, in front of which was a centrally placed pulpit and a rostrum below it containing the Communion Table and Deacons’ chairs. Behind the wall was a small chancel and room for the Sunday School and general meetings.

The Church had a Spire (minute 32, Committee meeting 16 September 1878, “In the event of a Chapel being built at Sutton Coldfield a Spire would be indispensible”). The total cost of the building was £2,128-0-0 plus £300 for the land. In 1902 the dividing wall between the nave and the transept was removed, enlarging the Sanctuary and adding the chancel and vestries. The chancel was furnished with choir pews, the stone pulpit erected and a low stone retaining wall was built. The chancel floor was laid with mosaic tiles and the windows were designed by Miss Parsons, a Church member. In 1935 the oak panelling was added, donated by Alderman and Mrs Perry.

The Organ was purchased from Nicholson and Lord of Walsall in 1887 and was enlarged in 1904 when the organ chamber was built in the chancel. There have been two major rebuilds, in 1964 and 1987. The console was moved to its present position in 1970.

By 1902 a Ladies Parlour had been built at the front of the church, schoolrooms added in Station Street with a caretaker’s flat and in 1904 the Gas Lighting was replaced with Electricity. In 1911 a new porch was built at the front of the Church and the stonework replaced. The Gallery Window was added at this time. The Memorial Window was erected in 1920.

The Pews (still in use in 2010) were the original ones though they would have been dark stained and numbered. Members of the congregation paid a ‘rent’ for their seats and some had little boxes attached to the hymn book shelves (a source of curiosity to our children) which would hold their hymn books from week to week. Seat rents sometimes caused difficulties for the door keepers or stewards as there were not many free seats and if seat holders arrived late their seats may well have been taken by visitors. At the end of each pew there was an umbrella stand.

The spire was removed in 1960 as it was becoming unsafe.

In 1964 the Sanctuary underwent major refurbishment and redecoration. The pews were stripped and lightened and the seat numbers were removed and in 1987 the retaining wall to the chancel was taken down, the choir pews taken out and the Sanctuary completely redecorated and carpeted.

In 1972 the United Reformed Church was formed by the union of the Congregational Church and the Presbyterian Church in England Our name changed from Park Road Congregational Church to Sutton Coldfield URC. Two years later major alterations to the Town Centre took place, our schoolroom buildings behind the church in Station Street were demolished and the new Church Centre was opened 1974.

In 2010 our Sanctuary had a transformation with the pews and pulpit removed, the vestibule opened up and glass screens erected so that our buildings may be seen by everyone.


Last Updated: 03/06/2016