The old church demolished and a new one built
Opened in 1867 as a traditional Victorian Gothic church, Christ Church was built to serve the growing and prosperous middle-class suburb of Sparkbrook.
By the end of the 20th century a small congregation struggled to maintain this large building.
Perhaps fortuitously the church was badly damaged by a freak tornado in 2005 and the decision was made to build an innovative new church centre which opened in 2012.
Christ Church website - www.christchurchsparkbrook.org.uk
Christ Church, at the corner of Grantham Road and Dolobran Road, was consecrated in 1867. It was built to serve an area of good middle-class housing, much of which survives.
This was a stone-faced building in the Gothic style consisting of chancel, nave, aisles and tower with spire. There was seating for over 800 worshippers.
The spire was removed in 1918, and part of the tower was also taken down after bomb damage during the Second World War. The east window was also damaged during the War and later replaced.
The church thrived during the 1960s with a large influx of new members of West Indian origin. However, by the 1980s numbers had dwindled and plans were made to adapt the Victorian building to more flexible use.
The church’s Memorial Hall had been compulsorily purchased by the City Council in the 1960s to make way for Sparkbrook Health Centre (This did not open until 2012!). As a result, the church had sufficient capital to re-order the building. By dividing the building in half, with seating for 400 at the east end 400, the west end was converted into a hall, meeting rooms, toilets and kitchen. This was completed in 1985. While this made reasonable use of the existing building, the Victorian church was not ideal for the use the small Christian community wanted.
In 2005 a tornado with winds of around 100 mph tore through a narrow strip of south-east Birmingham for a distance of about a kilometre. The church building was badly damaged and declared unsafe. The decision was later made that the church should be demolished and this was carried out in 2007.
The old site was sold and a community health centre built there, while plans were drawn up to build a multi-purpose church building on the corner diagonally opposite. The congregation continued to meet in a community house in Grantham Road.
However, when the new building opened in December 2012, it was decided to cease the formal Sunday worship (the congregation dispersing to neighbouring churches) and to develop a "missional community" based in the new Christ Church centre. This group continues to pray and serve the local community, exploring contextual ways of reaching out to the people in Sparkbrook.
An article by Rev Simon Holloway tells the story of the church from 1984 to 2002 - http://www.churcharmy.org.uk/Publisher/File.aspx?ID=138636
Gallery - the new Christ Church
William Dargue 15.01.2018