St Thomas More Church added to ‘at risk’ list

St Thomas More Church in Sheldon

St Thomas More Church in Sheldon

The Roman Catholic Church of St Thomas More in Sheldon is one of two historic churches that have been added to a list of heritage sites at risk in Birmingham.

St Thomas More has been joined by the Church of St George in Edgbaston, which dates back to 1836, on the Heritage At Risk Register published by Government heritage agency Historic England.

St Thomas More is suffering from “slow decay” but has a brighter future after securing a Heritage Lottery Fund Repair Grant.

The Church of St George was added to the list because some of its stonework “is in very poor condition” and “in need of urgent repairs”.

The pair join dozens of historic buildings in the West Midlands – including the Grade II*-listed Roundhouse in Birmingham – on the list.

However, it was better news for the brown bear pit at Dudley Zoo, which was built in the 1930s, as it was taken off the annual register.

St Thomas More on Horse Shoes Lane was given a Grade II listing by Historic England.

Built between 1968 and 1969 it was described as “a good example of a modern Roman Catholic church by Richard Gilbert Scott, of the nationally important architectural dynasty, displaying innovative and high quality design and architectural detailing”.

Historic England added: “It has an interesting plan and its fixtures, fittings and embellishments are of good quality both in terms of their design and materials, with the impressive stained glass windows by John Chrestien giving the building considerable artistic interest.“The building, including its internal fixtures, fittings and embellishments,

has survived remarkably intact.

“It is a good example of a post-war Roman Catholic church situated in an area which historically had a relatively large community of Irish immigrants, which grew in the 1950s and 60s, and where design and plan form express the liturgical developments in the Roman Catholic Church that took place after the Second Vatican Council held in 1962-5.”

In all, 14 buildings or structures have been removed from the 2014 West Midlands register and seven have been added.

Dr Sarah Lewis, Heritage at Risk principal for Historic England in the West Midlands, said: “This year’s register gives us the most complete sense of the state of our region’s heritage yet. It shows that we are making progress, but also that the challenge is still significant.

“We are committed to working with local authorities, civic societies and everyone who is passionate about and values our heritage across England. The very things that help make our region so special, are the things most at risk.“If they’re lost, then a sense of what makes the West Midlands special is lost too. Together we can safeguard our most precious places and buildings for future generations.”