Shard End was the largest municipal housing development of its kind after the Second World War and All Saints Church was built as an integral part of the shopping centre in 1955.
All Saints' Church Website
Click here for the church's own website - http://www.allsaintschurch-shardend.co.uk/.
The church's former website is (mostly) still online - http://allsaintschurch-shardend.webs.com/.
See also A Church Near You http://www.achurchnearyou.com/allsaintschurch-shardend/.
Acknowledgements - Some information here is adapted from these sites.
You might also be interested in A History of Birmingham Places & Placenames . . . from A to Y - http://billdargue.jimdo.com/placenames-gazetteer-a-to-y/places-s/shard-end/.
Press function key F5 to refresh the map.
Map above from the open postcode project using OS New Popular Edition Maps - http://www.npemap.org.uk/ - and reusable under the specified Creative Commons licence - http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc/2.5/legalcode.
This map was published in 1953 just as the Shard End estate was beginning construction. The church symbol is my addition - it had not yet been built and is not shown on the original map.
Before the Second World War Shard End was a rural area on the fringes of the city. The land was bought by Birmingham City Council in 1931 with plans to build houses for inner-city residents who were to be displaced by the extensive programme of slum clearances.
However, it was not until after World War 2 that this became the city's largest municipal development with nearly four thousand houses built eastwards from Hodge Hill Common between the Coleshill Road, Bradford Road, Chester Road and the River Cole.
A village centre was to be created around Shard End Crescent with shops, a library, a public house and a church and this still remains an important focus for the district.
However, church services began over a year before the church building was completed. The builders' canteen hut was used for Sunday morning worship, while the Castle Cinema at the corner of the Chester Road and Timberley Lane in Castle Bromwich was used for evening services. 176 children were baptised in the builders' canteen and the base for the first font, made out of a drainpipe filled with concrete, is still in use as a flower stand in the present church. The Easter services were held out-of-doors on the church building site.
This large brown-brick building with tall narrow windows and a massive square tower was designed by Birmingham architect, F J Osborne. A cloister under the tower connects the church and church hall; inside tall brick columns are patterned to give a twisted effect. A stone statue under a canopy over the main entrance by Birmingham sculptor, William Bloye is contemporary with the church and depicts Christ in a loose coat tied at the waist with a rope.
Construction of the All Saints' Church began in 1954 and the church was consecrated as a mission of Castle Bromwich by Bishop Wilson on All Saints' Day the following year.
The Queen visited the church to officially open it two days later, the first new Anglican church to be built after the Second World War.
All Saints' Church, Shard End was seen as a replacement for All Saints' in Cooksey Road, Small Heath which was destroyed by a German bomb during the War. With the population moving out of the inner-city, it was thought appropriate to move the church with them.
The patron of All Saints', Small Heath was Keble College, Oxford. The college had been founded in 1870, as a memorial to John Keble, a priest, author and poet who was a prime mover in the High Church movement in the second half of the 19th century. Keble College was instrumental in the foundation of the new All Saints' and remains the patron of the church.
In 1964 the youth club was given the challenge of raising £180 for a bell to hang in the tower. The money was raised in just over a year and the 4 cwt bell was cast by Taylor’s of Loughborough in 1966.
In 1969 vandals broke into the church and set fire to the Christmas crib causing considerable internal damage to the building.
In 1993 emergency work on the cupola and tower roof was needed as it was in danger of collapse due to twisting of the uprights. The cupola holds a 10 foot high cross and after the work was completed the church tower was 3 feet lower than when it was built.
The shopping centre and library have now been rebuilt and the design is focussed around the church in a more satisfactory way than the previous arrangement.
See photographs of Shard End Church by Chris Davies/ megara_rp on Flickr -
William Dargue 09.05.2017