Saltley

St Saviour

Built on rising land above the Rea Valley, St Saviour’s Church is a prominent local landmark. It is one of only a handful of Birmingham’s Victorian churches to be built in Perpendicular style.   

St Saviour's Church website

Information posted by the church can be found on A Church Near You - http://www.achurchnearyou.com/saltley-st-saviour/.


You might also be interested in A History of Birmingham Places & Placenames . . . from A to Y - Saltley - http://billdargue.jimdo.com/placenames-gazetteer-a-to-y/places-s/saltley/.

 

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Archibold Fullarton's 1866 map of Birmingham reproduced here from the Mapseeker website - reuse permitted for non-commercial purposes.
Archibold Fullarton's 1866 map of Birmingham reproduced here from the Mapseeker website - reuse permitted for non-commercial purposes.

When St Saviour’s Church was built in 1850, Saltley was still largely a rural area. However, in 1842 the Birmingham & Derby Junction Railway had arrived via the Rea Valley and passing through Lower Saltley going under Saltley High Street which was raised on a viaduct. And in 1844 Joseph Wright built his Saltley Carriage Works alongside the new line and north of the High Street and was soon prospering with the great expansion of railways in this country and abroad.

 

By the 1860s another works was producing rolling stock between the London & North Western Line and Arden Road, and the Midland Works was built on Washwood Heath west of Common Lane. Wright’s works became the Metropolitan Carriage & Wagon Co in 1862 with some 1200 workers making engine components and rolling stock.

 

At the time most of the employees travelled to work from Birmingham and nearby Nechells, but the imminent development of housing in Saltley was inevitable.

Postcard showing the west window franked 3rd July 1917 courtesy of Olwyn Powell, posted on Old Birmingham Pictures - http://oldbirminghampictures.lefora.com
Postcard showing the west window franked 3rd July 1917 courtesy of Olwyn Powell, posted on Old Birmingham Pictures - http://oldbirminghampictures.lefora.com

Charles Bowyer Adderley 1814-1905 was lord of the manor of Saltley. (He also owned considerable estates, was MP for North Staffordshire from 1841 and a Conservative Government minister from 1858.) It was during his tenure that Saltley changed from a sparsely-peopled rural manor to a small densely-built industrial suburb. And Adderley was the archetypal paternal lord of the manor.

 

Robert Rawlinson's report on the condition of Birmingham in 1848 suggested that public parks be provided. So Adderley decided to donate a park to the town, and gave eight acres of his own land to be laid out. (Saltley was not actually part of Birmingham until 1891, so the park was beyond the town boundary.) Birmingham Borough Council ignored his offer for over a year, and so in 1855 Adderley decided to lay out the park himself and manage it privately.

 

Ten years later, when it was clear that the open countryside was being pushed rapidly farther and farther away from the crowded courts and alleys of central Birmingham, the Council agreed to lease Adderley Park for 999 years at a rent of five shillings per annum, if asked for. Adderley then built a public library and museum beside the entrance and gave an additional acre of land to the park. 

Postcard franked March 1917 courtesy of Olwyn Powell, posted on Old Birmingham Pictures - http://oldbirminghampictures.lefora.com
Postcard franked March 1917 courtesy of Olwyn Powell, posted on Old Birmingham Pictures - http://oldbirminghampictures.lefora.com

In the meantime Adderley had obtained enparishment, taken out of that of Aston, for a church at Saltley even before the church had been built. In 1850, with £500 from Joseph Wright, a grant of £300 from the Church Commissioners and the rest of the £6000 funded by himself, St Saviour’s was built.

 

Two years later Adderley also opened the Worcester (Lichfield & Hereford) Diocesan Training College (later Saltley College, later St Peter’s College Saltley) for 30 Anglican student teachers built in the style of an Oxford college on a piece of his own land at Over Saltley (The building still stands.)

 

He also had built a Reformatory for boys on the Fordrough, which was later called the Norton Boys' Home (C B Adderley was made Lord Norton in 1878).

 

Saltley was soon being laid out in long straight streets with terraced houses for artisans and by 1880 the district was pretty well built up.

 

This distinctive red-brick church with stone dressings was designed in Perpendicular style by R C Hussey, a former partner of the early and influential gothicist, Thomas Rickman. It was built with an apsidal chancel and side aisles and was furnished with seating for 810 people, 560 of the sittings being free.

 

It was to be another 20 years before the prominent tower was built, paid for by C B Adderley in 1871. In 1904 a set of eight tubular bells was installed, almost certainly cast by Harrington, Latham & Co of Coventry and donated by Lord Norton. They are sounded from a chiming apparatus on the first floor. The installation was overhauled in 1976. The church also has a 2½ cwt bell cast by Barwell of Birmingham in 1911 which was brought in 1979 from the redundant St Basil's Church in Deritend.

 

At some time, perhaps also in 1871, north and south transepts were built and the chancel extended as a traditional rectangular gothic style.

 

By the end of the 19th century Saltley was a crowded working-class district with a very active church as indicated by the large number of mission and daughter churches founded from it: St John's mission room in Couchman Road later consecrated as St Mary & St John, Shaw Hill; Washwood Heath Chapel, later consecrated as St Mark's, Washwood Heath; St Luke's mission, Cherrywood Lane; St Francis' mission, Arden Rd; St Matthew's mission, Garrison Street; and the Carpenter of Nazareth mission, Adderley Road. Saltley College chapel (formerly Saltley Hall chapel) and Moat House Convent chapel on Alum Rock Road were also subject to St Saviour’s.

 

C B Adderley's son, Father James Adderley was the vicar of Saltley from 1908. Giving up his wealthy lifestyle in the way of St Francis, he deliberately chose to work among the working-class and poor of Saltley. While completely opposed to the tendency to Rome, he  looked to combine the best in Catholicism with the best in Evangelical Religion. He was active in active in the Christian Socialist movement and became  the first member of the Labour Party to become canon of an English Cathedral. Some of the church's High-Church furnishing date from his time. 

 

Now a Grade II Listed building, the churchyard railings are a rare survival of the wartime drive to collect iron to make into armaments. Long closed for new burials, the graveyard has been given the status of a nature conservation area in this heavily built-up district.

 

Click to enlarge the images below.

Weblinks

Acknowledgements Some of the information here is from John Morris Jones' 1977 Aston Manors - http://www.bgfl.org/index.cfm?s=1&m=298&p=173,view_resource&id=10205

 

See also David Fisher's photographs of the church interior - http://brummages.blogspot.co.uk/search/label/ST%20SAVIOURS and the churchyard on his Brummages blog - http://brummages.blogspot.com/.

 

There are some exterior and interior phographs by b8 blogger on Alum Rock Life website - http://alumrocklife.blogspot.co.uk/2011_09_01_archive.html.

 

See Aidan MacRae Thompson's photographs on Flickr, mainly of the stained glass - http://www.flickr.com/search/?w=24141292@N02&q=saltley.

 

This is a Grade II listed building whose record can be found on the

 

Historic England website - https://historicengland.org.uk/listing/the-list/list-entry/1076176.

 

William Dargue 30.03.2012