St Matthias, Farm Street
St Matthias', like nearby St Stephen's, was built to serve the rapidly developing urban area at the north-eastern limit of Birmingham in the middle years of the 19th century. The church was closed and demolished when that district was rebuilt after the Second World War.
Image courtesy of John Houghton - Aston Brook through Aston Manor - http://www.astonbrook-through-astonmanor.co.uk. Contact him for reuse of this image.
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Map above by Archibold Fullarton 1866 reproduced here courtesy of Mapseeker, use permitted for non-commercial purposes.
The shaded line represents the boundary between Birmingham and Aston, the former lying south of the boundary. St Matthias' Church was in the ancient parish of St Martin, Birmingham, just metres from the Aston boundary.
St Matthias' also appears on the 1890 Ordnanacve Survey map on British History Online - http://www.british-history.ac.uk/mapsheet.aspx?compid=55193&sheetid=10094&ox=875&oy=1109&zm=1&czm=1&x=277&y=138.
St Matthias’, on the corner of Farm Street and Wheeler Street, was built in 1855. Standing close to the boundary with Aston, there were fields beyond. However, even at that date the area south of the church was already densely built up with poor quality houses, the majority of them back-to-backs. Living conditions in the district declined steadily until after the Second World War when most of the area was designated as slums and demolished.
Designed by James Lyndon Pedley of Southampton, the architect of St Paul's, Balsall Heath, St Matthias’ was a brick building in Decorated gothic style, and comprised a chancel, nave, aisles, and north and south chapels. It had a small slender spire and bell turrett. Built to accommodate a congregation of over a thousand, the church was the last in Birmingham to receive a grant from the Church Commissioners of £380. The Commission as such ceased to exist in 1856.
As the urban area of Birmingham expanded outwards, the parish of St Martin’s was divided into ever smaller units. A parish had been assigned from St Martin’s to St George's, Hockley in 1830; in 1856 St Matthias’ was assigned a parish out of that of St George’s; and parts of St Matthias’ parish was were taken to create the parishes of St Saviour and St Edward 1874 and 1899.
After World War 2, a massive redevelopment programme was set in motion to demolish and rebuild the poor housing in the inner districts of Birmingham. Damaged by a German bomb during the war, St Matthias’ was closed in 1948 and the church demolishedin 1952. The parish was reunited with that of St George’s.
William Dargue 04.05.2012