The New Church

A New Church for a New Millennium

The New Church

An old map shows that the 1923 church was built in the middle of three well fields, which presented drainage problems almost from the start. It was not unknown for a heavy downpour to cause water to flow into the church on one side and out through the sacristy on the other. To make matters worse, the subsoil is London clay, which provides notoriously poor foundations. The building itself was quite tall and its long South-West wall was built without the expansion joints on which more modern building regulations would have insisted.

All these factors combined to create a series of structural problems which made periodical repairs essential from 1951 onwards, when cracks first appeared in the walls. Further cracking was repaired in 1958, 1972, and again in 1983 when the church was re-decorated in preparation for the consecration of the High Altar by Cardinal Hume on December 8th.

In October 1990 an engineer's report concluded that both the church and the hall were in need of major structural work to make them safe, and in 1992 a further survey concluded that immediate works were essential for safety. In November of that year the people who attended a parish meeting about the state of the building voted 143 to 3 in favour of building a new church.

1993

In the spring a steel girdle was fixed to the gable wall of the church to make it safe, and the rebuilding project was submitted to the diocesan finance board. In the summer some essential repairs were made to the Social Centre, and liturgical and architectural briefs were prepared. In September designs from four architects were displayed in the Social Centre for viewing by the parish, the diocese, and the wider community, including representatives from the other churches in Mill Hill. 295 questionnaires were completed, and the design offered by the PRC Partnership emerged as the majority choice. In October approval to proceed was received from the diocese and from the Order of St. Vincent de Paul. The PRC Partnership were then invited to submit revised plans for a combined church and hall, taking into account comments from the parish. Public fund-raising for "A Church for 2000" then began with a target of £650,000. The pages that follow tell the story in pictures of the demolition of the old building and of the new church that emerged from the rubble...

Next: "Demolition" ...