Why we needed a new building

The present Christ Church building was built in the 1920's, originally as a hall for use by St. Stephen's Church.

The Scout Hut was built on the same site in the late 1940's.

This page describes some of the problems affecting these buildings, and explains why they need replacing.

Structural problems

The drawing on the right shows how the church building is laid out. The small rooms at each corner of the hall lack proper foundations and are tending to pull away. This has caused cracks to appear in a number of places and has also caused some distortion, highlighted by the fact that some doorframes are no longer square.

The flat roofs at the front and rear of the building have leaked on occasions, and although they have been patched up, there is considerable evidence of water damage affecting the upper brickwork where leaks have occurred.

The roof of the Scout Hut is even more inadequate, and water leakage has made the kitchen unsafe and resulted in further visible damage to the walls. In addition, there is no serviceable heating in the building, and only the use of portable gas heaters makes it bearable in cold weather.

Design limitations

The church building was never designed for its current principal use - as a Parish church. One limiting factor is the size of the hall. It can hold up to 150 in reasonable comfort, but the attendance at Sunday services and special occasions is often higher.

The shortage of rooms has been a problem for many years. There are several rooms attached to the main hall, but most of these have designated purposes (kitchen, toilets, stores etc) and are rather small. This gives us a real problem in accommodating all the children's groups that meet on a Sunday morning. Even at other times, it is not practical to hold two simultaneous events. These factors restrict the usefulness of the building for the church and for the wider community.

A particularly unfortunate feature of the design is severely limited wheelchair access. Due to the sloping ground on the site, the side rooms (including the toilets) are built on slightly different levels from the main hall, and can be accessed only by going up or down steps. The lack of disabled facilities has become a great embarrassment to us as a church that seeks to be welcoming and inclusive.

Finally, the unattractive appearance of the building is a hindrance to hosting important occasions such as weddings and funerals. It is possible to decorate the interior (and remarkable, if temporary, results have been achieved this way), but little can be done about the exterior of the building, which remains singularly lacking in architectural merit.

Couldn't we just repair the existing buildings?

This option was considered when the building project commenced, and it was swiftly dismissed when it became clear that the cost of underpinning, repairs and modifications to meet modern standards would be of the same order as going for a new building - and we would still be left with unattractive facilities.

Drawing of the old Christ Church building

Drawing of the Christ Church building made in the 1970's, showing its layout

Photo of a crack in the wall

One of the more severe cracks, with a monitor gauge fitted

Damaged plaster and brickwork

Damaged plaster and brickwork in the Scout Hut

A small person looks down at a big step

Narrow entrances and steps make wheelchair access to some parts of the hall impossible

78 years of service

For all their faults, the church building and the Scout Hut have been put to many uses over their decades of existence. There are more details of our story in a separate section of this website, but here we focus on the buildings.

The main hall has been used for almost every kind of communal event from keep fit to parties and tea dances. A particular asset is the stage, which has been used for numerous dramatic productions, including (in the last few years) two pantomimes. Even the basement under the stage has been used, when a former generation of young people adopted it as a meeting room (it's too damp for that now).

For nearly a decade after the Second World War the hall was used as an annexe to Selly Park School, and we are also told that the BBC used it for broadcasting for a few months during the War in the belief that the area would be relatively safe from bombing.

A particularly important use of the hall, and one to which the modern Christ Church owes its existence, is for children's activities - both the Sunday School and weekday games. It was mainly to meet the needs of the parents of these children that Sunday services started in 1977. Today, children's and young people's groups of various ages are still major users of the building.

The Scout Hut, too, has been a special place for generations of young people from the Selly Park and Stirchley areas. It was built almost entirely by the Scouts themselves, with direction and assistance from parents. The Scouts also built the wall which runs across the front of the site.

While everyone accepts the need for replacement, there is still widespread attachment, even affection, for these buildings which have played a major part of the lives of so many people. An aim of the building project is to preserve as many memories as possible of the present buildings and the people who have met in them. We see the new building as a way of continuing the story of Christ Church and its associated organisations.