Middlesbrough St Columbas

Name: St Columba's

Date of Temple Moore Work: 1900–1902

Work done: Design and building

Church Description

One of Moore's more important churches, built to serve the 28,000-strong working community of the Cannon Street area of Middlesbrough.

Like its namesake in Scarborough, St Columba's was built on a site that was less than ideal, but Moore enjoyed the challenge of an awkward site. By making clever use of the available space, he skillfully transformed the multi-angled plan to provide a wide nave.

A large urban church like this one represented a difficult brief. It had to be economical — the budget of £7,000 was tight — but at the same time called for something uplifting that would provide a focus for the large numbers of people living in the area. Moore's confident and serious response to these constraints produced a church of grandeur and dignity.

Opening times: St Columba's is open at some point each day (except wednesday) for a daily Mass. Please see w ww.columbawithjohn.org.uk for a weekly update of service times and events. If you are keen to get inside contact the vicar via the website as it may be possible to arrange a visit. The building is suitable for wheelchair access.


In recent years the residential population in the Cannon Street area has dwindled to 2,000. The scale of the problems facing large urban churches built for congregations who are simply no longer there is indicated by the grant of £163,000 the church received from English Heritage in 2006 to repair the roof. One creative response some churches have come up with is to open their doors to other denominations. The Greek Orthodox community now shares St Columba's — hence the many distinctive painted icons inside.

The Cannon Street area was once home to a close-knit working-class community, but its fortunes took a dive in the 1960's. There were riots in 1961, and in the mid 1960's the area was condemned by the local council as unfit for habitation. Demolition began in 1966 and the residents were resettled. By 1976 most of the area had been cleared, yet the resentment was deep and long-lasting. The area has since been turned over to an industrial estate and retail park. An extension to the A66 cuts through its northern end. St Columba's church now stands alone next to the westbound carriageway, near a branch of Sainsbury's, to mark where the community it served once lived.

Things to do nearby

Transporter Bridge

Ferry Road Middlesbrough TS2 1PL

01642 728162

Middlesbrough has suffered more than its fair share of post-industrial decline, and it isn't the obvious place to go sightseeing. Yet it has a certain ruined grandeur that some may find appealing. It was, after all, once one of Britain's industrial powerhouses, and its iron foundries were world-class. The Sydney Harbour Bridge was built here, as was the Tyne Bridge. Middlesbrough's own bridge is only slightly less iconic. The Transporter is a triumph of modernity. Drivers and pedestrians enter a gondola suspended beneath the main span of the bridge and are carried over the Tees from Middlesbrough to Port Clarence over the river, 160 feet in the air. The bridge turned 100 in 2011, but don't assume it's a relic: it's still in daily use.


Middlesbrough Institute of Modern Art Centre Square Middlesbroug TS1 2AZ

01642 726720


New York has MoMA, Middlesbrough has MIMA. A stunning contemporary building forming one side of a new public space, MIMA will surprise you if you haven't been to Middlesbrough for a few years. Like the Hepworth, BALTIC, Arnolfini and others it is a partner of Plus Tate. Programming at MIMA is coming into its own with interesting world class exhibitions, art from the collections, and lots of hands-on events and workshops.

Captain Cook Birthplace Museum

Stewart Park Marton Middlesbrough TS7 8AT

01642 311211


One of three museums in the North York Moors that stake a claim to Cook's legacy, but with slightly more justification, since the great explorer was born here, as you may have guessed from the name. Themed displays, temporary exhibitions, associated events and a lively education programme give you a flavour of Cook's world. If you're hooked on Cook, the other two museums are at Staithes, where he was apprenticed, and Great Ayton, where he went to school. Both are easy to reach from Middlesbrough.

Roseberry Topping


01723 870423


Many a budding mountaineer has cut his or her teeth climbing Roseberry Topping, known affectionately as the “Yorkshire Matterhorn” on account of its distinctive profile. This pint-size mini mountain (all 1,049 feet/320 m of it) can be seen from miles around, and the graffiti on the summit is a slightly depressing testament to its popularity. But don't let that put you off: the view is stupendous, the climb is fairly easygoing, the bluebell woods at the foot are gorgeous, and the countryside around about is sublime. National Park car park in Newton-under-Roseberry.


Handsome old Georgian coaching town, which escaped the industrialisation that transformed its Teesside neighbours. Plenty of little shops to wander round.


Near Redcar

Archetypal English seaside town, remarkably unspoilt. Peerless beach, although happily not pierless — and a proper pier it is, too, complete with amusement arcade.

Captain Cook Schoolroom Museum

Great Ayton TS9 6NB

01642 724296


Captain James Cook FRS, RN is everywhere in the North York Moors, but we can't begrudge Great Ayton a share of his legacy, since it was here that the young Cook had many of his formative experiences. The museum is housed in a former charity school founded in 1704 by a local landowner. Cook attended the school from 1736 to 1740. The schoolroom has been reconstructed to give a flavour of those times, and there are interactive displays about Cook's early life and education and his later achievements.


Near Kildale

Secretive dale, virtually landlocked by swelling seas of purple heather. Perfect for walkers who don't particularly want to see other walkers.

Esk Valley Railway

01947 601987

www.eskvalleyrailway.co.uk enquiries@eskvalleyrailway.co.uk

The railway runs from Middlesbrough to Whitby, right through the North York Moors, serving 15 stations along the route. These folk share our enthusiasm for getting out and about in the North York Moors and they have plenty of suggestions for cycling and walking in combination with the train. There are Temple Moore Trail buildings at four of the stops on the line, at Middlesbrough, Nunthorpe, Danby and Lealholm, you can take bikes free of charge and you don't need to book. If you're so minded, they also run the Music and Ale Train in the summer, which sounds fun.

Where to eat and drink

Chadwicks Inn

Maltby Middlesbrough TS8 0BG

01642 590300


Teesside isn't exactly overwhelmed with great places to eat, but this one pulls in the plaudits, having all manner of AA and Michelin gongs to its name. Have a look at the menu and you'll see why: it's adventurous, inventive, and genuinely good value for money.

Whinstone View

Great Ayton Middlesbrough TS9 6QG

01642 723285


We like the no-nonsense pricing policy here: the menu's all in nice round figures, and isn't afraid to call £4.99 a fiver. The food's of the same ilk: straightforward, well-cooked, well-presented and of an excellent quality.

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