Middlesbrough St Columba

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.

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.