St Silas - Byker>
Development in progress - 2005
Development in progress - 2005

Sunday Services
Morning Prayer 8.30am
Parish Eucharist 9.30am

Mid Week Eucharist
Wednesday 9.30am

Re-ordered nave
Re-ordered nave
Re-Dedication Service
to take place
Wednesday May 4th 2005 7.30pm
by the Rt. Revd Martin Wharton
Bishop of Newcastle
History of Church

On Thursday November 26th 1885, in the afternoon Miss Maling laid the foundation stone and in one year the church was completed. Since that time the parish and church have seen a great many changes. We however stay true to the vision of Bishop Wilberforce, given in his sermon at the consecration of the building on Tuesday November 23rd 1886. “Whatever might happen to this population, whether it become poorer or remained as it was, this church should not be moved out into the midst of a wealthier population if the population in this district became poorer . . . .The old “Church of England” would remain witnessing to God in city parishes.” (taken from the booklet From Roman Wall to Byker Wall)

This is still our vision today and has been the driving force behind the major re-ordering project which has been undertaken in the last two years.

The demolition of much of the housing in the parish since the 1970’s has meant that the population numbers dropped dramatically and indeed the parish still has fewer than 5,000 people. The geographical changes had left the church rather isolated, cut off from the Shield’s Road shopping centre by derelict shops, and cut of from the Byker Estate by a dual carriageway and a metro line. Many people were unaware that there was a church there and many more believed it was closed. However a very committed congregation had remained faithful and were courageous enough to seek an opportunity to change when it presented itself.

Two major developments have enabled St Silas' to move into a new and exiting phase of ministry here in Byker.

Firstly the traditional Byker parishes of St Michael’s, St Martin’s St Silas’ and St Anthony’s have come together top form the heart of the Urban Ministry and Theology Project ( in Newcastle East Deanery. This has provided dynamic vision and support for all those parishes which were facing very troubled and uncertain futures.

Secondly through this work and the strong community connections of the congregation of St Silas a partnership has developed between the church and Byker Bridge Housing Association a homelessness charity working in and around the East End of Newcastle. This has enabled substantial funding to be put together for a major redevelopment of the whole church site, both the building and the land.

The land, which had formerly been a church garden, had become unmanageable and rather derelict and has been built on to provide 19 supported living flats for Byker Bridge H. A. This required the demolition of the old choir hall and small chapel which would have needed substantial work to bring the up to standard anyway. The monies released from this went towards creating modern 21st Century Community facilities inside the main body of the Church. There is now a catering kitchen, disabled access and toilets, an induction loop, a large community hall and a modern comfortable (and warm!) worship space. The North Aisle has been separated off to become the Head Office of Byker Bridge H. A.

A wide variety of community groups now use this space for leisure, training and meetings for example Age Concern run two Lunch and Leisure Clubs in the hall, Caporeia Dance group meet to dance regularly, Tyne Ventures Woodcraft Folk provide youth activities each week, a Fitness Training Consortium has run training sessions for local community workers, he 65 Club from Parson’s (formerly a major Newcastle Employer) now hold meetings and Tea Dances in the hall and many other groups will be holding meeting and events at St Silas in the new year.

We are very pleased to be maintaining and indeed growing the church’s presence here in the East End of Newcastle and to be supporting the vital work of Byker Bridge Housing Association in tackling issues of homelessness. In the changing context of the parish, few residents but more passers by, general re-development of the shopping area, and the very clear issues of the homeless in Newcastle a new direction for ministry is taking place. We are moving to greater flexibility in the use of the building and to look to working in partnership with the many people, and groups we now come into contact with. We seek to honour the past and build for the future.

Vicars of St Silas Byker
1886-1889 George R. Taylor
1889-1901 Joseph Duncan
1901-1913 Jesse Hickling Ison
1913-1919 Charles H. E. Freeman
1919-1924 William H. M Gilbert
1924-1930 John W. Bottomley
1930-1944 Edwin King
1945-1973 Richard Barraclough Rankin
1974-1977 Frederick Davison
1977-1983 John Wylam
1984-1995 Ian Geoffrey Falconer
1996-2001 Jonathon Henry Adams
2003-         Susan Ann Faulkner
Further Historical Information

1884 - 1886   Construction of church. 
Architect. Robert James Johnson (1832 - 1892). Partner of Thomas Hicks Austin.
(Johnson wrote a book entitled "Specimens of early French Architecture" publ. 1864.
He also designed the Vicarage and Sunday School at All Souls, Leeds)
1899   Alterations. West doors and east window inserted.
1930   Vestry added.
1970 - 1982   Repairs and further extensions.
1970   Fire destroyed the organ and north aisle.

The church was built of snecked sandstone with ashlar plinth, quoins and dressings; the roof was of plain tiles with stone gable copings. The interior comprises a nave and chancel with north aisle and a north-west baptistry. There are steps up to two centred arched double door in a moulded surround in north aisle westernmost bay; and a similar door and two light window to the vestry in east end of aisle. A similar west doors, inserted in 1899, is flank by large round-headed window with tracery; a blind arcade below has a continuous sill and drip string. There are two and four light square-headed windows in the aisle and baptistry with stone mullions and elliptical-headed lights. The east window was inserted in 1899 similar to west window. The battlemented octagonal belfry turret at north-west has a canted baptistry adjoining. The interior has painted plaster above a boarded dado; and an arch-braced collar truss roof. There is five bay arcade of tall octagonal piers and elliptical double-chamfered arches with hood moulds. The gothic-style reredos of Caen stone was a gift from vicar in 1899 with a painted panelled coved canopy above. The baptistery has an octagonal stone font on an arcaded base surrounded by wood rail and kneeler. The glass in east and baptistry windows is by Atkinson Bros. of Newcastle. In the south wall commemorating Elizabeth Harbottle, founder of the Harbottle Charity, is a stone low-relief panel with angels flanking an inscription.

From a photograph dated 1925
From a photograph dated 1925
Vintage photograph of font
Vintage photograph of font
Vintage photograph of organ, destroyed by fire in 1972
Vintage photograph of organ, destroyed by fire in 1972
Vintage photograph of organ, destroyed by fire in 1972
Vintage photograph of organ, destroyed by fire in 1972
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