The church of St Thomas is unusual in that it has no parish, making it in official parlance an extra-parochial peculiar church. It was built as such in 1825-30 to the design of John Dobson, Newcastle’s most famous architect of the time, and the church is now listed Grade II*. The church stands in an open green space in Newcastle’s ‘Civic Quarter’ - which also contains the Civic Centre, The Great North Museum, The Royal Victoria Hospital and the Universities of Newcastle and Northumbria - and close to the northern limit of pedestrianized Northumberland Street, the City’s main retail parade.
The church was selected for specific regeneration support in order to progress their plans to find an extended use through engagement and consultation with wider stakeholders for the development of partnerships, a review of the options and feasibility of extended use and models of operation and governance to support extended use. A key development towards the end of the project was the designation of St Thomas’s as a Resource Church, and this is a major factor in the current situation of the church. Overall, as a result of the IF project regeneration support and the Resource Church development, the church group are now in a stronger position to develop their project, via the outputs achieved as outlined below:
- A Heritage Lottery Fund GPOW project has enabled the building to be made weathertight and key repair issues addressed
- Installation of toilets a major asset for the wider use of the building
- New display elements delivered, and demonstrate how the church could attract new audiences
- Governance and ownership arrangements clarified (partly linked to Resource Church)
- Engagement with Resource Church has transformed the future sustainability of the building, acted as a conduit to new investment, facilitated the preparation of a detailed Business Planning exercise for development, and given the church a new future as a key community asset in Newcastle City Centre
- New skills and confidence, now additionally supported by the Resource Church infrastructure