The Post War Years

In 1948 the Rev. William Hassall accepted a post at St. Faith’s Parish Church, Merseyside and was succeeded at St. Stephen’s by the Rev. Percy Bourne.

The Lady Chapel.

During his time at the church many improvements took place starting with the Chancel Scheme, which raised £1,200 for the installation of light oak choir stalls and communion rails.
More stained glass windows were fitted and the improvement programme over the next few years included the following:
1949 The church interior was cleaned and redecorated.
1950 The addition of a wrought iron chancel screen.
1951 New carpets and curtains.
1952 14 stations of the cross installed.
1952 Land acquired for the building of a church hall.
1953 New communion rails fitted.
1954 A silver cross purchased for the high alter.
1955 2 clergy stalls fitted.
1957 Electric radiant heaters installed in the Lady Chapel.
1957 Installation of new choir stalls.

The east window from St. James’ Church fitted in the west wall.

Another of the beautiful windows.

1952 was a good year for fund raising. The church’s summer fete was held at Butler’s sports ground in Springfield Road.

The highlights included cycle racing, stalls, sideshows, and a display by St. Stephen’s youth club. Help was on hand from the brownies and girl guides and members of the public were admitted for 1 shilling.

The event raised a total of £272.16s.0d. towards the cost of building a church hall.

The Nave.

From the 1958 Wolverhampton Red Book.

In 1955 St. James’ Church closed and as a result the St. Barnabas part of St. James’ parish was added to St. Stephen’s parish to form the United Benefice of St. Stephen.

By 1956 the church was finding it difficult to meet the financial demands of the school, and so during that year the school managers were obliged to make an application for controlled status. The 1944 Education Act enabled church schools to choose between aided status, controlled status, or to become independent.

Looking towards the Lady Chapel.

Up until now St. Stephen’s school had been an aided school where the church was greatly involved in the running of the school and had a majority representation on the governing body.

The school governors employed the staff and were responsible for building extensions and external repairs, for which they received a percentage reimbursement from the local education authority. At the time plans were in hand for the building of an essential new school, at an estimated cost of £65,750, which was too great a financial undertaking for the church.

The application for controlled status would enable the new school to be built with state funding. The local education authority would become responsible for the school’s finance, and the church would have a minority representation on the governing body.

The Rev. Percy Bourne retired on 18th December, 1958 and was replaced by the Rev. Francis Vincent Seaborn who started his duties on 4th September, 1959. During the same month Mr. Charles Harrison became the church’s honorary treasurer.

On 12th February, 1961 a Christian stewardship scheme was introduced at the church and before the year ended, work at last began on the church hall, built by Bailey and Smith. By August 1962 the building had been completed and on 27th August it was officially opened as the Percy Bourne Memorial Hall. Around this time volunteers from the church began visiting people in the local community. This started in 1961 when visits were made to the residents of the newly built flats, and continued in 1962 as the Good Neighbours Scheme which involved regular visits to 72 old people in the vicinity. This led to the Wednesday Afternoon Club which met weekly in the church hall.

In 1964 the church’s organist and choirmaster Mr. William Stevens-Ingley and his wife Mary founded a new cub pack, and on 27th December, 1964 the Rev. Francis Vincent Seaborn conducted his last Sunday service at the church before his departure to Longton. He was replaced in July 1965 by the Rev. John B. B. Samuels.

The church celebrated its diamond jubilee in 1968, and during March 1970 the Rev. Samuels moved to Adbaston. His successor, the Rev. Roy G. Davies started his duties in July. By this time the new St. Stephen’s School on Long Ley had been completed. It opened its doors for the first time in September 1970.

During the late 1960s funds were in short supply and St. Barnabas’s mission church was in a bad state of repair. It only had a small congregation and so the decision was taken to close the mission church, the last service being held there on the 20th December, 1970. St. Barnabas’s was sold to the New Testament Church of God in 1971 for £8,750.

The alter.

Some of the internal fittings such as the alter and the credence table were given to the chapel at Brinsford Lodge, thanks to the efforts of the Rev. Geoffrey Wynne, chaplain of the Polytechnic.

Also in 1971 changes took place in the parish boundaries between St. Stephen’s and Heath Town, although the changes were not confirmed until 1973. As a result of the changes St. Stephen’s acquired the area between Nine Elms Lane and Prosser Street along the northern side of Cannock Road.

When the new St. Stephen’s School opened, the old church school in Grimston Street closed, but only remained so for about a year. In 1971 overcrowding at the new school led to its reopening as a school annexe, and the church’s first annual summer fete was held, and raised a total of £253.

A final view of the church.

During the 1970s a number of changes took place in the clergy. On 2nd July, 1972 the Rev. David Wood became assistant curate, but sadly he died in November 1975 and was succeeded by the Rev. Michael Slack. A memorial to David Wood in the form of the Lady Chapel alter frontal was designed by Laurence King. In June 1976 Michael Slack resigned to join the Roman Catholic Church.

In 1978 the cub pack began to hold meetings in the church hall and the former Woden Road Primary School became St. Stephen’s Day School.

The last vicar of St. Stephen’s retired in 1992 and the living was suspended. As a result the Rev. John Oakes, vicar of St. Martin’s Church became priest in charge at St. Stephen’s in March 1993.

St. Stephen’s Church now attracts worshippers from all over the City, including former members of other churches such as St. George’s Church, and Christ Church, both of which have closed. As a result its influence now extends well beyond the Springfield area. Hopefully it will have a long and successful future.

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