The Third and Final Church

The idea of building a larger, separate church had been around since the mid 1890s. In fact the piece of land that had been used for the school extension, had originally been sought for the building of a new church. The school now occupied most of the piece of land in between Hilton Street and Water Street, and so a new church would have to be built elsewhere.

St. Stephen's Church.

In 1906 an anonymous friend of St. Mary’s Church promised to donate £1,000 towards the cost of a new church at Springfield, estimated at £5,000, providing that £3,000 could be raised towards the building cost, and that building work could begin by the spring of 1907.

This was too good an offer to miss, and by May 1907 the Rev. W. Collett of St. Mary’s announced that he could raise around £700 through promises and subscriptions.

The Springfield congregation promised to raise 4,000 “self-denial shillings”, amounting to £200, and the Rev. Collett issued a printed appeal to the 4,500 inhabitants of Springfield, reading as follows:

St. Stephen’s Church Building Scheme is at last within measurable distance, about £700 being the amount now required to commence building. The congregation of St. Stephen’s has undertaken to raise in Springfield at least £200 towards the £700 required.

Remember the church will be the common property of every man, woman, and child in Springfield.

If ours is a comparatively poor locality, then ours also is the opportunity of laying the foundation of our church securely, in the spirit of self sacrifice for Christ’s sake.

We cordially invite you to join us and to give us as many shillings as you can afford.

The appeal was successful, and a suitable piece of land was acquired on the eastern side of Hilton Street, opposite the school. The ceremony for the cutting of the first sod took place on 8th September, 1907 when Mrs. Collett and master Chris Tunnadine assisted in the proceedings. The foundation stone was laid on 30th November by the Earl of Harrowby, and the anonymous donor remained true to his word. He donated £1,000 even though the project had already overrun by 6 months.

Work on the new church progressed rapidly. The building, designed by F. T. Beck and built by H. Willcock & Son had been completed by September 1908 at a cost of £5,200. The Clerk of Works was Mr. Drake. By the time of completion £4,400 had been raised towards the cost of the building, and many of the internal fittings and books were given as gifts, including the alter, the pulpit, the font, the communion rails, the alter candlesticks, and the service and prayer books.

Another view of the church.

The new building was described in the Express & Star as follows:

The building is of brick, and in the interior work for the pillars and other points, Alveley stone has been used. The nave is extremely imposing and the chancel large. In the baptistery, a handsome font, the basin of green stone, supported by alabaster pillars, compels attention. The church will seat upwards of 700 people. In the nave alone there is accommodation for 552.

The church was consecrated on Tuesday 22nd September, 1908 in the presence of the Bishop of Lichfield; Archdeacon Hodgson; the Rev. Collett; the Rector of Wolverhampton, the Rev. A. Penny; and church organist John Minshall. The streets were lined with flags and bunting and the large number of parishioners and visitors who attended the event also viewed a tree planting ceremony before the service, during which five lime trees were planted by the vicar, the 2 churchwardens, the Rev. Hugh H. Tunnadine, and Mr. Drake. The bishop planted several saplings during a second tree planting ceremony that took place after the service.

From the 1908 Wolverhampton Red Book.

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