St. Andrew’s, Runcorn 1964
The most striking feature of this church is the tall lantern above the centre of the church in the form of a four sided pyramid with the top slice off; three sides are green copper and the fourth (which is vertical) is partly glazed.

Twentyman was starting to think about how to bring light in from above, though there are still conventional windows in the side walls.

These walls curve gently the length of the building, and inside the ceiling rises and falls in a gentle arc from back to front. Even the porch narrows slightly along its length. It is said that Twentyman intended to replicate the shape of a fish as Andrew was a fisherman!

The layout of the interior of the church reflects liturgical changes happening at the time the church was built. Coming especially from the Roman Catholic Church, there was to be an emphasis on meeting around the altar, not just in front of it; so communicants kneel at the rail on three sides. There is a long porch with steps rising up to the font. This is still under the low roof of the porch so lit by a porthole in the ceiling which shines light down at an angle onto the font. In the body of the building the light from the lantern is thrown dramatically onto the main altar and also the smaller altar of the Lady Chapel behind the main altar; unusually for a Twentyman church the chapel here is completely open to the body of the church.

Interestingly at St Andrew’s there is a loudspeaker system to broadcast peals of bells to the outside world; it still functions but is rarely used. A similar system was installed at Darlaston.

St. Andrew’s, Whitmore Reans, Wolverhampton 1965

St Andrew’s is the last of the Twentyman churches and the furthest away from the traditional idea of what a church should look like.

The first impression is of something like a fortress: a central block with jutting-out shafts attached to its sides and rising above it, and an even bigger block on the end – all in unrelieved brick with strong vertical lines and deep shadows.

The roof can’t be seen and the only window visible is obscured by the adjoining hall. The hexagonal chapel is separated from the main building by a short passage, like Rubery. The rhythm of the church walls is repeated on a smaller scale in the walls of the linked hall. The brickwork is in a complicated Flemish bond except for the end wall of the chapel where the bricks are laid vertically, like Rubery.

The inside is as stark as the outside. The austere, roughly rendered walls rise up to the roof with its massive exposed ribs. If you stand facing the altar no windows are visible. The altar, like that at Runcorn, is placed more in the heart of the building, separated from the rest of the church only by light streaming down from a clerestory window tucked out of sight behind the main roof, and by a subtle change in roof construction. Behind the altar is a vast, white, undecorated wall with a large, plain wooden cross jutting out from it. The body of the church is dimly lit by light coming down the recessed shafts at the sides, and, behind you, through the dark blue glass of the glorious stained glass window designed by John Piper to represent the Sea of Galilee where Andrew was a fisherman. It is a splendid sight on a late summer evening when sunlight shines through the window and creates watery blue patterns on the white wall at the far end of the church, Just a few features recall earlier Twentyman churches: the wooden spire of the font cover (Rubery, Radford); the fine stone slabs of the altar base; and the door handles which match those of Rubery!

Redditch Crematorium, 1973

The crematorium in Redditch is similar in many ways to the one in Wolverhampton built 30 years earlier but lacks the architectural refinement of that one. There isn’t the carefully considered circulation route for mourners coming from the chapel here; nor any sculptures to add dignity.

Like Wolverhampton’s this crematorium takes advantage of an elevated, edge of town site. It comprises a range of low buildings with the chapel and the chimney rising above.

A curving drive sweeps up to a large canopy. The porch, as so often with Twentyman, is a showpiece for quality materials – slabs of contrasting stone on the facing wall and the floor with a flat roof of dark copper cedar above. The chapel recalls St Andrew’s, Wolverhampton, in several significant ways: the stone floor, the white rough rendered walls and the plain, hard edged pews. But here the congregation looks not at a vast blank wall but a magnificent view over the countryside through a window which almost completely fills the wall opposite you. A truly wonderful sight on a sunny day.

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