Our Lady Help of Christians
A grant to help fund urgent repairs to the roof and to rainwater goods.
Gilbert Scott's Our Lady Help of Christians is a Grade II* church in the centre of Kitts Green, Birmingham. Built in 1966-7, it is described by Historic England's Elain Harwood as “...one of the few churches of the late 1960's to be built with the ambition and panache of the first half of the decade.”
Our Lady was built to designs by Richard Gilbert Scott who had inherited the commission from his late uncle Adrian Gilbert Scott. The church was built after the Second Vatican Council to meet the needs of the new liturgy – it is T-shaped on plan, and all members of the congregation within 50 feet of the altar. The church was listed Grade II in 1999 and upgraded to II* in March 2016. Gavin Stamp of the C20 Society described it in their '100 Buildings 100 Years' campaign as “one of the most successful modern Roman Catholic churches in England”. The church is little altered since its opening.
This year the church is beginning to mark its 50th Jubilee. This building is not only used for worship but as a focal point for the community. The church supports a range of age diverse community groups, with a high proportion of attendees coming from India and the Philippines. There is also a thriving youth group, and activities provided for many older local people who may otherwise be at risk of social isolation. Repairing the church and making it safe and watertight will enable its continued use by the wider community.
When Our Lady was built in 1966-7 it was created from the best materials available at the time; however, as the building was of such an innovative design some of the methods used had never been fully tested and its durability was perhaps a secondary consideration. The combination of glass and concrete have been stressed by external factors such as high rainfall and the building’s position directly under the flight path of Birmingham Airport – windows shake when aeroplanes fly over.