From the National Churches Trust

Sacred Heart Roman Catholic Church in Tunstall has received a funding boost in the shape of a £10,000 National Churches Trust Community Grant for its project to develop the crypt as a community hub.

The church is one of 54 churches and chapels in England, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland that are set to benefit from rescue funding of £310,060 from the National Churches Trust, the UK’s church support charity.

Huw Edwards, Broadcaster and Journalist and Vice-President of the National Churches Trust said:

“At the heart of communities in cities, towns and villages, churches are a treasure trove of architecture, history and faith.

“I’m delighted that Sacred Heart, Tunstall, will remain at the centre of the local community with the help of a £10,000 National Churches Trust Community Grant.

“This will help ensure the future of this historic church, full of amazing stained glass and woodcarving."

Sacred Heart is planning to redevelop its large crypt as a fully accessible community space with a kitchen and toilets. At the moment there is no space for community activities.

The large crypt area under the church will be developed as a self-contained, fully accessible community space with kitchen and toilets. It will provide affordable and accessible community space in Tunstall for community groups to hire.

The church has been working with the local community to gain their views on the services to be provided in the new space. An Open Day was held to engage everybody with the plans.

Sacred Heart is a major building in the Tunstall Park Conservation area and is at the heart of the regeneration of Tunstall town centre.

The Tunstall mission started from Cobridge in 1853 in a dual purpose school/chapel dedicated to St Mary. A new church was built in 1869 and remained in use until 1930 when the present church was opened by Archbishop Downey of Liverpool, who described the building as 'a miracle of beauty'.

The architect, JS Brocklesby also designed the nearby St Joseph's, Burslem. He was reportedly dismissed by the Parish Priest Fr PJ Ryan, who continued as clerk of works himself, using unemployed parishioners in the construction.

Much of the stained glass and woodcarving was created by young parishioners under the guidance of Gordon Forsyth, Director of the Burslem School of Art. The church was built on a raft foundation to avoid the danger of subsidence. The interior is Romanesque and includes items bought abroad by Fr Ryan. The body of the church consists of three bays, each covered by a dome.

Fr Christopher Miller, Parish Priest said: “We are extremely grateful for this generous grant from the National Churches Trust.

"The new crypt will be of great benefit to the Catholic community and for our outreach to the wider community in an area of above average social and economic deprivation. We will be engaging with groups supporting children and families, young people, vulnerable adults and older people in our community.

“The development of the new community hub is also an important factor in the future sustainability of the Sacred Heart church, which is such an iconic landmark at the heart of the Potteries.

"We are delighted to announce that, thanks to the grant support we have received, work on the new crypt will begin on 10 September.”