Building of St John’s started in 1848 and it opened for worship in December that
year. It is a traditional building of the time in a Norman style.
Prior to that, Birtley and it’s surrounding communities had been part of the Parish
of Chester-le-Street but had grown and developed to a size where a seperate parish
A vestry and an organ were added over 1849 and it was finally consecrated by the
Lord Bishop of Durham on August 9th 1849.
(Click on pictures for larger views)
In 1880 the building was further extended to include 2 transepts and 2 vestries with
a new entrance porch at the west end.
A new organ (the present one) was installed in 1899 to mark the Church’s 50th jubilee.
A basic but adequate instrument with 2 manuals
(keyboards) and a set of 32 pedal notes.
It still uses the original mechanical linkage system
from the manuals to their pipes and an air operated
system to link the pedal notes.
In 1911 a new clock with peal of bells was added to celebrate the coronation of King
Bells prior to installationThe belfry today.
Apart from the addition of a Lady Chapel in the North Transept, the Church remained
much as built until the mid 1960’s. Here a new sanctuary and altar was installed
in the nave, in keeping with moves at the time to involve people more fully in the
acts of worship and, apart from small alterations to layout, is much how St John’s
is, and works, today.
Prior to 1960’s alteration New
Nave Altar 1960’s Nave today
Over the 1990’s the building was re-roofed and other repairs and alterations - mainly
to make the west end vestries and tower area more usable - were done to bring us
into the 21st century.
We are currently nearing the end of a project to restore St John’s stained glass.