All Saints history
The building of All Saints Church in the nineteenth century is a fascinating and delightfully moving story. It was consecrated on the 2nd October in 1887 and is a fine example of Gothic Revival architecture standing majestically in the centre of Gosforth, a few miles north of Newcastle upon Tyne.
The church commands a prime position on a beautiful, tree-lined site, adjacent to church buildings and a spacious church green, originally purchased for a vicarage, which never materialised. The inside of the church is no less impressive with some excellent Victorian wood carving, an outstanding organ and a large number of beautiful stained glass windows, depicting the saints throughout the ages. The well-
portioned tower of the Church houses ten bells and it is surmounted by a battlement and flagstaff. For over 100 years the tower has dominated the sky line for miles around and all the ten bells are still in use, summoning the faithful to worship.
Building All Saints
For several centuries, Christian worship had taken place in Gosforth on the site of the Parish Church of St. Nicholas, in South Gosforth. Various historians have indicated that the Parish Church in Gosforth was built on the remains of a Saxon Church and is the earliest church in the district.
In 1882, the Revd. Frederick Wood Bindley, the new vicar of the parish church began major restoration on St. Nicholas', and these prompted questions about the size of the parish church. In the nineteenth century the population of the original parish increased from just over a thousand to an estimated six thousand, with the development of farming, mining and trading communities to the west of the Great North Road. The Revd. Bindley formed a committee to discuss the advisability of building a new church, and Mr. William Cochrane was appointed as honorary secretary of this new committee. It was decided that a new church would be built to accommodate the increase in parishioners. The original committee became the buildings committee and there is no doubt that, without Mr. Cochrane, the church would never have been completed in all its present glory.
Mr. William Cochrane was the second oldest of 13 children. He came from a family of engineers who moved from Scotland to the Midlands to make suspension bridges at the time of the Industrial Revolution. Some of the family then moved north when iron ore was discovered in the Cleveland Hills. William Cochrane married Eliza Blowcollis in 1859 and they had five children who all played a part in the history of All Saints. It is believed that a red camellia and a white camellia were planted in their garden at Oakfield house on their tenth wedding anniversary. Only a pink tree grew and was carefully preserved as the oldest camellia in this country. It attracted a great deal of interest from organisations like Kew Gardens. The Cochrane’s home is now Westfield School and the school emblem is a pink camellia.
Mr. Cochrane was a brilliant mining engineer and his first task on the committee was to find a site for the new church, which was purchased on 5th October 1883 for £362.5s.0d. His profession was invaluable and he was able to investigate the stability of the coal seam 88 fathoms beneath the church. Mr. Cochrane was a brilliant, shrewd, and efficient business man and it was his driving force and foresight that kept the momentum going through constant setbacks.
Funds were raised to build the Church by launching an appeal, but funds were very slow to come in, and stones which came from the quarry in Kenton were hard to obtain as the owners felt that the large stones interfered with their legitimate trade in grindstones. Mrs. Cochrane was a great support to her husband and is reported to have driven round the parish each month in her landau collecting a penny a month from the men at the Regent Pit.
Building work at the church commenced on 28th February 1885, and the cornerstone was laid on 17th June 1886 by Mrs. Laycock. Mr. Cochrane paid tribute to the very great interest the late Mr. Joseph Laycock, as early as 1872, took in the restoration of the old parish church, and how desirous he was that something should be done for the improvement of the church accommodation in the district.
The church was designed by the Diocesan Architect, Mr. Robert J. Johnson, and the press claimed
that the people of Gosforth could now boast that they possessed “one of the finest modern churches in the north of England”. The Church was consecrated as All Saints on 2nd October 1887, when a large procession marched to the chancel chanting the 24th Psalm. The Bishop preached on the text “ye are the temple of God” (1 Corinthians 3:16) and said he “added this material temple to the consecrated Churches of the Diocese”.
In later years, All Saints became the mother church of four more churches in Gosforth.
All Saints Today
In spite of the most impressive church building, the strength of All Saints church lies in the true church, or the people of the church.
If you would like more information about the history of the church, there is a book available (Pennies from Heaven, by Dr. Patricia Hilton) for £9.99, containing over 200 illustrations. It can be obtained by contacting the Parish Office on (0191) 2130450.