Modelled in the fashionable Arts & Crafts Gothic Revival style, the visually imposing, Grade II Listed building, which houses Saltburn Arts Theatre & Community Hall is one of the key buildings in Saltburn’s landscape.
Design and Construction
Saltburn Arts Theatre and Community Hall was designed as a Primitive Methodist Church and School in 1904 by prominent Scottish architect George Baines of 5 Clement’s Inn, The Strand, London, a prolific designer of churches in the Arts & Crafts & Art Nouveau style.
George Baines won the architectural competition on 31st August 1905 after being invited alongside 12 other architects to submit sketches for the church and school; ten plans were submitted, a shortlist of three were selected and the plans George Baines submitted below were selected:
Following Baines appointment a Mr. G. Porteus signed a contract with contractors to realise Baines’ vision on 6th November 1908 at a cost of £4,263-10s-5d or £244,511.72 in today’s money.
Land was purchased by public subscription in 1905 on the South-East corner of what Henry Pease had intended to be Regency Circus. This choice of location was to give the Church one of the most prominent positions at what was then intended to be the heart of the town.
Standing now at the centre of Regency Circus or what is now the junction between Station Street, Windsor Road and Albion Terrace one can see what was once the Regency Primitivist Methodist Church set against a backdrop of Huntcliff.
Though the building had been commissioned for a cost of £4,263-10s-5d, though by the time of completion the new congregation found themselves with a debt of £6,000 or £342,360.00 in today’s money; a debt that would not be fully paid until 1945.
The End of Consecration
Despite the reconciliation of the Primitive Methodist Church with the Wesleyan and Union Methodists in 1932 to form the Methodist Church of Great Britain Saltburn retained it’s two Methodist Churches for a further 33 years until due to dwindling congregations and rising maintenance costs it was decided to merge the congregations into a single church with the Methodist Church on Milton Street being chosen as the home of the united congregation.
Rebirth as a Theatre and Community Centre
Grade II Listing
After an avid local campaign to preserve the Saltburn Arts Theatre and Community Hall they were given Grade II Listed Status on 2nd September 1998.
The listing reads as follows:
Includes: Saltburn Community Centre and Theatre with former Church Hall ALBION TERRACE Saltburn. Primitive Methodist Church with church hall now community centre and theatre. 1905-10 by George Baines & Son, The Strand, London, in competition. Perpendicular Revival style.
MATERIALS: bright red brick with ashlar and faience dressings; roof of pale grey slates with pierced terracotta ridge
PLAN: chancel, transepts, nave with north-west tower and west porch.
EXTERIOR: community centre and theatre, battlemented porch has deeply splayed stone surround with many chamfered segmental
head to renewed glazed double doors under traceried overlight. Traceried panel above rises to shaped coped finial. Alternate
block jambs with bands continuing round canted corners as sill and lintel bands to 2-light angle windows, the angles defined
by tapering pilasters with splayed finials.
Tall 5-light window in gable peak with elaborate tracery has ashlar hoodmould springing from slender shafts which rise
through gable coping to domed coping and decorative finials; between them the gable peak has blind tracery and decorative
To left of porch, 3-stage tapered tower has plain paired lights on ground floor, single narrow lancets on next; tall
louvred belfry openings with alternate block jambs and many-chamfered pointed ashlar heads under deep eaves, from
which 4 diagonally-set piers with ashlar coping continue the angle buttresses of the tower; tall octagonal needle fleche is
covered in roll-jointed sheets of metal.
Nave has two 3-light windows, paired gables to transepts have tall 4-light windows, chancel has low eaves to north vestry
with 3-light window under eaves. Nave and chancel roofs have decorative ridge cresting.
Former church hall, linked to former church by east passage, has full-width battlemented entrance porch and flanking rooms
under north gable to street.
Double doors with upper glazing are flanked by 3-light windows with cusped tracery to stone mullions; similar tracery to 5-light window rising into gable peak.
Bands to imposts, lintels and hoods. Gable has pinnacled feet with yellow faience finials to gable coping which rises to
small raised pediment finial.
Returns have similar traceried windows.
INTERIOR: community centre and theatre with ornate wooden single hammer beam roof, with ornate metal ties and arch
braced roofs to transepts.
Former church hall shows tapered square wood piers to wood aisle arcades and arch-braced collared roof trusses with 2
levels of purlin, ceiled above second purlins. Many struts to 2 levels of collar, which are linked by 3 straight struts.
(Cleveland County Council; Typescript notes).