The original St Barnabas church was conceived as a chapel-of-ease by the then rector of Stoke Damerel, and the original foundation stone was laid on June 11th 1885 – St Barnabas Day by Mrs Arthur Lowe, wife of Admiral Lowe. The stone can still be seen today in front and to the right of the present church.
However only half the building was completed, with a temporary east wall erected, and this was opened on March 28th 1886. The complete church was only finished and consecrated on June 11th 1894 and became an independent parish on November 20th 1904.
On June 11th 1919 – 25 years after the consecration of the church three windows and a memorial tablet were dedicated in memory of parishioners who died in the First World War. Names on this memorial including Commander Bernard Pratt-Barlow who is remembered on the MCC war memorial and Admiral Herbert Lyon who served in Malta. Several other stained glass windows were added during the 1920s and 1930s, however many of them were destroyed by blast damage in 1941.
By the 1980s however it became clear that St Barnabas church was too large for the present congregation, and it was also too inflexible a building to be used effectively during the week. There was also the question of what to do with the large church hall which was opened on January 8th 1908 and had served the community faithfully for many years. Eventually half the church hall was sold and turned into a doctor’s surgery, and the plan was formed for the church to be demolished and the proceeds from the sale of the church land to convert and extend the other half of the old church hall into a church and community centre.
The last service was held at St Barnabas on 11th June 2002 and on its site now stands St Barnabas Court providing care for the elderly in 32 purpose built units. However the east end of the site was kept by the church and turned into a community garden, also preserving a sight line from the main road, Stuart Road, to the new church which was opened on 26th November 2003. Since then the church has grown, various community groups use the premises, and St Barnabas remains at the heart of the local community.
The new church building preserves the original brass tablet from the World War One Memorial and also a brass tablet to John Helson who invented a depth charge release mechanism for destroyers and died in 1921.
For a photographic record of the old St Barnabas building, see this page