The Parish Church of Saint Matthew Big Lamp ~ Newcastle
The Building - Beginnings
The   district   of   Saint   Matthew’s   was   formed   from   Saint   John’s   parish   and endowed    with    £200    per    year    by    the    Ecclesiastical    Commissioners    in November   1869.      There   was   no   building   until   the   purchase   by   Father Robert Daunt, the first Vicar, of an iron church opened on 1 st  May 1870. From   this   date,   a   site   was   sought   for   a   more   substantial   building.      When Saint   Paul’s   parish   decided   that   they   wished   to   move   the   Vicarage   nearer to   their   church,   the   land   at   the   top   of   Westgate   Hill   was   acquired   and   the foundation   stone   was   laid   on   1 st    May   1878   by   Percy   G   B   Westmacott   (1830 -   1917),   a   prominent   engineer,   whose   family   provided   considerable   funds for the building of the Church. The    architect    chosen    to    design    Saint    Matthew's    was    Robert    James Johnson   (1832   -   1892)   assisted   by   his   then   pupil   William   Searle   Hicks (1849   -   1902).      Johnson   was   the   go-to   architect   of   his   generation   in   the Northeast.      He   was   involved   in   the   refurbishment   of   many   churches   in   the region   as   well   as   the   design   of   several,   including   All   Saints,   Gosforth   and Saint   Hilda's,   Whitby.      A   pupil   of   George   Gilbert   Scott   and   a   friend   of   Bodley,   he   was   imbued   with the Tractarian revival and the Arts and Crafts movement.  Although   he   was   the   architect,   Saint   Matthew's   is   lighter   and   more   graceful   than   his   other   works and   it   has   been   speculated   that   Hicks   had   a   hand   even   in   the   first   phase   of   design.      Johnson   died before the next phase could begin and Hicks took over the project at this point.  The   first   phase   of   the   present   building   -   the   Chancel   and   the   Nave   as   far   as   a   line   marked   roughly   by the    westerly-most    pews    was    consecrated    in    1880.        Money    was    the principal   barrier   to   immediate   completion   of   the   project;   but   by   1895,   the West   end   and   the   tower   were   built.         The   original   plan   had   been   to   locate the   tower   at   the   Southwest   corner   of   the   building,   but   this   was   changed prior   to   work   starting   on   the   second   phase   of   construction;   however,   there is   a   remnant   of   this   initial   intention   in   the   staircase   to   the   tower   adjacent to the South door.  The   third   phase   of   work   –   the   other   asisles-   was   finished   in   1905;   and   the Hall   complex,   which   includes   the   sacristies   (It   was   originally   envisaged that    the    sacristies    would    be    located    in    a    crypt    type    area    below    the Northeast   corner   of   the   church.      The   rooms   exist,   but   are   not   now   used   for those purposes) and a staircase joining the Hall to the Church in 1907.
W S Hicks
The building under construction about 1903