Concrete Reverence \

I like concrete and I like churches. So my visit to St. Andrew's Church, in the Suffolk container port of Felixstowe, was doubly satisfying.

St. Andrew's is England's first reinforced concrete church designed by Hilda Mason and Raymond Erith at the beginning of the 1920s. Erith later went on to found the practice which became Quinlan & Francis Terry. Mason was part of the Mason concrete family, who would supply the concrete for the church's construction, making her material choice seem less than purely architectural.

Constructed at the same time as Perret's Church of Notre Dame and Moser's St. Anthony's, its style is more conservative. This is both its strength and weakness. It is a medieval perpendicular church which happens to be constructed of concrete. Its design doesn't do anything in reinforced concrete that would not be possible with stone. So although constructed of concrete it can be read as a traditional church.

The church was never completed. The tower has no spire, although the stair turrets are positioned in place, subsidence meant the church's construction had to be halted. This gradual subsidence is most evident at the end of the nave to the clearstory windows before the alter. Although repairs are clearly needed, and initial investigations have been undertaken, no concrete repairs have yet taken place.

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