The former church of St John the Evangelist was completed in
1891 and consecrated on 15 April of the same year.
Rowland Winn was the first Lord St Oswald. He gave the land to
the town. The church cost £20,000 to be built.
Built of Frodingham ironstone, it comprised a nave with five
bays and a clerestory, a chancel, north and south aisles, two
porches and a tower. It had room for up to 500 worshippers. The
organ cost £1,000 and was built in London.
JS Crowther designed the church’s perpendicular style.
William Potts and Sons of the Guilford Clock Works, Bankfield
Terrace, Leeds installed the original striking clock in 1890. In
1897, they added the quarter chimes. The peal of eight bells were
hung in memory of the first Lord St Oswald In 1893.
The final service at the church was held on 29 April 1984.
From church to art centre
For 16 years St John's Church remained derelict. Then, in
2000 work began to convert the former church into an arts
Architects Allen Tod designed a single storey extension. A glass
corridor linked this to the south side of the church.
Builders levelled out the church floor and installed under floor
heating. They also added exhibition quality lighting. Most of the
former church's features remain intact.
The vestry was converted to an activity area with six sinks.
Artist John Creed designed and made the modern wrought iron
gates enclosing the sculpture courtyard. John Creed trained as a
silversmith and became a blacksmith in 1988.
The inspiration for his gates came from an idea started by the
First Lord St Oswald, Rowland Winn. Jane Hogg (nee Bratton) who was
born in 1820 in Winteringham had a lock-up selling snuff and
tobacco to miners and furnace men. Winn wanted to pay tribute to
local characters and, as she was well known in the area, she was
selected to have her image carved in stone. Her likeness can be
seen on the exterior of the building by the west entrance.
Continuing the theme of paying tribute to local people, John
Creed asked an artist to draw caricatures of local people. He then
used these drawings as the inspiration for the decorative ironwork
across the tops of the railings and gates. If you look carefully
you can make out the faces, complete with eyebrows, moustaches and
The striking reception desk, shop showcases and shelving are
made from 'Plyboo' (bamboo veneer) and were designed by VK
& C. They also created the lighting.
On 19 May 2001, the 20-21 Visual Arts Centre opened to the
public. This was after four years of research and development and
15 months of construction work. Funding for the project came from
the Single Regeneration Budget (£450,000), The Arts
Council's Capital Lottery Programme (£984,000) and the
European Regional Development Fund (£97,500).
Why is the centre called 20-21?
'20-21' refers to the project starting in the 20th
Century (1998) and being completed in the 21st Century (May 2001),