Tuffley went though something of a population boom in the late 19th and early 20th Century with more and more people moving to the area. In 1907, the “Tuffley Conventional District” was formed as a part of the Parish of St Paul’s Gloucester but also including parts of Matson and Hempstead. The Tuffley School building (built in 1881), had been recently vacated as its pupils were moved to the then newly built Calton Road School. The building was consecrated as a church and dedicated to Saint Barnabas. Barnabas was recorded in the book of Acts as undertaking missionary journeys with Paul, traveling to help those being persecuted and evangelising as they went. It seems fitting that the church linked to St Paul parish should be named after Barnabas.
The Rev Herbert Puxly of St Paul’s Parish became Curate-in-Charge of the new St Barnabas Church in 1909.
Services took place for some 15 years under the charge of The Rev E.A. Piper (1914-1917), The Rev C.H.M. Fasson (1917-1922) and then The Rev W.J. Joyce (1922-1928). Tuffley’s population continued growing as houses were built along the tram route and it soon became overcrowded in the stone school building. The cost of building after the war meant that a new permanent church seemed impossible so a temporary one was built instead at a cost of £3,770. The first contribution was recorded as being given by the “generous congregation” of All Saints, Gloucester.
In 1922, a temporary timber-grained church was build next to the old school building. It was dedicated on November 11, 1922, Armistice Day and the old church became the parish hall. An organ was also installed to the cost of £700.
In 1930, St Barnabas Tuffley was made a Parish in its own right and Rev Thomas (“Tommy") W Lambert was installed as its first Vicar on 15th May 1930. Soon after his installation, Rev Lambert began fundraising for the building of a permanent church on the land that had been purchased under Rev Joyce. The church would be one of three at the time deliberately built on main roads out of the city. It was described as a whole parish effort with many members of the congregation holding fundraising days to raise the £12,000 needed (£15,000 was eventually spent on the building, which is around £1,044,688.92 today). Rev Lambert held “Gift Days”, where he would remain in church for the whole day to receive contributions. The parish were given a loan of £8000 to be paid back over 20 years and the Parish raised £4000.
In 1938, construction of St Barnabas Church began, using the designs of the architect Nugent Cachemaille-Day and the local building company T.W.Nicholls and Son. Cachemaille-Day was a prolific architect of high Anglican churches and responsible for some of the most innovative designs of the 20th Century. The design was influenced by the liturgical movement, which encouraged the use of new materials and designs.
To link new with old, stones from Gloucester Cathedral and Tewkesbury Abbey were built into the East Wall beside the high altar. The attractive stained glass of the East Window was designed by Christopher Webb (1886-1966) and dates from 1940. The late 19C octagonal stone font came from St Mary’s Church in Kempley. The stained glass in the Lady Chapel is resited from the temporary Church of St Barnabas.
The church grounds were not landscaped until after the War – a garden of rest with memorial cross, being dedicated on Sunday June 11th 1950 (St Barnabas Day) by Bishop Woodward. It is interesting to note that Cacehmaille-Day had planned for these grounds to be a car park! The build itself became increasingly difficult given the increase in men and materials being used for the war effort. The church was consecrated by Bishop Headlam on September 28th 1940.
A major programme of repair and refurbishment of St Barnabas Church began, following a fire in the Choir Vestry in June 1997. This was completed in June 2002 at a total cost of £300,000 aided by a major grant from English Heritage, a number of generous grants and gifts from organisations and well-wishers with many fund-raising efforts by Parishioners.
In 1998, the St Barnabas Church building was upgraded from a Grade II to a II* Listing under the Planning (Listed Buildings and Conservation Areas) Act 1990. It is hard to summarise 80 years of history in one page so suffice to say, this is simply an overview of the early years of the church!
This information of the early years of the church was taken from archive documents available at Gloucester Archives. Many thanks to those who so carefully recorded and curated these resources so that we can still see them today!