Choir boy realises his 1950s dream to see church completed

WHEN David Smith sang in the choir at St Michael & All Angel’s Church, Summertown, Oxford, in the 1950’s, little did he think that his extraordinary dream of the completion of an ambitious building project would come true.

St Michael’s foundation stone was laid in 1909. The building of this new parish church for Summertown was an ambitious Edwardian project. The church was planned to house a congregation of nearly 1,000 people. The original designs display an ornate bell tower and a baptistery apse. The west end would nearly extend to the Banbury Road.

The Threshold Project at St Michael and All Angel’s Church in Summertown.

St Michael’s was to be the cathedral of north Oxford. Unfortunately, funds ran out and a temporary wall was quickly built. This was the wall that David Smith, choir boy, gazed upon, the backdrop for his plans to one day complete the church. David’s dream was realised last Sunday at the consecration of the west end extension by the Bishop of Oxford, the Rt Revd Steven Croft.

David had a special duty for the bishop’s visit to say a prayer of blessing for the new toilet facilities. St Michael’s had survived for over 100 years with just one loo. The new extension called the Threshold Project provides more than just toilets. Alongside the meeting space framed in glass, is an office, a commercial kitchen and even a specialist area for the flower arrangers.

Talking of the completion of the church, the vicar of St Michael & All Angels, Gavin Knight said, “The whole community gathered, churchgoers and non-churchgoers alike to celebrate this community project. The new pathway and glass frontage demonstrates our determination to be more accessible and transparent. We want the church to be used and loved. David, who is also a Clerk of Works, has led us through the rapids and delivered a remarkable building for future generations. His dream has come true.”