St James Church – History

Construction began on St James Church in February 1866 with an article
appearing in the Derby Mercury 14th February. On 6th June 1866 the
Derby Mercury reported, that the Hamlet of Litchurch had expanded due
to the population increase. Because of this the Church Commissioners
had decided, back in December 1865, to create St James under
Reverend Alfred Oliver.

The Church was built from donations from 271 people. The Duke of
Devonshire and Sir Oswald Mosley-Bart gave £50 each. The land which
the Church sits on had been donated by Mr Douglas Fox esquire. A
further £600 was raised from art exhibitions.

Joseph Peacock was the architect, and William Huddleston, from
Lincoln, was the main contractor. Around 1820 George Jackson married
a Catherine Huddleston (both from Lincoln) and it is believed, but not
proven, that Catherine was Williams Auntie. George Jackson is the 4th
Great Grandfather of Garry the Director of Alter Rock.

The Arch Deacon laid the corner stone on 18th June 1866. Below the
corner stone a bottle containing a parchment and coins is buried in the
cavity. The Church walls are made from Cosbench and Eaton stone with
the nave columns made from Blue Beckington Stone.

The Church was consecrated 27th December 1866. A tower, spire and
north isle were to be added later. The north Isle was added in 1875 to
original design. The tower and spire were never added.

Around 1992 when Pride Park was under development, money was
given to St James to change the now redundant and deconsecrated
Church into a community centre. Work began, but English Heritage
suddenly made it a Grade 2 listed building. Derby Listed Buildings
Committee would not allow the alterations to take place. Therefore the
Vicarage and Church Hall were demolished, and the present St James
Community Centre and car park built in their places.
Over the past 15 years, whilst St James Church has stood empty, its
artefacts have gone missing and the leaded windows had to be removed
because of vandalism. The removal of the windows created damage to the
stone mullions. The climbing centre was the last option for the derelict
Church before an application was to be submitted for its demolition. Over
the years every attempt had been made to find a community based project
but nothing could cover the cost of repairs and continuous maintenance.
Property developers who were prepared to pay over the market value for the
church but were turned away.

Derby Climbing Centre (Alter Rock)

In May 2007 an application went into the Planning Department for change of
use from D1 (Church) to D2 (Leisure) this was granted in July. Then an
application was submitted to Listed Buildings, who granted permission in
December. The alterations has seen 132 holes being drilled into the Church
walls covering an area of 0.027 sqm which is less than half the size of an A4
sheet of paper. This is the only damage this project has caused to St James

The Church Committee and local residents are pleased that St James is
getting a new lease of life.