John Tidy: Images of Holy Trinity Church 1970s
Sheikh Rashid was very tolerant of religions other than Islam establishing facilities in Dubai to serve Dubai's growing Expatriate population. He permitted a Hindu Temple to be built in Bur Dubai in 1958 and St Mary's Catholic Church in 1967.
Building the Church
By late 1960s Dubai Western Expatriate population was growing with Dubai's expanding Offshore Oil industry and commencement of major construction projects such as Port Rashid. A Group, representing the Anglican Christian Expatriate Community, approached Sheikh Rashid with a proposal to establish an Anglican Church. Sheikh Rashid agreed and allocated land in Oud Methah for the Church. Funding for building the Church came from a variety of sources, many of them Muslim, and in many forms. Construction companies provided their services free of charge although most of the supervision and labour came the Costain Civil Engineering Ltd personnel in the process of constructing Dubai's first International Airport Terminal. Community volunteers assisted with the construction and by donating material free of charge. In 1970 Holy Trinity Church was the only building in that area and surrounded by desert sand
John worked for Costains Civil Engineering Ltd, supervising the erection of the “Umbrellas” and all Carpentry and Joinery at Dubai Airport Terminal then under construction. He assisted with Holy Trinity Church's construction on a voluntary basis.
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© Michael Hamilton-Clark
Who designed the Holy Trinity Church?
Holy Trinity Church was designed and its construction supervised, virtually daily, by Chuck Pringle. Chuck was Deputy Project Manager of the Dubai Airport Terminal Project. He worked on Holy Trinity Church with the permission of Project Manager George Topping. A previously developed draft design envisaged a traditional English Norman Church. Chuck was asked to review this design. His view was an English Norman Church was unsuited to its desert location. Chuck was asked to prepare a new design. Chuck's new design concept was for Holy Trinity Church to have a distinctive cruciform roof supported by a Steel Frame Structure. While the cruciform roof shape was Chuck’s own concept, its supporting structure was designed by Duncan Goldsby, a Structural Engineer. Both Chuck and Duncan were working on the new Dubai Airport Terminal Project but assisted with the design and construction of Holy Trinity Church as Community Volunteers. Old oil pipes, donated by Dubai Petroleum Company, were used to construct the steel frame for Holy Trinity Church's roof. This steel frame was then covered with marine plywood provided by Dubai Ports Services - this marine plywood being abandoned cargo at Port Rashid.
Holy Trinity Church's distinctive altar was made from a raw rock which Chuck discovered in the desert. The rock was recovered from there by a Lebanese Company. Under Chuck’s direction this Company sliced the top of the rock flat and polished it while leaving the rest of the rock in its original form. Duncan's design for the huge desert stone support looked insecure and precarious, but in in fact, was structurally sound. Provision was made for a future Choir Loft and organ pipes in the hope an organ would be donated one day. Chuck designed Holy Trinity Church to be a standalone monument. In later years the Holy Trinity Church became surrounded by mundane buildings. Chuck was not involved in the design or construction of these buildings.
Chuck Pringle says...
A significant event during Holy Trinity Church's construction was HE The Late Sheikh Rashid bin Saeed Al Maktoum, then Ruler of Dubai, agreeing to lay the foundation stone for this Christian place of worship - a public demonstration of his religious tolerance.
Holy Trinity Church was my first significant design and build project to which I gave myself heart and soul. I am very proud of the accomplishment.