Wombwell - St Michael and All Angels

Park Street, Wombwell, Barnsley, S73

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An unusual, possibly unique example of a Roman Catholic church built using the CLASP method of prefabricated construction, built in the 1960s in an area prone to mining subsidence. The polyester resin windows were also chosen to counter the effects of subsidence, and put to artistic effect by Reg Williams.

Catholic worship took place in various locations in the area until the Rev. Martin Goaley, appointed in 1929, purchased the present site in Park Street (then a farmstead). The farm buildings were converted for use as a presbytery, club and small chapel. It was not until 1950, under the Rev. James Clancy, that a decision was made to build a new church. This was opened and blessed by Bishop Heenan of Leeds on 8 September 1953. However, church and presbytery became prey to mining subsidence and were declared to be in a dangerous condition in 1963. Compensation was agreed with the National Coal Board and a new church was built on the Park Street site.

Due to the timescales and the underlying threat of subsidence, the new church was built using the Consortium of Local Authorities Special Programme (CLASP) system of prefabrication, which had been developed by Nottinghamshire County Council to allow school building work to take place cheaply and quickly. The architects were David and Patricia Brown of Weightman & Bullen (York office), who had already adopted this method in several schools. Here the same modular dimensions and concrete cladding panels were adopted as at the University of York. The church was consecrated on 28 May 1968 by Bishop Wheeler of Leeds, who was assisted by the Rev. Gerald Moverley, future Bishop of Hallam.

In 2007, the parish of Corpus Christi was created, merging the three smaller parishes of Wombwell, Hoyland and Goldthorpe and served from Wombwell.

The church has an elongated hexagonal footprint. It is built using the CLASP system of prefabrication, with a steel frame, concrete panel cladding, narrow vertical windows and a flat roof. The steel framework foundation allows the building to move and polyester resin windows are intended to resist shattering if subsidence occurs.

The first impression of the interior is of light and colour. The defining feature are the strikingly luminous coloured window panels in polyester resin designed by Reg Williams of York. The main worship space is lit by two large side windows to the north and south. The nave floor is laid with linoleum, plain plastered and painted walls and the ceiling is formed of longitudinal boarding with spotlights set within the central section. Seating can accommodate nearly 400, with the (original) pews aligned around the sanctuary in a horseshoe shape. The sanctuary is defined by a raised platform, laid with carpet. Sanctuary fittings include a marble altar, which appears to be the original one, and a tabernacle stands in an eastern recess. The baptistery to the west is of note for its Williams glass and white veined marble drum-shaped font with two bowls (and remnants of the hoist mechanism for lifting the font cover above).

Diocese: Hallam

Architect: Weightman & Bullen (York)

Original Date: 1968

Conservation Area: No

Listed Grade: Not listed