Blackpool - St John Vianney

26 Glastonbury Avenue, Marton, Blackpool FY1 6RD

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The major contribution to a vigorous post-war church building programme in Blackpool and its environs. This is a substantial brick church with a prominent west end, built in 1958-9 to the designs of Sandy and Norris.  

Internally it is high and impressive, with the body of the church divided into a series of shell domes supported on thick round arches, with passage aisles giving on to small side chapels along its length.  As with Velarde's late work, there is a strong Romanesque influence, which culminates in an apsed East end - though with round 1950s' style top lights in the window niches.  The Romanesque style and use of concrete construction was employed by E B Norris in his fine listed church in Rochdale of the 1920s.  There is a nice openwork steel screen, and a fairly intact interior scheme with what seem to be original furnishings, glass, etc.

The parish was established to cater for the Marton, Preston New Road areas, and to relieve the increasing school population of St Cuthbert’s parish. A school was built in 1934, with a church accommodated in its lower hall until the establishment of the present church. The foundation stone for this was laid in 1958 and the church opened the following year. The presbytery in Glastonbury Avenue dates from 1966. A new parish hall was built in the 1970s.

The church consists of a west tower flanked by a porch and what was probably a baptistery. Nave beneath three sail domes, transeptal chapels and a semicircular apse with ambulatory. Narthex beneath the tower with an attached top-lit cell which probably originated as a baptistery. Powerful interior with pierced internal buttresses supporting the domes and clever manipulation of light. There is a scheme of contemporary stained glass including a north window showing St John Vianney. Unusual reredos made of fragments of coloured glass set into resin or composition. Font and forward altar. Original bench seating of good design.

Diocese: Lancaster

Architect: Sandy and Norris

Original Date: 1958

Conservation Area: No

Listed Grade: Not listed