Bedford - Holy Cross

Goldington Road, Bedford

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A functional building of the late 1950s, originally intended as a parish hall  for  a  church  that  was  never  built,  to  meet  the  needs  of  the expanding   and   mainly   migrant   Catholic   population   of   post-war Bedford. Architecturally, a notable feature is the laminated timber trusses of the nave, lending the interior something of the character of an upturned boat.

The village of Goldington grew up along the old Bedford to Cambridge road. The parish was merged with Bedford in 1934 and the area was greatly expanded in the post-war years. The demand for labour in the Bedford brickyards led to large scale immigration from Poland, the Ukraine, and in particular southern Italy (the brick companies  set  up  recruitment  offices  in  Naples).   By  1955,  92%  of  male  Italian migrants arrived on brickwork contracts, and of the 783 who arrived that year, 468 stayed.

The church of Holy Cross was opened by Bishop Parker on November 24 1957, and was built to serve the Putnoe estate and the Goldington and Wendover Drive areas. The architect was Gerald King of Max Lock and Partners (Bedford and London), and the contractors Lindum (Lincoln) Ltd. It was built to accommodate 150 people, at a cost of £5,257 10s 4d. The church was put in the charge of the Scalabrini Fathers, an Italian order. It occupies a large site, and the original intention was that the church should in due course become the parish hall and a larger church built alongside. However, the building has remained a church and was later enlarged by the addition of aisles (at the time of the erection of the parish in 1966). A dual-purpose presbytery and hall was built alongside the church, now demolished. The Scalabrini Fathers left Goldington in 1972, after which the Fathers of the Sacred Hearts of Jesus and Mary (the Picpus Fathers) served the parish until 2003.  Since that time it has been served by its first diocesan priest, based in Brickhill. A Pastoral Centre was recently built alongside the church (opened in 2007).

The church is orientated north-south, but this description follows conventional liturgical orientation, i.e. as if the altar faced east.

The church has a plain exterior, clad in brick with a glazed gable end over the main entrance. The most notable quality of the exterior is the unusual roof form, somewhat reminiscent of a Nissen hut, but pointed, and clad with zinc or similar.   There is a projecting flat hood over the entrance (replacing a central brick porch, shown in a photograph of the completed church in CBR, 1958, 143), upon which is placed a tall and slender metal tripod surmounted by a cross. At the east end, there is a short projecting square ended chancel, side-lit and with a plain east wall. The aisles are later (1966), flat roofed and with replacement UPVC windows.

The interior is of some character and charm, the most surprising element being the laminated timber trusses that mark the division of the bays of the nave, rising to a pointed arch in the middle.   At the west end there is a porch/gallery, with a metal screen front incorporating crosses, of a vaguely Festival of Britain character.  At the east end there is a narrower, side-lit sanctuary. There are no furnishings of particular interest.

Diocese: Northampton

Architect: Max Lock & Partners

Original Date: 1957

Conservation Area: No

Listed Grade: Not listed