Oldham - Our Lady of Mount Carmel and St Patrick

Union Street West, Oldham OL8

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A solid mid-Victorian Gothic Revival church by a local architect which retains a good set of fittings from the 1870s and early twentieth century (including a high altar and reredos by George Goldie). The church was built to serve a largely Irish community.

The rapid growth of Oldham’s Catholic population in the nineteenth century was partly due to Irish workers coming to work in local cotton mills and in construction. St Patrick’s began as a chapel-of-ease to the mission at St Mary’s when an existing chapel on Foundry Street was bought by Fr Conway, and opened for Mass in 1858. In 1862, the chapel became independent of St Mary’s; plans for a new church were led by Fr Brindle. A plot of land nearby on Union Street was given by John Lees Ainsworth, a Catholic convert, and the foundation stone was laid on Easter Monday 1869 by Bishop Cantwell. The builders were Finnegans of Manchester.  The first Mass in the new church was on 5 June 1870.  Various improvements were subsequently made; in 1873 a new high altar and reredos were installed from designs by George Goldie, and in 1906-07 major works were undertaken to the interior by Fr Thomas O’Callaghan, including new floors, new side altars, three confessionals, altar rails, a side porch and new seating.  The sacristy was remodelled to provide WCs in the 1960s. The presbytery was built in 1898 and the schools on Foundry Street were rebuilt in 1899, replaced by new parish schools in 1972.

A short description of the church is provided in the list entry, below. The church is orientated with the sanctuary to the west, but in this description conventional liturgical compass points with be used. The church plan comprises a four-bay nave with west narthex and octagonal apsidal sanctuary, under one roof ridge and lean-to aisles. The main entrance is expressed by a gabled west porch with bellcote above, a secondary gabled porch on the south side faces the car park. Gabled confessionals are arranged along both sides. The gabled northwest sacristy was extended in the 1960s, in artificial stone. The architectural style is Early English Gothic, with lancet windows and small pointed clerestory lights. The church is built of coursed sandstone with a Welsh slate roof and cast iron rainwater goods.


Inside, features from the 1870 church include the pointed arcades on octagonal and cylindrical piers and the nave wagon ceiling with exposed cusped principal rafters. The nave walls and ceiling are plastered. The nave floor is laid with linoleum with pine pew platforms, and the sanctuary floor is herringbone oak parquet. Fittings from the 1906-07 work include the pine pews and confessional doors and grey marble sanctuary rails and side altars all in Gothic style. The reordered sanctuary retains the Gothic high altar and reredos from 1873, by George Goldie. The polychrome decoration seen in figure 1 has been overpainted. The octagonal font is now in the south chapel, the baptistery has stained glass windows installed in 1871. The relief plaster Stations of the Cross date from the 1950s. The forward altar and ambo were designed by Joe Burke, recently installed. The west gallery has a late twentieth century balustrade and 1970s glazed screen below separating narthex from nave.



Diocese: Salford

Architect: T. Mitchell of Oldham

Original Date: 1870

Conservation Area: No

Modifications: 1907

Listed Grade: Grade II