Royton - St Aidan and St Oswald

Vaughan Street, Royton, Oldham OL2 5DL

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An imposing 1960s church of modern design, considerably altered both inside and out. 

A mission was founded in Royton, in 1880; the first Mass in the new church was said on 28 November 1880. The simple red brick Gothic building provided for a school and chapel and was built on a sloping site.  An adjacent presbytery was built in 1897. Initially served from St Mary’s, Oldham, the mission was later served from Shaw.

In 1964, Fr Edward Glyn commissioned Massey & Massey of Warrington to design a new larger church in place the previous church, to be built on the same site. The foundation stone was laid on 10 April 1965 by Bishop Holland. R. Partington & Sons Ltd were the contractors and the building cost around £48,000. 

Post-Vatican II reordering has involved changes to the levels, new sanctuary furnishings and the decoration of the walls with figurative murals, their style and warmth of tone perhaps deliberately at odds with the austere 1960s architecture. In the same spirit, and also no doubt for practical reasons, the originally flat roof has been replaced with a shallow pitched roof. 

The large rectangular church is built across the slope, with steep steps rising from a forecourt on the Oldham Road frontage to a side porch, with another entrance at the upper level adjacent to the presbytery. All orientations in the following description are liturgical, although the sanctuary is actually to the west. The church is concrete- framed and faced in brick, with dark red brick to the flat-roofed aisles and buff brick to the upper part of the nave. Tall brick piers connected by concrete beams form a vertical accent on the northwest corner, carrying a steel cross. The shallow-pitched roof is laid with concrete tiles, on deep eaves (originally the roof was flat).  Windows are now mostly uPVC, with some stained glass; the six-bay nave is lit by tall narrow windows at clerestory levels, with similar narrow lights to the aisles.

Inside, the full-width west narthex is separated from the nave by a glazed screen, with choir gallery above. The south aisle contains confessionals and a piety shop behind a dividing wall (possibly the original location of the baptistery).  The Lady Chapel is in north aisle with children’s area to the west; square concrete columns support the nave wall above. Hardwood pews are arranged in the aisle and in two transepts facing the sanctuary forward platform. The nave roof is lined with acoustic panels between timber beams, walls are plastered and floors are carpeted.  The sanctuary has a lower ceiling, formerly with clerestory windows, now blocked, but there is one tall window with dalle de verre glass, to the north side. The reordered sanctuary has late twentieth century marble fittings with a forward altar and semi-circular platform.  The late twentieth century east murals are on a theme of redemption, and with St Aidan and St Oswald on the north and south walls, respectively.  The flat-roofed baptistery to the north side of the sanctuary has walls lined with 1990s Celtic-style panels incised with names, by Jim Davis. Sacristies are in a single-storey block that connects to the presbytery. 

Diocese: Salford

Architect: Massey& Massey

Original Date: 1965

Conservation Area: No

Listed Grade: Not listed