Salford - St Joseph

St Joseph’s Drive, Ordsall, Salford M5

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A building of some presence in the local area, retaining some architectural character despite partial rebuilding after the Second World War. The internal volumes are largely preserved.

A chapel-of-ease called Mount Carmel Church, served from Salford Cathedral, was built in West Craven Street in 1871 by Canon Benoit.  A school was formed in the building in 1873. It became a separate mission in 1875 as St Joseph’s, amongst the first of forty new missions inaugurated by Bishop Vaughan. Bishop Bilsborrow made a visitation in 1895 and agreed that a new church should be built. The foundation stone was laid in 1900 and the new church opened in 1902, free of debt. The account of the opening in The Tablet reported that the church was designed to seat 700 and the estimated cost was £5000. The architect was W. Randolph of Manchester. The high altar was of oak, carved by a firm in Holland. The Stations of the Cross were given by members of the congregation, and to the right of the main entrance was a handsome alabaster font. The decoration, completed in 1905, was undertaken by Messrs Pippet of Solihull, highly regarded ecclesiastical artists of the day. An archive photograph shows the richly appointed interior, with its ornate reredos and painted and stencilled scheme.

Work during the 1920s included building two schools and a large church hall. During the same period the tower and belfry were added to the church as a First World War memorial. The church was damaged by enemy action in December 1940, a raid which caused widespread destruction across Salford and Manchester. The sacristy was destroyed, the roof blown off, and most of the windows, glass and furnishings badly damaged. The parish hall was destroyed and the presbytery and both schools badly damaged. The church was subject to temporary repairs and reopened in 1941. 

At some point after the war new stained glass was placed in the east window. The church was not fully restored until the 1960s and it reopened after restoration, reordering and redecoration in September 1968. The sanctuary was extended, and a new high altar provided. In addition a lobby was removed and a narthex was created. The architects were Burles, Newton & Partners. At some point after the reordering the font was taken from the baptistery into the body of the church, and the Blessed Sacrament chapel converted to a baptistery. A social space was created in the narthex and the baptistery converted to a kitchen. Regeneration and rebuilding of the Ordsall estate during the early twenty-first century has seen much replacement housing in the area. The street layout has been altered as part of the scheme, and Ellesmere Street, on which the church originally stood, removed. 

All orientations given are liturgical. The church is of stock brick with a red brick west front and tower. This probably reflects the original layout of neighbouring buildings and housing, which meant there were restricted views of the sides of the building. The west front has a Tudor style doorway and large Perpendicular style window. There is a tower on the north side with tall bell openings and a short lead spire. On each side there is a tall clerestory with paired windows within blind arches. The aisles have similar windows and two taller windows light the east end of the building. There is a transeptal chapel on the northeast side and sacristies with a link to the presbytery on the southeast side.

Inside, there is a narthex which has been converted to a social area served by a kitchen on the south side, the conversion of the original baptistery. This has a window showing the baptism of Christ of later twentieth century date. The west gallery has a bowed front and houses a large organ. The arcades have polygonal piers with moulded caps.  A rood beam survives, surmounted by a Calvary, but it is not certain that this was made for the church as it does not appear on archive photographs. Stained glass in the east window shows Nativity scenes and is dedicated as a Second World War memorial. The sanctuary is carpeted, with three steps up and a forward altar of marble, part of the 1968 reordering.  A chapel to the north of the sanctuary has a suspended canopy which formerly stood over the altar of the Blessed Sacrament. This has been removed and substituted with the font. To the north of this chapel the Lady Chapel is in the transept, so that the two chapels stand in line. 

Diocese: Salford

Architect: W. Randolph

Original Date: 1902

Conservation Area: No

Listed Grade: Not listed