Ridgeway Road, Onchan, Isle of Man
In 1923 a First World War timber and corrugated iron army hut was moved from the Knockaloe Internment Camp to serve as a temporary church on Onchan Head, so as to relieve pressure on St Mary’s during the holiday season. It was furnished by Giles Gilbert Scott in 1936 with bleached oak benches, together with a high altar and pieta, which were intended to be used in a permanent replacement church. After the war the site became a place of pilgrimage for travellers from Ireland, and open air Masses were held in the summer months. In 1958 a grotto was built in reinforced concrete, and the cast iron Stations of the Cross, made in Lourdes, were transferred from Summerhill Glen to form a Via Crucis. In the 1980s, the local businessman and benefactor Albert Gubay offered to build a new church, which was consecrated in May 1988. Scott’s furnishings were not used in the church, the pieta eventually finding its way to Our Lady Star of the Sea and St Maughold, Ramsey.
The church is built of rubble stone with sheer walls of white rendered blockwork and a metal roof. It was designed by Clayton and Massey, with John Cryer, a local architect being responsible for the interior. The plan is irregular with a sloping roof rising to a high point above the altar. Huge laminated timber beams support the roof. A large window looks onto the garden containing the Stations, and can be opened up to allow for processions, whilst another window faces out over the sea. On this is a striking etching of Christ Walking on the Water, which was commissioned by Mr Gubay from the artist Chris Spittal. Giles Gilbert Scott’s pews were re-used from the former church, but the high altar was not. The wooden sanctuary fittings of 1988 have recently been replaced in marble.
Architect: Clayton / Massey with John Cryer
Original Date: 1988
Conservation Area: Yes
Listed Grade: Not Listed