Building » Barrowford – St Peter and St Paul

Barrowford – St Peter and St Paul

Gisburn Road, Barrowford BB9

A former school-chapel designed by the mission priest and built in 1897. The plain Gothic building occupies a dramatic location beside the river Pendle Water. It makes a positive contribution to the conservation area.

The origin of the mission was a Sunday school established in 1894 by Fr Robert Smith of Nelson in an upper room of a stable in Gisburn Road. In 1896, a large freehold plot with fourteen small cottages was bought for £1,000, situated beside Pendle Water. Most of the cottages were demolished – apart from five which were converted into a temporary school. To save money, Fr Smith himself prepared plans for a school building with a chapel on the upper floor but process was halted by the lack of permission from the local authority and of a grant from the board of education. In 1897, construction by voluntary labour started. On 10 April 1897, the Bishop of Salford blessed the foundation stone. On 24 October 1897, he opened the chapel, followed three days later by the school.

In 1914, the parish was erected and six stained glass windows were installed. After the First World War, a pulpit was installed, a gallery built (with a stair and timber from St George’s, Nelson, and a former tram line as a girder), and new Stations were installed. In 1920, a marble war memorial was installed. In 1922, a new presbytery was built near the church. In 1923, an organ was installed, originally from the Wesleyan Chapel in Brierfield, and sometime in the 1920s, a new entrance porch was built. For the golden jubilee in 1947, the church was redecorated and electric light installed. In April 1952, the school was closed and the ground floor converted for use as a hall.

In February 1997, the first floor was found to be unsafe, as the gable end was peeling away from the walls. The church was repaired and reopened on Palm Sunday 1998. About four years ago, Barrowford became part of the Good Shepherd parish which also contains the churches of the Sacred Heart, Colne (qv), and Holy Saviour, Nelson (qv). The presbytery is occupied by a retired priest.


The church was built in 1897 as a two-storey combined church-school. The porch was added in the 1920s. The church is faced in local stone, with a brick or stone backing and rubble infill. The pitched roof is covered in slate. The plan is longitudinal.

The lean-to west porch has a pointed door with a hoodmould, beside a small lancet window. There are two lancets to the north. The parapet of the porch has two central projecting panels to north and west, the former with a blank shield, the latter with a carved IHS and a cross. One blocked lancet window is just visible, beside the lean-to porch roof. The west gable has a small stone gable cross. North and south elevations have five lancet windows each to the church, and oblong windows to the hall below. The boiler house is a small lean-to addition on the south side. The 1920s porch also includes a small bay on the south side, of two lancets to the upper level and two oblong windows below. The east elevation has two pairs of oblong hall windows, two lancets on either side of the foundation stone, and a louvred ventilation opening to the gable. Between the east hall windows is a spreader plate in form of a cross.

The five-bay interior has an open king-post roof with metal ties. Between the two east windows is a shallow pointed niche with a crucifix. The tabernacle is in a gabled niche to the north. The sanctuary furnishings are all of timber. The west gallery is supported on one column and has an open tracery front which has been boarded from behind. Below the gallery is a statue of the Sacred Heart and a First World War memorial in form of a marble plaque. At gallery level, there is a glazed door which leads into the roof space of the lean-to porch. The nave windows have modern stained glass with floral patterns and the IHS monogram; the east windows have stained glass panels depicting St Peter and St Paul. The porch has a fine statue of Our Lady Queen of Heaven.

Heritage Details

Architect: Rev. Robert Smith

Original Date: 1897

Conservation Area: Yes

Listed Grade: Not Listed