Building » Blackley, Manchester – Our Lady of Mount Carmel

Blackley, Manchester – Our Lady of Mount Carmel

Wilson Road, Blackley, Manchester M9

An imposing building on a prominent corner site, by a little-known local architect, who built elsewhere in the diocese. The interior volume is impressive, and the church has a good, sensitively reordered furnishing scheme. The attached presbytery is also a building with some presence. Together the buildings form a good group historically associated with a mission established before the transformation of the area by council housing estates. 

Blackley originated as small settlements which were almost obliterated by Manchester Corporation housing estates built from the early twentieth century. A mission was established in 1851, when a chapel was formed from two cottages.  A church was built in 1855, alongside a house of Regency character.

In 1904 a large new presbytery was built by Fr Robert Hayes, who also oversaw the building of schools and a large new church, in 1907-8. The architect for the new churchwas J. Bernard Holt of Manchester. 

The church was restored and reordered in 1965 by Greenhalgh & Williams who remodelled the sanctuary, with new marble floors, steps and decoration. They also added new confessionals, narthex and improved the sacristies. The high altar ensemble was retained intact. 

Inside there is a narthex and a west gallery. The nave is articulated by giant arches rising through the arcades and continuing around the clerestory windows. Mosaic roundels of saints appear in the spandrels and there is a sparse hammerbeam-type roof. The east end is richly fitted out. The outer east wall is lined with marble and panels with mosaic scenes and traceried niches with marble statues flank the chancel arch, which is outlined in gold mosaic. The inner walls have blind arcading continuing around a reredos with marble bas-relief scenes of the Sacred Heart and the Assumption, flanked by marble statues.  The marble floor and steps relate to the Greenhalgh & Williams reordering. The east window is by the Hardman firm, in memory of Fr. Hayes who died in 1926. The Lady Chapel is at the east end of the north aisle. The apse is lined in mosaic with a starry sky and dove. The work could be by Ludwig Oppenheimer, who did similar mosaics in several Manchester Catholic churches.  The altar is of marbles with columns and incorporates a stylised statue of the Virgin, probably of interwar date. There is a war memorial and large Pietà dated 1912 in the north aisle. 

Heritage Details

Architect: J. B. Holt

Original Date: 1908

Conservation Area: Yes

Listed Grade: II