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 contains Oppenheimer mosaics and other furnishings of note. 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 church was 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.
All orientations given are liturgical. The church is of red brick with stone dressings and consists of nave, low aisles and northeast Lady Chapel. The presbytery is attached at the east end. The building has a tall clerestory with battlements and large windows. There is a broad west window and a southwest tower with an octagonal turret. The style is Perpendicular revival.
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.
Amended and updated by AHP 6.1.2021
List description: (the church and attached boundary walls were listed in 2018, following Taking Stock)
Summary: Roman Catholic church of 1906 to 1908 to designs by J Bernard Holt of Manchester in a Perpendicular Gothic style. The presbytery does not form part of the listing.
Reasons for Designation: The Roman Catholic Church of Our Lady of Mount Carmel, Blackley, of 1906 to 1908 by J Bernard Holt, is listed at Grade II for the following principal reasons: Architectural interest: * the lofty interior has richly embellished walls with grey marble facings to the nave incorporating mosaic roundels and panels of saints, blind arcading with mosaic spandrels to the sanctuary and a mosaic-lined apse to the Lady Chapel, all of evident craftsmanship using high quality materials; * the interior decoration is complemented by fixtures and fittings including the original marble high altar and Gothic reredos with marble bas-relief scenes, Gothic marble altar and reredos in the Lady Chapel, and great east window with stained glass by the renowned Hardman firm, the quality, craftsmanship and execution of which also raise the interest of the building considerably; * the church has a well-detailed and imposing design in a Perpendicular Gothic style imaginatively using an awkward, corner site overlooking Blackley with the skyline enlivened by a corner tower and battlemented turret and battlemented parapets to the impressively tall nave. Historic interest: * the church is historically associated with a mission established in the village of Blackley in 1851 before the transformation of the area by large council housing estates in the early C20.
History: Blackley lies three miles north of Manchester and originated as the villages of Blackley; Higher Blackley or Crab Village; and Charlestown, before they were largely subsumed from the early C20 by Manchester Corporation housing estates. A Catholic mission was established here in 1851 in a chapel formed from two cottages. In 1855 a purpose-built church was built fronting onto Old Road in Blackley. It is first shown on the 1:10,560 Ordnance Survey map surveyed between 1889 and 1891, published in 1894, marked as ‘R. C. Chapel’. By 1898 the priest was the Revd Robert Hayes who went on to build a new church, presbytery and schools. The first building was a large presbytery dated 1904 fronting onto a new road called Wilson Road, which met Old Road at a sharp junction to form a triangular, corner site. The church was built shortly afterwards occupying the corner site. It first appears on the 1:10,560 Ordnance Survey map revised in 1906 and published in 1910, marked as ‘Mount Carmel R.C. Church’, with the presbytery on its south side. It apparently opened in 1908. The architect for the new church, and perhaps the presbytery, was J Bernard Holt, a Manchester architect who designed a number of Roman Catholic churches, including St John the Baptist, Burnley, and St Mary, Horwich, with his partner W Randolph. The east window was by the Hardman firm in memory of the Revd Hayes who died in 1926. The church also contains mosaic work which may be by Ludwig Oppenheimer Ltd, established in 1865 in Manchester, who are known for their mosaics in Catholic churches. The church was reordered in 1965 by Greenhalgh & Williams who remodelled the sanctuary with new marble steps, floors and decoration; the high altar ensemble remained intact. They also added new confessionals, narthex and improved the sacristies.
Details: Roman Catholic church of 1906 to1908 to designs by J Bernard Holt of Manchester in a Perpendicular Gothic style. MATERIALS: red brick with stone dressings and slate roofs. PLAN: the church is built with the sanctuary facing south, but liturgical compass points are used for the description below. The church has a sanctuary, a nave with a narrow south aisle, a south-west corner tower, and a wider north aisle, with a Lady Chapel at the east end and confessionals and an angled porch at the west end. The nave has a narthex and west gallery over, with a projecting, central, former baptistery flanked by angled porches. A doorway in the east wall of the south aisle leads through to the sacristies and the presbytery beyond.
EXTERIOR: the church stands on a triangular corner site with its west end at the apex. It is built of red brick in English garden wall bond with moulded brick and stone dressings and slate roofs. The gabled west end has a moulded stone coping with an embellished cross at the apex. There is a large, arched window of seven lights with Perpendicular tracery flanked by slender brick buttresses with stone caps. At the gable apex is a statue niche containing a statue of Our Lady and the baby Christ. Beneath the window is a projecting, single-storey baptistery with a plinth and a lean-to roof. It has two two-light, traceried windows separated by a shallow buttress. The baptistery is flanked by two slightly recessed and angled porches with parapets and flat roofs. The porches both have a doorway with a moulded brick hoodmould and a stone door frame with an arched, multi-panelled timber door. On the right-hand side of the gable wall is a slender square tower with a tall, battlemented, octagonal turret. The turret has alternating shallow buttresses and narrow, traceried lancet apertures. At the left-hand end of the south elevation is the tower and turret. Beyond is a tall clerestory with battlements and six large, arched windows of three lights with Perpendicular tracery, the bays separated by shallow buttresses. Below is a shallow aisle set on a raised basement due to the fall of the land. It has a lean-to roof and six small, traceried lancets with brick hoodmoulds and a brick string beneath the stone sills. At the right-hand end the two-bay sanctuary is set back with a lower roof. It has arched, two-light, traceried windows separated by a shallow buttress. In front and wrapping around the east end of the sanctuary is the four-bay sacristy building, which is also set on a raised basement. The basement has a blocked, two-light window with stone sill, lintel and mullion. Adjacent is a wide doorway with stone lintel. Above are four two-light windows with stone sills, lintels and mullions and leaded small-pane glazing. The brick string of the south aisle is stepped down and continued beneath these window sills. The north elevation has a similar tall clerestory with battlements and six large, arched windows of three lights with Perpendicular tracery, the bays separated by shallow buttresses. At the right-hand end is a blind, arched window. In front of the first to fourth bays is an aisle with a double-pitched roof. It has four square-headed windows with two-light, traceried windows and hoodmoulds, the bays separated by shallow buttresses. At the left-hand end is the slightly recessed, apsidal Lady Chapel with a green copper roof. The north elevation has a similar square-headed, two-light traceried window. A low, angled, flat-roofed building with a parapet is situated between the Lady Chapel and the north-east outer corner of the sanctuary. At the right-hand end is a low, angled, flat-roofed porch with a parapet. It has a doorway with a moulded brick hoodmould and stone door frame with an arched, multi-panelled timber door. It has four square-headed, single-light traceried windows with a brick string below the sills and above the lintels.
INTERIOR: the seven-bay nave and two-bay sanctuary have panelled wagon roof ceilings with trusses in the approximate form of hammer-beam trusses. The walls are articulated by giant arches which rise through the arcades and continue round the large clerestory windows. The arcades are faced with grey marble above the arches with mosaic roundels of saints in the spandrels. The east wall of the nave is faced in grey marble up to impost level of the sanctuary arch. The arch is outlined in gold mosaic and flanked by arched mosaic scenes of St Joachim to the left and St Anne to the right above traceried niches with marble statues of Our Lady and the baby Christ and the Sacred Heart. The sanctuary has marble steps and floor relating to the 1965 reordering. The inner walls have blind arcading with mosaic spandrels continuing round a reredos with marble bas-relief scenes of the Sacred Heart and the Assumption with a central, canopied niche with a painted Crucifixion over the tabernacle and altar, and flanking marble statues of saints. The marble altar has bas-relief panels with three gilded shields. The east stained-glass window is by the Hardman firm in memory of Fr Hayes, who died in 1926. There is a forward-placed marble altar and lectern relating to the 1965 reordering. The nave has a west narthex and gallery; the glazed timber screen and panelled gallery front relate to the 1965 reordering. There is an organ on the gallery with gilded pipes. The two west porches have arched inner doorways with double doors with vertical panels and glazed upper lights. These flank two arches opening into the gallery steps and the former baptistery, which is enclosed by a decorative iron gate. The north aisle has a panelled wagon roof ceiling. At the east end is the Lady Chapel with bay with double-pitched ceiling and apse. The apse is lined in gold mosaic with a starry sky and dove. The marble altar has a central niche with a stylised Virgin. At the west end are confessionals and the aisle contains a marble plaque war memorial commemorating those who fell in both World Wars with a large painted Pieta in front dated 1912. The narrow south aisle has arched trusses. At the east end is an arched doorway into the sacristy.
SUBSIDIARY ITEMS: at the west apex of the triangular site is a red brick boundary wall with a chamfered stone coping and rectangular brick piers with shaped stone caps. There is a gateway on the Old Road side flanked by taller gate piers, with a decorative wrought-iron gate. On Old Road a triangular garden in front of the north aisle is bounded by a similar red brick wall with a chamfered stone coping and rectangular brick piers with shaped stone caps. Towards the right-hand end is a similar gateway flanked by taller gate piers, with a decorative wrought-iron gate.
Pursuant to s1 (5A) of the Planning (Listed Buildings and Conservation Areas) Act 1990 (‘the Act’) it is declared that the presbytery, and the modern, parapetted entrance and flat-roofed extension linking the presbytery to the sacristies are not of special architectural or historic interest.
Other: Churches in the Roman Catholic Diocese of Salford, An Architectural and Historical Review, Architectural History Practice, 2013.
Architect: J. B. Holt
Original Date: 1908
Conservation Area: No
Listed Grade: Grade II