Building » Bolton (Montserrat) – St James the Great

Bolton (Montserrat) – St James the Great

Bowland Drive, Bolton BL1

A simple building which started life in 1954 as a school. Although it has no special architectural interest, it has been sensitively adapted and works well as a place of worship. The Halliwell Cross is a reminder of Bolton’s Catholic history and a feature of local interest. 

In the early 1950s an overspill estate was planned to the northeast of Bolton, known as Montserrat. A Catholic parish was established from St Edmund’s, and the first parish building was a school, erected in 1954 from designs by Harold Greenhalgh of Greenhalgh & Williams (information from Lawrence Gregory, Diocesan Archives). The estate, however, did not grow as intended, and the school was adapted to double up as a church. Shortly afterwards a presbytery was built.

Both school and church co-existed within the same building for twenty five years, but in the 1970s, a new school was built one and a half miles away, and the original building continued in use solely as a church. Alterations were made: a small annexe was built to serve as a weekday chapel, and the former staff room became a sacristy. Some while later the side chapel was adapted as a parish room.

In recent years the parish has been linked with St Joseph, Halliwell, and the two parishes share a single priest.


The building is small, simple and compact, the exterior, not unnaturally, looking more like a school than a church. It is built of brick with rendered panels to the west elevation and a low-pitched roof of pressed metal tiles, imitating pantiles. The annexe attached to the west end has a flat roof, surfaced in asphalt and mineral felt.

The interior is a flexible space which was designed to be subdivided by sliding screens. The sanctuary was originally built as a stage, and a shutter can be brought down so that the nave may be used for gatherings. On the south side of the sanctuary is a small Lady Chapel containing a fish tank. The benches are late nineteenth or early twentieth century and came from another church.

Heritage Details

Architect: Greenhalgh & Williams

Original Date: 1954

Conservation Area: No

Listed Grade: Not Listed