Building » Bolton (Halliwell) – St Joseph

Bolton (Halliwell) – St Joseph

Horace Street, Halliwell, Bolton BL1

The church was built in 1898-1900 in a densely built-up area of industry and workers’ housing. It occupies a corner site and forms part of a tightly composed group with the slightly earlier parish centre and presbytery. The church, which remains largely unaltered, is of local interest, and makes a contribution to the character of the area.  

A mission was begun in 1879 from St Peter and St Paul by Fr Henry Brewer, who came from an old Catholic family in Blackburn. At first he rented a small building and a temperance hall in Halliwell Road, and later built a school-chapel, a presbytery and new schools. The foundation stone of a new church was laid by Bishop Vaughan on 8 October 1898, and the building was opened by Bishop Bilsborrow in 1900. Fr Brewer was Rector for twenty four years and died in 1903.  The design bears stylistic comparisons with church designs by Sinnott, Sinnott & Powell, architects (slightly earlier) for St Peter and St Paul Bolton (qv). (Lawrence Gregory, Salford Diocesan Archives, confirms that contemporary accounts in The Harvest Magazine, diocesan newspaper name Sinnott, Sinnott & Powell as architects).


The school/chapel, presbytery and church, all built by Fr Henry Brewer survive on a tightly developed site at the corner of Horace Street and St Joseph Street. The church, which is built of hard red brick with a slate roof in a severe Gothic style, remains unchanged from its original form. It has a nave, aisles and apsidal sanctuary. At the west end is a similarly styled apsidal baptistery with choir loft above, adjoined by an angled porch at the northwest corner. The porch, which is an integral part of the original design, is partly clad in panelled timber, encased in brick. The aisles are lit by pairs of lancets, set between shallow buttresses, and the clerestory has small lancets in sets of three.

The six-bay nave arcade rests on slender columns of red granite with bulging capitals. The nave has a barrel vaulted timber ceiling and the sanctuary rises to a plaster rib vault. The aisle roofs have openwork timber trusses. At the west end is a choir loft with a pipe organ, and below it is the former baptistery. A modern glass screen has been installed below the gallery to form a narthex.

The high altar has been moved slightly forward within the sanctuary, which retains its altar rails. To each side are small chapels with contemporary altars faced in mosaic. Adjoining the chapel on the south side, set above the confessionals, is a tribune, an unusual feature which is reached by a small staircase from the sacristy. The floor of the tribune is stepped, but the original pews have been removed. A rose window fills the south gable end.

Heritage Details

Architect: Sinnott, Sinnott & Powell

Original Date: 1900

Conservation Area: No

Listed Grade: Not Listed