Building » Bolton – St Osmund

Bolton – St Osmund

Long Lane, Breightmet, Bolton BL2

Dating from 1960-61 and one of a number of churches built in the Bolton Deanery to serve the expanding suburbs of the post-war period. As with others designed by Geoffrey Williams of the prolific Greenhalgh & Williams practice, it has an inventive spirit and hidden qualities. The exterior is simple and somewhat toy-like in character, but the interior is distinguished by a strong sense of space, and by high quality furnishings in marble and timber. The recent colour scheme, which is quite different to that intended by the architect, successfully complements the individual character of the building.   

In 1913 a Sunday school was started in the Breightmet area by Canon Woods, the Rector of St Patrick’s. Mass was said for the first time in 1914 in premises in Long Lane, and in 1923 it was decided to establish an independent parish. In 1924 a plot of land extending to five acres on the east side of Long Lane was acquired at a cost of one thousand guineas and presented to the parish by Mr Brown KSG of Bradley Fold. The foundation stone of a new church was laid on 25 July 1925. The presbytery was built in the 1950s.

The present church dates from 1960-1 from designs by Geoffrey Williams of Greenhalgh & Williams, and was opened by Bishop Beck on 28 September 1961. The original church was adapted to serve as the parish hall.  

The church dates from 1960-1 and was designed by Geoffrey Williams of Greenhalgh & Williams. It is built of partly loadbearing brickwork, with three steel portal frames supporting a steeply-pitched roof covered in green concrete tiles. A flat-roofed sacristy forms a link with the presbytery which dates from the 1950s. The church is in a simplified version of the Romanesque style, and is characteristic of the work of the architect. There is a centrally-placed, rectangular west tower and northwest porch. The simple geometry of the main double-pitched roof is echoed in the form of the projecting chapel and porch, and in the door and window heads, which are edged in concrete paving slabs inclined together. The windows are tall and narrow. The original baptistery was to the southwest, and has recently been converted as an oratory for weekday Mass in winter. The northwest porch has been blocked for access and adapted as an oratory for private prayer, and the former Lady Chapel is now used as the baptistery.

The main west doorway leads into a narthex with a choir gallery above. At one end of the narthex is the oratory (former baptistery). The nave is contained by two concrete trusses in the form of a Gothic arch, and divided into bays by the steel trusses, which are encased and project below the ceiling. The marble high altar was made by Alberti, Lupton & Co. of Manchester, and the crucifix and pews by L. Brown & Sons of Wilmslow. The marble altar rails were removed when the high altar was moved forward, but a short section was retained and converted to a credence table. The boldly-modelled stained glass in the sanctuary and baptistery includes scenes of Christ’s Life and Passion with abstract backgrounds, and was made by Charles Lightfoot and Sons of Manchester. It is contemporary with the church. The Jardine organ was brought from St Mary’s Church, Bolton in the 1970s.

The interior has recently been inventively redecorated to Fr Hilton’s design in deep, strong colours, complemented by textile hangings and devotional pictures, giving it a rich character which is redolent of the High Victorian period.

Heritage Details

Architect:

Original Date: 1961

Conservation Area: Yes

Listed Grade: Not Listed