Lonsdale Road, Heaton, Bolton BL1
A large church designed by Greenhalgh & Williams and built in 1956-8. The sloping site was used to advantage by providing a church with a ground floor parish room set below the west end of the nave. The architects used their trademark portal frame structure, encased in brick and designed in a stripped-down Romanesque style. A calm building, both externally and internally, it lacks the more distinctive features of their best ecclesiastical work.
A mission was established from St Edmund’s which resulted in the erection of a school in Eastbourne Grove in 1924-5. It was later named St Thomas of Canterbury. At much the same time, land was acquired on the opposite side of the road with the intention of building a church. The foundation stone for the church was eventually laid on 17 November 1956 by Bishop Beck, and it opened on 22 November 1958.
The church dates from 1956-8 and is in the characteristic Neo-Romanesque style favoured by Greenhalgh & Williams. It is built of brown brick, with semi-circular headed windows, parapets and a clay tiled roof. The site slopes up from Lonsdale Road, which allowed the parish room to be placed below the church at ground level, with the main church entrance at the upper level reached from Eastbourne Grove.
The interior consists of a nave with sanctuary set within a semi-circular arch, and a raised seating area at the west end above the parish room. The roof is supported on a portal frame. Early photographs show that when the church was first used, the internal walls were bare brick, and were only later plastered and the dado lined with oak panelling. A crucifix was placed on the east wall above the altar but there is no altar canopy such as Greenhalgh & Williams usually provided. The present faux marble paper was also a later addition. After the Second Vatican Council the altar was reduced in size and moved forward, and the altar rails and pulpit were removed. On the south side of the nave is the Lady Chapel, which is separated by a timber and glass screen. The pews and balcony front at the west end are of oak. The organ was rebuilt in 2008 using pipes from a Methodist church in Horwich. The former baptistery retains its decorative metal screen, and is now used as a repository.
Architect: Greenhalgh & Williams
Original Date: 1958
Conservation Area: No
Listed Grade: Not Listed