Building » Bolton (Great Lever) – St William of York

Bolton (Great Lever) – St William of York

Lever Edge Lane, Great Lever, Bolton BL3

A sizeable church designed by Greenhalgh & Williams and built in 1953-4. The architects used their trademark portal frame structure, encased in brick and designed in a stripped-down Romanesque style, with a tower and transepts providing a distinctive roofline within what is otherwise a uniform post-war residential area. The interior is calm and simple, and provides a dignified setting for worship.

There was for many years a chapel-of-ease to St Peter and St Paul at Great Lever before a separate parish was established in 1936. Mass was said in the school. After the war, land was acquired to build a church within the planned Netherfield Estate, and the foundation stone was laid on 6 June 1953 by Bishop Henry Vincent Marshall. The building opened in 1954.


The church dates from 1953-4 and is in the characteristic Neo-Romanesque style favoured by Greenhalgh & Williams. It is built of brown brick, with semi-circular headed windows, parapet gutters and a clay tiled roof. It has a cross plan, with a southwest tower, which incorporates an arched doorway with inclined rusticated brick jambs. A marble crucifix is attached to the upper stage of the tower. The transepts are irregular in size, and provide space for the Lady Chapel and a double-height sacristy. The presbytery, which is contemporary with the church, is linked by a flat-roofed sacristy, which has been converted into a parish room.

The nave is divided into bays by portal frames, which support the roof. Unusually for Greenhalgh & Williams, a coffered strip with ribs runs below the ridge from end to end providing a decorative feature. The sanctuary is contained within a semi-circular arch, with a crucifix placed on the east wall above the altar. An early photograph shows the crucifix with a hanging as a background, but this was later replaced with a reredos of veined marble, and the original flat canopy was replaced with a shallow-arched version in timber. The altar was moved forward, and the altar rails and pulpit were removed. On the north side is a Lady Chapel with a statue from St Peter and St Paul’s church. At the west end there is a narthex with a choir gallery and organ above. Fine mahogany doors with tiny glass panes and oak pews are other original features of the interior.

Heritage Details

Architect: Greenhalgh & Williams

Original Date: 1954

Conservation Area: No

Listed Grade: Not Listed