Leeds Road, Bradford
A bold and individual example of the popular Early Christian/Byzantine style of Catholic church building popularised by Westminster Cathedral and enjoying a vogue in the interwar period. Of large scale but consistent and fairly plain in its detailing. The alterations of the 1950s and the reordering of the 1970s are sympathetic and of good quality.
In 1871 a school-chapel was opened on the Leeds Road adjoining the Catholic cemetery to serve the Laisterdyke or Laister Dyke area two miles east of Bradford. A larger school was built on an adjacent site in 1905 (with the chapel in the basement) and the old school largely demolished for road widening. The parish was established in 1921 and land and a large house were purchased at Greenhill, a short distance further east along the Leeds Road, close to Killinghall Road (now the Bradford ring road). The five-bay Georgian house (listed Grade II) formed the presbytery but the church is now served from St Columba. The former stable block behind is also listed Grade II. Charles Fox was then commissioned to design a permanent parish church to seat 700 and this was built in 1933 fronting the Leeds Road to the right of the presbytery.
The church has the altar facing north but in this section all references will be to conventional orientation, i.e. as if the altar faced east.
Early Christian/Byzantine basilica style; used also by Fox at Holy Spirit, Heckmondwike (1914) and St Catherine’s, Sheffield (1925-6). Aisled nave with clerestory, polygonal south chapels either side of the confessionals, polygonal sanctuary with sacristies attached to the north and an attached southwest campanile. Red brick with minimal use of stone dressings. The imposing and well proportioned west front, relatively plain and austere, is relieved by mosaic panels. Tall Classical doorway with fluted Corinthian pilasters, carved frieze and mosaic tympanum under a round arch. Frieze above with eight mosaic panels, set immediately below a moulded cornice. Circular window above with raised brick panels to either side and a gable enriched with stonework and further mosaic panels. The aisles terminate with large round-headed windows. The campanile has brick pilasters or clasping buttresses and is divided into three stages. The lowest stage has an arched top linking the pilasters. Within the sunk panel is a circular window to each face and pairs of plain windows below. The second stage has a large round-headed window with stone architrave and a three-bay blind arcade above. The short top stage steps in and has raised panels of brick set in a stone frame. Overhanging pyramid roof. The aisle and clerestory have large round-arched windows with stone architraves. The south aisle is different as it has various attachments, including two polygonal chapels with plain arched windows and a flat-roofed range between.
The interior is light and dominated by the plain repeated round arches of the arcades, the transverse roof arches of nave and aisles and the windows, all in largely unadorned painted plaster. The arcade arches spring from small capitals, repeated at the heads of pilasters and there is a moulded frieze at the base of the clerestory. The roof is arched, apart from small horizontal sections close to the walls, with spandrels below, separating the bays of the clerestory. West narthex with organ gallery above. There is no structural separation of nave from sanctuary, simply a deeper transverse arch before the half-domed apse. The sanctuary was reordered in 1978 by Peter Langtry-Langton, who was responsible for the colour scheme, including a depiction of St Peter’s in Rome. Tapestry by Trudie Forbes. The gates of the original communion rails were re-used in the reading desk. Sacred Heart and Our Lady of Fatima chapels, to either side, refitted circa 1950 by J. H. Langtry-Langton in his characteristic art deco-influenced style. He also designed the light fittings in the bay in front of the chapels. 1930s pews. Stations of the Cross, panels of enamelled or painted glass mosaic set in stone frames with guilloche border. South aisle chapel with dalle de verre glass by Rob Hickling of John Hardman Studios. The corresponding south aisle projection houses the baptistery.
Architect: Charles Edward Fox & Son
Original Date: 1933
Conservation Area: No
Listed Grade: Not Listed