Tong Street, Dudley Hill, Bradford, West Yorkshire
An architecturally unexceptional 1950s church and example of the work of the fairly prolific Catholic church architect, Jack Langtry-Langton, but not one of his more interesting churches.
In the 1920s the Bierley estate was developed on the southeastern outskirts of Bradford, and a Catholic school was built to designs by Empsall, Clarkson & Clarke, opening in 1929. The Assembly Hall was used for Mass. In 1940 St Columba’s was established as a parish separate from St Anne’s but it was not until the 1950s that a site for the building of a church and presbytery was found on Tong Street. Building began in 1958 and the church was formally opened on 3 October 1959. The church was reordered circa 1990, by Peter Langtry-Langton.
The church has the altar facing roughly northeast but in this section all references will be to conventional orientation, i.e. as if the altar faced east.
St Columba’s consists of a broad nave and sanctuary under one roof, with transeptal- like gabled projections at the four corners. It has a stone plinth but is largely faced with Proctor & Lavender’s Honey Rustic bricks and roofed in brown pantiles. East and west end are both dominated by a giant round arch carried on corbels. At the east end the sanctuary east wall is well set back within this arch, with a much smaller round-arched window. A lower sacristy block awkwardly projects. At the west end the large grid-like west window is set just behind the arch. In front of the window a large mahogany cross with a bronze figure of Christ. Entrance below with coloured glass mosaic wall facing. The side walls have similar large grid-like windows. Subsidiary south entrance, also with mosaic facing around the doorway and within the slot occupied by glazing above.
The large windows give a bright and airy interior. The proportions of the interior are more square than oblong, owing to the need to accommodate 420 seats on a constricted site. The space is undivided by columns and open to the apex of the roof, with broad A trusses. A round-arch opens to the sanctuary and is flanked by lower blind round arches, that to the left originally opened into a chapel but is now a meeting room. The majority of the walls are finished in the same brick as the exterior; only the upper parts are plastered and painted. West gallery with narthex below. Pews of West African mahogany. The sanctuary has an arched baldacchino reflecting the arch of the window below. Stained glass in the east window symbolising the Holy Spirit and the four Evangelists, possibly by Clokey of Belfast. The sanctuary was re- ordered circa 1990 and now has a small marble altar, tabernacle stand, ambo and side table. The sanctuary is carpeted and the floor levels altered and brought forward into the nave. Octagonal stone font with unusual banded base. Stations of the Cross and several statues, of no particular artistic merit.
Architect: J.H. Langtry-Langton
Original Date: 1958
Conservation Area: Yes
Listed Grade: Not Listed