St Paul’s Avenue, Wibsey, Bradford, West Yorkshire
A striking 1970s church with impressive interior special qualities and many furnishings designed for the church.
Wibsey is a suburb 2 miles southwest of Bradford city centre. The area originally fell within the Catholic parish of St Joseph but in the early 1930s Catholics in the area petitioned the bishop for a separate Mass Centre. In 1933 the site on St Paul’s Avenue was purchased and a second-hand hut erected. This was replaced by the present church hall, erected in 1951 as a combined church and hall. The permanent church was built in 1973, designed by John Black of Huddersfield.
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.
Built of brick with a concrete tile roof, the plan is an irregular square; the nave with a sweeping pitched roof and angled or boomerang-shaped front, the slightly narrower and taller sanctuary providing a glazed clerestory above the nave roof. Lower gabled entrance porch and attached single storey, flat-roofed blocks to either side. Podium in front providing a retaining wall to the car park. The porch is heavily detailed with an upper room cantilevered over the entrance to form a covered area. The upper room has glazed walls framed by sheet metal cladding. The main west wall is of sheer brickwork broken by two glazed elements, symmetrically placed under the main gable. The nave has six tall rectangular windows and there is a larger rectangular window to the south side of the sanctuary. The gabled east wall has projecting brick strips and is blind apart from the right hand bay which is set back and has another large rectangular window.
The interior volume impresses through size and lighting. The boarded roof, broken up by large decorative panels sweeps across the entire breadth of the church. The sanctuary roof is also boarded and the sanctuary dramatically flooded in light from the hidden clerestory. The sanctuary is open to the side chapels, that to the north is differentiated by the stepping in of the wall. Both chapels have huge stained glass windows with figurative subjects surrounded by abstract patters. The maker of the glass has not been established. The sanctuary east wall is of unrelieved brick with timber and bronze crucifix, the figure of Christ bowed forward. A short piece of wall on the right partly screens the chapel from the nave. The corresponding wall on the left has a door to the sacristy. Imposing altar, tabernacle stand, ambo and font, the last three with bronze relief panels. The west end has the centrally placed organ and a low-ceilinged chapel with a further stained glass window. Embroidered hanging commemorating the 30th anniversary of the parish, designed by Christine Spink with each panel being made by a parishioner.
Architect: John H. Black of Huddersfield
Original Date: 1970
Conservation Area: Yes
Listed Grade: Not Listed