New Chester Road, Bromborough, Wirral CH62
Designed by Reynolds & Scott, and completed in 1964, the church is a prominent landmark on the busy New Chester Road. The verticality of its broad west tower contrasts with the horizontal lines of the nave and aisles. In form it is remarkably similar to the church of Our Lady of Lourdes, Leasowe by Arthur Farebrother, which was built at roughly the same time. The lofty interior is plain in character, but includes good bronze work by Gill & Sons of Dublin. The previous church by H. E. Flynn was adapted as the parish hall, but retains none of its original interior.
Mass was first said in Bromborough in 1928 at the Council Offices, the year in which the present site was purchased. For four years priests came from New Ferry, and the average Mass attendance was between fifty and sixty.
In April 1933 work commenced on construction of a church, which was opened by Bishop Moriarty on 24 September of the same year. The church was designed by H. E. Flynn of Birkenhead and built on a budget cost of £2000. The church contained a nave, sanctuary, Lady Chapel, choir, baptistery, entrance lobby with gallery over, and sacristy, all on a miniature scale. Provision of chairs in place of pews was a new feature in the Diocese, and seated 320 people.
In 1958 F. X. Velarde, whose brother was the parish priest at the time, installed a new Lady Chapel altar and reredos. The altar in Gris Mouchette stone had a bas relief frontal sculpture of the Annunciation and supported a seated figure of Our Lady and the Infant crowned. A tapestry backcloth depicted two sets of four angels in colourful robes adoring and celebrating the Mother and Child. The sculptures were by Velarde’s favoured sculptor, David John, and the tapestry by Frances Parker. It no longer survives on the site.
By 1961 the church had deteriorated and it was decided to replace it with a larger building rather than refurbish at an estimated cost of £24,000. The new church, which was designed by Reynolds & Scott, with contractors Molyneaux of Liverpool, was opened in 1964. The presbytery had been completed in 1962. The old church, which was converted to a parish hall, retains none of its original interior.
In comparison with the modest nature of the old church, Reynolds & Scott’s design was intended to create an impression as seen from the New Chester Road, a newly created trunk road that carried a high volume of traffic. A broad west tower faces the road, behind which is a cruciform plan containing nave, side aisles, sanctuary and transepts. Since the sanctuary is placed at the crossing, the congregation was brought closer to the altar. At the rear of the sanctuary is a Lady Chapel, dedicated to Our Lady of Sorrows, and reached by an ambulatory.
The church is built of buff brick laid in Flemish bond, with window and door surrounds of precast concrete and a slate roof. The lofty interior is plainly treated with plastered walls and spindly timber roof trusses (clearly non-structural). The floor is surfaced in terrazzo, with differing colours used for the sanctuary.
At the west end is a narthex with choir gallery contained within the tower space above. The former baptistery occupies a position at the mid-point of the north aisle, where it protrudes as a shallow curve. Bronze gates depicting the Holy Spirit and the waters of the River Jordan separate the baptistery (now used as a repository) from the nave. The original conical-shaped marble font has been moved to the sanctuary. Originally there were bronze altar rails, but these have been removed, and the altar brought forward to the front section of the sanctuary. Behind the altar, separating it from the Lady Chapel, is a bronze screen with a crucifix of purple enamel at its centre. The bronze work was provided by Gill & Sons of Dublin. In the Lady Chapel the clerestory contains a series of small figurative panels of stained glass depicting scenes from the life of the Virgin.
Architect: National Grid Reference SJ 35325 81457
Original Date: 1964
Conservation Area: Yes
Listed Grade: Not Listed