Building » Colne – Sacred Heart

Colne – Sacred Heart

Queen Street, Colne, Lancs BB8

A Gothic Revival church by Edward Simpson of Bradford. A presbytery, a school and a sanctuary extension were added slightly later. Another later addition was the hall under the church, which initially caused structural problems. The church has good furnishings, notably a rich mosaic scheme of the 1930s.

In 1849, a school was started in a room above a stable behind the Angel Inn in Colne. From c.1850, a weekly Mass was also said there by a priest from St Mary, Burnley. This was short-lived and the mission proper was started in c.1871 when services were held in the Cloth Hall (built 1725, demolished 1952). In 1885, a small plot in Derby Street was acquired from the Earl of Derby. On 3 December 1887, Fr Jones laid the foundation stone for a single-storey building which was to be both a school and a chapel

This small building was soon too small for the increasing congregation. In 1893, half an acre of land was bought from the Earl of Derby on favourable terms. Bishop Bilsborrow laid the foundation stone on 25 July 1896 and opened the church on 23 May 1897. The architect was Edward Simpson of Bradford and the total cost £2,500. The sanctuary and presbytery were to be built at a later stage. By Christmas 1903, the interior had been decorated, the high altar and two side altars installed, as well as a vestry, the presbytery and two new confessionals. In 1905, the school in Rigby Street was built. Shortly after 1904, the entrance was altered, a boundary wall built and a hall excavated under the church. The latter soon caused problems. In 1909, the architect Ernest Gunson of Manchester reported severe structural problems in the church, with the outer walls bowing outwards. Large stone buttresses were built against the liturgical north side and tie rods added to the roof trusses (1909-10). As part of the works, the sanctuary extension was also completed. A carved oak high altar by Paul Roemaat of Louvain, Belgium, was installed. (In 1940 this was moved to St Ursula’s, a chapel-of-ease founded in 1912 at Cottontree. This small chapel, which had opened in 1913, closed in 2003.) In c.1910, several stained glass windows were installed in the sanctuary, some of them the work of the Nieholar brothers from Roemond, Netherlands. In 1913, altar rails were installed, also by Roemaat, and a Calvary was unveiled (whose crucifix now hangs in the sanctuary arch). In 1914, a pulpit by Hayes & Finch of Liverpool was installed.

It was opened on 15 July 1888 by Bishop Herbert Vaughan (later Cardinal Archbishop of Westminster). The builder was J. Hawley and the total cost was £950. (The building is now used by the Little People Day Nursery).

In 1922, two canopies and pedestals were installed as a war memorial. On 8 August 1925, the diamond anniversary was celebrated in the presence of Cardinal Bourne, Archbishop of Westminster. Between c.1934 and 1940, the interior of the church was embellished with mosaics (artist not established, possibly by the Oppenheimer firm). The mosaic Stations alone cost around £6,000. In addition, the nave walls were covered in mosaics, as well as the sanctuary arch, the sanctuary, the side chapels and the lower west wall. The Stations were blessed on 2 December 1934 and the church was consecrated by Bishop Marshall on 7 September 1940. In 1942, two marble pedestals were installed for statues of the Virgin Mary and St Joseph. In January 1994 a fire in the church caused severe damage to the building, in the form of a large hole in the church floor. The organ was also irreparably damaged. Specialist mosaic cleaning was carried out and the damage repaired for £85,000. The church reopened on 23 July 1994.

The junior school moved in the 1960s to a new site and the 1905 building was closed. It was initially used for various parish functions. In 2000, it was comprehensively restored and converted (for £600,000) for use by the ‘Waterbridge Resource Centre’, a community centre with offices, a training and meeting room, and a day nursery. It was opened in November 2000 by Bishop Brain but closed in 2008. The building has been disused since.

Two other churches are now served from Colne – Holy Saviour, Nelson (qv) and Saint Peter and Saint Paul, Barrowford (qv); the three churches together form the Good Shepherd parish, whose parish priest is based at Colne.


The church is built using coursed yellow stone, with red sandstone dressings. The pitched roof is covered in slate. A former fleche has been removed at some point. The plan is longitudinal, with a narrower chancel and side chapels. The west elevation has a central bay between gabled buttresses. Above the shallow lean-to porch with chamfered doorway are two two-light windows with Y-tracery. They, and the vesica window above, have hoodmoulds with plain stops. The central bay is flanked by small lancets on ground-floor level (one to north, two to south), with a larger lancet above on each side.

There is another doorway in the west bay of the south elevation, also with chamfered jambs and plain stops. Beyond are eight pairs of lancets. At the southeast, between side chapel and presbytery, is a small space with two mullion and transom windows and a canted corner. The north elevation has nine large buttresses. Some of the spaces between them have been filled in with mostly single-storey structures as well as two two-storey structures which at church level contain confessionals and WCs.

The nine-bay nave has an open scissor roof with metal tie-rods of 1909-10. Below the canted organ gallery is a glazed porch. The west window has modern patterned coloured glass. The nave windows are framed by a shallow pointed arcade on polygonal engaged pillars. The mosaic Stations have alabaster frames whose upper gable projects above the window cills. Below the windows, the nave walls are covered in mosaics, largely in diaper patterns and with the numbers and the titles of the Stations below them. The inner jambs of the nave windows also have mosaic patterns, with golden stars on blue in the upper half.

The sanctuary arch has sandstone pillars with cantilevered marble corbels for statues of the Virgin Mary and St Joseph. The upper part of the arch has mosaic patterns. Above the smaller arches to the side chapels are large mosaics of angels with Latin inscriptions which relate to the original dedications of the side chapels, the Sacred Heart (north) and the Virgin Mary (south). The former is now used as a lobby to the sacristy. It has a mosaic of St Margaret Mary Alacoque’s vision of the Sacred Heart. The Lady Chapel has a mosaic of the Annunciation. In front of the Lady Chapel is the font which has a modern shallow timber bowl on a stone cluster pillar.

The hanging crucifix in the sanctuary originally formed part of the 1913 Calvary. The sanctuary has a modern timber lectern and altar, both of which incorporate parts of the dismantled pulpit of 1914. There are carved timber screens to the side chapels. The sanctuary is richly decorated with mosaics, with angels surrounding the tabernacle, the four apocalyptic beasts beside the east window, the Pelican in her Piety and the Agnus Dei on the side walls, with the IHS and ChiRho monograms and the Instruments of the Passion. The high altar is of veined white marble and has a carved panel of the Sacred Heart on the frontal with dark marble corner columns. Above the tabernacle is a large canopied alabaster monstrance throne. The three-light east window has reticulated tracery and stained glass depicting the Sacred Heart flanked by St Catherine of Siena and St Thomas More.

The two lancets in the north and south walls of the chancel have glass with floral patterns. A nave window at the southeast has stained glass of St Francis and St Elizabeth. The former altar rails (1913) stand now in front of the front pews.

Heritage Details

Architect: Edward Simpson

Original Date: 1897

Conservation Area: No

Listed Grade: Not Listed