St Mary’s Street, Crewe, Cheshire, CW1
A stately design by Pugin & Pugin. The bold red brick exterior and tall tower are local landmarks, and the church forms a good group with the adjoining presbytery. The interior is tall and wide, with an unobstructed view of the Caen stone high altar and reredos.
The list description (below) provides a good summary of the principal architectural features, but might be augmented by the additional information above. The marble communion rails mentioned in the list entry have been removed.
Mass was said in various modest locations in Crewe from around 1828, with priests from surrounding towns serving the Irish workers who arrived in the developing settlement to work on the railways from the 1820s. The first resident priest arrived in 1844. A presbytery was built on Heath Street in 1851 and a school-chapel followed in 1852; the school was converted into an infants’ and upper school in 1868. Continuing growth put pressure on the Heath Street school, and in 1870 a site on St Mary’s Street was bought, and a new school and the present presbytery built, part of the school being used as a chapel. It opened in October 1879.
Fundraising for a new church began in 1887. The foundation stone was laid by Bishop Knight in August 1890 and the new church was opened by him in July 1891; it cost £4,500 and the later tower £2,000. The architects were Pugin&Pugin and the builders Treasure & Son of Shrewsbury.
After the debt on the church was paid, it was consecrated in 1939. It was redecorated in 1950, when the chancel glazing, rood figures and marble flooring were added. Plumb suggests (p.27) that the rood figures might have been designed by F. X. Velarde. Marble communion rails were also introduced at this time. In post-Vatican II reordering(s) the original mensa was brought forward, the communion rails removed and the font moved to the front of the church to replace the pulpit (the timber from which was used to embellish the font and make a lectern and ambo). A narthex screen was also added. The floor was replaced with wood blocks in 1984.
A Parish Centre was opened in 1970, since demolished. St Mary’s is the only Catholic church in Crewe and as well as the usual services holds regular Polish Masses, catering for a local population begun after World War Two at a resettlement camp at nearby Doddington. The church is served by the Oblates of Mary Immaculate.
Original Date: 1891
Conservation Area: Yes
Listed Grade: II