Building » Denaby Main – St Alban

Denaby Main – St Alban

Wadworth Street, Denaby Main, Doncaster, DN12 4 AQ

A Gothic Revival design of the 1890s, built to serve a colliery community, and part of a large complex which includes a contemporary presbytery. The interior has been little altered since the mid-twentieth century and contains a good collection of furnishings from different periods. 

The town of Denaby Main takes its name from the colliery to which it owes its existence; Denaby Main was one of the first pits to be opened on the edge of Doncaster, in 1859. Cadeby pit opened nearby in 1889. New terraced housing was built for miners’ families at Denaby Main from the 1860s. Initially the growing Catholic community travelled to St Peter-in-Chains in the centre of Doncaster or to St Joseph’s at Wath.  In 1894 a mission was founded, led by the Rev. Thomas Kavanagh, and the first Mass was said in the house of John Carr on Doncaster Road. The colliery then allowed a disused infants’ school behind houses on Doncaster Road to be used as a temporary chapel. By 1895 there were ninety Catholics attending Mass and Fr Kavanagh began fundraising for a new church. An acre of land on Firbeck Street was given by the Montague family. Empsall & Clarkson of Bradford were appointed architects, and the contractors were Robinsons, also of Bradford; work started on site in 1897.  The first Mass was said in the new church on 22 June 1898.

The church was extended in 1910 with a bell tower, north aisle and Sacred Heart chapeL. Soon afterwards, the sacristy and south vestibule were refurbished, the latter known as the Red Hall due to its red tiled floor and used as a parish room.

In 1912, an explosion at Cadeby pit killed eighty-nine men, many of them from the congregation at St Alban’s.

In the 1920s, a parish club was built next to the church, and a school was built in 1926. The Silver Jubilee of the church was celebrated in 1923, when it was redecorated with mosaics and murals by N. A. Jarvis. Stained glass windows were also installed in the aisle. In 1949, a new high altar and oak reredos were installed in time for the consecration Mass.


The list entry (below) provides a detailed description of the exterior of the church and attached presbytery, but lacks detail on the interior and its furnishings. The following can be mentioned:

  • The apsidal sanctuary retains a solid stone communion rail with blind arcading. The forward altar is possibly adapted from the 1949 high altar, its antependium carved with the Pious Pelican. Behind this is an oak reredos of 1949, Gothic, with saints under canopies: St Teresa, St Catherine Laboure, St Thomas More, St Alban, St Brigid and St John Fisher.
  • The fine crucifix hanging from the sanctuary arch was bought in Germany in 1910 by Fr Kavanagh.
  • The side chapels have simple marble altars with slender colonettes. The Sacred Heart chapel has marble panels of St Joan of Arc and George, installed in 1923 to represent friendship between England and France. This is a war memorial chapel.
  • The floors in the circulation areas are laid with diagonally-set encaustic tiles (c1910), with raised pine platforms below the pews, which appear to be original.
  • The walls are plastered with a tongued and grooved dado.
  • The west gallery has a stepped floor and a panelled front decorated with quatrefoils. The organ was made by Corps & Son of Finsbury Park, London.
  • The painted octagonal font is located centrally beneath the gallery at the west end.
  • Stained glass windows mainly date from the 1920s and are of high quality (maker/designer not established).
  • The Stations of the Cross are moulded plaster in deep relief, with semi-circular arched heads, probably late-nineteenth century.

List description (church and attached presbytery)


Catholic church with attached presbytery. 1897-8. By Elmson and Clarkson of Bradford, contractors Robinsons of Bradford; north aisle and chapel added 1910 (Maye). Deeply-coursed dressed sandstone, Welsh slate roofs. Church has nave and chancel in one with north aisle between 2-storey gabled projections and south-west tower rising from south aisle; 1-storey link from south aisle to 2-storey-and- attic rectangular presbytery. Church in Gothic Revival style. West end: gabled, 1-storey side porches with moulded arches and hoodmoulds; tall buttresses flank: two 2-light, mullioned windows with hoodmoulds continued from porches beneath large 6-light pointed window with hoodmould rising to canopied niche housing white statue; coped gable with apex cross. Square tower, set back on right, has a single-light window beneath ashlar belfry stage with pointed 6-light openings with hoodmoulds beneath blind, cusped panelling; corner gargoyles; coped parapet; shingled, octagonal spirelet with heart-shaped finial. North aisle: three pairs of single-light windows in cavetto-moulded surrounds; tall, cusped lights to the gabled projections; 3 pairs of cusped lights to the clerestorey. East end: dated foundation stone; apsidal chancel with crossed vesicae in octagonal panels on each face.

Presbytery: orientated at right angles to church. South gable has door flanked by 3-light windows in single-storey projection; sashed 3-light windows to 1st floor; sash to attic; gable copings. West side has mullioned and transomed windows, corniced lateral stack and end stack on left. Link to church: pointed-arched door with side windows under shared hoodmould beneath gable with statue in niche.

Interior: 3-bay aisle arcades with cylindrical piers and double-chamfered arches; gallery at west end. Exposed roof trusses with arch braces and shaped tie beams.

Listing NGR: SK5021399459

Selected Sources: Maye, R A, St Albans Church Denaby, (1986)

Heritage Details

Architect: Empsall & Clarkson of Bradford

Original Date: 1898

Conservation Area: No

Listed Grade: Grade II