Bury Road, Haslingden, Rossendale BB4
A small Early English Gothic Revival church built to serve the largely Irish population of the cotton mill town of Haslingden. The design is very similar to that for St Mary, Bacup (qv), and is probably by the same architect. The church is associated with the Irish nationalist Michael Davitt, who lived and worked in Haslingden. The former school buildings to the rear of the church are now used by a flourishing community centre.
The mission was founded in 1854 from Rawtenstall. Mass was initially said in the attic of a three-storey house in the Back High Street, a former weavers shop. The first mission priest was the Rev. Thomas Martin. A site for a church, presbytery and school was acquired in Bury Road on the outskirts of Haslingden for £17 per annum from John Hoyle. Building work started in May 1859. On 22 July 1859 Bishop Turner laid the foundation stone for the new church, which was opened on 13 November 1859. The architect was William Nicholson of Manchester, who also designed the presbytery. (Nicholson probably also designed the similar church of St Mary, Bacup (qv) of 1857.) The contractors were Messrs P. Farrell of Manchester, and the stonemasons Tomlinson Brothers of Haslingden. The contract was for £1,340. Of the projected nave, chancel, Lady Chapel and vestry, only the nave was initially erected, due to economies. The choice of Early English Gothic style represented a further saving, due to the absence of elaborate ornament. The total cost of church and fittings was around £2,000.
The foundation stone for the school was laid on 6 June 1868 by John Yates of Liverpool. The school was opened on 5 August 1869. The building was also designed by William Nicholson. The contractors were Messrs Rothwell & Collinge. The cost of the T-plan building was about £1,000. In 1880-1, the boundary wall was remodelled, an apse and side chapels were added, as well as a sacristy whose cellar contained the heating apparatus and above which was an additional room for the presbytery. The same year, a west gallery was added in the church, to increase the seating accommodation. The extension of the church was blessed on 11 September 1881. The Lord of the Manor supplied stone for these building works at a reduced rate.
In 1883, an additional classroom was built. The following year, an oak pulpit was installed, as well as a new porch to the presbytery. In 1898 a memorial to Fr Dillon (died 1895) was erected, comprising a new marble high altar, marble communion rails, a marble sanctuary floor, and wooden screens to the side chapels. These were blessed on 24 April 1898 by Bishop Bilsborrow.
In 1900, the plot between the church and Piccadilly Street was acquired and a new boundary wall constructed. The ornate gates and gateposts were moved from the west of the church to the corner of Bury Road and Piccadilly Street. The extra piece of land also meant that the school could now have an independent entrance, instead of through the churchyard.
In 1908, a memorial to the Irish nationalist Michael Davitt (1846-1906) was unveiled, which took the form of a marble wall tablet and a new organ by Henry Ainscough of Preston. Davitt had lived in the Haslingden area from 1850 to about 1870. Working at a spinning machine in a cotton mill in Baxenden at the age of eleven, he had lost his right arm.
In 1913-4, four additional classrooms and an assembly hall were built for the infants’ school, as well as one classroom and cloakroom for the mixed school. They were built on an extra piece of adjoining land, costing £200.
Architect: William Nicholson of Manchester
Original Date: 1859
Conservation Area: Yes
Listed Grade: Not Listed