Finney Lane, Heald Green, Cheshire, SK8
A good example of a suburban post-war church, a confident, conservative design by the prolific Manchester practice of Reynolds & Scott. The interior is notable for the collection of specially commissioned original fittings, including Stations of the Cross in stained glass by J E Nuttgens. Sensitive late twentieth century re- ordering has not detracted from the integrity of the interior.
Heald Green developed as a residential suburb for Manchester commuters in the 1940s, and later expanded as a result of the nearby Manchester airport. Catholics were initially served by St Chad’s, Cheadle; Fr Howe said a monthly Mass in an upper room at the Heald Green Hotel from 1947. In 1957 Fr Houghton bought a plot of land from Cheadle Royal Hospital for £1500, and on this site, Fr Francis McGowan built a parish hall in 1960. This served as a dual-purpose church and hall until December 1962, when the first Mass was said in the new church. The sanctuary was re-ordered after the retirement of Fr McGowan in 1994.
The entrance of the building faces south with the sanctuary to the north; in this description the sanctuary will be referred to as the east end and liturgical compass points used. The large church has a five-bay nave with ‘stella’ west window, slender 60 foot southwest tower, narthex, apsidal sanctuary, gabled transepts for side chapels and a flat-roofed sacristy. The building is faced in a buff brick, with raking buttresses and Doddington stone dressings, and the style is loosely Italianate. The mansard roof is laid with Welsh slate. The nave is lit by clerestory windows.
Inside, the tall nave has a wagon roof lined with acoustic panelling and walls are lined with Hollington stone walls and sapele vertical boarding. The sanctuary arch and walls are lined in stone with cream marble floor and steps and lit by stained glass side windows. The nave floor is terrazzo, with African walnut pews. Original fittings commissioned by Fr McGowan include the stained glass Stations of the Cross by J E Nuttgens, a mosaic sculpture of Our Lady by George Dereford of Marlowe, serpentino marble altar and stainless steel tabernacle designed by the Blackwell Brothers and made by Stubbs of Liverpool and joinery by Michael Gibbons of Ashton. The canopy over the altar is an original feature. The glass font bowl is a modern replacement for the original bowl, and was made by Pilkington’s. The pipe organ on the west gallery was acquired from Cheadle Royal Hospital and installed by Jardine.
Original Date: 1963
Conservation Area: Yes
Listed Grade: Not Listed