Building » Llay – St Francis of Assisi

Llay – St Francis of Assisi

Llay Chain, Llay, LL12 0TY

A modest and likeable 1950s building of no great architectural pretension, built to serve a mining community.

Llay was developed as a mining village from 1914 when The Llay Main Collieries Company drafted in a number of Irishmen to dig the pit shafts for the new pit. The village was planned with a formal layout by Barry Parker, the notable Garden City Movement architect, and developed by The Llay Housing Association from 1920. As well as houses, provision was made for the building of schools, shops, churches and chapels. Although a site was reserved for a Catholic church, one of a number of tin-roofed timber-clad buildings which were built for the Irish ‘sinkers’ (as they were known) and served as their living and sleeping quarters, was to become the parish church and remained so for some thirty years. At first the church was served by priests from St Mary’s Pro-Cathedral at Wrexham, then in 1928 a parish priest was appointed, and a house was made available for him in the village. Not until 1953 did the bishop gave his assent for a new church, when funds started to be raised from the poor mining families to build it. The architect was Philip Beard of Wakefield. Work commenced in 1953 and the church was opened by Bishop Petit on 6 June 1954. Pictures, font, organ, candlesticks, benches and other furnishings were brought by the parishioners from the old church. The Gresford Colliery closed in 1973, marking the end of coal mining in the area.

The presbytery was built in 1974 (architect Wilfred Thomason).       


A simple building of rustic brown brick with cast stone dressings and a slate roof. The west front has a central entrance with a projecting doorway beneath a circular window; there are two side porches, which may be later additions. The roof structure is of lightweight steel trusses, originally exposed internally and later concealed by a suspended ceiling.  The architect, whose name is recorded in Latin on an external stone plaque, was Phillip Beard, and the contractor was J. W. Bostock of Gwersyllt.

In 1957 the narthex was created and later the original Lady Chapel, to the left of the sanctuary, was converted to a baptistery. A sacristy was included as part of the presbytery that was built in 1974. A new tabernacle by Wilfrid Thomason of Shorrock Thomason Partnership, architect for the presbytery, was installed after the old one was damaged in an attempted burglary.     

Heritage Details

Architect: Philip B. Beard

Original Date: 1954

Conservation Area: No

Listed Grade: Not Listed