Textile Street, Gorton, Manchester M12
A modest and functional design of the 1990s, the successor to E. W. Pugin’s magnificent church and friary, which is now closed and in secular use.
Gorton is a suburb of Manchester which expanded during industrialisation in the nineteenth century and became a centre for large engineering works. Following the decline of industry in the twentieth century there were clearances and new building was undertaken, including much council housing. The mission in Fairfield, Gorton was led by the Rev. Peter Cardinael who founded a school chapel on Gorton Lane in 1861.
Various unsuccessful attempts had been made to restore the Franciscan English Province during the mid-nineteenth century. Fr. Bernard van Loo entered into negotiations with the Bishop of Salford and eventually permission was received. A group of friars from Belgium arrived and Fr. Cardinael surrendered the building and his house to them in 1861. The friars went on to acquire a property known as Bankfield Cottage nearby, with four acres of land. The foundation stone of a new friary was laid on Whit Sunday 1863 by Canon Benoit. A wing of the friary was built and used as a church while the remainder was completed. Meanwhile a new church dedicated to St Francis on the site of the cottage was started in 1866 and opened by Cardinal Manning in September 1872. It was built to the designs of E.W. Pugin and is considered to be perhaps his most important ecclesiastical commission.
Pugin’s church was closed in 1989 and more recently has been restored and refurbished for secular use. The replacement church was built nearby on Textile Street in 1992-3. Manchester City Council’s online register of planning applications gives Reynolds & Scott as the agent.
All orientations given are liturgical. The church is a low building of brick with an artificial tile roof. There is a projecting gabled bay at the east end sheltering the east window, and the main entrance is at the northwest end. A small mosaic showing St Francis is attached to the north wall of the building. A porch leads into the narthex, where doors lead off to a sacristy and accessible WC. A meeting room at the west end can be thrown together with the worship space by means of a screen. The simple interior is well lit and has a raised sanctuary lit by a stepped east window showing St Francis, which may have been designed by the Lightfoot firm. Seating is provided by chairs.
Architect: Reynolds & Scott
Original Date: 1992
Conservation Area: No
Listed Grade: Not Listed