Mainway, Alkrington, Middleton, Manchester M24
A striking modern building dominated by a strong pattern of flat roof-planes stepping down from a tall tower behind the sanctuary. The interior, designed for the post-Vatican II liturgy, has been little altered since its completion in 1972.
The old parish of Alkrington with its handsome early Georgian mansion house of Alkrington Hall was incorporated into the Municipal Borough of Middleton in 1886. A Garden Village was begun in 1909 but the speculation failed in the First World War and building ceased until the 1930s. More extensive housing development took place after the Second World War to the north of the old Garden Village, planned on generous lines. The Catholic parish was erected in 1959 and a dual-purpose timber church and hall opened in 1960. A substantial new presbytery was built near the hall in 1967, from designs by George Robb. The present church, linked to the presbytery, wasbegun in May 1970 and was opened by Bishop Holland in March 1972. The architects were Desmond Williams & Associates. The old church-hall remains as the parish hall.
The church is a Modernist design and a striking composition, its stratified horizontal layers perhaps distantly influenced by the buildings of Frank Lloyd Wright, or (nearer in time and place) Denys Lasdun’s National Theatre. The church was built after the Second Vatican Council, and follows the liturgical precepts there established; it is fan-shaped on plan, with a tall tower at the base of the fan, and the main parts of the church – sanctuary, nave, wings or aisles and narthex – stepping down under a series of spreading flat roofs. The tower is of brick and concrete, the body of the church has a steel frame, the walls are faced with buff-coloured brick with continuous strip windows under the deep wall-head and eaves. The flat roofs are covered with asphalt.
The interior is light, with plain plastered walls, flat plastered ceilings and light-coloured natural wood seating. The windows are mostly clear-glazed with a small amount of coloured glass in abstract patterns. The focus of the small sanctuary is the narrow projecting face of the tower which carries a crucifix. The upper parts of the sanctuary walls are have raised timber panelled decoration. The altar and other principal fittings appear to be original.
Architect: Desmond Williams & Associates
Original Date: 1972
Conservation Area: No
Listed Grade: Not Listed