Building » Mossley – St Joseph

Mossley – St Joseph

Argyle Street, Mossley, Ashton-under-Lyne OL5 0BH

A modestly-sized and well-detailed design of the 1960s by Desmond Williams, in a simplified modern Gothic style, and built on the site of its 1860s predecessor. It has been little altered and retains some original fittings. The spirelet and distinctive main front give the church some local landmark presence.  

The Mossley mission was founded in 1856 by the Rev. William Wilson, served from St Bridget’s. Mass was said in an upper room in the Old House at Home public house on Nield Street.  The Rev. Charles Grymonprez built the first church in 1862, dedicated to St Joseph, a stone Gothic Revival building on the site of the current church. Internal partitions enabled the interior to also be used as a school, before a school was built alongside in about 1874.

In 1962 a new church was commissioned by Rev F. J. Wells from Desmond Williams & Associates, to seat 320 people. The foundation stone was laid in March 1964 by Mgr Canon Charles Egan, and the church opened in 1965.


The east end of the church is orientated to the south, and liturgical compass points will be used in this description.  The 1965 church was built on the site of the 1860s church. It is faced in red brick and cast stone panels, with raking brick buttresses and a steeply pitched roof laid in concrete tiles. Rainwater goods are metal boxed gutters.  The eight-bay building is arranged with sanctuary and nave under one roof, with sacristies and presbytery to the east end, flat-roofed confessionals and side entrance to the south side, a cupola with inverted roof and copper spirelet to the west end. The west entrance doors and side lights are in a recessed panel on the west gable end, with steeply-pitched canopies and a large circular window above. The sanctuary is expressed externally by tall side windows and a set-back roof. The east gable end is blind. Nave walls have faceted bays between buttresses with two narrow steel windows per bay.

The interior has plain plastered walls, a boarded soffit to the slope of the roof and ceramic tiled floor (partly carpeted) to the nave.  The steep roof is carried on exposed reinforced concrete portal frame trusses. The narthex is separated from the nave by a hardwood screen with decorative steel grilles to the sides; the screen has been moved to the east slightly, to enlarge the narthex. The west gallery is framed within a brick pointed arch, with organ pipes mounted on walls either side. The original baptistery in the narthex is now used as a piety shop. The west windows have colourful 1960s stained glass. The sanctuary is framed by brick pointed arches and has a terrazzo floor under carpet. Liturgical furniture in the sanctuary includes the grey marble altar and tabernacle stand and a pair of lecterns. The sanctuary levels and furnishings have been altered in post-Vatican II reordering. The plain hardwood benches are 1960s. The square marble font has a conical brass lid. Stations of Cross are said to be from the Victorian church.

Heritage Details

Architect: Desmond Williams & Associates

Original Date: 1965

Conservation Area: No

Listed Grade: Not Listed