Building » Neath – St Joseph

Neath – St Joseph

Hillside Lane, Neath, SA11 1TG

A 1930s brick building in a simplified Gothic style, by Hallwood of Hyde. The interior is a single broad space whose principal architectural feature is the openwork timber roof. The windows are filled with mid-twentieth century stained glass figures of saints.

From 1889, Catholics in Neath worshipped in a town centre building now known as Moose Hall, which had been built as a Methodist chapel in 1813. This building survives and is listed Grade II. The present church, a neo-gothic design built to accommodate 700 worshippers, and the adjoining presbytery, were built in 1933-4 on a new site on the southern edge of the town. The drawings are signed by Messrs Hallwood, Church Builders of Hyde in Cheshire, who presumably provided the design. The foundation stone was laid by the Archbishop of Cardiff on 20 May 1933.

A parish hall was added next to the church in 1981 (architects F.R. Bates, Son & Price of Newport). All the windows were overhauled and many given new frames in 1990.


The church is in an economical late Gothic Revival style; the body of the building is rectangular on plan with a northeast sacristy, southeast chapel and an apsidal sanctuary producing a cruciform footprint. The walls are of red brick laid in stretcher bond with every sixth course laid in headers, and with window heads and cills of stone. The pitched roof is covered with Welsh slate. The west front has a single overall stepped gable with a stone coping. The front is divided into three by plain pilaster strips, with a projecting gabled porch up steps in the central section, with a large rose window over and a figure of St Joseph in a niche at the gable head. The flanking sections each have a single large pointed window. The side walls are also divided into bays by pilaster strips with a pointed window in each bay. The sacristy and southeast chapel are roofed separately from the body of the church, with their pitched roofs hipped at the west end.

The interior is a single broad space with an open timber roof of seven bays. The principal trusses have wide collars with vertical struts and are braced down onto stone corbels between the side windows. The walls are plastered and the window openings all have plaster hood moulds. The floor is of timber boards. At the west end of the nave is a full-width timber gallery; the space beneath is enclosed by a glazed screen to provide a narthex. At the east end of the south side, two pointed arches open into a side chapel. On the east wall, two pointed side niches originally for side altars flank the tall pointed sanctuary arch. The sanctuary itself has plain plastered walls with side windows and a plastered semi-domed ceiling. The east end has been re-ordered, with a modern forward altar. The octagonal stone font now stands on the south side of the sanctuary arch.

The bench seating in the body of the church and most of the moveable sanctuary fittings appear to be relatively modern. Most of the windows have stained glass with figures of saints and ornamental borders of a uniform type. The west rose window has four small roundels with figures. The glass could all be contemporary with the church but no documentation has been found. The side chapel has a timber altar and reredos which is probably original to the church. Mounted on the wall of the side chapel is a medieval lead crucifix which was found in a cottage boundary wall in Neath in 1917. It has been identified as a priest’s travelling crucifix, and may have a connection with Neath Abbey, founded in 1130, which was a major religious foundation.

Heritage Details

Architect: A. Hallwood

Original Date: 1933

Conservation Area: No

Listed Grade: Not Listed