Bebington Road, New Ferry, Wirral, Cheshire CH62
A well-proportioned church by W. C. Mangan dating from the 1930s, with a tall west front to Bebington Road. Within the spacious interior, attention is focussed on the apsidal sanctuary and chapels, which are faced in marble and retain some of their original furnishings. The earlier presbytery combines with the church to make a positive contribution to the setting of the Port Sunlight Conservation Area.
A mission was established at New Ferry in 1902, with Mass being said in the assembly rooms (now the post office). Land had already been purchased from William Hesketh Lever (later Lord Leverhulme) for a church. At first a school-chapel was erected at the rear of the site, which opened in October 1903. The building contained classrooms on the ground floor and a chapel and clubrooms above. The presbytery was completed in March 1906. The church was finally erected in 1934, to the design of W. C. Mangan.
In 1950 the interior of the church was redecorated under the direction of E. F. Blackwell of Middleton. The walls of the sanctuary were faced in marble, and the dome over the sanctuary was painted with symbols of the four Evangelists, the Lamb and the Holy Ghost. A baldachin of silver bronze was placed above the altar and a rood was hung from the sanctuary arch as a memorial to those who lost their lives in the Second World War. The paintings were lost in the late 1970s and the baldachin was removed when the sanctuary was reordered in accordance with the post-Vatican II liturgy.
In the 1930s the school moved to alternative premises, and the school-chapel was converted to a parish hall. In 1952 a men’s club was established in a separate building on the site, though this was demolished recently.
The church has a tall narrow west front to Bebington Road, with a wide, undivided nave and an apsidal sanctuary. Apsidal side chapels flank the sanctuary. Above the narthex at the west end is a choir gallery with an organ. The church is built of red- brown brick with band courses and shallow set-backs of a vaguely Art Deco character. The steeply sloping roof is of red tiles. The recessed west doorway is surmounted by a mosaic of St John the Evangelist, flanked by metal plaques bearing the Papal tiara and cross keys, and the arms of Bishop Singleton. Three narrow lancet windows rise above, and at the apex of the gable is a five metre high metal cross. Sacristies run along the north side of the church, and are connected to the presbytery.
The interior is airy and spacious, each of the bays being defined by a pointed diaphragm arch spanning the full width of the nave, and concealing the lattice girders of the steel roof. Embellishment of the interior is restricted to the sanctuary and chapels, where the walls are lined in marble (dating from the 1950s decorations). The post-Vatican II reordering involved the extension of the sanctuary into the nave, the reduction in size and re-siting of the Connemara marble altar just forward of the sanctuary arch, and the removal of the baldachin. The oak altar rails were removed, and the tabernacle was moved from the sanctuary to the Sacred Heart chapel, which became a Blessed Sacrament Chapel. The tabernacle is surmounted by the dove, and the panels of double doors have symbols of the Evangelists. The former baptistery at the west end has been converted to a candle store, and the font, which is now placed in the Blessed Sacrament Chapel, is late-nineteenth century and comes from another church. The pews in the front part of the nave were replaced by loose chairs c.2000. The former boys’ sacristy has been converted into a day chapel which is used for daily Mass.
Architect: W. C. Mangan
Original Date: 1934
Conservation Area: Yes
Listed Grade: Not Listed