Cromwell Road, Liswerry, Newport, NP19 0HS
A substantial church of the early 1960s, built for the Rosminian Order from designs by Cyril Bates. It is of traditional plan form, using modern materials and construction, and with a landmark tower. The church is notable for a fine set of furnishings by Jonah Jones.
In the 1890s John Lysaght and Co. of Wolverhampton established a steelworks (Orb Works) at Newport, bringing much of their workforce, including many Catholics. The works became a major employer and were a spur to much housing expansion in the Corporation Road area. In 1909 a property at no. 442 Corporation Road was acquired and fitted out as a place of Catholic worship. This served until 1925, when a separate parish was created and a corrugated iron church opened on Cromwell Road, on a large site (the site of the present church) acquired by Fr Hickey of St Mary’s. The Tablet reported:
‘Within the short period of nine months a temporary but sufficiently substantial church has been planned, erected, and opened at Newport, Monmouthshire. St. Patrick’s congregation in Corporation Road, a mission started in 1909, had to make shift for many years with a simple upper room; but now, with the creation of the new parish out of the area of St Mary’s, with Father J. P. Woodlock (sic), I.C., as its parish priest, there is the new church to minister to an increasing number of worshippers. The building, opened on Sunday by His Grace the Archbishop of Cardiff, stands in Cromwell Road; it is constructed of corrugated iron on solid foundations, and will accommodate 550 persons. Sufficient land has been acquired to build also a school and a presbytery.’
The iron church was manufactured by Lysaght’s and built by Messrs Ginger, Lee & Co.; it was of a scale and architectural ambition not usually associated with this building type, and was designed by Cyril F. Bates of F. R. Bates & Son, Newport. A presbytery followed in 1927 and a church hall in 1947. The parish was, and remains, served by priests of the Institute of Charity (Rosminians).
In 1962-3 the iron church was replaced by the present church, seating 600, also designed by Cyril Bates FRIBA, of F. R. Bates, Son & Price. The contractors were Noel T. James Ltd. The church was solemnly opened by the Archbishop of Cardiff on 28 August 1963.
The church was consecrated on 10 June 1980. In 1984 the roof of the parish hall collapsed and was rebuilt by volunteers. The church interior was also redecorated at this time, including the removal of the white paint previously applied over the shamrock above the chancel arch after it incurred episcopal displeasure.
Today St Patrick’s is the only church in Newport still served by the Rosminian Order.
The church is built to a traditional longitudinal plan using modern materials and construction techniques. It is described more fully in the list entry below.
St Patrick’s is perhaps notable above all for its artworks and furnishings by Jonah Jones. Working from east to west, these comprise:
There is a further mosaic, possibly by Jones, set into the paving immediately outside the main door at the west end, depicting the Pelican in her piety with surrounding inscription LEGIS CHARITAS PLENITUDO (Charity fulfils the Law, motto of the Rosminian Order).
The nave pews appear to be the original ones of 1962-3. The font has been moved from its original position in the baptistery at the west end (which is now a repository) to the sanctuary.
Reference Number: 25846
Date of Designation: 31/10/2001
Name of Property: St Patrick’s Roman Catholic Church
Unitary Authority: Newport
Street Side: N
Location: Prominently situated some 10 m E of junction with Fairfax Road.
History: Built 1962-63 by F.R.Bates, Son & Price of Newport, architects; interior decoration by Jonah Jones. The firm of architects specialised in Catholic churches across South Wales, the majority of which are in a Modern idiom: St Patrick’s is, unusually, in a simplified Gothic style. The previous church, built in 1909 to serve workers at Lysaght’s Iron and Steel Works was of corrugated iron. The use of warm red brick and a large corner tower is an unusual and deliberate attempt to introduce a prominent landmark to the Docks area, and is clearly influenced by the architecture of later C19 urban churches and chapels.
Exterior: Elevations of orange-red brick, red pantiled roof on deep eaves. Reinforced concrete construction. Windows with concrete glazing to main elevations, smaller windows of steel. Gabled entrance elevation (S) facing Cromwell Road with tall corner tower to right. Entry with large window above set in recess, with plain flanks. Window has angular pointed head; concrete rectilinear glazing. Storm porch below with projecting flat roof; triple angular-headed openings. Paired inner doors with lozenge-pattern glazing each side in concrete. To left of gable is narrow two-bay entrance elevation to Presbytery, which continues into adjacent terrace. Narrow paired windows to both storeys; door to ground floor left. Tall tower with very narrow upper steel windows; narrow louvred belfry lights above. Tower is capped with rectangular open cupola with small cardinal gablets, and copper-clad crucifix finial. East transeptal projection with full-height angular-headed concrete gable window, divided horizontally into four bays. Four bay single-storey flat-roofed aisle between transept and tower: the two central bays recessed, with single light steel windows. Four-bay clerestory stage; large concrete window divided by pilaster strips. West side (partly hidden by the Presbytery and Fairfax Road) is broadly similar, with small lights to gable of transept instead of large window. N elevation has rear gable of nave, and lower projecting sanctuary with hipped roof.
Interior: Plan is cruciform, with large nave, transeptal projections containing side chapels to ground floor with balconies above, and short narrow sanctuary with slightly splayed walls. Simple roof. Seven-bay arcades of concrete angular arches. Projecting balconies to left and right of nave above chapels: concrete fronts with open loops. Low wall between nave and sanctuary with centre steps. Angular-headed arch to sanctuary. Free-standing altar set on steps within large timber baldacchino. Rear gallery with projecting centre: timber glazed screen below, with central doors. Circular font of green granite. Expansive S (gallery) window of 1963 by Jonah Jones, depicting St Patrick. Hanging mosaics to rear sanctuary wall depicting Christ in Majesty and the emblems of the Evangelists: also by Jones.
Reason for designation: Listed as a well-designed later C20 Roman Catholic Church by a well-established firm of architects, with its character and detail intact. While using modern materials such as reinforced concrete, the church is extremely unusual in being designed and detailed in a traditional manner, in harmony with, yet dominating the surrounding later C19 townscape.
Architect: F.R. Bates, Son & Price
Original Date: 1963
Conservation Area: No
Listed Grade: Grade II