Building » Oldham – St Anne

Oldham – St Anne

Cook Street, Greenacres, Oldham OL4 1 PB

A well-detailed and little-altered large urban church in modern basilican Romanesque style by Harold Greenhalgh, a well-regarded local architect, and similar to his slightly later church of St Patrick, Collyhurst (qv). The exterior is austere, but the interior has strong character, with an intact set of good quality fittings.  

The original mission at Greenacres was served from St Mary’s, Oldham; Fr Grymonprez said Mass from May 1878 in an upper room above a terrace of cottages on Marsh Street, adapted as a chapel. Fr J. J. Whyte was the first resident priest, in 1878; he built a chapel on Airey Street in 1880. This was followed by a two storey school-chapel built on Balfour Street in 1901-2. This soon proved too small, as the local population grew and new estates were built.

The present church was built by Fr John Linehan, and was designed to seat 850. The foundation stone was laid on 23 June 1934 and the church was opened on 14 July 1935; at both events Bishop Henshaw officiated. The total cost of church, presbytery and fittings was around £25,000. The architect was Harold Greenhalgh of Bolton and the builders the Moston Brick Company.

The nave was partly subdivided to create a parish hall in c1990 and the adjoining 1930s presbytery was sold off in the 1990s.


The large church is built of red brick with concrete copings, with Welsh slate to pitched roofs and asphalt to flat roof areas. Rainwater goods are cast iron, partly replaced in plastic. The aisled church is orientated with the apsidal sanctuary to the east. Sacristies, chapels and confessionals are separately expressed as flat-roofed elements projecting from the aisles and east end.  The style is a stripped modern basilican Romanesque, and all doors and the steel windows are semi-circular headed. The west end has a stepped symmetrical facade with a short central tower flanked by square two-storey porches, all with stone parapets and flat roofs. The west doorway and triple lancets above are set within a giant recessed archway. A mosaic tympanum above the doorway depicts St Anne, with the Agnus Dei and the Pelican in her Piety to tympanums over flanking doorways. The aisles, clerestory and sanctuary have round-headed lancets, all with polycarbonate sheet protection. Side elevations are articulated by plain pilasters and a brick dentil cornice to the eaves.

Inside, the narrow aisles have round-arched plastered arcades on square brick piers with acanthus leaf capitals. An acanthus frieze at clerestory level continues into the apse. Walls in the nave are plain plastered and the exposed roof has king-post trusses. The whole of the roof and the spatial form of the nave is visible above the hall inserted in the four west bays in c1990. The nave floor is of herringbone oak parquet and pews are pine. The sanctuary has a semi-circular arch and apse, both plain plastered above a richly moulded high panelled dado with carved inscription and egg and dart cornice. A baldacchino over the marble altar is richly carved and gilded, with fluted columns to the coffered ceiling. The retained communion rails match the sanctuary dado panelling, and also extend into the side chapels. At the west end, the narthex with arched doorways and pine stairs remain in situ. ittings of note include a good set of carved wooden Stations of the Cross, designed by Fr W. Kelly of St Mary’s, Crewe and made by craftsmen in Bolzano, Italy (installed 1938), an octagonal marble font, and pitch pine panelled doors. A statue of Our Lady of Lourdes comes from the 1902 church.

*Update: The church closed in 2019*

Heritage Details

Architect: H. Greenhalgh

Original Date: 1935

Conservation Area: No

Listed Grade: Not Listed