Margam Road, Port Talbot, SA13 2HR
A thoughtfully-designed modern building by Thomas Price, reflecting the 1970s vogue for multi-purpose worship centres. The simple church interior is enlivened by top lighting and the use of stained glass.
The parish of Our Lady of Margam was formed out of the parish of St Joseph, Port Talbot (qv) in 1951. In 1972 a new combined church and social centre was built from designs by Thomas Price, to replace the two old and dilapidated structures then in use. The new site contained a large house which was retained as the presbytery. A description of the church published in 1972 notes that, ‘the hall of the social centre abuts the church and provision can be made for extending church seating accommodation should the need arise’. This suggests that the main church space and the hall of the centre were interconnected in some way, but there is now no evidence of this. Either the design was modified in execution, or there has been a subsequent alteration.
The building was designed to combine a church and social centre. The style adopted is modern and functional, with no extraneous ornament. The two parts of the building are united behind a single west-facing front wall of brown engineering brick laid in Flemish bond. To the right a broad flight of steps (with a Lourdes grotto added beside it) leads up through the wall to the wide glazed entrance screen of the church; to the left is a narrow entrance leading to the centre. Behind the wall rise the flat roofs of the two structures; the church roof to the right has a brick-faced upstand capped by an octagonal lantern with a shallow conical roof, the hall roof to the left has a raised clerestory. The brown brick south front of the church facing across the presbytery lawn has two groups of three tall slit windows lighting the church and a demi-octagonal projection at the east end of the front containing the Blessed Sacrament Chapel. The chapel walls are faced with render and the flat roof has a shallow domed skylight (not the bold pyramidal roof shown on the original sketch). The east side is not readily visible and the north side abuts the social centre.
The church is entered through a narthex spanning the full width of the main front. The interior is an austere rectangular space with plain plastered walls and a low ceiling lined with acoustic panels. The vertical slit windows are filled with stained glass in abstract patterns, of a type and colour found in other churches by Thomas Price (cf St Therese of Lisieux at Sandfields and Our Lady of the Assumption, Briton Ferry, qqv) and so are presumably original fittings. The semi-abstract stained glass windows in the octagonal lantern above the sanctuary portray the Joys and Sorrows of Mary and were designed by Ludovik Kolek, made in the studios of M Fabrica Ltd, Brno, Czech Republic and installed in 1999. The sanctuary has a reredos of bare brickwork and a forward altar. The tapering octagonal font and the steel and timber benches are doubtless original fittings. The small southeast Blessed Sacrament chapel has abstract stained glass and bench seating similar to those in the main body of the church.
Architect: Thomas Price of F. R. Bates, Son & Price
Original Date: 1972
Conservation Area: No
Listed Grade: Not Listed