Building » Pudsey – St Joseph

Pudsey – St Joseph

Mount Pleasant Road, Pudsey, West Yorkshire

A simple but pleasing design in the stripped-down Romanesque style so popular between the wars.

By the mid-19th  century the increasing numbers of Catholics in Pudsey had to travel to Leeds or Bradford to attend Mass. It was the parish priest from St Mary’s, Stott Hill in Bradford, Canon John Motler, who first planned to build a chapel in the town in the 1870s. However he left St Mary’s before he could put his plan into action and it was left to his successor Fr Thomas Simpson to obtain a room in Hammerton Field, where Mass was first said in 1883. This was a temporary measure, as land had been acquired in The Lanes to build a school and chapel.  The foundation stone was laid by Canon Motler and the school chapel was opened by Bishop Cornthwaite on 19 April, 1884.  The cost of this first stone building was £1,200 and it held up to 400 people, and provided two schoolrooms. This first St Joseph’s was served by the priests from St Mary’s until 1901, when the care of the parish was transferred to the Carmelite Fathers of the Dutch Province. Frs Paul Hurkmanns, O.C.C. and Vitalis Felix, O.C.C. took possession of the parish on 28 April 1901 and moved into a house in Pembroke Road, off Richardshaw Lane. The stay of the Carmelites Fathers turned out to be brief and following a visitation of the Prior General to Pudsey in 1906 they returned to Holland.

It was not until May 1908 that a new parish priest arrived at St Joseph’s, Fr Dominic Laurence Verstylen. Fr Verstylen had been a curate at St Anne’s Cathedral in Leeds and he had visited and assisted at St Joseph’s for a number of years. He obtained in 1913 from Belgium a timber-framed building which was to serve as a temporary church for the next twenty years. On 17 September 1932 Bishop Cowgill laid the foundation stone of the current St Joseph’s and the church, built from the designs of Charles Fox of Dewsbury, was opened exactly one year later. The new church cost £3,500. Sadly, only two weeks after the opening of the church Fr Verstylen died.

The church was re-ordered in 1968 by the Langtry-Langton Practice, when a new Blessed Sacrament Chapel was added to the side of the sanctuary and a new forward altar installed.

A new extension was added to the west end in 2004, which created a narthex area and before that in 1997 a new disabled-access ramp was also created.

1933 by Charles Fox of Dewsbury in a simplified Romanesque style, built of small, textured red bricks with white mortar pointing and a tile roof with bright red ridge pieces. The plan consists of a nave of 3 bays with a slightly projecting transept bay in front of the sanctuary.  The ground falls away to the east and the apsidal sanctuary is canted  on  the  exterior.  The  south  elevation  has  three  tall,  narrow  semi-circular headed metal-framed windows, the most easterly of which has been altered to accommodate a doorway from the disabled access ramp. There is a brick bell tower at the angle between the nave and transept and beyond, because of the steep fall in ground level,  there is a two-storey structure which contains stairs into up to the main church  level  via  the  sacristy.    To  the  north  this  elevation  is  repeated  with  the exception of the sacristy extension. The western entrance elevation is almost completely covered by the 2004 extension, only the top of the original gable end wall being visible, and containing a cross in brick relief.

The interior is light and spacious with the red brick walls giving a warm feel to the building.   The shallow, barrel-vaulted roof is painted white, suspended from which are   pendant   type   lights   which   may   be   original.   The   nave   windows   have   a chequerboard pattern of textured glass quarries in white and pale yellow colours. There is a central alley flanked by simple wooden pews.  The west end contains the original door and a new opening has been made to form a viewing window through to the narthex. The sanctuary is flanked by two side chapels.   The Lady Chapel to the south is formed by a simple, shallow recess in the transept wall and contains a statue of Our Lady.   To the north is the deeper Blessed Sacrament chapel, formed in the 1968 re-ordering.   This chapel is typical of the Langtry-Langton Practice’s work of this  time, with off-white textured  walls,  narrow  slit windows filled  with  marbled orange-yellow glass and top-lit with a circular rooflight.  The sanctuary was altered at this time with a new Sicilian marble forward altar with bronze decoration in the form of crosses installed and similar textured walls and glass added to the rear apsidal wall.

Heritage Details

Architect: C. E. Fox

Original Date: 1933

Conservation Area: Yes

Listed Grade: Not Listed