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-nineteenth century the increasing number of Catholics in Pudsey had to travel to Leeds or Bradford to attend Mass. It was the 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 for this was laid by Canon Motler and the school-chapel opened by Bishop Cornthwaite on 19 April 1884. The stone building accommodated 400 and provided two schoolrooms; it cost £1,200. This first St Joseph’s was served by the priests from St Mary’s until 1901, when care of the mission was transferred to the Carmelite Fathers of the Dutch Province. Fr Paul Hurkmanns OCC and Fr Vitalis Felix OCC moved into a house in Pembroke Road, off Richardshaw Lane. Their stay turned out to be brief; following a visitation of the Prior General to Pudsey in 1906 they returned to Holland.

It was not until May 1908 that a new 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. In 1913 he obtained 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 church which, built from the designs of Charles Fox of Dewsbury, opened exactly one year later. It cost £3,500. Sadly, Fr Verstylen died only two weeks after its opening.

The church was reordered in 1968 by the Langtry-Langton Practice, when a Blessed Sacrament Chapel was added to the side of the sanctuary and a forward altar installed. A narthex was added at the west end in 2004.


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 three 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. 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 a 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. The shallow, barrel-vaulted roof is painted white, suspended from which are pendant 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 reordering. 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 and similar textured walls and glass added to the rear apsidal wall.

Heritage Details

Architect: C. E. Fox

Original Date: 1933

Conservation Area: No

Listed Grade: Not Listed