Mornington Road, Kirkholt, Rochdale OL11
A simple post-war church with an Italianate tower, concrete frame and red brick facings. The building is well-sited on a prominent rise in the centre of this post-war housing estate.
The parish had its tentative beginnings in the early 1950s in the now demolished Balderstone Hall, where Mass was said for the people of the newly-built Kirkholt Estate by visiting priests from St John’s parish. Fr Murphy was appointed in 1954 and presided over the planning and building of the present church and presbytery soon after his appointment. The architect was Richard Byrom (information from Lawrence Gregory, Diocesan Archives). In the early 1990s the church interior was reordered by Fr William O’Connor to reflect the requirements of the Second Vatican Council. The high altar was reduced to a shallow, decorative frontal, and the font moved to a new position towards the east end front of the church, the front pews being adjusted to accommodate it. In the late 1990s the church was completely redecorated, the lighting renewed and the original organ replaced by an instrument from Beechwood Convent, then closing. In 2006 a parish room was formed at the west end of the nave with a new entrance on the north side of the church (architects Goth Hibbert of Manchester).
The church is designed in a modernised Italianate style. The plan of the building comprises an aisleless nave with a narrower bay at each end, all under the same pitched roof, a northwest campanile and a low flat-roofed range along the north side of the main church containing the confessionals, the sacristy and a link to the presbytery. The walls are faced with red brick laid in Flemish bond; the roof is covered with red tiles. The west end of the nave rises sheer to the roof gable, with a large small-paned rectangular window high in the wall. Originally the entrances to the church were at the west end of the south side and through the base of the northwest tower. These have now been supplanted by the northwest door and the tower door has been covered by a mosaic panel. The tower itself is rectangular, of four stages and with a pyramidal roof. The side walls of the main church are of seven bays, with long rectangular windows on the south side and shorter windows on the north side above the confessional range. The short sanctuary has a small window high in each side wall but the east end wall is blind.Inside the building the concrete portal fames are exposed. The floor is of wood blocks, the walls plain plastered, with windows filled with tinted leaded lights and the ceiling is boarded above the portal frames. At the west end of the church the organ gallery survives but the two western bays of the nave in front of it are now filled with the half-height parish room. At the east end a plain parabolic arch opens into the sanctuary, giving a modernist touch to the interior. The nave benches and oak sanctuary fittings, including the canopy to the former high altar are probably original.
Architect: Richard Byrom
Original Date: 1955
Conservation Area: No
Listed Grade: Not Listed