Elliott Street, Rochdale OL12
A striking and effective design from the early 1960s by Desmond Williams & Associates. The robust interior is well-lit and serves its purpose effectively, but the church does not contain furnishings and artworks of particular note.
The original mission was founded from St John Rochdale in 1861 and was built up over the next thirty six years by the Revd Michael Moriarty. He built a church, school and presbytery. The church was a simple Gothic structure on the corner of Elliot Street and Watts Street, with the presbytery fronting the latter. At some time between 1903 and 1928 a new and larger presbytery was built on the site of the old by Fr Richard Campion.
When a general redevelopment of the area was proposed in the early 1960s, designs were prepared by Desmond Williams for a new church to replace the old building on the same site. The first design dated 1961 is similar to the executed design but taller, with a conical roof to the drum and a detached bell tower. The new church was intended to seat 500 people. It was completed in 1967.
The church is rectangular on plan. It is built of loadbearing brickwork and is flat-roofed with a large shallow dome on a low concrete drum. Brick piers support steel beams which carry the drum. The main exterior walls are of red brick and have a complex rhythm with pairs of broad full-height brick piers and narrow piers separated by narrow full-height windows. The central pier on the west side steps forward to provide an entrance on each side. The east wall is blind. The plain parapet of the drum is barely visible from the street.
The interior is simple but effective. The narrow piers of the exterior extend into the space to carry the drum of the central dome, which has a continuous strip window. The walls between the piers are plastered. A broad curving gallery with a pierced concrete front fills the whole of the west side. All the windows are clear glazed. The sanctuary is a shallow dais in front of the east wall and was reordered in 1995. The altar is of black marble on granite legs and the cubic font and lectern are of the same material. The Stations of the Cross were painted by Antonia White, a parishioner, in 2000 and she also painted the icons on the gallery front, one of which represents Alice Ingham, founder of the Catholic Rescue Society, who came from Yorkshire Street nearby. The Lady Chapel behind the altar has abstract stained glass by Simon Harvey. The benches in the body of the church are presumably original to the building.
Architect: Desmond Williams & Associates
Original Date: 1967
Conservation Area: No
Listed Grade: Not Listed