Building » Rochdale – St Vincent de Paul

Rochdale – St Vincent de Paul

Caldershaw Road, Norden, Rochdale OL12

A clear functional design of the 1970s, designed to place all the internal focus on the top-lit altar, which beneath its modern cladding incorporates a pre-Reformation altar stone. The external appearance of the church is slightly forbidding but the interior is enhanced by vibrant slab glass.

There was no Catholic church in the Norden/Bamford area until 1932, when a chapel of ease to St Joseph’s, Heywood was established in what had been known as the Bagslate British Day School. This was in a small Gothic Revival building, and was dedicated to St Hugh of Lincoln.

The parish of St Vincent’s was erected in 1940, having started as an offshoot of St John’s parish, and the first church was off Rooley Moor Road near Spotland Bridge, in a temporary structure built by voluntary labour. The presbytery was just across the road at 68 Rooley Moor Road.

In 1972 the Rev. (later Canon) Mortimer Stanley became parish priest. Planned and newly constructed housing developments in Norden and Bamford made it apparent that a new church was needed nearer the geographical centre of the parish. In June 1975 the present church of St Vincent de Paul was opened, nearly a mile away from the old church. The architect was Bernard Ashton of the Cassidy & Ashton Partnership, Preston.A pre-Reformation altar stone was brought from Monmouth and installed in the new church, encased in white marble. Over the following years the shrine to Our Lady of Lourdes was built, the car park added and a new Parish Centre opened in June 1987.


St Vincent’s is an auditory church, designed in a simple modern style and intended to seat about 450 worshippers.  The building is fan-shaped on plan, with a projecting flat-roofed porch structure at the top of the ‘fan’, which is the liturgical west end of the building. The loadbearing walls are of grey split concrete blocks laid in courses. The prominent steel-framed roof is covered in artificial slate. The roof slopes downwards to the base of the fan where the sanctuary is located. The walls are nowhere more than nine feet high and are generally windowless apart from four corner window openings.  There are skylights in the lower roof slope at the head of the fan and the altar itself is top-lit.

Internally the church is simply fitted with plain white plastered or boarded walls. The low level of daylighting enhances the effect of the four corner windows, which are filled with rainbow glass, and of the top-lit altar. The dalle de verre glass was designed by Eddie Blackwell and made in Dom. Charles Norris’s workshop at Buckfast Abbey. The altar (encasing a pre-Reformation altar stone) and figure of the risen Christ (on the roof over the entrance porch) were also designed by Blackwell.

Heritage Details

Architect: Cassidy & Ashton

Original Date: 1975

Conservation Area: No

Listed Grade: Not Listed