Spring Water Avenue, Hackenthorpe, Sheffield, S12
A large church built by Reynolds & Scott to serve a post-war housing estate, its design a modern interpretation of Gothic. The interior is light and spacious, with the reinforced concrete frame expressed, and was sympathetically reordered by John Rochford & Partners in the 1970s. The exterior is bold and striking rather than subtle or delicate, but is nevertheless a local landmark.
The population in Sheffield expanded rapidly after the Second World War, prompting a local authority programme of housebuilding, which included the new southeastern suburbs of Gleadless and Hackenthorpe. A Mass centre was established at Birley Hotel in 1952 and was served initially from St Theresa’s (qv). An independent parish was erected in 1954, when the parish priest for St Theresa’s initiated plans for a church dedicated to Our Lady of Lourdes. A large plot of land for a church, presbytery and school was purchased at Springwater Avenue. The church was built from designs by Reynolds & Scott of Manchester to accommodate 400 people and opened in 1957. The total cost was approximately £33,700.
Reordering was undertaken by John Rochford & Partners in 1973; the levels were changed and a new forward altar installed. The old high altar was removed, that area becoming a weekday Blessed Sacrament chapel. The altar rails were modified, the pulpit removed, the font moved to the sanctuary area, the grilles to the side chapels removed and their altars converted to pedestals for statues.
The church was built to the designs of Reynolds & Scott in 1957. The style is a modern interpretation of Gothic, built to a traditional longitudinal plan, with a wide aisled nave, shallow transepts, polygonal apsed sanctuary, and a west tower containing a choir gallery and organ. Single storey elements (baptistery, sacristies, confessionals etc.) wrap around the aisles. The church is built with a reinforced concrete frame, externally faced with golden rustic brick, with artificial stone dressings and the roofs (largely hidden by parapets) covered in felt.
The principal entrance in the west front is framed by two polygonal turrets which stop short of the height of the raised central ‘tower’ bay. The central doorway has an artificial stone surround with a coat of arms above and is surmounted by a tall window opening with stone cross over. At the sides, the church is lit by five tall two-light clerestory windows, the shallow transepts (marked by a raised stepped parapet) with three vertical windows. The canted sanctuary has four vertical windows and a brick cross in relief on the blind east wall.
The interior is a large volume, making use of modern materials, the reinforced concrete frames tapered inwards to form shallow pointed arches, carrying plain purlins. The six-bay nave is lit by pairs of tall clerestory windows, with multi-coloured panes with sacred monograms. The low aisles are spanned by concrete arches springing between the principal concrete frame and the outer aisle walls. Built-in confessionals give off the aisles. At the west end, the space of the former baptistery has been converted to a kitchen. The choir gallery contains a pipe organ by J. W. Walker and Sons Ltd, dating from 1960, and above this there is stained glass in the tall west window. At the east end, the sanctuary was reordered in 1973. It is raised by four steps, covered in terrazzo tiles with a forward altar is of Ancaster stone and sedilia of carved oak. The area of the original high altar is now a Blessed Sacrament chapel, and has a mosaic floor. The original tabernacle stands on a pillar of Ancaster stone, and above it is the original timber canopy, carved and painted with the dove of the Holy Spirit in the soffit. There are shrines to the Sacred Heart, Our Lady of Lourdes and St Bernadette. The Stations of the Cross are wooden tableaux, frameless and carved in low relief.
Original Date: 1957
Conservation Area: Yes
Listed Grade: Not Listed