Pickmere Road, Crookes, Sheffield, S10
An attractive polygonal design of 2001, with a top-lit sanctuary. It is the successor to a George Goldie church built in the 1850s for the Irish population of Sheffield, and fittings of note include the fine Gothic stone font from the predecessor church.
During the nineteenth century, the Sheffield Irish Catholic community grew rapidly as a result of immigration and the prospect of employment in the steel and cutlery industries. The Crofts area of inner Sheffield became known as Little Ireland. Fr Scully, head of the mission at St Marie’s, built a school-chapel on a site at White Croft for a cost of £1,800, from designs by M. E. Hadfield. After this opened in August 1853 the Vincentians took over the mission, their first foundation in England. Two years later, the Vincentian Fr Michael Burke commissioned major extensions from Weightman, Hadfield & Goldie, the designs being prepared by George Goldie, a pupil of Pugin. ‘The Duke of Norfolk gave some of the money and the gaunt, utilitarian church of St Vincent duly rose above the mean streets of the Croft Lands’ (Little, p. 129). The builder was Bernard Carr and the church cost £3,200. The foundation stone was laid by the Vicar General, Dr Joseph Render on the feast of Annunciation, 25 March 1856 and the church was dedicated on 16 December 1856 by Bishop Briggs of Beverley and Dr Roskell, Bishop of Nottingham. A tower was added in 1870 (its tall upper stage added by C. M. Hadfield in 1911).
In 1876 the fifteenth Duke of Norfolk gave £11,000 to build a presbytery further along Solly Street at the junction with Garden Street. Built in an Italianate style in 1878 from designs by Hadfield & Son, this had its own large chapel and was the principal mission centre of the Vincentians in England, accommodating upwards of fourteen clergy.
The twentieth century saw major changes in the parish. Two thirds of families were living below the poverty line in slum housing and the Crofts had the highest death rate in Sheffield. Sheffield Corporation began a programme of demolition, rehousing residents in suburban High Wincobank and Shiregreen, resulting in a decline in parish numbers.
During the Second World War the church was severely damaged; the chapel and sacristy were destroyed and all the stained glass windows damaged, although the rood remained. The original school chapel was also destroyed. After an intensive programme of repair and renewal the church reopened in 1942.
After the war the city council initiated a programme of inner city redevelopment which resulted in the Crofts area becoming primarily industrial, and the resident population fell further. In 1983 the former presbytery was sold, and has since been converted to offices (now known as Provincial House, it was listed Grade II in 2014). The school closed in 1989. By this time most of the congregation were living in the Crookes and Walkley areas to the northwest, and Fr Hugh McMahon gained permission from Bishop Moverley and the Vincentian Provincial to build a new church in a more convenient location. The site chosen was a former tram depot on Pickmere Road, Crookes; this was purchased from the city council in 1992. In 1996 the Vincentians withdrew from Sheffield, handing the parish over to the Diocese of Hallam. The old church was closed, and fundraising stepped for the new church. Designed by Jos Townend of Didsbury, this opened on 21 May 2001. At the time of writing (2015) construction of a new parish hall is underway at Pickmere Road (Jump Architects). Meanwhile, the former church remains vacant, with the school alongside almost ruinous.
The church was built in 2001, to the designs of Jos Townend of Didsbury. It is faced in red brick laid in stretcher bond with bands of contrasting buff brick. The plan is polygonal, with interconnecting spaces: the nave and sanctuary under one roof, reconciliation room, narthex, ancillary and parish rooms. The church has been designed allow for flexibility so that different parts may be used together. The concrete-tiled roof has two main pitches; the steeper upper pitch over the body of the church rising to a lantern over the sanctuary, the shallower lower pitch over the confessional/sacristy and ancillary spaces. The latter connects with the roof to the narthex and links to the parish rooms.
The narthex provides access to the church, sacristy, ancillary facilities and parish rooms. Internally, the church is light and spacious, the walls throughout plastered and plainly painted. The carpeted floor slopes gently downwards towards the sanctuary. The roof is carried on a series of columns which form an ambulatory around the perimeter of the congregational space, with the roof structure connecting at the apex to the east. The sanctuary is top-lit by the lantern; its furnishings include a marble altar, font and tabernacle stand, each with a green marble hexagonal plinth. Other furnishings include a Christus Resurrexit against the wall of the sanctuary (artist/maker not established) and the Gothic stone font from the 1856 Goldie church, resited in the narthex. The seating consists of contemporary pews.
Architect: Jos Townend
Original Date: 2001
Conservation Area: No
Listed Grade: Not Listed