Building » Shipley – St Walburga

Shipley – St Walburga

Kirkgate, Shipley, Bradford 18

A pleasing post-war design making a positive contribution to the street scene in a leafy part of Shipley, with a little-altered interior and a tall landmark tower. The longitudinal plan is conventional for its time, on the eve of the Second Vatican Council.

Fr Henry Walker started a mission from St Patrick’s, Bradford in 1863, when Mass was first said in a room in the Oddfellows’ Hall. A chapel dedicated to St Mary and St Walburga, with a school and presbytery, was built on Keighley Road in 1867, in the leafy suburb of Victoria Park on the edge of Shipley. This chapel proved too small for the community and the present larger church was developed by Fr Eugene Teahan on the site of a Victorian villa on Kirkgate in 1962. The new church was opened by Bishop Dwyer of Leeds, and the old chapel was converted to a parish hall. The new building cost £62,000 and the contractors were Messrs J. Totty Ltd, of Bradford.

Shipley is an attractive small town just over three miles north of Bradford; the industrial village of Saltaire, a World Heritage Site, is half a mile to the northwest of the church. This part of Kirkgate developed with suburban villas in the mid 19th century, now partly occupied by businesses. The early 19th century Anglican church is 100 yards to the northeast, on the same street. The church and presbytery are set in well-maintained gardens with mature trees, behind a 19th century boundary wall.

The liturgical east end is to the south, and this description will use liturgical compass points.

The church is faced in snecked sandstone with a Welsh slate shallow-pitched roof. The gable of the west front is dominated by a full-height triple window, above the oak entrance doors with flat canopy; the central elements break forward slightly from the flanking walls. The square tower, 86 feet high, marks the northwest corner of the frontage, with side walls expressed as pilasters to the front panel, deep eaves over a clerestory stage and flat roof surmounted with a statue of Our Lady and the infant Jesus. The 6-bay nave is lit by clerestory windows and the flat-roofed aisles have tall 2-light steel windows in concrete surrounds. The Lady Chapel projects to the southeast of the nave, with flat roof. The east gable is blind, with a tall black cross and the sanctuary is side-lit by three-quarter height plain narrow windows. To the northeast, a flat-roofed link was built as the sacristy and connects to the presbytery; this now serves as a small chapel.

The interior has a west gallery above a narthex, entered from west and north doorways. The nave roof is supported on slender steel columns, finished with dark green lino. The shallow-pitched ceiling is coffered with relief decoration, painted blue. The floor is tiled. The sanctuary has altered little since the church opened, with a grey Carrara marble central altar on black and white marble steps, with green marble reredos set within an arched recess, with side lights. The pews are good quality oak. There are two small stained glass windows, dedicated to St Dorothy and St Walburga at the east end (not signed or dated) but no other fittings of note. The stained glass in the corridor chapel is of indifferent quality.

Heritage Details

Architect: J. H. Langtry-Langton

Original Date: 1962

Conservation Area: Yes

Listed Grade: Not Listed