Building » Kirkby (Southdene) – St Joseph the Worker

Kirkby (Southdene) – St Joseph the Worker

Bewley Drive, Southdene, Kirkby, Liverpool 32

A church built to serve the quasi-new town of Kirkby, interesting as an example of mid-1960s architecture, with many of the characteristics fashionable at that time.

Southdene was one of the three neighbourhoods that formed part of the post-war development of Kirkby, built to house people removed from the city centre under slum clearance programmes. The development was undertaken by Liverpool Corporation on a site acquired from the seventh Earl of Sefton, formerly a Royal Ordnance Factory, about six miles northeast of Liverpool city centre. Each neighbourhood was given its own church, school and shopping centre. Construction of Southdene began in 1950 and by 1961,10,000 residential units had been built, including fourteen tower blocks (of which six remain). St Joseph the Worker (a common dedication in working class areas) was built in 1964 to serve this population.


The church is a long rectangular building with a tall pitched roof and a sanctuary projection at the liturgical east end. It is linked to the parish centre at the west end and the presbytery at the northeast corner. The low walls of the church are faced with red brick, the deep roof is covered in concrete tiles. The plain brick west gable has a large central window with multiple timber mullions, now all covered by protective polycarbonate sheeting. The entrance is in the link passage to the parish centre. The principal feature of both long sides of the church is a row of five tall narrow cross-gables with large diamond-paned windows and shingled aprons. The projecting sanctuary has a large rectangular window on each side; the east end wall is blind.

The interior is dominated by the row of laminated timber cruck frames which support the roof and the timber boarded ceiling. The cruck verticals define the nave and narrow aisle spaces. At the western end is an enclosed single-storey vestibule. Above it is a massive west window filled with coloured  glass. The low side walls are plastered, the large lattice-glazed side windows also with coloured filling. The east wall of the sanctuary is painted in a geometrical design, with a plain blue centre against which is set a crucifix under a projecting canopy. The altar and the timber benches are presumably original fittings.

Heritage Details

Architect: L. A. G. Prichard

Original Date: 1964

Conservation Area: Yes

Listed Grade: Not Listed