Building » Swinton – St Mary of the Immaculate Conception

Swinton – St Mary of the Immaculate Conception

Park Street, Swinton, Manchester M27

An ambitious design built about the time of the Second Vatican Council, with an unusual arrangement of double naves focussing on the sanctuary. Although there have been radical alterations since that time, some of the original character survives. 

Swinton is a township which was absorbed into Salford and has become a mixed area with a civic and shopping centre surrounded by residential areas, with a hinterland once dominated by mining and industry. The Catholic mission was founded in 1847 to cater for increasing numbers of Irish people escaping famine and seeking work in the area.  A mission room was opened in 1852. Land was bought on Jane Lane (now Swinton Hall Road) and a church was built in 1859 to the designs of Fr Taylor on the model of Christ Church Pendlebury (demolished). Various alterations and enlargements were made over the years, but the church, which was damaged in the Blitz, was eventually pulled down and replaced by a new church on Park Street.

The new church was built from designs by W. & J. B. Ellis of Rodney Street, Liverpool (job architect M. M. Otton, information from Lawrence Gregory, Diocesan Archives).  In common with many other buildings in the area, it had to be built on a concrete raft to protect against the effects of mining subsidence. The foundation stone was laid by Archbishop Beck in December 1963 and the church opened in December 1964. It was designed in anticipation of the liturgical developments arising from the Second Vatican Council and the sanctuary stood as the focal point of two short naves at right-angles to one another.  In 1990 the interior was reconfigured. This involved dividing off one of the naves, on the north side, to create the parish hall. The altar was repositioned, and the altar rails and pulpit removed. The baptistery was converted to a chapel, and the Blessed Sacrament chapel altered to incorporate a war memorial from the old church. The mosaic now in the Lady Chapel was painstakingly moved from a passageway at the back of the church to its present position. The church was rededicated in December 1990.  At some point the bell tower was modified, with loss of the uppermost stage.


All orientations given are liturgical. The building is framed in reinforced concrete with brick panelling, and flat roofs are supported by steel beams. It consists of four rectangular blocks of unequal size. That at the southeast corner, where the sanctuary is located, is taller than the others, with beside it a detached concrete openwork bell tower surmounted by a cross. The blocks at right-angles were originally both naves; that on the north side has been converted to a hall. These elements have raised inset clerestory lighting. The presbytery is also a flat-roofed structure, attached to the church by a low link.

Steps lead up to the main entrance and vestibule. On the north side the Memorial Chapel has as a reredos a timber First and Second World War memorial incorporating a Crucifix.  The parish hall stands to the east of the chapel, and the nave to the south. This area focusses on the sanctuary which features a large corona shown in photographs of 1965. The Lady Chapel projects on the south side, with a mosaic showing Our Lady of Lourdes, moved from the position where the memorial now is in 1990. The sanctuary furnishings include a marble altar which appears to be original.

Heritage Details

Architect: W. & J. B. Ellis

Original Date: 1964

Conservation Area: No

Listed Grade: Not Listed