Gors Road, Towyn, LL22 9NR
A church designed with great sensitivity and assurance by Bowen Dann Davies in the modernist vernacular style that the practice successfully developed in the 1970s in response to the landscape and climate of North Wales. It is low in outline, with spreading roofs and a complex plan which reflects the need for flexibility to cope with seasonal fluctuations in the size of the congregation. The light interior has carefully positioned windows and natural materials used in a simple and almost domestic manner. A special feature is the way in which the sliding doors can be opened up in fine weather to allow worshippers to take part in the Mass from the terrace outside.
Towyn occupies an area of flat land between Rhyl and Abergele. It is only a few feet above sea level, and before the land was drained in 1793 it formed part of the estuary of the River Clwyd. Its population grew rapidly in the post-war period when it became popular as a low-cost holiday resort with rows of chalets and caravans, as well as an increase in its permanent population.
The church was built in 1973-74 to cater for the needs of a year-round congregation as well as a transient holiday population. It was designed by Bowen Dann Davies, the partner-in-charge being Bill Davies, the project architect I. G. Davies and the contractor Anwyl Construction Co Ltd. It cost £30,000.
In 1990 a stretch of the sea defences at Towyn were breached by a catastrophic combination of high tides and extreme weather which caused flooding to 2,800 properties including the church. Since then a rock revetment has been constructed to protect the coastline. The church is served from Abergele (qv).
The design of the church reflects the requirement for fluctuations in the number of worshippers. The flexible plan provides seating for 140 but the number can be increased either by extending into the hall space at the rear of the nave or by opening up the sliding doors in fine weather so that the congregation can spill out onto the paved terrace alongside. Both areas are within close view of the altar and the officiating priest. The building has a low pitched roof of interlocking concrete tiles with pale brown brickwork and timber windows. The roof rises up to a clerestory above the sanctuary and varies in width and eaves height to reflect the irregularity of the plan. The character is vernacular, almost domestic in its spatial intricacy, but is expressed in an entirely contemporary manner. Alongside the entrance is a freestanding timber lattice structure carrying a large cross, which rises high above the church and the bell has its own diminutive bell house, linked by a brick wall.
The same sandy coloured brick is exposed internally while the ceilings and downstand beams are clad in timber boarding. The aisle and sanctuary floors are paved in quarry tiles and the base of the altar and the font are of brick, with polished Welsh slate above. The interior is flooded with light from the clerestory and the full height windows opening onto the garden. A passage off the entrance hall leads to the sacristy, kitchen, boiler room and WCs. The building survives virtually unaltered.
Architect: Bowen Dann Davies
Original Date: 1974
Conservation Area: No
Listed Grade: Not Listed