Leasowe Road, Leasowe, Wallasey CH46
A large and prominent church close to the seashore at Leasowe. It was expertly built on sand in the early 1960s, in a stripped classical style with a plain but well-proportioned interior. A reordering scheme of the late 1980s reduced the size of the worship space. In the last few years, an exemplary scheme of repairs and conversion has given the building a new and sustainable future.
The parish of Our Lady of Lourdes, Leasowe was formed in 1957, partly from the English Martyrs, Wallasey, and partly from the Sacred Heart, Moreton. At first Mass was said at Birket Primary School in Twickenham Drive. It was intended that a primary school should be built first, and the hall used until a church could be erected. Delays in the school building programme of the Ministry of Education, however, led to the church going ahead first, on land that was purchased for £3,000 from the local authority fronting Leasowe Road. Arthur Farebrother & Partners was appointed as architect, and Tysons of Liverpool as contractor. Due to the poor bearing capacity of the land, piling was required for the foundations to a depth of 30 feet, which added £7,000 to the cost of the building. The foundation stone was laid in October 1960, and the church and presbytery were completed in July 1962 at a cost of £69,000.
The church was reordered in 1988 by Richard O’Mahony. Recently, the adjoining Holy Spirit Primary School became a joint faith school, which led to a major scheme of repairs and alteration to the church, carried out by Spencer Parry for the Local Education Authority. The scheme, which benefitted from an educational grant for community cohesion, has created a worship space and a separate hall for school and community use, together with full ancillary facilities.
The church is a large brick building with a broad west tower, a nave, narrow side aisles, and sanctuary. The narthex was continued to each side of the tower to create a southwest porch and baptistery. The sacristy with a meeting room above adjoins the sanctuary on the south side and is linked to the presbytery. The style is stripped classical, but with pairs of round-headed lancet clerestory windows and hipped tiled roofs. The upper stage of the tower is recessed, and has an open arcade on the west front. A new porch has been added in matching style on the south side, giving access to both the hall and worship space.
The interior is smooth plastered and plain in style, with a barrel vaulted ceiling and groined vaults over the original sanctuary. The colour scheme was originally white and pale blue. The original reredos is of Italian marble, and had a wooden canopy, and the circular columns of the aisle arcades are of coloured mosaic. The church has always been too large for the local congregation, and in 1988 a reordering scheme by Richard O’Mahony led to the sanctuary being separated off as a meeting room and the high altar being moved forward into the nave. The recent conversion has led to the partition between the nave and sanctuary being taken down, the orientation of the worship space being reversed, and the nave being subdivided. The result is the creation of a generous community space, a new sanctuary at the centre of the building, and the original sanctuary providing tiered seating at the rear of the nave. The narthex and baptistery have been converted to kitchen and toilets.
Architect: Arthur Farebrother & Partners
Original Date: 1962
Conservation Area: No
Listed Grade: Not Listed