Wythenshawe Walk

We begin at the William Temple Church

1970

The Anglican Church of William Temple was opened in 1965 on the corner of Robinswood Road and Simonsway as the church of the Civic Centre. The mission was already well-established, having begun many years previously in Shadow Moss School Room, latterly operating in a dual-purpose building on Simonsway. The architect, George Pace, agreed with the proviso that he should not design a ‘pseudo’ building, but that it should be modern in concept. This he did and particular attention was paid to the acoustics with a view to music and drama being performed there. One of Pace’s stipulations was that, as with all the churches he designed, there must be no plaques attached to the walls commemorating the dedication of the church or in memory of anyone, for he said he built his churches to the Glory of God. The only lettered stone is on the back wall of the church and it has on it the date of the consecration and a symbol, which is Pace’s original sign for William Temple Church.

The internal supports of the church are black-painted steel girders, not romantically symbolising the industry of the area, as it is sometimes said, but because when it was discovered that the church had been built on swampy ground an extra £2,000 was needed for foundations; the wooden beams of the original design had to be changed for cheaper steel ones. There is symbolism, however, in the placing of the font between and beneath the three main weight-bearing supports of the church.

The pews have an interesting history, having been brought from derelict churches in and around Manchester. 

The present lady churchwarden said:

“whenever we heard of a church being demolished we borrowed Mr. Owen’s coal cart and went off to see if we could buy any of the pews. Many times I’ve sat on the back of the wagon, in the pouring rain, with the pews, bringing them back to Wythenshawe to be stored until our church building was completed!”

Some time after the building was opened, a fire damaged some of the pews. With the insurance money all the pews were stripped and bleached, giving an element of uniformity and a bright welcoming atmosphere in the church generally. An interesting thought was voiced that as many people living in Wythenshawe now had their origins near to the centre of Manchester they may be sitting in the same pews in which their ancestors once sat.

Onwards to St Anthony’s RC – seen here under construction.

An imposing and monumental building by Adrian Gilbert Scott.

The church has a rich, little-altered interior with strong architectural qualities and notable furnishings. The church is described as ‘one of the few real landmarks of Wythenshawe’ and ‘beautifully built’, by Hartwell, Hyde and Pevsner 2004

The church was listed Grade II in 2014.

Taking Stock

It replaced the Green Hut.

Backtrack to St Andrews Architects JCG Prestwich and Son 1960 – as seen by Comrade Yuri Gagarin 12th July 1961 – detailed here.

We now take a secular route around the back of the Civic Centre to look at Centron and Delta House.

Built in 1972 to encourage white collar jobs into the area, formerly occupied by Shell and the TSB, currently partially unoccupied.

Across the way the former Barclay’s Bank IT HQ by DLG Shuldham the bank’s chief architect.

Just around the corner.

There were four eight-storey blocks of ‘Sectra’ flats that Laing built in Wythenshawe for Manchester County Borough Council, completed in 1967. The blocks were described by Laing in their monthly newsletter ‘Team Spirit’ in January 1968 as four blocks of specially designed eight-storey flats for elderly people.

Showing skeleton cladding, patterned end wall units and access balcony.

They were named Park Court, Violet Court, Birch Tree Court and Edwards Court.

Park Court and Violet Court have since been demolished to make way for retail space.

Violet Court

Tower Block 1987

Architect J Austen Bent

Local Image Collection 1972

Onwards to the most exotic magenta fire station.

Then down the road to St Luke’s 1939 by W Cecil Young of Taylor and Young.

No striving after sensational effect is strived at – Pevsner.

Down the road we go to St Martin’s.

The church is the the work of Harry Fairhurst Architects 1958.

Opened 21st March 1959.

Across the road to Tin Town.

A mini-estate of impeccably kept, neat steel-framed prefabs, designed in 1946 by Frederick Gibberd. We got a tour around one, home to former Durutti Column drummer Bruce Mitchell. The space standards and architectural quality are, as Phil Griffin points out, way above those of contemporary central Manchester luxury loft living. 

Owen Hatherley – The Guardian

New residents were given the choice of an apple or pear tree.

Finally arriving at Sir Basil Spence’s St Francis of Assisi.

2012

In December 1956 Basil Spence and Partners were commissioned to design St Francis Church in Wythenshawe, Greater Manchester. The project was part of a large building programme by the Manchester Diocese and was to service the new post-war housing estate at Newall Green. The site housed an existing hall that had been serving a dual-purpose as church and church hall but which reverted to use as a church hall once the new church was opened. The foundation stone was laid by Colin Skinner CBE on 23 April 1960 and the church was consecrated on 25 March 1961 by the Bishop of Manchester, W D L Greer.

The main building is predominantly brick; it is set back from the road by a landscaped courtyard that includes a brick tower and 73ft concrete cross. Another large cross rises from the front wall of the church itself making it highly visible from the surrounding neighbourhood.

The church can hold a congregation of 250. A small chapel is separated from the main church by a sliding screen and can be used independently for private prayer and mid week-services. On busy days the screen can be retracted to provide additional seating to the main church. A gallery over the entrance porch houses two organs and the choir.

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