St Helens Stroll

By wandering aimlessly, all places became equal, and it no longer mattered where he was.

Paul Auster  City of Glass.

The station as built in 1961 to a design by the architect William Robert Headle, which included and advertised a significant amount of the local Pilkington Vitrolite Glass. The fully glazed ticket hall was illuminated by a tower with a valley roof on two Y-shaped supports. The platform canopies were free standing folded plate roofs on tubular columns.

The new station building and facilities were assembled just a few yards from the 1960s station building and is the third build on the same site. The project came in at a total estimated cost of £6 million, with the European Union contributing £1.7 million towards the total funding. The new footbridge was lifted into place in the early hours of 22 January 2007.

The striking Pilkington’s glass-fronted building was designed by architect SBS of Manchester. Construction work was completed in the summer, with the new waiting rooms and footbridge opened to passengers on 19 September. The new station building was officially opened on 3 December 2007.

Wikipedia

Emerging from the space age bubble of St Helens Central Station.

Turn right towards The Hippodrome

In the early Edwardian era a fine theatre was opened on 1st June 1903. It had been designed by local architect J A Baron and was on the site of an earlier theatre known as the Peoples Palace. It was operated as the New Hippodrome Cinema from 8th August 1938 when it reopened with Anna Neagle in Victoria the Great. On 1st September 1963 it was converted to a Surewin Bingo Club by Hutchinson Cinemas which continued to operate in 2008. By May 2019 it was independently operated as the Hippodrome Bingo Club.

Cinema Treasures

Onwards down Corporation Street to Century House, currently awaiting some care and attention and tenants.

Century House is a prominent landmark in St Helens town centre, being the tallest office building in place. The accommodation ranges over 9 floors, providing offices from a single person, to whole floors. In addition, all tenants benefit from the use of a modern break out space and meeting rooms, in addition to manned reception desk.

On The Market

Next to the Courthouse low lying, lean and landscaped.

Refurbished in 2012

Further on down the road the former Unitarian Chapel – now the Lucem House Community Cinema.

On the corner the YMCA offers a cornucopia of architectural styles and fun.

Including this geometric brick panel.

Around the corner to the Police Station by Lancashire County Architect Roger Booth.

Down the way the derelict Job Centre.

There are plans afoot for conversion to apartments.

Former Capitol Cinema.

Architects: Frederick Evans and Edwin Sheridan Gray

The Capitol Cinema opened on 3rd October 1929 by an independent operator. It stood on a prominent corner site at North Road and Duke Street – known as Capitol Corner.

The Capitol Cinema was taken over by Liverpool-based Regent Enterprises Ltd. in 1929, and by the Associated British Cinemas – ABC chain in 1935. It underwent a renovation in the 1960’s, and was closed by ABC on 9th December 1978.

The building was converted into a sports centre, by 2009 it was a Central Fitness gymnasium.

Cinema Treasures

Along the way to St Mary Lowe House RC – the style is a combination of Gothic and Byzantine elements. One of the most unusual fittings is the carillon, one of the largest in the British Isles with 47 bells, which was installed in 1930 and is still played regularly.

Architect: CB Powell 1924-30 Grade II Listed

Taking Stock

Next to the Ormskirk Street United Reformed Church

Ken Fisher’s first APEC project 1976

The main approach is identified by a beak-like porch which projects from the main cladding.  In this space hangs a recast eighteenth century bell, from the original chapel.

Let’s take it to the Midland, Nat West and Barclays Banks.

With an intermediate former Gas Showroom.

Next to the Church of St Helen.

Architect: WD Caroe 1920-26 Grade II Listed

A chapel has been on the site since at least the 16th century. The chapel was doubled in size in 1816, but burnt down in 1916. It is the parish church of the town, and stands in a prominent position.

St Mary’s Car Park a multi-storey masterpiece straight outa Dessau.

Next crossing a complex web of inner ring roads designed with the beleaguered pedestrian at the forefront of the planners’ minds.

To the inter-war Pilkington’s Offices – Reflection Court

Architects: Herbert J Rowse and Kenneth Cheeseman 1937-41 Grade II Listed.

Historic England

Onwards to the Post office – sorted.

Eccles Congregational Church

Wellington Road Eccles M30 9AL

Architect: TD Howcroft 1969

Once upon a time there was a Gothic church.

The Cornerstone of the building was laid in front of a crowd of 2,000 on Good Friday 1859 and the church was opened for public worship on Good Friday 6th April 1860. In the press of the day, the church was described as – a Cathedral looking church.

Photo: Flickr cabinet photograph by Enos Eastham of Eccles.

In 1965 it was announced that a new Eccles motorway would be built through the church land.

Work began to demolish the Church and replace it with a new smaller church, but the old church did not go down without a fight as workers could not pull down the steeple. After eleven days of battering and buffeting by eighteen pounds of gelignite and two eight ton bulldozers, the steeple finally surrendered.

Then there wasn’t – then there was this:

On Friday 11th July 1969, the new church officially opened with a splendid ceremony. A minor hitch occurred when the organ blew a fuse during the second verse but the Congregation sang through it while organist Mr Kenyon frantically fumbled about and rectified the matter.

Eccles Congregational Church

TD Howcroft was also responsible for St Wilfrid’s in Pevensey Bay – I happened to cycle by in 2015.

My thanks to Mr Tony Flynn – the acting Lord Mayor of Eccles, for arranging our visit through church member Mr George Cross.

To the rear the exterior is, as Mr Pevsner would say – unprepossessing.

The elevation facing the main road more than somewhat less unprepossessing.

A curved apse along with a raised and canted roof – a window up above illuminating the altar.

The main body of the church is bold and voluminous – strong verticals to the rear and right.

The pews, organ pipes and other furnishings appear to be of a piece.

There is a dynamic timber roof with supporting beams.

Previous Pastors.

Relocated War Memorials.

St Mark’s Broomhill – Return

Broomfield Rd Sheffield S10 2SE

Having been here before – I returned.

There is something within the work of George Pace which speaks directly to my eyes and heart – and feet. His Modernism is tempered by the Mediaeval – along with Arts and Crafts references and a nod to Le Corbusier’s Notre Dame du Haut, Ronchamp

I have also visited Bradford, Chadderton, Doncaster, Keele and Wythenshawe.

Here in Sheffield is a church built in 1868 – 1871 to a standard neo-Gothic design by William Henry Crossland. Bombed in the Blitz restored, redesigned and built by Pace 1958 – 1963, accommodating the original spire and porch.

Here is the Historic England listing.

There is stained glass to the east, Harry Stammers illustrating the Te Deum and to the west an abstract design by John Piper made by Patrick Reyntiens.

Let’s take a walk around the exterior.

Time to go inside – happily the St Mark’s is open weekdays, in addition to Sunday services.

St Alkmund’s Church – Derby

40 Kedleston Rd Darley Abbey Derby DE22 1GU

The burghers of Derby required room for a ring road – but St Alkmund stood in the way, so he was CPOd and sent elsewhere.

Looking for Mr Wright.

When the Victorian church was demolished, traces of several earlier churches were revealed, stretching back to the 9th century. Artefacts found included the stone sarcophagus of Alkmund of Derby, now in Derby Museum and Art Gallery.

Photos: John Mackay 1967

Derby Telegraph

Given a fairly generous budget the Diocese decided upon a modern design solution, in order to solve the pressing problem of their missing church.

Local architects Naylor Sale and Widdows were commissioned to resolve this omission.

Construction began in 1967 completed in 1972.

The exterior boasts a static space rocket spire – which was lowered into position using not one but two helicopters.

Along with a delightful Festival of Britain style clock.

To the right of the front elevation is an extensive Dalle de Verre wall.

The entrance a light as air glass and aluminium construction.

Paired with a gently curving brick mass.

The main body of the church is deceptively capacious.

The wall of glass suitably illuminating.

The original lighting has been retained, though the former cork floor has been carpeted and the original pews replaced by portable seating.

There is a side chapel incorporating stained glass from the original church.

Thank you so much to Alex and Tony for granting us access to this stunning church.

The Pyramid at Anderston – Glasgow

759 Argyle Street Glasgow G3 8DS

Architects: Honeyman, Jack & Robertson

I was walking along St Vincent Street one rainy day.

From the corner of my left eye, I espied a pyramid.

Curious, I took a turn, neither funny nor for the worse, the better to take a closer look.

Following a promotion within the Church of Scotland to construct less hierarchical church buildings in the 1950s, an open-plan Modern design with Brutalist traits, was adapted for the new Anderson Parish Church. The building consists of a 2-storey square-plan church with prominent pyramidal roof, with over 20 rooms. The foundation stone was laid in 1966, with a service of commemoration in the now demolished St Mark’s-Lancefield Church. The building was completed in 1968.

Let’s take a look around outside.

Later that same day, I got a message from my friend Kate to visit her at the centre.

She is charged with co-ordinating a variety of activities at The Pyramid.

In 2019 the Church of Scotland sold the building and it became a community centre for people to:

Connect, create and celebrate.

It also serves as an inspirational space for music, performances, conferences and events.

Let’s take a look around inside.

As a footnote the recent STV Studios produced series SCREW was filmed here!

St Mungo’s Church – Cumbernauld

4 St Mungo’s Rd Cumbernauld Glasgow G67 1QP

Architect: Alan Reiach 1963-1964.

Single storey, square-plan pyramidal church with halls adjoining to SW.

Category B Listed

St Mungo’s Parish Church is a striking landmark in the centre of Cumbernauld. Prominently sited on the top of a small hill, the bold copper pyramidal roof is an important landmark. Alan Reiach designed two churches in Cumbernauld, both of which can accommodate 800, Kildrum Church – the earlier of the two. Alan Reiach 1910-1992, who was apprenticed to Sir Robert Lorimer 1864-1929, was primarily involved in the design of public buildings, including churches, schools, universities and hospitals. Noteworthy features of St Mungo’s Parish Church include the bold pyramidal roof, with apex of which forms a roof light lighting the nave of the church, and above this is a pyramidal belfry. The impressive Baltic redwood-lined interior gains natural light from the large central rooflight and clerestory windows.

Historic Environment Scotland

Sadly it no longer has a copper roof following work undertaken by LBG Waterston.

Thank you ever so much to to the members of the church who kindly allowed me to photograph the interior, prior to their Sunday service.

St Bride’s RC Church – East Kilbride

Whitemoss Ave East Kilbride Glasgow G74 1NN

Architects: Gillespie Kidd & Coia 1957-1964

Designed by Professors Andy MacMillan and Isi Metzstein.

Grade A listed 1994 RIBA Bronze Medal

Should you so wish – jump the train from Glasgow Central, unless you’re already here/there.

Walk up West Mains Road, alone on a hill standing perfectly still sits St Bride’s, you can’t miss it.

The biggest extant example of Bricktalism, the most Bricktalist building in the world, possibly.

Stallan-Brand design director Paul Stallan commented:

St Bride’s for me is the most important modernist buildings of the period. The church made from Victorian sewer bricks and concrete is both simple and complex. The architecture continues to be a key reference for students of architecture from across the world interested in modernism and the contemporary vernacular in context. Andy and Isi’s work is as important to Scotland as Alvar Aalto’s work is to the Finnish.

Urban Realm

The bell tower was removed in 1983 due to extensive damage to the brickwork.

Image: Postwar Concrete

Image: Gillespie Kidd & Coia Archive at the The Glasgow School of Art.

It’s a traditional Scottish stone detail I saw for myself as a boy growing up in the Highlands, on every castle and fortified house, and on the flanks of the tower at Muckrach, ancient seat of the Grants of Rothiemurchus, built in 1598. This was my local castle just a mile from home.

The entrance to St Bride’s, I like to imagine, comes from a friendship that included travel in the Scottish Highlands, admiring the Scottish vernacular close-up, of a fevered conversation about a simple concept – the massive blind box, and how the application of simple, semi-traditional material detailing can make it all the richer.

St Bride’s is simply one of the finest buildings in Scotland.

Chris Boyce design director at CJCT Studios

Get your skates on it’s almost ten o’clock, Saturday Mass is about to start, take a seat.

Many thanks to Fr. Rafal Sobieszuk and the congregation for their warm welcome.

Sadly I was unable to reach these dizzy heights.

Happily the exterior is open and easily accessible, though care should be taken when zig zagging carelessly across West Mains Road.

Historically this is my very first Scot’s post, more to follow, I’m away to the Civic Centre.

St Jude’s RC – Wigan

St. Jude’s Church Poolstock Lane/St Paul’s Avenue Wigan WN3 5JE

Following the demolition of many working class homes in central Wigan in the early-to-mid 20th century there was a migration to new council estates on the outskirts of the town including new developments in the Poolstock and Worsley Mesnes localities. In order to cater to the Catholic inhabitants of the new estates Father Richard Tobin of St Joseph’s parish in Wigan, established a chapel of ease – described as a wooden hut, on St Paul’s Avenue in 1959.

In 1962 Tobin wrote to the Archbishop of Liverpool George Andrew Beck with his proposals for a new, permanent church, suggesting that the church should be dedicated either to St Jude or Our Lady of the Assumption.

Beck replied on 15 March:

My dear Father Tobin, Many thanks for your letter. I like your suggestion of St. Jude as a patron of the new church. We already have a parish in honour of The Assumption but none, so far as I know, to St. Jude. I assume that you do not intend to suggest by this title that Wigan is a hopeless case!

The Liverpool architects L A G Prichard & Sons were engaged and work began in the summer of 1963. Subsidence caused by coal mining in the area necessitated reinforced foundations and the final cost was over £100,000. The foundation stone was laid by Archbishop Beck in December 1964 and the church was opened for worship in July 1965.

Wikipedia

The church was Grade II listed on 26th April 2013

The most remarkable feature of the church is the dalle de verre stained glass on the walls of the nave, designed by Robin Riley, made by Verriers de St Jobain in France and fitted by glaziers J O’Neill and Sons. 

William Temple Church – Wythenshawe

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.

We have been here before, here’s the background info and snaps.

Hopefully we will all be here again and again.

It’s one of my all time favourite churches and one of George Pace’s most distinctive.

Here he is in Keele, Doncaster, Bradford, Sheffield and Chadderton.

An exterior which betrays only a little, of that which lies inside.

And here is what lies within a range of fittings and fixtures which sympathetically mix and match materials and form.

Perfect.

Many thanks to Brenda and the Wythenshawe team for making us feel so welcome.

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.

St Francis of Assisi – Wythenshawe

66 Chalford Rd Wythenshawe Manchester M23 2SG

Sir Basil Spence 1959-61

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 neighborhood.

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.

Embroidery for the Church was designed by Anthony Blee and carried out by Beryl Dean and Associates, and Communion silver was specially designed by Gerald Benney.

CANMORE

An austerely simple deign, saved from bleakness by a few deft touches – Pevsner.

The lettering on the font cover is by Ralph Beyer, the painting on the east wall by William Chattaway, who came specially from Paris to paint.

2010 – John Richards

2015 – John Richards

The church also contains four stones brought from prominent Christian locations across the globe including a rose hued stone from Assisi itself, these are embedded in the walls and floor around the building.

Mainstream Modern

Construction.

Completion.

St Francis of Assisi’s Church in Wythenshawe stands testimony to the vigour of its first priest, the Reverend Ronald Pitcher. It was Pitcher who organised a local campaign to raise money for its construction, even before William Greer, Lord Bishop of Manchester, launched a wider appeal to fund churches and vicarages in new housing areas throughout the diocese. 

It was probably also Pitcher who chose the architect, since he made initial contact with Basil Spence late in 1956. Drawings and a watercolour perspective were prepared by the beginning of 1958, when the scheme was priced at £17,500, exclusive of professional fees. 

Following discussions with the congregation it was modified to provide side-aisles, and the estimate increased to £27,000, including an organ. Although the diocese believed the final cost might be as high as £35,000,the design was accepted and Spence formally commissioned at the end of the year.

Warwick University

2012

Manchester Evening News 2013

A church forced to close three years ago after its congregation dwindled to just two has been reborn – as a community centre.

St Francis of Assisi, in Wythenshawe, was forced to shut its doors when its popularity waned and repairs became too expensive.

Now, thanks to businessman James Munnery and Pastor William Simoes, the former Church of England building is rising again as a beacon of hope for the neighbourhood. The pair have teamed up to re-open the church as the New Life Opportunities Centre. Ambitious plans for the not-for-profit venture include sports pitches, a recording studio, and a hall for events and dancing.

It will also hold church services.

Businessman James Munnery outside St Francis of Assisi

The sound of the pipe organ

St Anthony’s RC Church – Wythenshawe

Dunkery Rd Wythenshawe Manchester M22 0WR

Grade II listed in March 2014.

The Roman Catholic Church of St Anthony’s, 1959-60 by Adrian Gilbert Scott, is listed at Grade II for the following principal reasons:

Architectural interest: the church has a strong composition and imposing presence derived from its bold design and cathedral-like scale, which is enhanced by the use of elegant building materials, including narrow and very pale buff bricks, Portland stone dressings and copper roofs, and a dramatic west end incorporating a giant camel-vaulted arch containing the recessed west entrance.

Architect: it was designed by the notable architect Adrian Gilbert Scott who trained under Temple Moore and specialised in ecclesiastical commissions for the Roman Catholic Church, and it is one of his major works.

Interior design: the elegant interior maintains stylistic continuity with the exterior through its incorporation of Gilbert Scott’s characteristic soaring camel-vaulted arches, which are derived from ancient Persia and are successfully reinterpreted here in a modern form; rendering the arches and treating them as parabolas. The dignified space is also enhanced by a dado of buff-coloured Hornton stone that contrasts with plastered walls above, and tall windows that serve to maximise light.

Interior quality: the interior decoration is kept to a minimum overall to enable the beauty of the building to be fully expressed, but the furnishings are of a high quality, including inset Stations of the Cross, an unusual carved wall pulpit, and an elaborate marble, gilded and mosaicwork baldacchino.

Historic England

Prior to the construction of St Anthony’s RC Church in 1959-60 Mass was celebrated first in two green Nissen huts knocked into one

Archive photographs Local Image Collection.

St Andrews Church – Wythenshawe

Brownley Road Wythenshawe M22 0DW

JCG Prestwich and Son 1960

As seen by Comrade Yuri Gagarin on his visit to Manchester and on our recent recreation of the route.

B&W photographs Local Image Collection

A solid Italianate brick structure with a til distinctive campanile.

Currently home to the Emmaus Community

Emmaus South Manchester is gearing up to support vulnerable people in Wythenshawe and surrounding areas.

Our charity aims to support homeless people and those suffering deprivation and social exclusion in the local area. Thanks to generous support from St. Andrews Church, we have set up a workshop in Wythenshawe and are now looking for retail premises to sell handmade items produced by local volunteers.

The Road to Emmaus 1877 – Robert Zund

St Martin’s Church Wythenshawe

2 Blackcarr Rd Wythenshawe Manchester M23 1LX

Sadly all tinned up with nowhere to go.

Services are now held in in the adjoining Church Hall.

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

Opened 21st March 1959.

The building has seen better days.

The interior a restrained delight.

Archive Photographs – Local Image Collection

The site is sodden with sadness, that such a gem is in such serious decline.

Keele University Chapel

I got on the 25 bus in Hanley and remained seated on the top deck until I reached Keele.

The chapel was just over the way from the bus stop, behind some trees.

Multi-denominational university chapel. 1964-65 by G.G. Pace. Blue vitrified engineering bricks. Slated pitched roof to eaves. Two copper covered pyramidal roof lights to paired towers and two copper-covered dormers. Rectangular building with paired apses at one end and a gallery along one side, with vestries and entrance below. Main space designed to be flexible, with movable furniture and a hydraulic screen which can be lowered to make two smaller spaces. One of the apses is dedicated to Roman Catholic worship; the other is for Anglicans and Non-conformists.

Exterior is dominated by the paired apses, which rise to form a pair of towers, each with panels of vertical strip windows with square-headed lights of irregular length, separated by brick tracery. Similar windows in irregular patterns to the flanks, which are otherwise unmodelled, and to the asymmetrical gable end. Rectangular leaded lights. Square-headed entrance on flank with concrete beam over. Double timber doors, recessed. Projecting concrete gutter spouts, three to each flank. Interior of exposed pink brick and unpainted board-marked concrete. `Y’ shaped laminated timber uprights and trusses, supporting timber roof, partly with timber rafters with exposed boarding behind, and partly with white acoustic tiles, forming a decorative contrast to the timber panels. Patterned brick screen with exposed, unpainted board-marked concrete frame divides the space at the higher level up to the roof, and a hydraulic screen of rust-stained timber, decorated with a cross motif, can be lowered to complete the division. Two similar, but smaller screens can be lowered to close off the apses.

Below the gallery a brick and concrete wall with groups of vertical windows. Broad, light timber handrail/bookrest, to `chunky’ concrete balustrade. Concrete pulpit of organic form attached to left of the screen wall. Also part of the Pace scheme is the limed timber altar, lectern, priest’s chairs, benches and other furnishings and the altars and furnishings in the semi-circular chapels. Also original are the pendant light fittings in black-painted metal. Floor with panels of parquet and polished concrete flags. Liturgically unusual as a multi-denominational chapel of this period, this impressive building is a fine example of Pace’s work.

Historic England

I’m something of a George Pace fan having previously visited William Temple, Doncaster, Chadderton, Bradford and Sheffield.

I was made more than welcome by Niall from the Chaplaincy Team.

The Chapel is open to the public Monday – Saturday and for worship on Sundays.

Let’s take a look around the exterior.

Followed by a tour of the interior.

ill was kind enough to show me some original documents related to the Chapel.