Church of St Mark – Chadderton

Life is full of little surprises, to turn from Middleton Road into Milne Street in downtown Chadderton and discover a triangular, blue-grey brick tower soaring into the September sky.

So solid geometries pierced by rectangular, triangular and angular gridded windows, deservedly Grade II Listed in 1998, made all the more extraordinary by its seemingly ordinary surroundings.

The interior mixes tradition with modernity, reusing pews and fragments of stained glass. Restrained natural lighting, complemented by slatted wooden, almost oriental boxed light shades. The furniture, fixtures and fittings bringing together a coherent decorative order.

The whole an uplifting and embracing space, punctuated by the curved y-shaped wooden supports, rising to the timber framed roof structure.

It was a pleasure to meet the current incumbent Father Stephen and a privilege to spend some time exploring this altogether delightful and impressive church.

Thank you.

I suggest that you do the same.

Contact details and location.

G.G. Pace 1960-63 – Blue engineering brick; graduated slate to pitched roofs – low pitched to church and entrance and steeply pitched to tower. Concrete dressings around windows. Five sided aisled space, three walls being orthoganal and the liturgical north side being canted outwards to provide room for the choir. Entrance with narthex to west and west also is a small rectangular chapel. Corner site, the corner itself dominated by a low rectangular brick tower with a high gabled roof. Four bay nave, the bays separated by buttresses and with rectangular windows set in varying groups high in the wall. West wall of nave is visible, and secondary glazing has been sensitively installed over the west window between the western buttresses. Thick exposed board-marked concrete beam at eaves. On return elevation, tower is flush with small chapel, with irregular groups of rectangular windows to both. Rectangular leaded lights. Recessed entrance with two doors of timber and leaded-glazing in vertical strips. Liturgical north and south faces of the tower each has a stack of 14 small pointed louvres. Jutting gutter spouts in exposed board-marked concrete.

Internally the bays are divided by three pairs of varnished laminated timber `y’ shaped supports and trusses, supporting timber trussed purlins (with prominent bolts) and timber rafters. Walls are white-painted brick with exposed board-marked concrete bands, which act as bonding strips between brick piers and as lintels for windows. Original altar of limed timber with four pairs of legs, is in original position, set forward from the east wall. Sanctuary raised by two steps. Limed timber pulpit, also chunky and so is altar rail with thick black metal supports and thick limed timber handrail. Priest’s chair to match, against east wall. Black metal crucifix also in characteristic Pace manner. Stone sedilia built into the north and south walls of the sanctuary. East window with stained glass which comprises broken and reset fragments of nineteenth-century glass. Font sited in central aisle towards the west end; this is of tooled cream stone, the bowl comprising a monolithic cylinder, flanked by a smaller cylinder which rises higher and has a prominent spout. Elaborate font cover in roughly textured cast aluminium, rising to flame-like pinnacles. Reused nineteenth-century benches, painted semi-matt black. Narthex and west chapel with limed timber doors, which have decorative nail-heads in rows. West chapel has open truss timber roof, painted white. Sanctuary light and cross are characteristic of Pace’s style.

A fine example of Pace’s idiosyncratic manner, this church shows the influence of the Liturgical Movement, especially in the forward placement of the altar.

British Listed Buildings

A fine companion to Pace’s William Temple Church in Wythenshawe.

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Lady Chapel

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Holy Rosary – Fitton Hill

The first mission in the Fitton Hill, a post-war housing estate, was due to the work of Fr Buckley, an assistant priest at St Patrick’s Oldham. He arranged for the purchase of land in the Fitton Hill area in 1940, before the new housing was built. Once the estate had begun to be developed, Fr Buckley said Mass in an upper room in Maple Mill. The foundation stone of Holy Rosary was laid by Bishop Marshall on 2 October 1954 and the church was officially opened by Mgr Cunningham in July 1955.  The presbytery was built in about 1970. The first campanile blew down and had to be rebuilt.  In 2009, the parishes of Holy Family and Holy Rosary were merged.

Taking Stock told me so and will tell you even more.

Architect: W and JB Ellis who were also responsible for Our Lady of The Assumption in Langley.

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I first passed by one sunny day in April 2016 – happily snapping the exterior of this ever so pleasingly prosaic Italianate brick building.

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Following a cue from pal Tim Rushton, I was alerted to the significant decorative work within.

The mosaic and fresco work of Georg Mayer-Marton – born in Hungary 1897, died in Liverpool 1960 was one of Britain’s very few experts in the art of face or facetted mosaic.

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Sadly the fresco is no longer visible – painted over with emulsion when thought to be too tatty – a tiny fragment has been revealed by conservators.

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There is currently a campaign to restore and preserve these important works.

The church is now closed, but we were ever so fortunate to have Bernard Madden on hand to open up and show us around, a warm welcoming space once full to overflowing.

Now sadly silent.

We all deserve better.

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Queen Elizabeth Hall – Oldham

Attached to the Civic Centre, developed and opened in 1977, to commemorate the Queen’s Silver Jubilee, she ain’t no human being, she’s a building.

An low exterior slab of classical municipal modernism, with a series of wonderful and surprising new attachments, ideal for all occasions!

The most amazing set of heavily patinated, square sectioned, inorganic pipes which are precipitously cantilevered  onto the front elevation.

Illuminating!

The lobby boasts further exotic lighting, this time on the ceiling, and applied metal reliefs attached to the back wall and booking office.

I’ve never been in the main auditorium, yet – but life is full of little surprises.

Others have – boxers, boozers, bands, concerts, carousers, dancers, thespians – the lot.

The council have a mind to put a stop to all this wayward architecture and replace it something new, shiny and anonymous.

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But they’re having to wait for the Men from the Ministry to cough up the cash – which may or may not be tied up in a nearby Northern Powerhouse, Mr Osborne may just have to be lead up the A62 by the nose, with a promise of the most popular Tea Dance in the area.

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I do advise you to go and have a look before you can’t.

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Civic Centre – Oldham

“The Civic Centre tower is the Oldham’s centre of local governance. The fifteen storey building has housed the vast majority of the council’s offices since its completion in 1977. Standing at the summit of the town, the tower stands over 200 feet 61 m high. It was designed by Cecil Howitt & Partners, and the topping out ceremony was held on 18 June 1976.The Civic Centre can be seen from as far away as Salford, Trafford, Wythenshawe and Winter Hill in Lancashire, and offers panoramic views across the city of Manchester and the Cheshire Plain.”

Part of the building joins onto an older office block which dates from the mid-1960s. That was originally headquarters for Oldham’s Regional Health Authority before their move to St. Peter’s Precinct.

I just stand back and gaze in wide wonder at this white giant resplendent against deep blue late Winter skies. High above the surrounding areas of Greater Manchester, it is more than a sum of its parts. The finest materials and finish, bold, optimistic and modern, singing of a civic pride that refuses to be diminished.

Having survived the slow and painful exodus of the cotton industry, and the consequent years of municipal under funding, Oldham is rebuilding itself, with this gem at its centre.

Further info and thanks to: East of the M60