1937-38 by Reynolds and Scott built in buff brick of a Modernist Byzantine style.
The choice of the Apostle of Holland as a patron saint for the parish was that of a Dutch priest, Fr. Sassen, who bought land for the parish from St. Brigid’s in 1905. The new parish was opened in 1906.
Fr. Charles Hanrahan developed the mission in its infancy and was followed by Fr. Richard Mortimer, who laboured here for a long period, devoting most of his priestly life to the parish.
Fr. Patrick Dillon supervised the building of the magnificent new church of unusual design, which was opened in 1938.
I have had the privilege and pleasure to visit St John’s several times over the years and doubly pleased to visit with a group of some 30 Modernists in March 2020 as part of a Rochdale Walk, prior to the lockdown days later.
I cannot thank Christine Mathewson and her fellow volunteers enough for the warm welcome we were given. They take such pride in their church and are eager to convey that pride along with their obvious erudition.
Approaching from the adjacent railway station we could not fail to be impressed by the scale and grandeur of the church, a wonderful mix of the Byzantine and restrained Art Deco – most clearly expressed in the sculptural angels looming high above the tram stop.
The building is Grade II* Listed and deservedly so – details can be found here on the Historic England site.
The original design pre-1917 by Oswald Hill, executed in 1923-25 by Ernest Bower Norris. Henry Oswald Hill was a promising architect with a clear interest in contemporary church-building trends, as evidenced here and at the nearby RC Church of St Joseph, Heywood, he was tragically killed in action in the First World War.
The church uses concrete to its advantage in the construction of the striking, 20m-wide central dome, surrounded by the delicate touch of several arched stained glass windows at the perimeter.
Illuminating the concave space in a heavenly manner.
The apsed sanctuary contains an encompassing mosaic scheme of powerful emotional intensity designed by leading mosaic designer, Eric Newton of specialist firm Ludwig Oppenheimer Ltd.
The mosaic is breathtaking in scale, design and execution – nothing can prepare you for its impact as you enter the church.
The quality of the sanctuary mosaic is further enhanced by the use of high-quality tesserae made of stone, coloured marbles and coloured glass, set off by a shimmering background of gold tesserae.
The apsed sanctuary is completely covered in a mosaic scheme with the theme Eternal Life designed by Eric Newton. Newton was born Eric Oppenheimer, later changing his surname by deed poll to his mother’s maiden name. He was the grandson of Ludwig Oppenheimer, a German Jew who was sent to Manchester to improve his English and then married a Scottish girl and converted to Christianity. In 1865 he set up a mosaic workshop, (Ludwig Oppenheimer Ltd, Blackburn St, Old Trafford, Manchester) after spending a year studying the mosaic process in Venice. Newton had joined the family company as a mosaic craftsman in 1914 and he is known to have studied early Byzantine mosaics in Venice, Ravenna and Rome. He later also became art critic for the Manchester Guardian and a broadcaster on ‘The Critics’. Newton started the scheme in 1932 and took over a year to complete it at a cost of £4,000. It had previously been thought that he used Italian craftsmen, but historic photographs from the 1930s published in the Daily Herald show Oppenheimer mosaics being cut and assembled by a Manchester workforce of men and women. It is likely, therefore, that the craftsmen working on St John the Baptist were British.
The whole building is full of surprising details of the highest quality.
Lit by simplest yet most effective stained glass.
This is an exemplary building, on entering one is filled with both calm and awe, an experience which is never diminished by subsequent visits.
The mosaic work is on local and international significance – it is unthinkable that it may ever be lost to us, or that funding was not forthcoming to secure its future into perpetuity.
I implore you to visit, whensoever that may be possible.
Please take a moment append your comments on this post and play some small part in ensuring the St John’s is preserved for generations to come.
Tuesday 28th July 2015 waking up early on the outskirts of Okehampton – I went next door to explore – the Wash and Go.
I went back to Okehampton.
Headed out of town along the old railway line to Plymouth – where rests the solemn remains of previous railway activity and Meldon Quarry.
It’s believed that the first quarrying began around the late 1700s when the local limestone was extracted. Over the years this gradually gave over to aggregate quarrying and apelite quarrying until it final closure. The original owners of the quarry were the London and South Western Railway and then came Britsh Rail and finally EEC Aggregates.
Crossing Meldon Viaduct.
Meldon Viaduct carried the London and South Western Railway across the West Okement River at Meldon on Dartmoor. The truss bridge, which was constructed from wrought iron and cast iron not stone or brick arches, was built under the direction of the LSWR’s chief engineer, WR Galbraith. After taking three years to build, the dual-tracked bridge opened to rail traffic in 1874. Usage was limited to certain classes of locomotive because the viaduct had an axle load limit. Although regular services were withdrawn in 1968, the bridge was used for shunting by a local quarry. In the 1990s the remaining single line was removed after the viaduct was deemed to be too weak to carry rail traffic.
The crossing is now used by The Granite Way, a long-distance cycle track across Dartmoor. The viaduct, which is a Scheduled Monument, is now one of only two such surviving railway bridges in the United Kingdom that uses wrought iron lattice piers to support the cast iron trusses – the other is Bennerley Viaduct between Nottinghamshire and Derbyshire.
Architects– Percy Bartlett and William Henry Watkins
Built on the site of the Andrews New Picture Palace, which had opened in 1910, and was demolished in 1930. The Gaumont Palace was opened on 16th November 1931 with Jack Hulbert in “The Ghost Train” and Sydney Howard in “Almost a Divorce”.
The imposing brick building has a white stone tower feature in the central section above the entrance. Seating inside the auditorium was provided for 1,462 in the stalls and 790 in the circle.
It was re-named Gaumont in 1937 currently closed and at risk.
The post war redevelopment of Plymouth produced this sizable Portland Stone Shopping Centre.
‘A Plan for Plymouth’ was a report prepared for the City Council by James Paton Watson, City Engineer and Surveyor, and Patrick Abercrombie, Consultant Architect, published in 1943.
Planning is not merely the plotting of the streets of a town; its fundamental essence is the conscious co-relation of the various uses of the land to the best advantage of all inhabitants. Good planning therefore, presupposes a knowledge and understanding of the people, their relationship to their work, their play, and to each other, so that in the shaping of the urban pattern, the uses to which the land is put are so arranged as to secure an efficient, well- balanced and harmonious whole.
The magnificent dalle de verre fascia of the Crown and County Courts.
having had a good old look around I sought shelter for the night, with some difficulty I found a profoundly plain room. The town seemingly full of itinerant contractors, filling the vast majority of available space.
Not to worry let’s have a look at the seafront.
Tinside Lido by J Wibberley Borough Engineer, with Edmund Nuttall and Sons and John Mowlem and Company, builders, with entrance building of 1933 by the same engineer.
Set in a beautiful location overlooking the sea at the tip of Plymouth Hoe and voted one of the top 10 best outdoor pools in Europe, Tinside Lidois an attraction not to be missed.
Built in 1935, Tinside is a slice of the quintessential British seaside from a bygone era. The Lido is a wonderful example of art-deco style and is Grade II listed.
Time for a timely 99 tub – what ho!
Followed by several pints of Dartmoor Jail in the delightful Dolphin Hotel.
The Dolphin Hotel is a pub on the Barbican , the building, which is known as either the Dolphin Inn or Dolphin Hotel, is a Grade II listed building. It notable as the setting of several of the artist Beryl Cook’s paintings.
The three storey building was constructed in the early 19th century, although it may contain fabric from an earlier structure. It has a slate mansard roof surrounded by a tall parapet with a moulded cornice. The front has white stucco with plaster reliefs of dolphins. The pub is associated with the Tolpuddle Martyrs, some of whom stayed at the hotel on their return from exile in Australia in 1838, when a Mr Morgan was the landlord.
It is a no-frills unmodernised pub famous for its cask ale, draught Bass served straight from the barrel. The sign on the front of the building has always called the pub the ‘Dolphin Hotel’. In 2010 the pub was refurbished, but vandalised in 2014.
Following a sound night’s sleep, courtesy of the Ocean Hotel, I set out on my Ridgeback World Voyage – purchased through the Cycle to Work Scheme, I have essentially used it in order to cycle away from work.
My dream had always been to devise a way of life, where the lines between work, leisure and culture disappear, where such tiresome social constructs have finally become redundant – let’s go!
Having failed to learn from my previous jaunt, that a map is a handy aid to successful travel, I set off merrily without one – on Sunday 25th July 2015.
Following Sustrans’ signs will suffice, says I to myself.
I arrived safely in Brean, as the rain began to fall with a deeply disheartening enthusiasm.
The signage indicated a route across the beach – I quickly learnt that heavy rain and sand do not produce a sufficiently solid surface for cycling, when push comes to shove, there’s only one way forward.
There was no escape to the left, the extensive run of caravan parks and private leisure facilities having erected attractive razor wire topped barriers and locked gates – I pressed on.
With every arduous tortured sandy step, I developed an even deeper antipathy towards Pontin’s Brean Sands.
Here at Brean Sands we have been busy getting ready to welcome guests to our park. We have painted all our apartments, we have fitted over 10,000 metres skirting board throughout the apartments. All external soffits have been painted along with all the Double Decker apartments and main buildings. The QV Bar, Restaurant and also the Fun Factory have all had new flooring fitted. Our Restaurant bays are now refitted as well as improvements to our till area & reception desk.
Free at last from the sandy hell of the shore, I sought succour in this seaside café – where panoramic views of the sea come free.
Having enjoyed the multiple benefits of a breakfast not included tariff at the Ocean Hotel, I was now very, very hungry indeed – I made very, very short work of egg and beans on toast.
I briefly kept company with a Swiss couple, who were on an extensive motor car tour, I quickly became something of an apologist for the day’s foul weather.
It’s not always like this you know.
Stating the obvious, yet thinking the converse.
The panoramic view through the other window – a delightful row of rain soaked, link low rise maisonettes – nirvana!
I was arrested by this arresting wayside shelter/art gallery facility commemorating the Coronation of 1953, in the village of Chedzoy.
The village is at the western end of King’s Sedgemoor and lies on an ‘island’ of Burtle marine sands, close to King’s Sedgemoor Drain. The area was settled possibly in the Mesolithic period, and timber trackways from the third to first millennium B.C. provided routes to other settlements on the Somerset Levels. Roman artifacts have been found in the parish.
The name of the village is pronounced Chidgey or Chedzey, and derives its name from being Cedd’s Island. The zoy part of the name being derived from eg or ieg meaning island.
The shelter stands at the corner of Front and Higher Streets – it would appear that the Burghers of Chedzoy had exhausted their inexhaustible font of creative naming resources, by the time that streets had been invented – the Mesolithic fools.
The village people seem to be suffering from some collective false memory syndrome recollection of a fabulous Mer-family past.
Improving weather in the Bridgwater area, as we languish in the cool shade of the by-pass, beside the River Parrett.
The River Parrett has its source in the Thorney Mills springs in the hills around Chedington in Dorset in England and flows west through the Somerset Levels. The mouth is a Nature Reserve at Burnham on Sea where it flows into Bridgwater Bay on the Bristol Channel. The river is tidal for 18.6 miles up to Oath; and, because the fall of the river, between Langport and Bridgwater is only 1 foot per mile, it is prone to frequent flooding, in winter and high tides.
The River Parrett is 37 miles long and its main tributaries include the Rivers Tone, Isle and Yeo. The River Cary drains into the Parrett via the King’s Sedgemoor Drain. The River Parrett drains an area of over 652.5 square miles – comprising around fifty percent of the land area of Somerset.
Here we are in Williton – where the modern world is ready to sweep in unannounced as announced in the Somerset County Gazette.
Plans to build a new supermarket, retail units and health centre in Williton have been resubmitted this week. J. Gliddon and Sons Ltd. has put forward new plans for the redevelopment of land off the A39 Bank Street in Williton, behind its existing store.
The shop will be demolished to create the access road, with the company expected to occupy a new unit fronting onto Bank Street once the mini-roundabout has been built.
Well so far so good – I arrived in Minehead in one piece – bike intact.
Having only the vaguest notion of where my onward route lay – I hastened to the Tourist Information Office. Having carefully explained my malaise the helpful staff gazed at me with mild amazement, liberally mixed with slightly perplexed eye-rolling and the odd tut.
Having received quite detailed instructions, I was almost immediately lost, following a road that abruptly ceased to be a road. Reluctantly I picked up a woodland path, rutted with tree roots and certainly not a suitable cycling route.
It fell away sharply, as I careered out of control down the precipitous slope.
On reaching the end I discovered that my new rain jacket had also fallen away, along with my treasured Casio watch, which was tucked safely in the pocket.
I lightly bit my lip and reflected that climbing back up the precipitous slope, which I had only too recently incautiously careered down, was not an option – onward ever onward.
In my mind the younger me looks at the older me – having lost all faith in my ability to manage my life with even a modicum of honesty and integrity, or at best a basic grasp of reality.
A whitewashed Grade I Listed 15th-century Church, with a 14th-century tower.
Welcome to this outstanding Parish Church, which, thanks to it’s distinctive white appearance stands as a beacon on the hills of Exmoor. For centuries Selworthy Church has been a focus for residents and visitors as a place to experience the power and presence of God. We hope you find peace of God here and leave uplifted, refreshed and inspired.
Further on down the road somewhere or other I had a cup of tea and piece of cake.
Had I carried out even the most basic research, I would have known that the ups and downs of Exmoor are no easy ride, particularly in heavy rain without a rain jacket.
As the sky darkened I was heartened by the sight of the light’s of Ilfracombe, twinkling star like in the distance – following eighty six miles of toil and a measure of trouble, I finally arrived at the pre-booked digs. They had been concerned by my no-show, relieved when I finally arrived, incredulous when I told the tale of the day’s travails. The lady of the house ever so kindly washed and dried my sodden clothing.
I showered and hit the town – eschewing food in favour of a pint, chatting to a garrulous gang of solar panel cleaners from Cornwall.
Returning merrily to the B&B and the prospect of slumber.
Although there is evidence in the local area of occupation since the Iron Age, it was still a small village until the 19th century when it became a seaside resort, and was connected with local towns and cities by a railway, and two piers were built. The growth continued until the second half of the 20th century, when tourism declined and some local industries closed. A regeneration programme is being undertaken with attractions including the Helicopter Museum, Weston Museum, and the Grand Pier. The Paddle Steamer Waverley and MV Balmoral offer day sea trips from Knightstone Island to various destinations along the Bristol Channel and Severn Estuary. Cultural venues include The Playhouse, the Winter Gardens and the Blakehay Theatre.
I pushed my bike along the prom heading for my pre-booked digs in a stylish seafront hotel.
Past the Marine Causeway linking the shore to some kind of modern day Post Modern Shangri-La.
A mystical, harmonious valley, gently guided from a lamasery, enclosed in the western end of the Kunlun Mountains, possibly not.
You can stroll onto Knightstone Island, where you will find some cafes serving light snacks and refreshments, or to the other side which takes you along the causeway, accessible to walk across according to the tides. At the other side of the Causeway you will find a small rocky beach with tidal rockpools ideal for exploring.
Just along the prom stands one of my all time favourite seaside shelters.
Even further along – what’s all this here then?
The foundation stone of the Birch-designed Birnbeck Pier was laid in 1864. It opened on 5th June 1867 and consisted of a 1040 foot cantilever construction to Birnbeck Island and a short jetty extending westwards from the island.
It seems to have changed hands several times in its relatively short life, including the stewardship of the infamous Urban Splash and the mysterious mystery owners, the current custodians it seems, have done little to secure a secure future.
It remains alone and untended, stretching aimlessly out to sea.
In April 2015, Friends Of The Old Pier Society created a novel fund raising scheme in which 1p and 2p coins would be lined up to stretch from the Grand Pier to Birnbeck Pier.
September 2019 Councillor Mr Crockford-Hawley said:
It’s this end of Weston which is the sore, it’s the carbuncle, it’s clearly well past its prime and it needs some serious attention. I mean it would be wonderful if somebody came along with an open ended bank account and said ‘yup, I’d love to restore it for the sake of restoring it’, but quite clearly there’s got to bean economic future for the pier, there’s got to be a purpose for the pier.
Possibly a wealthy Beatle could bail the ailing pier out of deep water?
Next thing I know I’m outside the imposing and impressive sounding Ocean Hotel. Sad to say on the day/night of my visit it wasn’t just this weary traveller that appeared to be over tired, happy to report the the New Ocean Hotel has been revamped and in tip-top condition by all accounts.
Any road up, let’s get out, take a walk up the road – have look at some local type.
Watney’s mythical Red Barrel.
Watney’s was the Evil Corporation which sought to crush plucky small brewers and impose its own terrible beer on the drinking public. It acquired and closed beloved local breweries, and it closed pubs, or ruined them with clumsy makeovers.
Its Red Barrel was particularly vile – a symbol of all that was wrong with industrial brewing and national brands pushed through cynical marketing campaigns.
Keeler Productions has taken over Locking Road Car Park, opposite Tesco, and The Regent Restaurant, in Regent Street, to film a BBC period series The Trial of Christine Keeler, based on the Profumo Affair in the 1960s.
Enough of all that period drama, let’s have a look at some period architecture.
Madeira Court – 67 flats built in 1988.
Weekly Social Activities include – coffee mornings, card evenings and occasional days out, organised by social club. New residents accepted from sixty years of age, both cats and dogs generally accepted.
Boulevard United Reformed Church – Waterloo Street
Architects Gordon W. Jackson and Partners 1959
Constructed on part of the site of the former Electric Premier Cinema, the Odeon Theatre was opened on 25th May 1935 with Jack Buchanan in Brewster’s Millions. Built as one of the original Odeon Theatres in the then emerging Oscar Deutsch Odeon Theatres circuit, it was built on a prime corner street position in this sea-side town and was the first of several Odeon Theatre’s to be designed by architect Cecil T Howitt.
The Weston-super-Mare Odeon was built by C Bryant & Son Ltd of Birmingham on the site of the former Electric Premier Cinema. It opened on 25 May 1935, at which time it was described in the souvenir programme as ‘modernity at its best’, with seating accommodation that was ‘luxurious and spaced to give ample room for true comfort’.
A short walk along the prom snapping shelters and the sheltered – no two the same.
I then chanced to fall into a Beer Festival and bad company – the rest is a blur, see you all tomorrow there’s some cycling to be done.
We are travelling backwards and forwards in time – firstly back to 1845 when the street was yet to be built, before the Industrial Revolution created the need for workers’ homes, to house the workers from the newly built workplaces, which also did not yet exist.
A little further forward to 1896 when Jetson Street has emerged fully formed from the fields, along with rail, road, amusement and industry.
Fast forward to today and it’s all almost still there – though most of the work and the majority of the amusement has evaporated into a cloud of post-industrial, Neo-Liberal economic stagflation.
So why am I here – fast forward to the fictional future!
As a kid I watched as the Jet Age emerged before my very square eyes, giving the street a certain cosmic charm – I was curious.
I have searched online – this seems to be the one and only Jetson Street in the whole wide world – I searched online for its origins.
The name Jetson means Son Of Jet and is of American origin.
Which quite frankly seems unreasonably glib.
The name Jetson is from the ancient Anglo-Saxon culture of the Britain and comes from the names Judd and Jutt, which are pet forms of the personal name Jordan. These names are derived from Jurd, a common abbreviation of Jordan, and feature the common interchange of voiced and voiceless final consonants.
The surname Jetson was first found in Hertfordshire where they held a family seat from very ancient times, some say well before the Norman Conquest and the arrival of Duke William at Hastings in 1066 A.D.
Which quite frankly seems unreasonably obscure.
Let’s jet back to 1964.
T Brooks wandered these streets taking thousands of photographs for the Manchester Corporation, possibly the housing or highways departments – they all still exist here on the Local Image Collection.
This was a world of corner shops on ever corner, settled communities full-employment, neatly ordered rows of sturdy brick-built homes.
I follow in his hallowed footsteps, what if anything remains of this world – fast forward to 2015 my first fleeting visit.
The area now has a richer racial mix – having recently become home to many African and Eastern European families. The architectural consistency of the houses has been swamped by render, window frame replacement, addition and extension, and the arrival of a plethora of motor cars. The majority of shops now long gone, as the once pedestrian community spread their retail wings and wheels elsewhere.
The church built in 1965 is fan-shaped in plan. Concrete portal frame with yellow brick infill. Shallow-pitched sheet metal clad roof. The main rear wall is flat and blind, with a parapet, and extends across the building at full height. From this wall the main body of the church radiates, three facetted bays to either side, with a saw tooth eaves line, then a projecting square block which houses the narthex and west gallery. The saw tooth eaves continue just above the entrance block to complete the fan shape. Attached to the other side of the main wall are the low, square projections of the side chapels and sacristies and a concrete framed bell tower with shallow pitched roof. The entrance block is clad is artificial stone, has a wide, glazed screen with central doors and a thin flat canopy.
We had arrived some twenty five strong as part of Manchester Modernist’s Hull Mooch – we were very warmly welcomed and left more than satisfied by the riches both within and without.
My thanks to Deacon Rev. Robert Shakesby
Above this an inset panel of decorative mosaic by Ludwig Oppenheimer Ltdof Manchester -the firm ceased trading in 1965. The facetted elevations have large glazed areas set in a bold concrete grid of mullions and transoms, tripartite in the centre with a border of smaller divisions. The bell tower is placed in the centre of the east wall and has a port cullis-like bell-opening facing west.
The mosaic is surrounded by decorative abstract panels in light relief
Let’s take a look inside.
The interior is a light and spacious essentially single cell, with the shallow canted projection of the sanctuary – top lit by a row of seven small circular skylights, the low side chapels and the organ gallery. The concrete portal frame provides a dramatic grid radiating from the centre of the east wall. Sanctuary fittings in contrasting marbles, by Toffolo & Son of Hull, designed as a piece. Similar marble altar in the northeast side chapel. The chapels have subtle shallow-pitched arches. West gallery also with circular skylights. Organ pipes at either end arranged within a striking double-curve enclosure, like a grand piano in plan. Open-backed pews and original light fittings. Stained glass by Leo Earley of Earley & Co. of Dublin. Stations of the Cross, wooden relief panels set within integral frames, somewhat stark.
It has a canted front which is triangular in shape which has a large white cross at its apex.
The interior features full height stained glass windows of the Virgin Mary and St John by John Baker Ltd.
Born in 1916, John aka Jack studied at the Central School in London and worked under James Hogan at the Whitefriars stained-glass studios before joining Samuel Caldwell junior at Canterbury Cathedral in 1948 to help reinstate the medieval glass removed for safekeeping during the Second World War.
He subsequently authored English Stained Glass; the revised edition of this work, English Stained glass of the Medieval Period , which was to become one of the most popular soft back books on English medieval glass ever published.
Apart from his conservation skills, John was also an inspired teacher at Kingston College of Art. He produced windows for a number of churches, including eleven windows for the church of the Holy Name, Bow Common Lane, Mile End; two windows and a brick sculpture for the church of Little St Peter, Cricklewood; eighteen windows for St Anne’s church, East Wittering, Sussex; two large abstract windows for Broomfield Chapel, Abbots Langley; ten large concrete and glass windows for the new parish church, Gleadless Valley, Sheffield; and twenty-two glass windows for the Convent Chapel, St Michaels, Finchley. He also created a huge Jesse window for the church at Farnham Royal. The church was demolished in 2004, but the glass is now in storage, and some of the panes will be installed in the welcome are of the new church.
His favourite works were the windows he produced for Auckland Cathedral, New Zealand – as seen above.
John Baker, born Birmingham, 11 March 1916, died Hastings, 20 December 2007.
Antony Holloway – artist born March 8th 1928 he died on August 9th 2000.
Dorset was where he was born and grew up and the Dorset landscape was always there deep within him. He was educated at Poole grammar school between 1939 and 1945. After national service in the Royal Air Force in Dorset and Germany from 1948 to 1953 he studied at Bournemouth College of Art. Then came the RCA.
Tony began work as a stained glass and mural designer and jumped, with astonishing confidence, into working as a consultant designer with the architects’ division of the London County Council. He learned how to deal with architects and builders, and became adept at getting as much out of the money available – never enough – for his projects.
In 1963 he was introduced to the Manchester architect, Harry Fairhurst. Eight years later, after they had worked together on commissions in Cheshire and Liverpool, Fairhurst sought Tony’s advice about a plan for five large stained-glass windows in Manchester Cathedral.
Tony asked to design and make the first window, the St George in the inner south-west aisle. It was completed in 1973. Further windows followed in 1976 and 1980 and the final window, Revelation was installed in 1995.
One fine sunny Monday morning I set out cycling to Ashton-under-Lyne to buy an enamel pie dish. Almost inevitably I was pushed and pulled in a variety of unforeseen directions, incautiously distracted and diverted serendipitously – towards Droylsden.
Idly pedalling down Greenside Lane looking this way and that I was drawn magnetically to a pitched roof tower, towering over the red brick semis. Rounding the corner I discovered the delightful St Stephen’s RC church, stood high and proud on a grassy corner, glowing golden in the March sunlight.
I leaned my bike against the presbytery wall and with the kindly bidding of a passing parishioner, I went inside.
Thanks to Father Tierney for his time and permission to snap the interior. It was a calm space, the large open volume side lit by high octagonal honeycomb modular windows. The elegant plain pitched concrete gambrel roof beams a simple engineered solution.
The church and attached presbytery were built from designs by Greenhalgh & Williams in 1958-9, the church being consecrated on 12 May 1960. A reordering took place, probably in the 1960s or 70s, when the altar rails were removed and the altar moved forward. Probably at the same time, the font was brought into the church from the baptistery.
The altar and apse beautifully restrained in colour form and choice of materials. The design and detailing on the pews so warm and understated.
I was loathe to leave.
The exterior does not disappoint, the repetition of modular window shapes, the integration of doors, brick and mixed stone facing.This is a building of elegant grandeur, well proportioned, happily at home in its setting.
I popped by to see you yesterday – a truly remarkable structure set amongst the terraced housing of an unremarkable street.
The foundation stone for the present building laid by Bishop Beck in August 1962. He returned to bless and open the church on 25 June 1963. The new church was built from designs by Walter Stirrup & Sons – job architect Kevin Houghton, at a cost of about £60,000. The church is notable for its dalle de verre glass, by Carl Edwards of Whitefriars.
The church is a very striking and characterful building with a hyperbolic paraboloid roof rising in peaks on four sides, with clerestory lighting in the angles, that on the west side jutting out to form a canopy over the entrance. It was described by Nikolaus Pevsner as ‘wildly expressionist’.
Opened 22 April 1920 with “The Forbidden City” and designed by Arnold England, the Majestic Picture House was part of the Provincial Cinematograph Theatres circuit. With 1,233 seats in stalls and balcony and a splendid facade faced in white faience tiles on two sides of the building on its prominent town centre corner site of Old Street and Delamere Street, the cinema was a great success.
It had an oak panelled foyers which had beautiful coloured tapestry’s on the walls. The interior was in a Georgian style and it was equipped with a pipe organ and a seperate tea room and cafe which were located on the upper floor.
It passed, with all the other PCT houses to Gaumont British Theatres in 1929, but it was not until 12th July 1946 that it was renamed Gaumont. The Majestic Picture House was renovated in July 1936, with new seating installed and a re-recoration of the foyer and auditorium. A new Compton 3Manual/6Rank organ was installed that was opened by organist Con Docherty.
Later being merged into the Rank Organisation, the Gaumont was re-named Odeon on 11th November 1962. It was eventually sold to an independent operator who renamed it the Metro Cinema from 6th November 1981.
With capacity now down to 946 seats, the Metro Cinema continued as a single screen operation until the middle of 2003, sometime after a multi-plex had opened in the town. In 2008 (with seats and screen intact) the building was unused except for the long foyer area, linking the front and back elevations of the Metro, which was a Slotworld Amusement Arcade. By 2011, the entire building had been stripped out and stood empty and unused.
It was my local cinema as a lad – attending Saturday morning matinees as a member of the Odeon Boy’s and Girls club. Hundreds of the nosiest kids. regularly warned by the manager that the film would be stopped if the raucous behaviour continued.
Now it’s just an empty shell, superseded by multiplex and latterly a lost Slotworld.
Unlisted unloved sitting at the heart of the town – too late for the last picture show.
Well it’s almost a mighty long way to cycle from Stockport to here, but well worth it.
A clear functional design of the 1970s, designed to place all the internal focus on the top-lit altar, which beneath its modern cladding incorporates a pre-Reformation altar stone. The external appearance of the church is slightly forbidding but the interior is enhanced by vibrant slab glass.
More than somewhat bunker like in its recessed situation, well below street level, yet interesting and engaging nonetheless – I’m rather fond of grey.
Working around the comings and goings of the adjacent school, I half circumnavigated the site, capturing something of the detail and exterior views of the stained glass. The interior will have to wait until another day.
Planned and newly constructed housing developments in Norden and Bamford made it apparent that a new church was needed nearer the geographical centre of the parish. In June 1975 the present church of St Vincent de Paul was opened, nearly a mile away from the old church. The architect was Bernard Ashton of the Cassidy & Ashton Partnership, Preston.
Internally the church is simply fitted with plain white plastered or boarded walls. The low level of daylighting enhances the effect of the four corner windows, which are filled with rainbow glass, and of the top-lit altar. The dalle de verre glass was designed by Eddie Blackwell and made in Dom. Charles Norris’s workshop at Buckfast Abbey. The figure of the risen Christ on the roof over the entrance porch were also designed by Blackwell.
A church of the early 1960s, built before the Second Vatican Council on a traditional basilican plan. The design is striking and unusual, with an interesting combination of Gothic, classical and modern architectural motifs. The architect, Tadeusz Lesisz of Greenhalgh & Williams, is a little known figure but a designer of some interest. The church exhibits a scheme of sculpture, stained glass and mosaic on Marian themes, mainly by local designers, and retains almost all of the original furnishings and fittings in little altered state. It also retains furnishings from the late-nineteenth-century predecessor church.
Now here I am in Colwyn Bay generally minding my own and everybody else’s business, when all of a sudden I noticed a cast iron glazed awning.
Proudly announcing the proprietors – sadly supported by a distressing modern addition – now I’m not one to decry and debunk the rising tide of modernity, I’m all in favour of unisex clothing and central heating.
But the unchecked encroachment of vacuous vinyl really is the limit.
Businesses displayed a degree of dignified permanence unknown to the current high street trader. So here it is writ larger than life in stained glass and Carter’s Tiles.
Loud and proud.
And as an addendum here are the delightful tiles from the Llandudno branch, snapped two years previously.
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.
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.
The church building, designed by John Mark Mansell Jenkinson, the second generation of a Sheffield firm of architects, was opened in 1971. A steel cross, fixed to the facade in 1989, is a memorial to their work here and in the city.
The church, which stands at the side of a main road, has a grey concrete exterior, once white, which rises like a cliff, echoing the natural cliff face of the rocks behind. Three carved roundels in the lowest quarter of the facade soften the exterior as does a brown brick tower which guards the entrance steps and houses a lift which was added in 2004.
The steps lead into a narthex where two plaques outline the history of the three Congregational Churches which came together to instigate the building of this church. The doors to the left, which lead into the worship area, suggest the influence of Charles Rennie Mackintosh and Frank Lloyd Wright upon John Jenkinson.
The hexagonal church interior, which is well lit from the sides and the roof, is clad in golden brown stone. There is an air of Puritan simplicity. The tiered seating looks towards the raised sanctuary area which has a stone pulpit, lectern, communion table, and chairs; the font was carved by James Stone. There are stained glass windows, a banner, and a gold cross, designed by David Mellor, above the pulpit. At noon on sunny days the light strikes the top of the cross and brings the building to life. The organ console which is at the side of the churchcame from Zion Congregational Church at Attercliffe. It was originally built for Weetwood, the home of Sir William Ellis, a Sheffield Industrialist.
The banner is one of four fabric collages depicting the seasons, designed by Elaine Beckingham and made by the children of Junior Church. The other three are also displayed in the church
The church area leads into what survives of Endcliffe Park Congregational Church, notably a large hall with an organ to match which, along with the benches which served as pews, are reminders of its former days. It has a gallery divided by moveable partitions to facilitate use as classrooms.
Eventually the school bell rang for the last time, and a newer brighter home was found for the little learners.
Lights were turned off and the doors of Varna Street were closed.
But not for the last time, a new use was found for this recently listed building.
Having lost their city centre base Rogue Studios were offered the site by the local authority, and in double quick time they have created a home for artists, a community resource and project space, which will continue to prosper for years to come.
Cooperative Society shops and meeting hall. Dated 1912;altered. Red brick with liberal dressings of green and buffglazed terracotta, red tiled roof with geometrical patternedband and cockscomb ridge tiles. Rectangular plan. EdwardianBaroque style. Two storeys and attic, 11 bays; projectedground floor with dark green Ionic pilasters between the shopsand a central recessed porch with dark green surround, lightgreen Ionic columns and segmental open pediment ;inverted voluted brackets linking ground floor pilasters toalternate pedestals of 1st-floor colonnade, which has Ionicsemi-columns with festoons and a thin cornice, all in matchinglight green terracotta; swagged frieze of buff terracotta withbuff modillions to a green cornice; brick parapet with buffterracotta balustrades and triangular dormers in alternatebays, interrupted in the centre by a green segmental pedimentwith raised lettering “Beswick Cooperative Society LTD”. Tallsegmental-headed windows at 1st floor including a canted bayin the centre with parapet lettered “Built AD 1912”, andcoupled windows in the 2nd, 3rd, 10th and 11th bays, all withelaborate surrounds of buff terracotta including quoinedjambs, moulded transoms and enriched keystones; and stainedglass in the upper lights. Square Baroque-style turret at leftgable.
The building itself was originally designed for commercial use with a department store on the ground floor boasting five departments including a butchers, shoes and boots, a drapery and a grocery. On the first floor there was a meeting room that was large enough to host dances with live music. Its inaugural event was an exhibition by the Co-operative Workers Society that also included a recital by the C.W.S. orchestra of Balloon Street; it was reported to have been a great success. It was also used for community events such as the Crowcroft Bowls Club prize-giving ceremony in 1914.
Northmoor Road was called North Road at the time the building was in use as a co-operative and was developed between 1899 and 1930’s. Its most famous resident was J.R.Tolkien who lived here between 1926 and 1947.
This is such a substantial building exuding an opulent retail grandeur that easily leaves your local Tesco Local in the deep dark ignominious shade. From a time when the expanding Cooperative movement provide for most of the areas material needs – though the Beswick Society was disliked for its aggressive territorial ingress, outside of any recognised geographic constriction.
Externally it is still substantially as was – clearly visible from the nearby Stockport Road and continuing to command the street with degree of grace.