Thursday, May 29, 2008

Marriage in 1947

When my parents married in August 1947, it was in a Catholic church known as English Martyrs, in Wallasey Village. It was not in the present church, but in a tin shed that dated from 1907. Mum recalls walking up the aisle here and her footsteps echoing. This church was demolished about 10 years ago, and I foolishly failed to photograph it.

Mum has been associated with the church for a long time, as was I before I left the Catholic religion. Here's something about it, from the Diocesan yearbook of 1954:

English Martyrs, Wallasey Village

On Monday August 31st 1953, His Lordship, Bishop Murphy, solemnly blessed the new church of the English Martyrs in St George's Road, Wallasey Village, and celebrated the first Mass.

For years [since 1907] a temporary building, largely constructed from corrugated iron, has done duty as a church. The Parish itself began to take shape in 1901, when a Mass Centre, supplied by a priest from Ss Peter and Paul's, New Brighton, was set up in the house at 59 St George's Road. This house was demolished in September 1951 to enlarge the building site. Under Canon Stanton, the first Parish Priest, Fr William Reade [1908-1910] and Fr Edward Byrne [1910-1925] the small congregation was adequately accommodated. In Canon Fisher's time [1925-1933] the first steps were taken towards the building of a new church.

Canon McNally [1933-1941] continued with the scheme but was prevented from bringing his plans to fruition by the outbreak of war.

It was left to his successor Fr P J Coughlan to realise the dream of many years, and in September 1951 the work began. The foundation Stone was laid on May 4th 1952 and less than 18 months later the church was completed.

Every credit must be given to the Architect Mr F X Velarde, to the main contractors, Messrs Tysons Ltd for a building in every way worthy of its sacred purpose. On the purely utilitarian side Messrs Crittalls have provided a first class heating system.

The architectural style is reminiscent of an early Roman parish church with its campanile and baptistery separate but adjoining the main body.

The Sanctuary, with its simple altar, reredos of the Last Supper in silvered stone, and hanging Rood is perhaps the feature of the church.

On the outside, the mass of golden brick is relieved by small windows, which at the Sanctuary end are grouped by modelled cast stode mullions.

Francis Xavier Velarde (1909-1962) would design other churches, notably one on Blackpool (vacanted since 1999) and in Hoylake Road, Birkenhead (tinned up about a year ago). I recall Canon Coughlan, as he became, from my childhood in the 1960s.

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