The Parish

Parish of St Teresa Benedicta of the Cross

In 2009 a new parish of St Teresa Benedicta of the Cross was established incorporating the parishes of St Mary and St Walburga, Shipley, and St Aidan, Baildon. The two former parish churches continue to serve the communities of Shipley and Baildon but with one parish priest, Father Nigel Barr, who is currently located at St Walburga’s Presbytery. Within the former parish of St Mary and St Walburga was the church dedicated to St Anthony of Padua located in Windhill. As part of the overall reorganisation which saw the creation of the new parish of St Teresa Benedicta of the Cross, St Anthony’s church was closed in that same year, 2009. Outlined below are some notes on the history of the churches which have come together to form our new parish.

Church of St Mary and St Walburga

The origins of our parish date back to a Catholic ‘Mission’ which was established in 1863 by Fr Henry Walker from St Patrick’s church, Bradford. The steady influx of Irish Catholics into Bradford meant that it had been necessary for the priests of the founding church of St Mary’s, then located at Stott Hill, to open a ‘Mission’ at St Patrick’s, Westgate in 1852. Shipley followed in 1863 and St Joseph’s, Grafton St in 1868.

During the first year that the Shipley ‘Mission’ was established mass was celebrated in a room at the Oddfellows’ Hall, a public house still standing today at the junction of Otley Rd and Crossbanks. A Lecture Hall in Saltaire was then taken on lease and used for mass over a three year period until a new chapel, dedicated to St Mary and St Walburga was opened on Sunday 25 August 1867 on a site in Farfield Rd. The Bradford Observer commented on the earnestness with which the people ‘who are all of the labouring class’ had, in a comparatively short space of time raised £900 towards the cost of the chapel by means of weekly subscriptions. It was reported that the Rt Rev Bishop Cornthwaite, Bishop of Beverley (who subsequently became the first Bishop of Leeds in 1878), occupied his throne during the mass and preached an eloquent sermon on the gospel of the day. A ‘very efficient choir did full justice to the beautiful music of Haydn’s Imperial Mass’. In the evening of that day the Very Rev Canon Motler preached on ‘The Real Presence’ and ‘was listened to in breathless silence by a very crowded congregation’. On the same site a school and ‘beautiful Gothic presbytery’ were also built.

Interior of the original St Walburga’s church

By the 1950’s the old parish church had become too small for the growing parish which it had served for almost a century. The community was by then some 2,000 strong including an influx of post-war refugees from Eastern Europe and Italy. In spite of 5 masses being said on a Sunday, including one for the Polish parishioners, accommodation in the old chapel was stretched to the limit and it was agreed that a new church should be built. A building, designed by JH Langtry-Langton at a cost of £50,000 and located in nearby Kirkgate, was opened by the Bishop of Leeds, the Rt Rev George Patrick Dwyer, on Monday 4 June 1962. The site of the new church was previously occupied by a large Victorian house, the stones of which were used for the foundations of the new building and walls up to sill height. A presbytery was also built adjoining the church.

The old church in Farfield Rd was subsequently adapted for use as a hall until the late 1970’s when it was finally demolished. The original Gothic stonework, which formed the entrance to the church, was carefully numbered, taken down, and re-built, as the centre piece to the 3-arched new entrance of the Church of the Sacred Heart, Ilkley, when the latter building was extended. This was by kind permission of the then parish priest, Father Peter Walmsley, as a gift, to his good friend, Father Paddy Roche, who had his own family coat of arms, sculptured into the keystone.

As part of the celebrations to mark the Golden Jubilee of the opening of the present church of St Mary and St Walburga a talk was given in September 2012 by Dr Jim Hagerty on the origins and early development of the parish.  A summary of Dr Hagerty’s talk can be found on the link below:

‘St Walburga’s – the growth and development of a Victorian mission’

Church of St Aidan, Baildon

Baildon was originally part of St Mary and St Walburga’s parish Shipley. In 1929 Father Charles McGarvey was made administrator of St Walburga’s. At this time modern Baildon was taking shape with a new building programme and there was a growing Catholic population. The first Mass was said in Woodbottom School in Dec 1929. In October 1931 Mass was said in Cliffe Lane behind Baildon Royd and continued untill the new Church was built in 1933.

The site for St Aidan’s was purchased in Sept 1930 for £720. In Sept 1931 Father McGarvey then left for America to collect funds for the erection of the new Church and Hall. He returned in Jan 1932 having had a successful trip and the foundation stone was blessed and laid by Bishop Cowgill on 18th Oct 1932. Previous to the ceremony a lunch was held in Victoria Hall Shipley and a procession was formed of the Bishop, Priests and people walking to the new site. Canon Schrieber of St Mary’s Bradford preached the sermon and appeal for funds to complete the work. 90% of the money for the Church, Hall and House came from America and Ireland.

The Architect was Charles T Simpson and builders M W Mitchell.

The new church was dedicated to St Aidan the Apostle of Northumbria and solemnly opened on the feast of St Aidan on 31st August 1933. The church was packed and hundreds could not obtain admission.

An early view of St Aidan’s church

The altar saw service in many older Bradford Churches before being given to St Aidans. The Cope and Monstrance were donated by Dean Russell the parish priest of the Birstall mission. The statues of Our Lady and the Sacred Heart were donated by Miss Clayton of Cliffe Lane Baildon. That of Little Flower by Bernard McGaughey – Blackhill, Durham and St Philomena by Miss Cockroft – Bishop Auckland.

Soon after the Baptismal Font was installed and the first child baptised was Mary Crewe. The first marriage was between Arthur Dawson and Dorothy Connor on Sept 22nd 1934.

When the new Stations of the Cross were installed in Shipley, the old frames and new pictures were erected in Baildon. New Stations of the Cross have since replaced them. A new High Altar and was installed by 1946 from a drawing by Mr T Simpson with the work being carried out by John Groves. Also Mr T Rogan and F Rowley donated the altar of Our Lady and that of the Sacred Heart. Miss Cathleen Pullan donated the Paschal Candlestick in memory of her parents.

In 1946/7 two mosaic windows representing St Aidan and St Oswald were installed by Mrs Kathleen Hudson in memory of her parents Mr & Mrs McHugh. The crucifixwas given in memory of Patrick and Helen Henry. Long may these sacred emblems keep the donors in the memory of the people of St Aidan’s.

Church of St Anthony’s, Windhill

In 1948 a new parish of St Anthony’s was created located within the district of Windhill and parts of Idle and Thackley. The former Palais de Dance in Windhill had previously been purchased for £3,000 by Fr O’Riordan, the then parish priest of St Walburga’s, and converted into a church at which mass was said for the local community. A nearby house in Carr Lane was also purchased for use as a presbytery and Fr Denis O’Mahoney installed as the first parish priest.

A new church dedicated to St Anthony of Padua and designed by Chambers and Blythe was subsequently built at the junction of Crag Rd and Owlet Rd replacing the old Palais de Dance. This was formally opened by Bishop Gordon Wheeler on 18 April 1967. The former church was converted to use as a Parish Hall and can still be seen today behind the New Inn public house on Crag Rd. There were at that time two churches in the parish, St Anthony of Padua, Windhill and Our Lady and St Anthony at Wrose. In 1997 the latter church was closed and, after a life of almost 50 years, the parish was finally disestablished. St Anthony’s and the Windhill community then transferred to St Walburga’s parish and the remainder to St Francis of Assisi, Eccleshill.  St Anthony’s church, Windhill, continued to function as a chapel-of-ease in the parish of St Walburga until 2009 when, following the major reorganisation of parishes within the Bradford area, the church was finally closed.

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