St Catherine of Siena (1957-59) Revisited


Denomination: Roman Catholic

Postcode: WA3 1LB (Click here)


Further to our recent post highlighting the threat of demolition faced by St Catherine of Siena, we regrettably bring news that our application to have the church added to the List of Buildings of Special Architectural or Historic Interest has been rejected.

English Heritage consider St Ambrose, Speke and St Mary, Leyland to be better examples of the post-war church by the firm of Weightman & Bullen. Whilst these churches are wonderful buildings, and rightly listed, we maintain that both are indebted to the architectural innovations manifest at St Catherine.

Not all buildings can, or should, be saved. However, we believe the listing system, and its methods of assessing architectural merit, still err on the side of the subjective and vague: design intent, and contemporary concerns, are not fully considered when assessing buildings. Although concerted efforts ARE being made to change the way we approach and evaluate our architectural heritage, particularly that of the twentieth century, the loss of buildings such as St Catherine, continues. For this particular sacred space, soon only memories will remain.




ABOVE: This image, taken prior to a minor re-ordering of the church in late 1980s, shows the altar in its original position with altar rails intact.

BELOW: Though not fully centralised in plan, the positioning of the light fitting suggests an awareness of new liturgical ideas by the architect, Patricia Brown of Weightman & Bullen.






ABOVE: The foundation stone of the church was laid by the then-Archbishop John Carmel Heenan on 28th September, 1958. The church opened on 3rd June, 1959, with Father John Connolly installed as Parish Priest.

BELOW:  Archbishop Heenan, later a participant in the Second Vatican Council (1962-65), addresses the gathered congregation.




We will continue to monitor developments, and provide updates where appropriate. Meanwhile, you may read our earlier blog on St Catherine here.



Once again, we would like to thank Dr Robert Proctor (Bath University) for the use of his images, and support in writing the listing application. He is the author of Building the Modern Church: Roman Catholic Church Architecture in Britain, 1955 to 1975 (Ashgate, 2014).

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