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Manc Modernists Save Church: St Raphael

1963 Stalybridge Roman Catholic Church listed after facing demolition

Published on December 16th 2011.

Manc Modernists Save Church: St Raphael

Here is good work from Manchester Modernist Society. 

‘Following a successful application by the Manchester Modernist Society to English Heritage - the strikingly modern St Raphael the Archangel (1961-3) in Millbrook, Stalybridge has now been listed Grade II.

‘Members of the Society visited the church in the summer and were wowed by the overall design, the stained glass and the bespoke Stations of the Cross. They were shocked to hear just a couple of weeks later that the Church was to be closed by the Diocese of Shrewsbury, due to the expense of maintenance.


‘The Society quickly pulled together a band of experts and swiftly submitted a listing application - demolition was on the cards - but the listing was approved by the Minister for Tourism and Heritage from 13 December 2011.

‘The layout of the church is historic because it is a precursor of Vatican II, after which it became the norm for the priest to face the congregation; St Raphael’s already features this plan as the congregation focuses on a ‘centralised’ altar.

‘The building and its interior is largely intact, as it was when it was completed in 1963.

'Jack Hale of the Manchester Modernist Society said “When we heard that the church had closed we just had to act in order to try to save it from further decay, vandalism or even worse –we were shocked to discover (after the listing was approved) that the council had received notification of intention to demolish – thankfully this has now been prevented and this remarkable building has been saved.”

'St Raphael’s is by Massey and Massey of Warrington. It features superb stained glass by Pierre Fourmaintraux of Powells (Whitefriars Studios), bespoke ceramic Stations of the Cross and water stoops by Alan Boyson and a central pendant light fitting by McGloughlin of Dublin.'

You can find the building on Huddersfield Road, Millbrook, Stalybridge, SK 15 3JL


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11 comments so far, continue the conversation, write a comment.

AnonymousDecember 16th 2011.


Max ZDecember 16th 2011.

Although I'm not sure the late Christopher Hitchens would have approved...

Eddy RheadDecember 16th 2011.

Not really bothered that Christopher Biggins would have approved to be honest. We had God, the baby Jesus and sweet Mother Mary on our side (and English Heritage) on this one.

ShuttyDecember 17th 2011.

Great news. A triumph and well done to all those who could be involved. I talk the talk, bemoan the state of 'x' and the loss of 'y' but never really do anything, so sincerely grateful to those who do and preserve these buildings for us all!

Dave MartinDecember 17th 2011.

Well done and I hope its worth more in practical terms than the listed status of several of a certain hotel chains' assets. Where are they going to find a congregation to keep it paying the bills though?

julianshawDecember 19th 2011.

Brilliant. My Granddad was organist here years ago, and it's part of my childhood, but I'm with Hitchens when it comes to God, so mixed feelings. Regardless of that, this is a fantastic modernist building, really strking when you get inside. Would have been a crying shame to lose it. Well done Modernist Society.

Man in a shedDecember 19th 2011.

Scream pub?

Richard HarveyDecember 20th 2011.

Erm . . . the building has not been saved. It has been listed. It will be saved when it has a purpose and an occupant who will spend money to maintain and develop it. Listing helps prevent demolition, that's all.

I looks to be a wonderful building, and ideally would have a purpose where the public would be able to enjoy it. But until it has a viable use it will continue to deteriorate.

So congratulations to the Modernists for getting so far, but what is really needed is a new use.

1 Response: Reply To This...
Eddy RheadDecember 21st 2011.

Exactly - this is the beginning - not the end. The Diocese have already said they will appeal and no doubt they will not maintain the building. Its difficult to think what the building can be used for, if im honest, in such a remote location.

MollieDecember 22nd 2011.

Always said prayer was powerful!

Jean ClarkeDecember 28th 2011.

Our prayers will be answered when we get our Church back!!!

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