It was founded in 1869.
In 1869, Father Parker, later Canon Parker, Rector of St. Alban's, Blackburn, opened a new mission, dedicated to St Joseph, in three cottages in William Hopwood Street, Audley, given by Mr. Richard Shakeshaft, of Blackburn, and adapted for use as a chapel. It was served from St. Alban's by Father William Berry until June 1874, when Father Aloysius Maglione was appointed Rector. Father Maglione engaged Messrs. Goldie and Childe, architects of London, to design a very large building in the Italian style, the ground floor of which was to be a school and the upper floor a church with seating for about 600 people. The foundation stone was laid by Bishop (afterwards Cardinal) Vaughan on Whit Monday, 1875, and the church was solemnly opened by him on Thursday, August 30th, 1877, with Pontifical High Mass in the presence of several other bishops, and attended by the cathedral chapter and heads of religious orders. The preacher was the Rt. Rev. Bishop Hedley, O.S.B. In the evening the great Dominican orator, Father Thomas Burke, preached. The opening ceremonies covered four days and on the fourth day, Sunday, September 2nd, there was a grand procession followed by Pontifical High Mass, in the presence of Cardinal Manning, who preached, and several other bishops.
The site was given by Mr. Richard Shakeshaft, who bought it from the Ecclesiastical Commissioners for £1,000 freehold. A presbytery was built at the same time. One of the first and greatest benefactors of St. Joseph's was a non-Catholic, Mr. Eli Heyworth, a cotton manufacturer, a councillor of the borough who afterwards became an alderman and mayor. He gave £1,000.
In 1893, when Father Maglione was made a member of the Diocesan Chapter, Cardinal Vaughan made St. Joseph's the object of his first visit as Cardinal to his former diocese. In 1895 Canon Maglione completed his work as builder of the parish by erecting a new school for boys. In 1901 he was appointed a domestic prelate to His Holiness Pope Leo XIII.
Monsignor Maglione was born at Naples on June 23rd, 1834. He came to England as a refugee from the political troubles in Italy after the Garibaldian revolution and the overthrow of the Temporal Power. He was a most apostolic priest and a formidable controversialist. He died at St. Joseph's after a long illness, on January 13th, 1905, and was buried in the Blackburn Municipal Cemetery. He left the two treasures of the parish, a relic of the True Cross and a splendid monstrance.
There is no record of the original population of the parish, but in 1874 from June, when it became a separate mission, to the end of the year, there were 28 baptisms and two marriages. In the following year there were 85 baptisms and eleven marriages. This makes an interesting comparison with 1949 when the population was just over 3,000. In the latter years there were 91 baptisms, of which 23 were non-parochial (from Queen's Park Hospital) and three of converts and 18 marriages.
The next Missionary Rector of St. Joseph's was the Very Rev. J. C. Canon Musseley, who came from St. Patrick's, Manchester. He had a talent for architecture which he applied both to the church and to the presbytery. He died at St. Joseph's on November 13th, 1910, and was buried in the Blackburn Municipal Cemetery.
Canon Musseley was succeeded by the Very Rev. David Power, V.F. Dean Power steadily paid off the parochial debt and made many improvements in the schools to meet the increasing demands of the Board of Education. He re-floored the schools in maple-wood, re-decorated the church, and erected a memorial to the parishioners who fell in the 1914-1918 war. He died at St. Joseph's on December 13th, 1935.
The Rev. J. McEnery was appointed parish priest in 1935. His chief work was the building of the chapel-of-ease of St. Teresa of Lisieux and the establishment of a new mission in the district which it served. Before he left, all arrangements had been made for making St. Teresa's into a parish. He was transferred to St. Chad's, Manchester, in March 1940, and the first parish priest of St. Teresa's was appointed in the following May.
Fr. McEnery was succeeded in March 1940 by the Rev. J. Arthur O'Connor, M.C., the present parish priest. Fr. O'Connor paid off the remainder of the capital debt and then formed a new Mass centre, dedicated to Christ the King, on Whinney Heights, to serve a new estate and the villages of Guide and Belthorn and the country around. The Chapel of Christ the King was opened on Easter Sunday, 1943. Many new houses have been built in this area and this second missionary offspring of St. Joseph's has thriven well and should grow into a sturdy parish.
Taken from "Salford Diocese and its Catholic past", a survey by Charles A. Bolton, a Priest of the above Diocese. Published 1950 on the First Centenary for the Diocese of Salford.