St Mary, Horwich - Roman Catholic
Chorley New Road,
This parish was an offshoot of Anderton Hall on the one end and Sacred Heart, Westhoughton, on the other. Before 1884, the Catholics in Horwich village attended Mass at Anderton Hall. Bishop Vaughan was very friendly with the squire of Anderton Hall, and often visited the district in order to admire the beauty of the scenery from Rivington Pike. In fact, prior to the closing of the old Salford Grammar School, Dr. Vaughan was thinking of building a Diocesan Seminary in the Horwich district hence the land owned by the Diocese on the main Chorley-to-Bolton Road at Brazley. This site is still called by the older inhabitants, " The Bishop's Field." The diocese still holds a small portion of the original property. On the advice of the Squire of Anderton Hall, the Bishop sent Fr. Wilfrid Hampson (he died at Blackburn on November 21, 1940) to open a Mission at Horwich. The Catholic population of the village at that period was 172. The district very soon developed when the L.M.S. Railway bought most of the land at Horwich for their great works and technical school, which still employ over three thousand persons. Father Hampson built the first church, which was opened in July 1886. It is, together with the then Priest's house, now used for school purposes. After the serious illness of Father Hampson, Father Joseph Crilly, to its edification and great advantage, took charge of the parish in 1889. Fr. Crilly added to the buildings and built the present Holy Family School about two miles from the existing old school. He was a man of vision, and his labours made possible the survival of the faith in New Horwich, where neither Board nor non-provided school existed in 1894 the date, of the opening of Holy Family School. After all these years, it remains, a building capable of satisfactory extension according to the requirements of the 1945 Regulations of the Ministry of Education. It was the first school in Lancashire county to be granted aided status under the 1944 Act. Fr. Crilly was transferred to Pendleton in 1899. His im mediate successors were Fathers H. J. Hunt, and W. Wookey. Fr. Michael McGrath (afterwards Canon at Oldham) came in 1903, and built the present beautiful church and fine presbytery on the main Chorley Road. The church was opened in 1906. Fr. Thomas Moylan took charge of the parish in November 1910, leaving it for Blackburn in November 1935. He was appointed Chaplain to the Belgian refugees in August 1916, having as his assistant Father Joseph Vanderhaege. Fr. Moylan will be long remembered for his many controversies the greatest of which was his fight for Catholic burial rights, and which led to the opening of Ridgmont cemetery. In 1920, Archbishop Mannix of Melbourne accepted the hospitality of Father Moylan and stayed at Horwich on several occasions in 1920 and 1921. Fr. Richard Mortimer took charge of Horwich after, Fr. Moylan's transfer to St. Alban's, Blackburn, and remained, at Horwich until his death on February 23, 1940. Fr. Mortimer made many notable improvements, including the two beautiful altars which are the work of Ferdinando Stuflesser. He also, bought the site for the new Secondary Modern School, to serve Anderton, Westhoughton and Horwich. The site is on the main road, and it has been described by a representative of the Ministry of Education as one of the best sites in the county. Father Peter Sheehan took charge of St. Mary's, Horwich, on September 26, 1942. In spite of his poor health, he will be long remembered as a great confessor and a great raiser of funds for new schools. He died on December 16, 1945, aged fifty-eight, and was succeeded by Father P. J. Veale (transferred from Lowerhouse, Burnley). Father (afterwards Canon) McDermott Roe, when pastor of Westhoughton, gave his three famous lectures on the Pope and his Infallibility to mixed audiences at Horwich.
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.
Copies of Original Registers
- 1947-1962 held by Lancashire Record Office RCSF 2
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