Catholics in Bury

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Catholics in Bury

Post  rowan on Fri Apr 10, 2009 7:10 am


I'm researching my McKavney + McCreanor family history in the Bury area and would like to know more about Catholicism in Bury from about 1870 onwards. From my hasty research I gather that Catholicism wasn't 'big' in Bury and that there weren't many places of worship (that were legal) and I wanted to know what a Catholic would have done in these times. Both strands of the families named above were Catholics from Northern Ireland (they moved to Paradise Street and Lord Street respectively) and I'd love to know what their options were. Was St Maries on Silver Street the only place they had to go for mass? What were the attitudes of normal Bury people to these Catholic 'newcommers' from Ireland? And also, what was the Irish population in Bury towards the late 19th century? I'm full of questions, if anyone can help I'd be extremely greatful! Very Happy
Thanks, Rowan from Manchester


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Re: Catholics in Bury

Post  bamber on Thu Apr 30, 2009 11:14 am

I come from a large Catholic family in Bury and our church is Guardian Angels on Leigh Lane. The original GA church used to be on Walshaw Rd junct Harvey Street but that was demolished in the 1960's. I remember the old Guardian Angels 'iron church' (called so because it had external corrugated iron sheets on the walls) and my parents were one of the last couples to be married in it before it was deconsecrated. The site of the old GA church on Walshaw Road was previously occupied by a couple of small Roman Catholic churches since 1880. Those who attended Guardian Angels Junior School eventually went on to St Gabriels High School on Baron St Bury. This high school absorbed catholic children from schools at St Bernadettes in Whitefield, St Josephs in Bury, St Maries in Bury and Guardian Angels. There were Catholic schools at Bury Convent School, Manchester Road Bury, Holly Mount, Tottington.

You may get some info from these schools to help your enquiry.

I found this extract in some of my old research files from a source long forgotten but it may be of interest to you. "Before 1825 the Catholics of Bury were looked after by the priest at Rochdale. In that year the Rev. Michael Trappes obtained a room in Clerke Street where Mass was said. The following year, Fr. William Turner took over the chapel from Rochdale, and in 1832 was succeeded by Fr. Walmsley, who moved to larger premises, in Henry Street, although the place was little better than a warehouse. The first resident priest was Fr. Peacock, who was to look after Bury, Heywood, Radcliffe, Elton, and Tottington. A fine, devotional church was opened in 1842, substantially the building standing today. When Fr. Peacock retired, he was succeeded at short intervals by Fr. Allen and Fr. Rimmer. Canon James Boardman was able to foster the growth of the parish during his long residence from 1852 till his death in 1880. In 1861 he laid the foundations of a new parish in Moorgate by purchasing an old marine stores known as "the old rag shop" in Walmersley Road. This was the founda tion of St. Joseph's. Fr. Michael Byrne became Rector in 1880. On his death in 1898 Fr. David Walshe succeeded. From 1906 to 1913 the parish was under the guidance of the Very Rev. Dean David Power, who had the task of providing new schools. When he left for Blackburn, his assistant, Fr. P. Keighley, became administrator and later Rector. Dean Keighley was knocked down by a non-stop motorist, whilst returning from a sick-call on the night of March 16th, 1934. The next parish priest was Fr. A. P. Keegan, whoretired in 1940. Then came Fr. William Dorran, who had been parish priest at Mossley. He was made a member of the Diocesan Chapter in August 1948. In 1949 the church was now clear of debt and was consecrated by Bishop Marshall in October of that year. Dean Dorran went to Colne in 1950.
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." </BLOCKQUOTE>


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Irish Catholics in Bury

Post  Noisybrook on Thu Mar 24, 2011 8:59 am

Roman Catholicism was always quite a small congregation in Bury. I grew up in the 70s and went to St Bede's RC church which has now been destroyed. I think St Bede's was built in the 1950s. Before then my grandmother went to St Joseph's which was in a meeting room above the Co-op behind Walmersley Road somewhere.

My relatives that still attend church go to St Marie's on Silver Street.

After the Irish famine a lot of Irish Roman Catholics from County Mayo settled in Bury. Most living around Paradise Street in utter squalor. There was a big Fenian following (the beginnings of the IRA) and there were many riots between Fenian Catholics and Hibernian Protestant Irish in the late 1800s. There were 2 unofficial meeting pubs on Paradise, The Royal Oak and the Britannia. Each held meetings to plan the riots. One of the worse involved one of my ancestors and went down St John's street (still there). A confectioner's shop was completely destroyed and the Irish women looted it running away with foodstuff in their aprons. Paradise was a scary place!



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St Joseph's Catholic church

Post  Maddie42 on Tue Nov 24, 2015 1:47 pm

St Joseph's was in Peter Street behind Walmersley Road. I think the parish priest at that time was called Father Deegan. My infant school days c. 1950 were in the old school with a 'big school' for the older pupils across the yard. It had wooden dividers between the rooms and a large coal fire with a metal fireguard around to heat the classroom.

The Senior school became St Gabriel's in a new building behind Bury Grammar school where I later started my teaching career years and that's many years ago now.

In researching my family tree I found that my great grandmother Susan O'Donnell was raised a Catholic from County Mayo. I presume she came to work in the mills.


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Catholics in Bury

Post  oakfield on Sun May 14, 2017 4:27 am

I have just re-activated my membership of this Forum after a long time, so apologies for this late response to the posts about Catholicism in Bury. There will be gaps as I know little about where Mass was offered in Summerseat or about the school in Brandlesholme.

Hope this helps

Jim Lancaster

Catholicism after the Reformation largely died out in the Salford Hundred. Some families on the western edge retained the Faith and some in Manchester. Returns of Papists (Catholics) were required by the House of Lords several times in the 1700s and the most useful one was transcribed and published as “Returns of Papists, 1767, Diocese of Chester” trans. E.S. Worrall, Catholic Record Society (Occasional Pub No. 1) (1980). The return for the parish of Bury records one 'reputed Papist', about 75 in Bolton, 3 in Middleton, 3 in Prestwich and 21 in Oldham, and 14 in Rochdale. The Township of Manchester had almost 300. Catholics were permitted to have chapels legally from 1791, providing they were registered with the Quarter Sessions. In that year, Fr Rowland Broomhead registered his chapel in Manchester (Rook Street) and one in Rochdale. A chapel in Bolton was registered in 1794, as was a second chapel in Manchester (St Mary, The Hidden Gem). Ainsworth's book suggests that there were only two Catholic families in Bury around 1800, but the priest at Bolton registered a chapel in Bury in 1802, which suggests that there would have been more than two Catholic families locally. This chapel was probably over a woollen warehouse in Clerke Street. The priest initially came from Bolton but later the mission was served from Rochdale. One of the priests from Rochdale was Fr William Turner who later became the first Bishop of Salford. A priest resided in Bury from 1834 and organised the building of the present church of St Marie, designed by John Harper, who also designed St Paul, Bell Lane, and All Saints, Elton. St Marie was opened in 1842 and is still in use. The site included the church, a school, and a house for the priest. The school building was replaced ca 1960 with the present Presbytery and the priest's house became the Parish Hall. The church is a Gem Church of the Salford Diocese and a Grade II listed building. At this time, Bury (1842) was largely within the present ring road.

Around 1850 there was the Potato Famine in Ireland and many people emigrated, some coming to Bury. The town expanded to the east and the north. Around 1860 there was a small Catholic school in Back Flint St (Wikes Car park now) and in November 1861 a Catholic chapel was opened above a marine store at the bottom of Walmersley Road. This building was later Clemishaw's tarpaulin works and has been demolished. In 1871 the present church of St Joseph was erected in Peter Street, again with a house and a school. A second school building along Bold Street was erected ca 1900. These schools were replaced by the present school on Danesmoor Drive in the 1950s and the old buildings have been demolished. In the 1960s this church was re-ordered and modifications made, including a new porch. The parish was reunited with St Marie in about 2010 and the priest's house is now used by Caritas Diocese of Salford for various community groups.

In the mid 1880s a Catholic school was established in Elton, on Albion Street. This was followed by a chapel on Walshaw Road, as mentioned by Bamber. There would have been a school attached. This church was replaced by the present Church in 1957 and the school has been replaced. The church is celebrating its 60th Anniversary this year. It is hoped that a history of the parish will be produced later this year.

St Joseph', Ramsbottom was founded from Rawtenstall in 1861 and the priest from Ramsbottom served Radcliffe from 1863.

Holly Mount Convent was established in the 1870s to provide a Catholic Poor Law School so that Catholic girls in care could receive a Catholic education. The chaplain to the convent also ministered to the local community. Changes in our understanding of child care in the 1950s caused the closure of the Children's Home, and it became a residential home for ladies. The convent site is now residential property. The nuns continued to run the primary school and it is now St Hilda's parish school. The last nun who was Head Teacher was Sister James who retired in the 1990s. The parish of St Hilda, Tottington, was established in 1916 and the present church was opened in 1963.

St Bede's was founded from St Joseph's in 1950 and Mass was offered in the meeting room above the Co-op store on Rochdale Old Road (now Bargain Booze). The church was opened in 1963 and closed in 2003. The site was later used for the new Bury Hospice.

The Sacramental Registers of St Marie and St Joseph were deposited in Lancashire Archives in Preston for safe keeping. Some of them have been transcribed and are available on the Lancashire On-Line Parish Clerk Project site ( )


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