St. Augustine's Church, Pendlebury

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Coordinates: 53°30′38″N 2°19′20″W / 53.51056°N 2.32222°W / 53.51056; -2.32222

St Augustine's Church, western end

St. Augustine's is a High Anglican church in the Diocese of Manchester. Once called "The Miners' Cathedral", due to its almost cathedralesque stature, in the heart of a one time coal-mining community, it was also sometimes locally called "Gussie's".

The church is situated at 380 Bolton Road (A666) in Pendlebury and has a connected primary school. Vehicular access is by the aptly named Church Street.[1]


St Augustine's is a Grade I listed building, built by Bodley and Garner between 1871 and 1874,.[2] It was built with a capacity for hundreds of worshipers.[citation needed] Today the congregation is around 40. Originally the church was designed to have a bell tower on the southwest side, higher than the main roof, but lack of funds meant the tower was never built.

The Buildings of England describes the church as one of the greatest and most moving of all Victorian churches, with an interior of "breathtaking majesty and purity".[2] It has a red brick exterior and an exquisite interior roof design, some of which is in need of restoration. It has detailed stained glass windows, as well as an impressive interior which boasts several balconies running the width of the church allowing passage to a pipe organ which no longer is in use.

The cost of building, £3,300 (£270,000 as of 2014).[3][2] was largely borne by local banker Edward Stanley Heywood for the benefit of the local coal mining community. The first vicar, Doctor Dewes (b. Coventry 1825; d. Pendlebury 1911), was vicar from the consecration of the church in 1874 until his death. He worked unceasingly throughout the smallpox and cholera outbreaks, helping the poor and afflicted. Both vicar and church were the focal point for the mourning following the Clifton Hall Colliery explosion, on 18 June 1885, in which 178 men and boys were killed.[4] There is a memorial to the victims in the churchyard, immediately below the east window, which states that 64 of the victims were buried there.

The churchyard also contains war graves of twelve service personnel of World War I and four of World War II.[5]

In April 1994, George F. Wells, husband to a member of the church's congregation, donated a model painstakingly made entirely from matchsticks. The scale model of the church now sits at the back, behind the ornate font, which consists of an elegantly carved stone pedestal, raised from the ground by several steps, and a carved wooden hood suspended from the walls.

The church was drawn and painted several times by artist L.S. Lowry who lived at 117 Station Road, Pendlebury, between 1909 and 1948.

Current condition[edit]

In recent years, several church restoration projects have been completed, including a full re-pointing of the entire southwest side. The church has had building work completed allowing it to now make use of new toilets and a new kitchen. This has allowed for many evening events to be held, including the annual film night, where the church is dressed and tables set alongside several screens, with food, prepared by the congregation, being served afterwards.

Currently, the church is in need of at least £1 million for refurbishments to the interior roof and to repair the pointing on the exterior of the church, and is a priority project for English Heritage, who quote it as being "exceptionally important".[6]

See also[edit]

External links[edit]


  1. ^ St. Augustine's C of E Primary School
  2. ^ a b c Hartwell, Clare; Hyde, Matthew; Pevsner, Nikolaus (2004). Manchester and the South-East (Rev. and expanded. ed.). New Haven, Conn. [u.a.]: Yale University Press. pp. 558–561. ISBN 0300105835. 
  3. ^ UK CPI inflation numbers based on data available from Gregory Clark (2014), "What Were the British Earnings and Prices Then? (New Series)" MeasuringWorth.
  4. ^ "English Heritage inspires Greater Manchester to help historic places of worship", Government News Network, retrieved 4 July 2006.
  5. ^ [1] CWGC Cemetery Report. Breakdown obtained from casualty record.
  6. ^ "The Diocese of Manchester: Handling problems in partnership", English Heritage, retrieved 4 July 2006.