With thanks to Gordon Cook and Alex Rochead for a copy of this great photo of St Josephs Church. Pictured on Glasgow Road, I’ve zoomed in on the high resolution image to capture some of the architectural detail on the church itself, the former church school on the right and also of course the boundary walls, gatepiers and railings which were actually Grade B listed on 29th November 2004.
The Church is of course vastly more interesting. Opening on the 18th of June 1905, just one year after the death of Peter Paul Pugin (one of the Architects), St Joseph’s is dominantly sited on Glasgow Road adjacent to the Livingstone Memorial Church. Blantyre’s prosperity at this time was due to the opening of six collieries.
The tall building with steeply-pitched roof was said to rival (though not permitted to rise above) the six-stage tower of the Memorial Church.
Officials at the opening ceremony included preacher Dr Hackett, Deacon Fr O’Neil, Sub-deacon Fr Smythe and Archbishop of Glasgow J Maguire.
Built at a cost of £10,000, St Joseph’s underwent little change until 1924 when the vestry area and sacristy was added. The 1928 reredos of Caen marble and an altar of Carrara marble were designed by Ernest Schoefelberg of London and erected by Messrs Vickers of Glasgow. At that time, the interior was re-decorated by Messrs Stirling & Sons of Glasgow to the designs of Mr Morton of the Glasgow School of Art, and stencils executed by John Hardman Studios. The church was re-opened on the 4th August, 1928.
The next significant date seems to be 1948 when the east rose window was installed by John Hardman Studio, Birmingham at a cost of £775, and the Sacred Heart Altar (Baptistry) of white Sicilian and coloured marbles similar to present altars by Galbraith & Winton Ltd, Marble & Tile Contractors, at a cost of £1,466.
Further work was carried out by the John Hardman Studios in 1954. St Joseph’s principal gabled elevation is divided into the standard `A’ form typical of Peter Paul Pugin, and is a perfect example of his basilican plan with a short sanctuary and clear views from the nave and aisles, which had become standard for British Catholic churches at least since E W Pugin’s adoption of slightly before 1860.
The Art Deco Presbytery flanks the church to its north west and is listed separately. On Monday 21st December 2015, there was a carol service at St Joseph’s Church, Glasgow Road where the brand new stained glass windows were unveiled.
From “Blantyre Explained” by Paul Veverka (c) 2017
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