Parish History

Sacred  Heart of Jesus & St Joseph Church, Westhoughton, was founded in 1873…

THE Mission of the Sacred Heart was founded by the late Very Rev. Canon Carter about 20 years ago. For a number of years it was a chapel of ease, served from SS. Peter and Paul’s, until about fourteen years ago, when Father Chas. McDermott Roe became its first resident priest. Father W. Palmer the present Rector hopes soon to replace the present building – which was formerly a weaving shed – by a good commodious church, to be built in the middle of the town.Taken from St Patrick’s Schools Grand Bazaar Handbook: 1892
The parish grew from the district Served by SS. Peter and Paul’s church In Bolton. A workshop in Albion Street, Wingates, today marks the place first used as a chapel. It had been a weaving shed and then a Methodist chapel. Canon Carter of Bolton opened the chapel in 1873, helped by the generosity of the Gerrard, Tempest, and Stonor families. Solemn High Mass was sung at the opening of the chapel.In 1876 Fr. McDermott Roe became the first resident priest, and lived at first in Church Street. Father Marringer was Rector for three years from 1877 and started the elementary school by dividing off part of the building. Several priests did duty here for a period, Fr. Willemse, Fr. Hampson, and Fr. Mitchell. Bishop Vaughan confirmed here in 1881.

Father W. H. Palmer became Rector in 1892. By his zeal and energy a new church and school were built. He secured a good site in Lord Street and on July 7, 1894, a procession of priests and faithful escorted the Bishop from Albion Street to the new site. Here the Bishop laid the foundation stone of the new school, which was opened in December.

Father Beulink was Rector in 1897 and was followed by Fr. Colenbier, who worked here until 1912. Fr. Colenbier had the honour of receiving a personal letter of thanks from Leopold II of Belgium for defending the Belgian administration of the Congo.

Since then Fr. Vereker was Rector for four years, and Father Frederick Barton was here from 1916 to 1932. He was the first priest to be buried at Wardley. In recent years Fr. Peter Taylor and Fr. Joseph B. Brosnan (since 1937) have, been parish priests here.

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 of the Diocese of Salford.

PARISH / ASSISTANT PRIESTS: TIME LINE

  • 1873-1876 Mission served from SS Peter & Paul, Bolton
  • 1876-1877 Fr. C. McDermott Roe
  • 1877-1880 Fr. Marringer
  • 1880-1883 Fr. Willemse
  • 1883-1886 Fr. Hampson
  • 1886-1891 Fr. Mitchell
  • 1891-1892 Fr. Keelan
  • 1892-1897 Fr. W.H. Palmer
  • 1897-1898 Fr. Beulink
  • 1898-1912 Fr. A. L. Colonbier
  • 1912-1916 Fr. Vereker
  • 1916-1932 Fr. Barton
  • 1932-1937 Fr. Taylor
  • 1937-1961 Fr. J. B. Brosnan
  • 1950s Fr. J. Elliot
  • 1950s Fr. W. Kelly
  • 1961-1975 Fr. B. O’Leary
  • 1970s Fr. R. Lohan
  • 1975-1986 Fr. H. P. McCarroll
  • 1981 Fr. K. Soars
  • 1980s Fr. B. Wood
  • 1985-1986 Fr.. P.Quinlan
  • 1986 – 30 Nov 2006 Fr. Patrick Quinlan
  • December 2006 – June 2013 Fr. Michael Johonnett
  • June 2013-date Fr Richard Aspden

Original Registers

Baptisms
Marriages

Copies of Original Registers

Baptisms
Marriages

Fr Michael Johonnett, Parih Priest 2006-2013.

Parish Registers 

The Diocese does not authorise any outside party to visit our parishes in order to make copies of their Baptismal Registers or other parish records, and under no circumstances should anyone be permitted to do so. Baptismal Registers frequently contain annotations of sensitive information (adoption, legitimacy of birth, change of name, vows or orders, annulments, dispensations, formal defections, etc.), so we do not permit anyone to peruse, copy or publish them until 70-100 years after the date of the last entry. Such data recorded in the Registers was disclosed in confidence to the Diocese/parish for the purpose of receiving a Sacrament, and, under Data Protection legislation, as long as the person named is alive, the data is to be retained and used only for that purpose (e.g. as a record of reception of one sacrament, to be disclosed as needed when that person receives another Sacrament) and may not be released for any other purpose (e.g. family history research, or commercial/religious organisations compiling genealogical data).  

Baptism certificates for those who are still living should be provided (for sacramental purposes) either to the baptised person in question, or to their parents/guardians in the case of minors. Persons requesting copies of baptism or marriage certificates for the living or the deceased for other reasons (e.g., for family history research or for personal keepsakes) should be directed to obtain a birth or marriage certificate from the local Registrar’s Office, since there are public records. However, as Baptism is a publicly celebrated event (unless otherwise noted in the Register), it is permitted to disclose (including in writing) to a third party that someone was baptised in your parish on a particular date.  

The Registers are not for public viewing/copying. For other enquiries, please contact archives@dioceseofsalford.org.uk where the Archivist will be happy to respond.

Church

The Westhoughton Parish of Sacred Heart of Jesus and St Joseph began in a disused early 19th century weaving shed in Albion Street, Wingates.

When the weaving industry, locally, struck bad times, the shed stood idle until taken over by the Wesleyan Methodists of the town as their place of worship. Upon their move to Church Street in the 1880s, it was taken over by the growing number of Roman Catholics.

A church was established through the efforts of Canon Edmund Carter of Bolton, with the financial help of the Gerrards of Brynn, Tempests of Yorkshire and Stoners of Oxfordshire.

On Sunday 21st September 1873, Solemn High Mass was first celebrated in the church. The mission was served by the Church of SS. Peter & Paul, Bolton. Bishop Vaughan officially opened the Mission on 19th October  1873. The Rev. Fr. Charles McDermott Roe, later Canon of the Salford Diocese, became the first resident priest, in 1876.

Under the leadership of Fr. Marringer, part of the building was partitioned off as an elementary school and opened on 3rd August 1879, with an average attendance of 41 children. Miss McCormick was the first schoolmistress.

Fr. Hampson had a sacristy built on the east side of the church; Fr. Mitchell erected a fine window in the sanctuary to the Sacred Heart, and built a porch on the west side, surmounted by a cross.

During Fr. Palmer’s five-year stay in the parish, and due to growing numbers of parishoners, the Sylfield Estate in Lord Street was acquired in 1894. A school building, at a cost of £670 to accommodate 170 scholars, was given priority – and the foundation stone was laid on 7th July 1894 by the Rt. Rev. John Billsborrow, Bishop of Salford. This school building was to serve the parish for 90 years. The Infant department of a new Primary school on Central Drive opened in May 1971.

The foundation stone of Sacred Heart Church was laid on 22nd June 1895, and Mass first celebrated there on December 22nd.

This building served the parish for almost 100 years, and witnessed to a succession of clergy.

Fr. Colonbier (1898-1912) was to witness the effects of the Pretoria Pit Disaster on 21st December 1910, one of the worst mining disasters in history, killing 344 men and boys.

Fr. Brodie Brosnan (1937-1961) served with distinction as an officer in the British Army on the Western front during World War One. He had been Parish Priest at Sacred Heart Church for only a few years when the Second World War began.

Fr. Bernard O’Leary and Fr. Henry McCarroll oversaw extensive refurbishment and reorganisation of the church between 1960 and 1980. Fr. Patrick Quinlan came to Sacred Heart Church in 1985 as Curate, and became Parish Priest in June 1986.

Mass was celebrated for the last time in this church on the Feast of the Presentation of the Lord, 2nd February 1994. Demolition of the buildings – Church, Presbytery, Old School – began on Monday 14th February 1994.

The new Sacred Heart Church, designed by the Pozzoni Design Group, was blessed and dedicated by Bishop Patrick Kelly on 17th May 1995.

School

Under the leadership of Fr. Marringer, six years after the opening of the church, part of the Wingates Sacred Heart Church building was partitioned off as an elementary school and opened on 3rd August 1879, with an average attendance of 41 children. Miss McCormick was the first schoolmistress.

During Fr Palmer’s five-year stay in the parish, and due to growing numbers of parishoners, the Sylfield Estate in Lord Street was acquired in 1894. A school building, at a cost of £670 to accommodate 170 scholars, was given priority – and the foundation stone was laid on 7th July 1894 by the Rt Rev John Billsborrow, Bishop of Salford. This school building was to serve the parish for 90 years.

The Infant department of a new Primary school on Central Drive opened in May 1971. The Junior department moved to Central Drive in 1984.

A new building was built on the Central Drive site, opening in two phases, in September 2010 &  September 2013.