Plans filed to demolish two Catholic churches – including one built 183 years ago

Proposals for the demolition of two Catholic churches in Oldham have been tabled.

The Diocese of Salford has asked council to have two of its former churches in the borough demolished. The separate applications are for St Mary’s Church and Rectory on Ruth Street, and RC Church of the Sacred Heart on Whetstone Hill Road.

St Mary’s Church was opened in 1839 in response to a request for a Catholic church in the Oldham area and was designed by Matthew Hadfield, the architect of Salford Cathedral.

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The diocese says both churches are currently unused and have fallen into a “dilapidated and abandoned state in recent times due to vandalism”. The application says they are empty due to lack of attendance at the local parish.

“Due to disuse, the church building has fallen into a dilapidated state, suffering from high level water seepage, dry and wet rot on the timbers,” he adds.

However, the pulpit organ has already been removed and salvaged, along with all other items of “historical significance”.

The interior of St. Mary’s Church

The diocese says there are currently no plans to redevelop or restore the sites, but building materials will be recycled where possible. “Approval for demolition is sought at this time to prevent the building from further deteriorating and becoming unsafe,” the planning documents add.

He expects the demolition of St Mary’s – which would be a mix of manual and mechanical methods – to be completed in August, with the demolition of Sacred Heart completed in November.

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