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Church of St Alban

A Grade II Listed Building in Blackburn, Blackburn with Darwen

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Latitude: 53.7528 / 53°45'9"N

Longitude: -2.4748 / 2°28'29"W

OS Eastings: 368790

OS Northings: 428594

OS Grid: SD687285

Mapcode National: GBR CT51.0G

Mapcode Global: WH96V.YXPY

Entry Name: Church of St Alban

Listing Date: 8 December 2017

Grade: II

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1446107

Location: Blackburn with Darwen, BB1

County: Blackburn with Darwen

Electoral Ward/Division: Shear Brow

Parish: Non Civil Parish

Built-Up Area: Blackburn

Traditional County: Lancashire

Lieutenancy Area (Ceremonial County): Lancashire


Roman Catholic Church, 1898-1901 by Edward Goldie of London. Free Decorated Gothic Revival style. The attached presbytery is not included in the listing.


Roman Catholic church, 1898-1901 by Edward Goldie of London. Free Decorated Gothic Revival style.

MATERIALS: Yorkshire sandstone with ashlar dressings from the Longridge Quarry; slate roof.

PLAN: aisled nave and aisled sanctuary with flanking chapels, a west narthex and baptistery, north and south transepts and west tower.

EXTERIOR: a large town church set back from the road on a rising site reached by a drive from the west. The buttressed west front contains the main entrance, a deep and richly moulded doorway with arches springing from three shafts and intermediate arches. It has a gabled roof and gabled flanking paired windows lighting the narthex. Above rises the huge west window with Geometrical tracery and a crocketed hood mould which rises to an ornate niche in the gable apex. Attached to the right is the four-stage tower with stepped buttresses and a three-sided stair turret. It has a ground floor gabled side entrance of three orders with a carved tympanum depicting the Crucifixion. There is a decorated window to the two intermediate stages and decorated belfry openings to the upper stage with triangular hood moulds, the whole finished by a parapet and stout corner pinnacles. The windows to the aisles have hood moulds with label stops and the westernmost bay of the north aisle has a projecting, canted and buttressed baptistery with a conical roof. There are two short lean-to projections to each aisle, housing confessionals, whose gables also break through the eaves. The nave rises above, and its bay divisions are marked by deep and high gabled buttresses which break through the eaves and are finished by triangular coping. Each bay has a high three-light clerestory windows set within a pointed arch. The transepts have large windows of seven lights with Geometrical tracery, and the south transept has a low, canted porch with a high opening. The east end is blind with a low, rectangular projection with sides pierced by paired windows. The attached presbytery is not included in the listing.

INTERIOR: the sanctuary aisles and side chapels are rib vaulted while the sanctuary has a prominent pointed barrel vault. The sanctuary is richly detailed with tall arcades of clustered piers and quatrefoils in the spandrels, which continue around the side walls as blind arcading on either side of the reredos; the quatrefoils in the spandrels contain painted figures of the Four Evangelists. The original high altar is in its original location and has an arcaded, marble frontal and a high, pinnacled reredos enriched with polychrome carving and gilding. On either side of the crowned tabernacle throne are depictions of the martyrdom of St Alban and above a large crucifixion panel is flanked on either side by statues of a Martyr (possibly St Alban) and St Patrick. The forward altar is also highly enriched with marble arcading and mosaic panels of the Agnus Dei flanked by a chalice and the Hand of God. Good quality marble altar rails and early-C20 ornate metal gates also remain. Fine altars also remain to the side chapels: the Lady Chapel to the north is of white marble with gold detailing and the Sacred Heart to the south is richly polychromatic of Sicilian white and red marble with highly coloured figures.

The six-bay nave has a terrazzo floor and a barrel-vaulted ceiling. The arcade is plainly treated with chamfered arches appearing to be cut into the solid wall. The triforium is richly carved with blind tracery and brattishing. Wall shafts rise from this point and continue upwards as transverse arches. Below these in the spandrels are integral high relief Stations of the Cross which continue into the transepts. The stone pulpit is situated in the north side of the crossing with high relief carvings of angels and saints and above a timber tester. The pews have shaped ends with inset carved quatrefoils and are considered to be original. Confessionals with Gothic traceried panelling and doors give off each aisle. The west gallery is carried on three arches and the front has a central projecting bay. The organ loft is reached from a stone staircase within the tower, and the organ pipes are arranged either side of the west window. The narthex has a railed off canted bay with a marble and alabaster pieta and marble plaques to the parish Fallen of the First World War. In the north west corner the rib-vaulted baptistery retains its original font, gates and sunken floor.

SUBSIDIARY FEATURES: slender and ornate cast-iron gate piers to a central carriage opening and to flanking pedestrian openings remain from the previous C18 church on the site. They have inset Gothic panels and ball finials.


In 1773 mass in Blackburn was said in a small chapel converted from a pair of cottages, which was replaced in 1780 by a purpose-built chapel. Between 1824-1826 a larger, Georgian-style church was constructed on the present site, which was replaced in 1898 by the present church. The church is an ambitious design by Edward Goldie at a time when it was believed a new church would become the cathedral church of a new diocese. The foundation stone was laid on 13 October 1898 and the church opened on 8 December 1901. The builder was John Boland of Blackburn who completed it at a cost of £20,000 excluding the tower and spire which were un-built. The high altar is considered to be a scaled-down version of an Edward Goldie drawing, and in 1903 a marble altar costing £400 was dedicated to the Sacred Heart and designed by E J Pippit of Birmingham. The nave pulpit was added in 1917. During the 1950s, plans to complete the church were revived and Arthur Farebrother & Partners prepared a design for a spire and tower which was a simplified version of Goldie’s original design. In the event the spire was abandoned but the tower was built in matching stonework on reinforced concrete piles and completed by the end of 1960. In 1989 a forward altar dating from 1930 was erected, brought from the chapel of Notre Dame, Blackburn.

Edward Goldie (1856-1921) was the son of architect George Goldie. Like his father, he was educated at Ushaw College. He was articled to his father's practice, Goldie & Child, in 1875, and was taken into partnership shortly after the end of his apprenticeship in 1880. He did not seek admittance to the RIBA until 1904. He is notable for the building of Roman Catholic churches, many of them in the Gothic Revival style.

Reasons for Listing

The Roman Catholic Church of St Alban of 1910-11 is listed at Grade II for the following principal reasons:

Architectural interest:
* An accomplished church design by the well-regarded ecclesiastical architect Edward Goldie, planned at a time when it might one day become the cathedral church of a new diocese;
* An ambitious and little-altered Decorated Gothic Revival design utilising good quality materials with a later scaled-down version of Goldie’s south-west tower;
* An intact and well-proportioned interior that is impressive in both scale and quality with richly carved detailing and an aisled sanctuary;
* Fixtures and fittings: St Alban's retains a suite of original good quality fittings to the nave, sanctuary and side chapels.

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