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St Michael’s Roman Catholic Church, excluding later extensions to south and presbytery, 1350 Gallowgate, Glasgow

A Category C Listed Building in Calton, Glasgow

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Latitude: 55.8516 / 55°51'5"N

Longitude: -4.1997 / 4°11'58"W

OS Eastings: 262393

OS Northings: 664236

OS Grid: NS623642

Mapcode National: GBR 0YQ.R3

Mapcode Global: WH4QF.G5DW

Entry Name: St Michael’s Roman Catholic Church, excluding later extensions to south and presbytery, 1350 Gallowgate, Glasgow

Listing Date: 4 May 2016

Category: C

Source: Historic Scotland

Source ID: 406000

Historic Scotland Designation Reference: LB52388

Building Class: Cultural

Location: Glasgow

County: Glasgow

Town: Glasgow

Electoral Ward: Calton

Traditional County: Lanarkshire

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The church was designed by Alexander McAnally and built from1965-69. It is an 11-bay, approximately rectangular plan stripped modern Gothic aisleless church with canted apse and large narthex, located at the east end of Glasgow in a street which largely consists of tenement houses above shops. In accordance with Section 1 (4A) of the Planning (Listed Buildings and Conservation Areas) (Scotland) Act 1997 the following are excluded from the listing: the later extensions to the south and the presbytery.

The exterior is built of Nori rustic red/brown facing brick with buff sandstone dressings. There are mainly triangular headed window and door openings and plain pier buttresses and an eaves course. The tall tapering brick buttress with concrete facing on the east flank is surmounted by a massive sculptural figure of St Michael and the dragon, cast in synthetic stone (designed by the Jack Mortimer Company). There is distinctive circular-patterned glass used in mainly fixed-light metal windows. There is 'Lockroll' aluminium roofing.

The interior which was seen in 2015 has many 1960s fittings in place including ceiling lights, pews, and doors with distinctive diagonally-patterned timberwork and circular-patterned glazed lights. There are cream coloured bricks to the interior walls and a cedarwood ceiling. The distinctive triangular headed shape of the exterior openings is repeated at the chancel arch, in the apse, the communion rail, the high altar and the niches and tabernacle on the rear wall of the sanctuary. Extensive use of marble in the sanctuary on the floor, communion rail and high altar where three different marbles are used.

The rectangular plan plain presbytery which is not included in this listing is linked at the north west of the church.

Statement of Interest

St Michael's Roman Catholic Church, designed by the Glasgow architect Alexander McAnally and built between 1966 and 1969, is a good little altered example of a Roman Catholic church conceived on traditional lines but designed with a modern Gothic style and taking inspiration from modern Scandinavian church design. Its distinctive features are the repeated use of the triangular headed arched openings and the tall buttress carrying the massive statue of St Michael designed by the sculptor Jack Mortimer. The church is a landmark in the streetscape of Gallowgate.

The interior of the building has good quality detailing and the scheme, which is remarkably consistent throughout the church, is largely intact. The repeated use of the modern Gothic triangular pointed arch motif in doors, windows, chancel arch and apse and well as in the details of the chancel fittings gives the interior striking coherence. The distinctive circular patterned glass is found in windows and doors throughout the church.

St Michael's is one of nearly ninety new churches built in Glasgow in the post-war period. Many were built in brick and some are highly innovative in design and layout, responding to the changes in church design instigated by the Second Vatican Council from 1960-1965. The most significant and prolific architects producing extraordinary church buildings during the post-war period were working mainly for the Roman Catholic Church and included Thomas Cordiner, Reginald Fairlie, A R Conlon, Jack Coia, Isi Metzstein and Andy MacMillan.

Alexander McAnally (1907-1978) was among one of the foremost and prolific church architects in Glasgow in the post-war years, working almost exclusively for the Roman Catholic Church, designing more than twenty churches in the period between 1950 and 1970. McAnally produced imaginative designs where the whims of his clients and the budget would allow, for example designing a circular church, St James Crookston (1965-68). However in contrast, St Michael's is Traditionalist in design, with a wide basilican plan and retaining the previous separation of clergy and congregation. Most of his work is in a brick Romanesque manner, the style of St Michael's being an exception.

St Michael's is among a small group of Traditionalist church designs in Glasgow built during the post-war period, which is also similar to the ideals and work of Reginald Fairlie, consciously fusing a traditional basilican plan with modern design motifs and high quality materials which resulted in a modern Gothic style. It also took inspiration from the contemporary interest in modern Scandinavian architecture but in particular shows similarities with earlier Danish church designs of the 1920s and '30s, with intricate brickwork and simplified steeples. The most well-known Danish example is P V Jensen's Klint's Grundtvigs Church in Copenhagen but a number of smaller regional churches – as at Aarhus – bear a striking resemblance to McAnally's Glasgow churches. The church work of architect, Francis Johnson in Yorkshire, is also contemporary with McAnally's, and in particular, St Joseph's Roman Catholic Church, Scarborough of 1958-60 (listed grade II) is directly comparable and shows a similar debt to interwar Scandinavian church design.

Many of the new post-war churches in Glasgow were built to serve new housing areas such as Knightswood and Riddrie but St Michael's is in a much older area of Glasgow and was intended to replace an earlier temporary church. The site for the new church had been acquired in 1921 and in 1934 Reginald Fairlie drew up plans for a very large building with two western towers. However because of difficulties over the site these plans were not executed. It was not until the mid-1960s that McAnally was commissioned to draw up a new set of designs. Almost certainly the statue of St Michael and the dragon was conceived many years before this, possibly for the proposed earlier church, as Jack Mortimer, the sculptor responsible for the statue of St Michael died in 1961. The moulds for the statue must have been retained, the statue being cast after Mortimer's death by Sterling Precast Ltd, Stirling. At the time the church was formally opened in 1970 the statue was the largest freestanding piece of sculpture in the west of Scotland created over the previous 50 years.

Jack Mortimer worked in partnership with Andrew Willison and Edward Graham from the 1930s until the firm closed after Mortimer's death in 1961. They were architectural carvers. The firm has a distinguished list of jobs including sculpture for Glasgow's Empire Exhibition of 1938, memorials and figurative groups and reliefs for a number of post-war churches by the eminent practice Gillespie Kidd & Coia. They also designed the marble work in the chancel of McAnally's St Teresa's church.

The presbytery and buildings to the rear of the church are not considered to meet the criteria for listing and are excluded from the listing.

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