Christ the King Church - History
1. Parish Priests' Pen Portraits ("Pop-up Priests")
In 1929 he was sent to Burnley to take charge of the fledgling mission of Christ the King, four years later he moved to St Mary, Haslingden where he remained until ill health forced his retirement in 1951, he died the following year 9 October 1952.
Fr Watts served curacies at St Joseph, Halliwell (1902-04), St Mary, Islington (1904-09), St Mary, Eccles (1909-16), then as chaplain to the Salford Union Workhouse. In 1918 he was sent to the fledgling mission of St Robert, Longsight where he acquired the plot of land in Hamilton Road, and laid plans for the new church and school, but ill health forced his resignation in 1927, 18 months before the plans were completed. From 1927 to 1933 Fr Watts served as chaplain to Buckley Hall, Rochdale before returning to the active mission as Parish Priest at Christ the King, Burnley. In 1935 with his health still poor he moved to there rural parish of St Wilfrid, Longridge where he remained for more than 20 years until his death 13 September 1956.
In 1935 he was sent to Burnley tasked with establishing the new parish of Christ the King, and he built the present church.
In 1940 he moved to St Aloysius, Ardwick, then in 1944 to St Mary's, Bolton before retiring in 1951 to the Rescue Home at Didsbury where he died 21 September 1955.
This photo of him was taken at the opening of Christ the King Church on 29th Nov 1936
Fr Porter served as curate at Greenacres 1920 to 1921 and at St Alban, Blackburn 1921 to 1922, it was then that his health broke down for the first time and he took six years of sick leave, he returned in 1928 as curate at All Saints, Barton, then from 1928 at Ss Peter & Paul, Bolton, then in 1931 his health collapsed for a second time and he spent six years as chaplain to Notre Dame, Blackburn.
In 1937 Fr Porter returned to parochial ministry as Parish Priest at St George's, Nelson, he moved in 1940 to Christ the King, Burnley, then in 1943 to St Joseph's, Stacksteads, however in 1949 his health broke down for a third time and he went to convalesce in St Ives, Cornwall where he died 1 January 1955 at the age of 58.
In 1940 Fr Gannon was appointed Parish Priest at St George, Nelson, moving after three years to Christ the King, Burnley, then after another three years to St Joseph, Reddish where he would then serve for 24 years, he retired to Ireland in 1970 and died there 18 December 1982 at the age of 84.
In 1946 Fr Elliott moved as PP to Christ the King, Burnley, then finally in 1950 to St Mary's, Denton where he would minister for 23 years, he rebuilt the church.
He retired in 1973, living in a house in Haughton Green, he died 9 October 1981.
Fr Hartley was appointed curate at St Brigid, Bradford cum Beswick, in 1936 he moved to the Guardian Angels, Elton, then in 1942 was appointed Chaplain at Crumpsall Hospital.
In 1950 Fr Hartley was sent to the church of Christ the King, Burnley as Parish Priest serving there for ten years, moving in 1960 to Our Lady & St Patrick, Walton le Dale where he died 28 June 1965 at the age of 62.
In 1960 Fr Bannon was appointed Parish Priest at Christ the King, Burnley where he would serve for the next 24 years. he retired in 1984 to McAuley Mount where he died 11 June 1987.
Fr Sheeky served as curate at St Patrick, Livesey Street 1963-69, Sacred Heart, Derker 1969-70, and St John the Baptist, Rochdale 1970-74, he then served on the staff at St Bede's College 1974-77, before returning to parochial ministry at Sacred Heart, Accrington 1977-80.
In 1980 Fr Sheeky was appointed to the charge of the newly opened church of St Teresa of the Child Jesus, Barracks Road, Burnley where he served for four years, in 1984 he moved to the neighbouring parish of Christ the King, during which he was also the school chaplain to St Hilda‘s Girls RC High School. He remained at Christ the King until retirement in 2002, moving then to McAuley Mount where he died 17 November 2004.
2002-2017 Fr Brian Kealey
2017-2018 Fr Blaise Armadi
For current clergy see Parish Clergy Team
(with thanks to archivist Lawrence Gregory for supplying the information & photos used in the pop-ups)
2. The Church Building:
The building is a plain interwar church, intended as the church hall for a projected church (unexecuted). It was built in the garden behind Spring Hill, a Georgian mill owner’s villa which temporarily served as the chapel and then as presbytery, until its sale by the diocese.
In 1895, a chapel of ease was established in St Thomas’s School (built in 1876-7). In 1929, Monsignor Tynan bought Spring Hill, a large mill-owner’s villa in Manchester Road, as a site for a new church and school. A mission was established and services were held in a small chapel in the house. In 1932, the parish was established. In 1936, a new church was built adjacent to the house for about £3,000. The architect was Richard Byrom of Bury, and the contractors were Messrs Mullen & Durkin of Burnley. The church was opened by Bishop Henshaw on 29 November 1936.
Spring Hill was then used as the presbytery until its sale [ keys handed to mcontracors 5th February 1990 ], when a new presbytery was built. [ Fr Sheekey moved into the new presbytery on 26th January 1990 ]. The church is built of Accrington brick laid in stretcher bond, with tile details. The pitched roof is of slate. The plan is rectangular, with a sacristy and a boiler house at the east. The main entrance is at the northwest. The south elevation has six metal-framed windows between brick wall strips. The west and east elevations have slightly projecting centre bays. There is a Venetian window to the west. Inside, the church consists of a single unaisled space. The roof is timber-panelled. The Gothic carved timber altar and reredos are original. As part of the post-Vatican reordering, the altar was moved forward and the reredos placed on a sympathetically-designed new support. Above the sanctuary hangs a modern Christ the King crucifix. Near the southwest corner is a large statue of Christ the King, given in memory of Albert Whittaker (died 1942), placed in front of timber Gothic panelling. At the southeast corner are an octagonal timber font and a statue of Our Lady (in memory of Christopher Flaherty, who died in India in 1942).