By Lawrence R. Gregory
By 1960 the historic parish of All Saints, Barton-upon-Irwell had been segmented with the recent establishments of the new parishes of St Gilbert, Brookhouse, and St Matthew, Winton. All Saints itself was left with a much reduced parish covering Patricroft, and parts of Barton upon Irwell and Peel Green.
It had long been considered that All Saints Church was impractically located; it had been built in 1867 by Sir Humphrey de Trafford primarily to serve the estate workers of the Trafford Park, however the de Trafford family had sold the estate in the 1890s and heavy industry had replaced the agricultural centre of the area. The parish was also at the mercy of traffic on the busy Manchester Ship Canal, every time a ship needed to pass, the Barton Swing Bridge would open and frequently Masses would be delayed due to the fact the congregation were trapped on the far side of the canal.
Fr George Dalston
Parish Priest at All Saints, Barton 1958-1961
1st Parish Priest at Holy Cross, Patricroft 1961-1979
In December 1958 Fr George Dalston was appointed as parish priest at All Saints church, in succession to Fr Baron who moved to St Mary’s, Eccles.
Fr Dalston had been ordained in 1937, after which he had served a short period on loan to the Leeds Diocese, then from 1939 as curate at St Anne’s Church, Greenacres. Between 1942 and 1946 he was a forces chaplain in World War Two, returning to Greenacres after the war until 1951 when he became curate at St Hubert, Great Harwood from 1951-1958, he then arrived at Barton.
Fr Dalston immediately began to formulate plans to build a new church for the parish, utilising the site of the 1850s Holy Cross School (and former St Gilbert’s Chapel), recently vacated by the removal of that parish to Winton. On the 12th November 1959, groundwork began on Aldred Street for the new church. Bishop Beck laid the foundation stone on the 12th March 1960. Mr A.F. Ratcliffe of the architectural firm Walter Stirrup and Son was employed as architect and executed an impressive design in modern brutalism. On the 1st December 1960, Fr Dalston and his curate Fr George Hartley moved into the new Patricroft presbytery. The church of the Holy Cross was formally opened on the 9th March 1961 by Bishop Beck, in the presence of 36 members of the clergy.
Following the opening of the new church, 8am Sunday Mass initially continued at All Saints Church, which became a chapel-of-ease to the Holy Cross. On the 3rd December 1962 the old church and presbytery were handed over to the Grey Friars, and Sunday Mass there ceased. On the 3rd September 1966 All Saints was officially re-opened as the City of Mary Immaculate.
The new church in the earliest days of construction with the historic Holy Cross School building in the background.
Construction underway on the new church tower
The newly completed church of the Holy Cross, Patricroft
In 1964 Fr Hartley left the parish and was replaced as curate by Fr Sefton who remained in post until March 1966. On the 8th January 1968, Fr Dalston finally received the official appointment as parish priest of the canonically erected parish of the Holy Cross.
On the 3rd November 1979 Fr Dalston retired from the Holy Cross after 22 years, he would later serve briefly at St Mary’s, Fleetwood, but retired from there due to ill health in 1987, he died on the 5th April 1989 at the Alexian Brothers Home, Moston. Fr Dalston had requested that his mortal remains be returned to the church of the Holy Cross for requiem, which was celebrated at the church on the 12th April 1989, following which they were interred at Wardley Cemetery.
Fr Patrick McIntyre
2nd Parish Priest 1979-1984
Fr Paddy McIntyre was ordained in June 1960 and was appointed as curate to Fr Dalston on the 11th September 1968, he would remain at Patricroft for the next twenty-five years, being appointed as parish priest on the 3rd November 1979. He installed a church organ in 1980 and began a youth club in 1981. The church was entirely redecorated in May 1982 in honour of the Papal Visit to Manchester.
On the 30th September 1984, Fr McIntyre left the Holy Cross to prepare for missionary work. In January 1985 he set sail for South America with the Society of St James, he would spend the next thirty years working in Equador, twenty-five of which were spent establishing a new parish in Quito, before returning to Derry in 2014.
Fr John Neville
3rd Parish Priest 1984-1988
Fr John Neville was appointed to the parish of the Holy Cross on the 2nd October 1984. In March 1985 a Parish Confraternity was set-up. The Log Book also records various disagreements with the parish committee, which was subsequently shut down in September 1985 following a public vote of parishioners.
In November 1985, renovation work began on the old Holy Cross school buildings, which up to then had been used as an unofficial parish hall. Part of the building was refurbished as the Shannon Meeting Room, and re-opened on Christmas Eve 1985.
By 1986, with all building debts on the parish being finally cleared, Bishop Geoffrey Burke consecrated the church on the 31st August 1986, a blessed a new marble high altar which had been erected for the occasion. In May 1988 an entirely new sanctuary area was constructed in marble to match the altar; the project was completed in June of that year.
Fr Neville celebrated his Silver Jubilee at the parish but on the 25th September 1988, after nearly four years, left Patricroft to take up a new position as parish priest at St Mary, Osbaldeston.
Fr John Marsland
4th Parish Priest 1988-1991
Fr John Marsland was appointed on the 9th October 1988 as the new parish priest, immediately upon his arrival he re-started the parish newsletter, and formed a building and maintenance committee, he was inducted as parish priest on the 22nd November, followed by a reception at the Talbot Club. In November he commenced a pre-YCW group.
In January 1989, the church confessionals were altered to give option of either open or screened confessions. The side-altar dedicated to Shroud of Turin was dismantled in December 1991 following the carbon-dating of the shroud; it was replaced by a pieta statue.
By 1988 the church hall and Shannon Room were suffering from severe damp and condensation (despite the recent renovations). It was declared structurally unsound in January 1989, and in March a proposal for a new hall was submitted to Diocese, the concept was agreed on the 29th June 1989, and the plans were passed by the administration Board in August. The Holy Cross Social and Community Association was formed in September 1989 to manage the new parish hall and demolition of the old buildings began in September 1990. Work was completed on the new hall in April 1991, the job being undertaken by John Martin Construction, the new facility was opened on the 20th April by Councillor John Smith, and was blessed by Bishop Kelly on the 21st April.
The opening of the new parish hall
In January 1989, proposals were submitted from Salford Council to amalgamate St Mary’s and All Saints School on the St Mary’s site, these were however rejected by the Secretary of State in May 1990. In September 1991 the school was renamed All Saints & The Holy Cross.
Fr Marsland founded a group of the Young Christian Workers in the parish in July 1989, that same month the first lay minsters of Eucharist were commissioned, the original team numbered twelve. In Sept 1989 the land between the front of the church and Liverpool Road was in-filled and grassed and in November 1990 a new boiler was installed in the church, having been acquired from the church of Ss Peter & Paul, Bolton. In April 1991, the presbytery was refurbished; Fr Marsland left the parish on the 23rd April 1991. He would spend many years as a Professor at Ushaw seminary, where he would be appointed as the last Rector in 2008, succeeding his successor at Patricroft, Fr Drainey, upon the latters elevation to the episcopate.
Fr Terence Drainey
5th Parish Priest 1991-1997
Fr Terry Drainey was born in Manchester in 1949, he was ordained in 1975, and served in Kenya between 1986 and 1991, he returned to the diocese in 1991, taking up residence at Holy Cross 24th April 1991, and was inducted as parish priest on the 12th July 1991 by Dean Houlihan.
Fr Drainey made no entries in the Parish Log Book, so events during his period are difficult to establish
In 1997 he was appointed to the staff at the English College, Valladolid, where he remained until 2003 when he became President of Ushaw College, he was appointed a Monsignor in 2006 and was elevated as 7th Bishop of Middlesbrough in 2007, being installed in January 2008.
Fr Terry Drainey presenting a parish cheque in 1991
Fr Frank Austin
6th Parish Priest 1994-2003
Fr Frank Austin was appointed to Patricroft in 1994, coming from the church of St Gregory, Farnworth. In 1995 the church was refurbished, the font was removed to the front of the church and the former baptistery was converted into a piety store. The sanctuary canopy was removed, and a larger crucifix was erected, a new organ was also installed with the keyboard console located in the nave rather than in the gallery. Extensive repair work was undertaken to the church tower, being completed in December 1995.
On the 6th July 1996, Michael Johonnett was ordained to the sacred priesthood at the Church of the Holy Cross by Bishop Vincent Malone, Auxiliary of Liverpool. In June 2000, Fr Austin celebrated the 40th anniversary of his ordination. In September 2000, the church roof was completely overhauled.
In 2004, Fr Austin retired and took up residence at chaplain at the Alexian Brother’s Home, Moston.
Fr Michael Ryan
Michael Ryan was born in Purley Surrey, his family moved to Altrincham in 1968 and he was ordained in 1991, he served two curacies at St Thomas More, Alkrington and St Patrick’s, Livesey Street, Manchester, he took over the parish of the Holy Cross in February 2004, and was inducted on the 19th November 2004.
Sadly Fr Ryan died on the 16th August 2010 after a long battle with cystic fibrosis.
Fr Kevin Griffin
Fr Kevin Griffin was born in Manchester in 1943 and was ordained at Langley in 1967. In 1986 he was appointed parish priest at the church of the Sacred Heart, Darwen, in 1996 at St Teresa, Firswood, and in 2003 at St John Vianney, Livesey, he moved to Patricroft in 2010, where he endured a long battle with cancer. Fr Griffin spent his final weeks at Nazareth House where he died on the 16th October 2014 at the age of 72. During his time at the Holy Cross, Fr Griffin undertook extensive renovations to the church fabric. He was replaced as parish priest by Father Martin A. Collins who came to Patricroft from the church of the Holy Family, Kirkholt.