St Catherine’s Church of Collyhurst, Manchester

 

Saint Catherine's Church, Collyhurst
Saint Catherines Church, Collyhurst Rd 1859 - 1966
 

On 5 November 1859, St Catherine’s Church Collyhurst was consecrated, with the service from the Book of Common Prayer, which gave thanks for the delivery of Parliament from the Gunpowder Plot and for the landing of William of Orange at Torbay in 1688.  The church was named after a daughter of Lord Derby.

The first rector of the church was Bro Rev Abraham Howarth, who in 1891 was a Deputy Grand Chaplain of the Grand Orange Lodge of England, Provincial Grand Chaplain of Manchester Province, and Worshipful Master of LOL 676, which met at St Catherine’s School.

The report of the Grand Orange Lodge of England 1898 reported the death of Rev Abraham Howarth, late Deputy Grand Chaplain who died aged 75 from influenza.  ‘He had been Rector of St Catherine’s 39 years, the church having been built for him by the congregation of St Paul’s, Kersal.  At that time Canon McGrath was Rector of St Paul’s, and Mr Howarth acted as locum tenens for some time, and commanded the admiration of all on account of the earnestness he displayed.  He subsequently had a portion of St Michael’s parish, Angel Meadow, assigned to him.  He took a keen interest in Sunday School, temperance, and other work in the parish.  The two Sunday schools connected with St Catherine’s are attended by no fewer than about 800 scholars regularly.  In the day schools there are upwards of 700 children.  His efforts were ably supported by some of the leading members of his congregation.  He had a strong aversion to Ritualism.  He claimed that his party were grounded on the lines of the Reformation, and in this belief he laboured incessantly, and displayed a willingness at all times to ‘do good to all men’.  The funeral took place at St Paul’s, Kersal, a goodly number of the Brethren being present in regalia’.

St Catherine’s was a church with a close connection with the Orange Order.  The history of the Manchester Diocese wrote: ‘In the first half of this century St Catherine’s was the epitome of extreme Protestantism; the Geneva preaching gown was worn for the sermon and the Orange Lodges paraded there every year’.  For many years LOL 676 met at St Catherine’s School.
A history of the Labour Party in Manchester comments on the Protestant and Orange nature of Collyhurst, stating that the Collyhurst ward elected Conservative representatives five times in seven years after the First World War, and explaining that the problems experienced by the Labour Party in Collyhurst were possibly because the majority of Manchester’s Ulster Protestant community lived in the area, whose presence was manifested by Manchester’s biggest and most active Orange lodge in the ward.

In 1920, following the death of Terence MacSwinney, the Sinn Fein Mayor of Cork, while on hunger strike in Brixton jail, the Roman Catholic Irish community organised a march in Manchester.  Representatives from the Roman Catholic Church and Sinn Fein marched together through the city.  When the march reached Collyhurst it met with some local opposition as small gangs of local Protestants waved Union Jacks and sang ‘Rule Britannia’ which provoked violent attacks by the marchers.  Further disturbances in the area occurred in 1925, when Protestant residents fought to prevent the proposed construction of a Roman Catholic Church in the neighbourhood. Later on, the Protestant community fought proposals for the building of a Roman Catholic school, with local residents signing a protest petition which was sent to the Board of Education.
The Manchester United footballer, Nobby Stiles, writes in his autobiography about the religious rivalry when he was growing up as a Roman Catholic in Collyhurst saying that there was great rivalry with the Protestant families in Abbot Street.

In 1921 the rector of St Catherine’s was Bro Rev R H Evans, who was a Deputy Grand Chaplain of the Grand Orange Lodge of England, and a member of Bishop Ridley LOL 277, Manchester.  In 1925, Bro Rev H Eaves, who was also a Deputy Grand Chaplain, and a member of John Bradford LOL 627, Manchester, succeeded him as rector.

On October 6 1927 an interesting wedding took place at St Catherine’s Church, when Sister Rose Mellody, Queen Victoria Ladies Loyal Orange Lodge No 110 Manchester, daughter of a highly esteemed deceased Bro Joss Mellody, married Bro A Kidd of Manx View House, Newcastle, Co Down.  The Rector, Bro Rev H Eaves, officiated.  Bro J McRoberts HDGM gave the bride away.  Sister Lena Holmes, WM 110, being bridesmaid.

The rector of St Catherine’s in 1959 was Rev Robert C Tootel a Deputy Grand Chaplain of the Loyal Orange Institution of England. Due to dry-rot and a declining population the church had to close and the building was demolished in the 1960s.


Saint Catherine's Church Whit Walk (Early 1900's?)
St Catherine’s Church taking part in a Whit Walk






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