Big Weekend marks 60 years for Sheffield church

A close knit community has celebrated the diamond anniversary of its church, along with 70 years of the parish.

By Sally Burton
Thursday, 02 May, 2019, 12:12
The interior of St Catherine of Siena Church

A ‘Big Weekend’ at St Catherine of Siena Church on Richmond Road, Sheffield, included special services and events to mark 60 years of the church being a peaceful place of worship, a landmark for the surrounding area and a community hub for residents.

An exhibition depicting ‘Parish History and Life’ attracted much interest on Saturday, and the church held its Spring Fayre on the same day.

A new parish was created in 1949, as growing numbers of steelworkers and their families had populated the area, building communities and creating a need for new facilities.

This new church was planned, and went on to be built by the diocese, who employed architect Sir Basil Spence, known for his work on Coventry Cathedral.

It was paid for by a compensation fund that had been set up originally to administer monies that paid for war damaged churches.

St Phillip's Church in Attercliffe was destroyed by bombing during World War Two and population decline in that area led the Diocese of Sheffield to request that the money be transferred to the Woodthorpe parish.

St Catherine of Siena Church has celebrated its sixtieth anniversary

This was agreed, but as the architect originally approached about a new church in the area rejected the assignment, Basil Spence was given the commission.

Initially, he produced a design similar to his work at St Hugh, Leicester, but in 1957 altered the designs, working with Anthony Blee.

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The new design was for a brick church, with an attached hall, bell tower attached by a glazed passage, and a detached vicarage.

The foundation stone of the new church building was finally laid on April 11, 1959, and the church was dedicated by the Bishop of Sheffield and the Earl of Scarborough.

Ralph Beyer carved the name of the church by the doorway shortly before it opened.

Inside the church, the altar is made of black metal with a timber top, and the font is constructed of limestone with fossil inclusions.

In 1965 the sculpture on the tower, depicting St Catherine kneeling before Christ, was created by artist Ronald Pope.

From 1992 to 1997 the building was restored and the church was then awarded Grade ll Listing by English Heritage.

On Sunday of the celebration weekend, a patronal mass was conducted by the Rt Revd Glyn Webster, Bishop of Beverley, with an afternoon tea, and evening worship conducted the Rt Revd Tim Ellis.

Currently the priest at St Catherine’s is Father Philip Knowles.

The church hosts a coffee shop and hub that is run entirely by volunteers from the church and the local community.