Left to right: Sir Dermot de Trafford Bt; Miss C J de Trafford; The Mayoress of Trafford, Mrs G Mar/and; The Mayor of Trafford Cllr George Mar/and JP; Miss M A de Trafford; at all Saints Church, Barton-on-lrwell, Urmston, Manchester.
ON the last day of May, the Feast of the Visitation of Our Lady, a celebration of thanksgiving was held at All Saints' church, Barton-on-Irwell, Urmston, Manchester, to commemorate the Marian Year, the 120th anniversary of the opening of the church (1868-1988) the 25th year since the arrival of the Greyfriars the Friars Minor Coventual, with the accent on the great strides that have been made in the work of restoration and repair of this Pugin church.
All Saints' church, Barton, was designed by Edward Welby Pugin and built at the Barton end of the Trafford estates and paid for by Sir Humphrey de Trafford (1808-1886). It was a parish church succeeding to the Penal Days' chapel at Trafford Hall. The Manchester Ship Canal at the turn of the century cut the majority of the faithful off from their church, which was on the other side of the Canal.
The parish, however, remained until after the last war, when the then parish priest decided to build a church over where his parishioners were at Patricroft Peel Green. With the building of Holy Cross, All Saints was then closed and remained so for a few years until the Friars Minor Conventual took it over in 1962.
The church then became the centre for the Militia of Mary Immaculate the Crusade, as it is known and a small printing press was transferred here. There was also certain retreat work and mission activity.
However, management proved very difficult for some years, almost unsurmountable at times. Then a change came about when the district was declared a Conservation Area, which resulted in a more general artistic interest being directed towards the Pugin church. It was designated as a first class architectural building. Help was then forthcoming from the Trafford MBC, the Historical Churches Preservation Trust, English Heritage, the de Trafford family, and many others. A large proportion of the costs have also to be met by the Friars.
Guests at the celebrations included Bishop Patrick Kelly of Salford, Sir Dermot de Trafford, the Mayor and Mayoress of Trafford, the Chief Executive of Trafford MBC, Cllr Frank Eadie JP, the Very Rev Fr Robert Bastham, Provincial OFM, ClIr Allen Russell Coupe, Brendan Blundell OFM, Cony, the Guardian at All Saints, and many of the local clergy and the friars.
At the close of the meal just two speeches were made. One by Fr Jarlath McDonagh, who in 1962 was the first friar to take charge as Guardian, and who related many incidents and history of the work in those first decades. The second was by the present Guardian, Fr Brendan Blundell OFM, Cony, who presented a very clear picture of the restoration and intensive work of these past three years, thanked everyone and the corporate bodies for their valuable help and consideration, and reminded and encouraged us all to keep up the good work.
Each guest was presented with a copy of A History of All Saints' Church (to 1900) by Fr Edmund O'Gorman OFM, Cony, with a section of text and pictures by Fr Brendan about the restoration work.
At 7.30pm a thanksgiving bible service was held in All Saints' church presided over by Bishop Kelly, who also preached a sermon on the Marian Year involving the principle of religious sympathy. A choir of girls from Chorlton Convent High School for Girls was in the de Trafford Chapel to help in leading the congregation in the hymns.