Parish History

Before 1847, the Catholics in Altrincham walked eight miles to Barton on Irwell in order to hear Mass. In that year, the first Rector, Father O’Reilly, celebrated Mass in the house of Mr McDermott in George Street. This was probably what is today the ‘Bap’ shop, and possibly ‘Nail Art’. The house was used for a few months before a chapel was improvised from cottages in New Street. The census of 1851 has ‘Father Michael Reilly’, ‘Roman Catholic Priest’ and Theresa Maguire, ‘general servant’, living at number 77. A map of the town based on a survey in 1874 clearly shows St. Vincent’s RC Chapel to the rear of this address and next door at number 79; but it is not clear when it was built or by which Rector. There was seating for 550 people, an astonishing number in such a small space. The congregation was composed mainly of Irish men and women who worked locally on farms or in domestic service, in addition to those who had fled the potato famine in Ireland. When a new church was opened in Bentinck Road in 1905, the premises in New Street was retained for a variety of parish functions, including a club for young men and as temporary accommodation for Belgian refugees during the First World War.

According to H M Leay, who wrote notes on the parish c. 1950, St. Vincent’s school dates from 1858, “in a house adjoining the presbytery” in New Street. A new school, now demolished was opened in Hamon Street in 1884, for 288 children. It was enlarged for a second time in 1908. In 1915, St Vincent’s school used the old presbytery at 77 New Street for infants’ classes, because of the overcrowding problem.

St Vincent de Paul’s on New Street in Altrincham. This image was kindly provided by Anne Montague, parish secretary. ed.