St. Jude's - Beginnings . . . .

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During the 1940's, 50's and 60's, the face of Wigan changed completely. Row upon row of the terraced, "two-up and two-down", houses, built during the 19th Century for the workers in the cotton mills and coal mines, were systematically demolished.

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As part of a huge re-housing plan, new council estates were springing up around the outskirts of the Borough, offering new and better homes. The first estate to be built was that at Beech Hill, as early as the 1930's, then, during the 1940's, 50's and 60's the Worsley Hall, Norley Hall,  Marsh Green and Worsley Mesnes Estates followed. Also, in the early 1960's, the number of private developments was on the increase.

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Around the Poolstock area, where St. Jude's Church now stands, there was an ever increasing population, with families moving both to the council estate being erected on the farmland of Worsley Mesnes and to the new private development at Hawkley Hall. With many Catholic families coming from the condemned properties that made up St. Joseph's Parish around the Wallgate area in Wigan, and also an influx of young couples moving into the area from Liverpool and Manchester, the need for a new church became a major concern.

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Father Richard Tobin, who became Parish Priest at St. Joseph's in 1959, was determined that the Catholic community around Worsley Mesnes should be provided with a place of worship. Thus, in 1959, he had erected a temporary dual-purpose building to provide a chapel of ease for Sunday Mass and also a venue for social purposes during the week.

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Left: Around 1960. The wooden chapel of ease in St. Paul's Avenue. Father Tobin, apparently, obtained two ex-RAF huts, which were converted into the makeshift building.

The first Mass was said there around November 1959.

 
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Above: Inside the 'hut', as the temporary chapel of ease was known. On either side of Parish Priest of St. Joseph's, Father Tobin, stand Father Cronin (left) and Father O'Brien.

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In the commemorative magazine to mark the year of St. Jude's Silver Jubilee in 1990, parishioner Hughie McCormick recalled that the wooden chapel of ease was built from two  ex-RAF huts that Fr. Tobin had acquired. "The men of the parish did the decorating and a few of us got together to form a committee," he said. "We used the wooden hut for Masses and social events right up until the new St. Jude's Church opened in 1965."

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Some ladies of St. Jude's remember serving tea and biscuits at the back of the building during bingo sessions, social evenings and hot-pot suppers that were held to raise money for a permanent church. Often, in the middle of winter, they had to go for water to the houses across the road when the temporary church's pipes froze!

 

 

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