Wesley Place (east end) Catholic Church of Our Lady of Mount Carmel 9/185 GV II
Wesleyan Methodist Church, now occupied by Roman Catholics. C1870. Hammer-dressed stone, ashlar
dressings, Welsh and Westmorland green slate roof. Cruciform plan. Prominent west end with wide gable in which is set 5-light arched window with geometrical tracery and doorway with triangular hood over in which is set quatrefoil. Buttresses with offsets to either side, those to right taller and set back from 2 faces of octagonal turret with open belfry and spire over. North and South transepts have tall plain lancets.
Coped gables with kneelers and finials. Roof has 4 bands of fish-scale slates.
Interior: Elaborate arch-braced roof springs from clustered colonnettes set in the angle of the transepts.
Braces cross in centre forming a St Andrew's cross figure. Cast-iron hoops set in open spandrels. Pointed arched recess forms shallow sanctuary.
An Outline History of the Parish
of Our Lady of Mount Carmel
The earliest recorded Catholic activity in Silsden was ecumenical;
around the end of the 19th century Silsden was served by a Catholic
doctor, Dr Purcell, who lived in and practised from what is now Carmel
As transport difficulties prevented him from taking his large
family to Mass at St.Anne’s in Keighley, he sent his children
to the Methodist Sunday School next door in Wesley Place. This ecumenical
spirit has remained strong up to the present day.Mass was celebrated for the first time in Silsden in 1916 (at least
since the Reformation). A classroom was hired at the Elliott Street
Council School for Sunday Mass, which was celebrated by a priest
from St Anne’s in Keighley. His mode of transport is not recorded.In 1918, the old ‘Oddfellows’ Hall’ was purchased
and the upstairs room was converted into a Church.
This was dedicated
to Our Lady of Mount Carmel. Two years later, in 1920, Silsden became
an independent parish under its first Parish Priest, Fr Claude B
Warren O.B.E.In 1925, St Joseph’s Church, Crosshills, was built to serve
the other main parish population centre, after a fund raising campaign
that involved families ‘buying bricks’ at 6d each.
1930, Fr Andrew Kelleher became Parish Priest and was followed in
turn by Fr Eustace Malone D.D. in 1940, Fr Alphonsus O’Kane
in 1948 and Fr Henry Tatten in 1951. In 1954, a local SVP Society
was formed; this was continuously active for almost 50 years.The parish took a major step forward in 1957 when the redundant
Wesleyan Church in Wesley Place was purchased for Catholic worship.
The years that followed were marked by consolidation and steady progress.
Fr Frederick Mawson became Parish Priest in 1959, and was replaced
by Fr Peter Bolger in 1965. The first Parish Council was formed in
1969, in time for the Parish to celebrate its Golden Jubilee in 1970,
an event marked by the consecration of a new altar.Fr Peter Walmesley took over in 1971 and was replaced by Fr Peter
Ward in 1976.
1976 was also the year when women were invited to read
at Mass in both of the Churches. This period was marked by rapid
expansion of housing in the Parish and a consequent influx of new
parishioners, including a number of families with young children.
This led, in the early 80s, to the establishment of a ‘school
bus run’, a privately chartered bus overseen by parents, to
transport children to the Catholic schools in Keighley, as transport
difficulties had made Catholic education impossible in practice for
many parents. This was discontinued after several years when falling
demand rendered it uneconomic.The 1980s saw other important developments in the community life
of the Parish.
In 1982, the former Council Offices next to Our Lady
of Mount Carmel Church (and the former home of Dr Purcell) were purchased
and converted into both a new Presbytery and a Parish Centre. In
the same year, a group from the Parish visited York for the Papal
visit, and the Silsden Christian Council (‘Churches Together
in Silsden’) was formed. During this time, the first Eucharistic
Ministers were commissioned. In 1986, Fr Colum Kelly became Parish
Priest and in 1988, girls served on the altar for the first time
and the ‘Carmel Players’ were formed, presenting their
first show on the stage in the Methodists’ premises.
In 1992, Fr Waldron took over as Parish Priest. Carmel
House and St Joseph’s were both renovated in 1994, in time
for the celebration of the 75th Anniversary of the Parish in 1995. Fr Waldron became
the longest serving Parish Priest...