Thanks to Dave McLoughlin for the
On the afternoon of Tuesday 19 March 2019, 14 members of Burnage Local History visited St Elisabeth’s church in Reddish. The church was commissioned by local industrialist William Henry Houldsworth in 1870 and consecrated in 1883. It was designed by the famous Victorian architect Alfred Waterhouse whose other works include Manchester Town Hall, the University of Manchester buildings on Oxford Road and the Natural History Museum in London.
St Elisabeth’s is listed as Grade 1 by Historic England which means that it is of outstanding architectural interest and is one of only 7 grade 1 buildings in Stockport.
The building features different architectural styles including a Norman door in the tower, Italian interior and gothic influences in the chancel and the Lady Chapel.
We arrived on a breezy chilly afternoon and were greeted by a warm welcome from Ken, our guide who was baptised in the church in 1958 and has been involved in the choir and supporting the church ever since.
After a brief introduction we were able to explore the church at our leisure. Notable features include the marble and alabaster screen which was based on that of St Mark’s in Venice, the brass angel lectern, dedicated to 50 local men who gave their lives in the First World War and the Houldsworth memorial chapel which was added in 1919 as a memorial to the first patron of the parish, Sir William Houldsworth and his wife Elisabeth.
Our tour of the church concluded with tea and refreshments and we then left to have a look at other buildings in the model village created by Sir William Houldsworth for his community of workers in the nineteenth century. These included Houldsworth Mill, which at one time was the biggest cotton mill in the world and is now a multi- purpose building including shops, accommodation, a gym and meeting rooms.
Next to the church is St Elisabeth’s primary school and close by is Reddish Working Men’s club which was originally designed as a Library and Mechanic’s Institite for the use of the mill-workers. Both of these buildings were designed by Alfred Waterhouse and many elements reflect and complement the design of the church.
Another interesting feature of the model village is the terrace of fine Victorian houses facing the mill which housed the managers from the mill. Behind these were smaller houses for the mill- workers and families, most of which have been replaced by more modern housing.
Our visit to the area concluded around 4.15. and we were fascinated to find that much of the fabric of Houldsworth’s model village has survived to the present day.