History of the Church of St James the Great Haydock
Eric Lowe

Preface by Fr Paul Nener and
Fr Rodney Middleton


The last history of the Parish of St James the Great, Haydock, was written to celebrate the centenary of the founding of the Parish. We have just completed 129 years, and Eric Lowe has kindly offered to up date the history. It gives us pleasure to preface the work with these few remarks. The history seems as if it is the story of successive Vicars! This is inevitable since each Parish Priest leaves his own mark and style on any Parish. Sensible parishioners retain what is beneficial, and forget those things which fail to meet their needs, or become outdated. Despite this, what we have here is actually a history of a Parish and its people, in particular the faithful worshippers over 129 years. It is the story of an Anglican parish firmly rooted in the Catholic tradition of the Church of England - a tradition that goes back to quite early days in the 'Oxford Movement'. It was in this movement and its aftermath that St James' was a pioneer in the North of England. The Church itself bears witness to this tradition, not only because of the external signs, important as they are, but also, more significantly, because of the immediate sense of prayer, devotion and holiness that inspires even the most casual visitor to our Parish church. There are few sacred building which so wonderfully enfold one with a sense of the presence of God. This cannot be told in history, nor can it adequately be described in words. It is the reality which has to be sensed and experienced by the worshipper, and the individual at private prayer. It comes about we believe, because generations of worshippers have offered their prayer together, because the Blessed Sacrament is reserved, because of the careful attention to beauty and order, because of the images and ornaments which point us to heaven, and because the Holy Sacrifice of the Altar is offered regularly, day by day and week by week, for the living and the dead, who together make up the Body of Christ in this place. A church building ought to point to the continuity between heaven and earth, and behind these following stories, many of which seem quite ordinary and to some people quite uninteresting, there lies this reality. Any parish history will naturally be tales of doings of ordinary people, but these people form a living community. They are the local manifestations of the Church Catholic - The Body of Christ. They are His agents in the world. Without such ordinary, holy folk in the churches and chapels of the world, the eternal message of God's love would eventually wither away and be lost. All people need God, and those who read this book cannot be exceptional. In this world whilst individualism, material gain and a constant search for entertainment seem to dominate our society, it is salutary to look at a place like St James' where the important things are community, generosity and the quiet beauty of holiness. This is how God is allowed to shine through and make his presence felt. We should like to thank Eric Lowe for all the time, care and devotion which he has applied to the preparation of this book. We hope the history of an ordinary parish church, its people and its life, will give readers some sense of the joys and sorrows of the Christian pilgrimage lived over several generations - generations who, under the inspiration of many devoted leaders, began to glimpse something of the glorious vision of the eternal God, revealed to us in Jesus Christ by the power of the Holy Spirit. Amen.

Rodney Middleton
Vicar 1995 - present

Paul Nener
Vicar 1983 - 1995


Author's Footnote:
The author wishes to apologise for any omissions and for not mentioning many individual people - the latter a deliberate policy. However, the work of all who help in the parish is gratefully acknowledged, including the clergy, the church council and other officials, the organisations, the choir and the servers, the sacristans and cleaners, the Sunday school teachers and those who work so hard in the churchyard. For us who live away from Haydock, it is always a joy, an inspiration and a privilege to visit St James' and to return home refreshed by its atmosphere of peace, prayer and holiness. Remember too, the souls of all the faithful departed who worshipped at St James' and in their time helped make our beloved parish church so very beautiful. Our thanks to them also. So begins a new phase of the history of a parish church, both ordinary and extraordinary. The history will continue as God blesses the parish of St James the Great, Haydock. And to the same God, Father, Son and Holy Spirit be all praise, majesty, honour and power for ever and ever. Amen.

Eric Lowe