A member of The Federation of Family History Societies
St James' Church, Haslingden
St John's Church, Bacup
St Mary's, Church Rawtenstall
Mount Tabor Wesleyan ChurchSt Peter's Roman Catholic Church
St Peter's Roman Catholic Church
Turnpike, Newchurch

The origins of St. Peter's church lie in the establishing of a school in the building use by the defunct Mechanics Institution at Edgeside Holme in 1882. The founding of the school led to a Mission being founded in 1891 when Canon Mussley, parish priest of St. James-the-Less Church Rawtenstall purchased the former Methodist Church, Mount Tabor and dedicated it to Saint Peter. In 1892 the Mission was attached to St. Joseph's Parish, Stacksteads with the first Mass being said on 27th November of the same year. The Mission had no material possessions of it's own and the priest of St. Joseph's would bring all the things required to celebrate Holy Mass in his horse drawn coach and on completion of the Mass would load everything back into the coach before returning to Stacksteads.

By the early years of the twentieth century the Chapel/School was in a serious state of deteriorations and in grave need of replacement. When in 1913 Bacup and Rawtenstall Grammar School was opened in Miller Barn Lane replacing Newchurch Grammar School on Bridleway, Father Fracassi, the priest at St. Joseph's negotiated the purchase of the old School for the sum of £1,100. For the building to be used as a church and a school the Rawtenstall Board of Education required alteration to be made, and these were done at a cost of £500. Added to this was the cost of a further £100 for decorating the building. All the fittings had to bought except the High Altar, which was a gift from St. Marie's Church, Bury.

The Opening and Blessing ceremony was performed on Sunday the 24th December 1916 by Rev. Dean Keighley, Parish Priest of St. Marie's, Bury. At the same time as the purchase of the new premises St Peter's was granted Parish status and in February 1915 Father Henry Cashell was appointed the first Parish Priest. Father Cashell was at the parish for five years until his sudden death at Holyhead after he had decided to take a holiday in his native Cork.

With the death of Father Cashell the post of Parish Priest was taken by Rev. Dr. Edward M. Bray, who was to only have a short stay before moving to a new parish. Father Bray was succeeded by Father John Drescher in 1921 and he too was to have a short stay in the parish, departing for a new appointment in early 1924.

1924 saw the appointment of Father Francis Magill, a priest who was have a great effect over the next thirty three years. Father Magill soon realised that the Chapel/School had outgrown itself and he set about planning a replacement Church by ordering the demolition of the original Chapel/School, which was first used in 1892.

The new St. Peter's church was designed by Messer Byron and Noble of Bury, who twelve months earlier had designed St Joseph's church at Stacksteads on a similar style. The corner stone was laid on 1st October 1927, and the church was consecrated on 15th July 1928 by Dr. Henshaw the Bishop of Salford. The cost of the building was £8,300 with an additional £1,000 for the alter and furnishings and there is seating for 400 people.

Father Magill remained at the parish until his death at the age of seventy-eight in September 1957. He had been in the priesthood for forty-eight years and the priest of St. Peter's for thirty-three years.

Father C. J. McDonnell took over the parish in November 1957 but his stay was to be a short one with him becoming the Parish Priest of St Mary's, Bacup in 1961. The successor to Father McDonnell was Father Murtagh Henry who was no stranger to Rossendale having been a curate at St Mary's, Haslingden between 1941 and 1947. It was during Father Henry's time as Parish Priest that plans were made to replace the old school on Bridleway, which by now had become totally unsatisfactory and inadequate. By this time Father Henry was suffering from poor health and he lived just long enough to see plans passed for the first phase of new school before his death on the 9th April 1966 at the age of fifty-nine.

Following on from Father Henry was Father Vincent Lang. St Peter's was Father Lang's first parish, having previously been secretary to Bishop Beck and Bishop Holland before returning to his old college at Ushaw as a teacher, and from 1953 as curate at Salford Cathedral. Father Lang had the church decorated, an organ installed and the present altar erected facing the congregation. It was also in his stay that phases two and three of the school were built. Father Lang died suddenly whilst he was preparing for the 9.00 a.m Mass on Sunday the 26th December 1976. He was fifty-four years of age.

In January 1977 the Rural Dean of the District, Father Joseph Stack was appointed Parish Priest at the age of seventy. He was in the process of making plans for the Golden Jubilee of the new church when he had to retire because of ill health and October 1977 saw the appointment of Father Gerard Duffy as Parish Priest.

In 2004, following the death of Father Duffy, and because of a general shortage of priests in the diocese, it was decided to merge the parish with that of St. Joseph's. The priest of St. Joseph's, Father Philip Boast, took over the charge of both churches.

Source:- St Peter's 50th Anniversary Brochure (1978).

All the parish registers are still with the church (2009).

Click on image to enlarge