Parish of Saint Robert of Newminster

St. Richard’s, St. Mary’s and St. Robert’s

On June 7th 1915 Fr. Cuthbert Chronnell was asked by the Bishop to open a new Mission in the area between St. Mary’s, Levenshulme and St. Joseph’s, Longsight.

Fr. Chronnell accepted, and so he arrived in Longsight with nowhere to live and no money. He found lodgings in Poplar Villas, The Crescent, Levenshulme, and began to say Mass in a room above the Co-op on Stockport Road. He soon set about finding land on which the new church could be built.

On 23rd July after much negotiating, about 1.1/2 acres of land, bounded by Wilpshire Avenue, Norton Avenue and Hemmons Road was bought for £1,000. In October 1916 another ¾ of an acre south to Sutcliffe Avenue was bought for the same price.

Bishop Louis Charles Casartelli, Bishop of Salford, decided the new parish would be called “St. Robert of Newminster, with the feast day of June 7th”.

On July 7th 1915 Bishop Casartelli wrote, “for half a century the name of the saintly Provost Robert Croskell was one to conjure with in the Manchester District and throughout our Diocese; no more fitting memorial to his sacred memory could be devised than the proposed Mission and Church of St. Robert in North Levenshulme and Longsight, part of the wide district which he evangelised with the loving care of a father, for well over thirty years”. (Fr. Robert Croskell was parish priest of St. Mary’s, Levenshulme from 1867 – 1902).

When the time came to build St. Robert’s Church, it was realised that the Anson Road Estate was about to be built. It was decided to build the church in Hamilton Road, Longsight. St. Robert’s parish flourished, and soon it was decided to build a second church as a chapel-of-ease to St. Robert’s.

On 21st June 1947 Fr. George Catterall was appointed priest in charge of St. Richard’s, lodging at 8 Stovell Avenue, Longsight. From this date St. Richard’s is regarded as a separate entity. Attached to the church was 2.1/2 acres of land. There were about 950 people in the parish and Stockport Road was to be the dividing line between St. Richard’s and St. Robert’s.

St. Richard’s officially became a separate parish on 17th February 1953 and Fr. Catterall was appointed the first parish priest. The people of St. Robert’s marked the occasion by presenting St. Richard’s Church with a new Baptismal Font at a cost of £70.

It was Fr. Flynn who built the parish hall which opened on the 2nd February 1957. The main ambition now was to build a parish school. The local authority would not give permission for a new school. So on 1st September 1963 one class started in St. Richard’s Hall. Fr. Flynn began negotiations for a school on 22nd December 1965.

On 28th January 1967 Fr. Brierley was appointed parish priest of St. Richard’s. On 8th January 1968 a second class was formed in the Church Hall, and on 1st September 1968 a third class was formed on the stage in the Church Hall.

By now the number of children attending school in St. Richard’s Hall was increasing rapidly, and this allowed pressure to be applied on the authority.

Finally, on 6th November 1968 building began on our new school. On 11th March Fr. Brierley and the governors appointed Mr. Welsby as the first Headteacher of St. Richard’s School. The school opened for the first time on 2nd September 1969 with 161 children. Mrs. Heald was appointed as Deputy Headteacher. The members of staff were Mr. A. Murphy, Miss M. Caffery, Miss N. McGrath, Miss M. Harris, Miss M. Cole, Miss B. Wilson and Mr. T. Bond. The School Secretary was Mrs. P.Hibbert, Canteen Supervisor Mrs. S. Woods, and the Caretaker Mr. T. Richardson.

John Anthony McHale was appointed as the second Headteacher of St. Richard’s School on 26th January 1988 after Mr. Welsby retired. The number of Catholic children in the parish continued to increase and the school began the move to become one and a half form entry. The building was no longer large enough, and so the school was given three classroom extensions and a staffroom extension. A new Nursery and Reception classes followed, and before long they had to be extended.

The third headteacher was Mrs. Sharon Sesnan who was appointed on 1st September 2007. In more recent times the local authority were desperate to find places for primary pupils. St. Richard’s had by now a waiting list of Catholics who could not get a place. The governing body and the local authority with the help of the diocesan schools commission, agreed to build a two storey building with six classrooms – the Olympic Building.

Four years ago St. Richard’s received permission and the finance to build a further four classrooms. Because there was no suitable land on which to build, and also because the parish hall was now in a poor state of repair, needing a new roof, it was decided to demolish the hall and build the St. Richard’s building in its place.

We are now on our fourth headteacher Mr. Jonathan Murray who was appointed after Sharon Sesnan retired. There are now 476 pupils at St. Richard’s and nearly 90 members of staff.

Our school has grown from humble beginnings to be an Outstanding School. A very successful and happy parish community, giving, as it did in those early days, our children the best all round education and start in life, they could possibly have.

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