St Francis' was opened on 3rd February 1963.

A plot of land was allocated first for the building of a church for the Beech Farm Estate, between Baguley Lane and Croft Road (as we know them today).

Land on the corner of Norris Road and Budworth Road was purchased eventually for £3,000 (1961).


Mrs Marjorie Stone
Mrs Marion Rawlinson

St Francis' Church

St Francis' is the daughter church.

In the beginning …
by Mavis McKie (2003, Churchwarden)

In 1939 the Corporation of Sale prepared a conveyance of a piece of land fronting Norris Road to Chester Board of Finance, on behalf of the Parochial Church Council at St. Anne’s. At this time the land allocated for the building of a church for the Beech Farm Estate, was between Baguley Lane and Croft Road, as we know them today.

Records of the P.C.C. meetings held at St. Anne’s, prior to 1952, have long been removed to the archives in Chester so we have to assume that as there was no immediate plan to build a new church, the land was used by the Corporation to build more houses to their rapidly expanding council estate. Land within the estate would be found later for a church.

In 1954 the Borough Council granted the church an option over land - the option would have to be taken up or renounced. It was obvious that a big appeal for money would soon have to be made.

The Reverend Winston Hurlow was inducted as priest in charge at St. Anne’s in 1957. On looking back through the records Rev. Hurlow stated that it seemed that many of the aims avowed by the church had never been pressed to a conclusion. It was his wish on his ministry to finish some of the projects. In particular he mentioned the daughter church for the Baguley Lane Estate.

An architect was engaged to design a church and hall. £5,000 was allocated by the Diocese, which Rev. Hurlow thought to be a hopelessly inadequate amount. The architect was then asked to design a smaller dual-purpose hall costing approximately £5,000.

The land which had been reserved by the Corporation had not, as yet, been bought. As there was a possibility of very substantial road costs as soon as any work commenced on the site, the projected plans envisaged the use of less of the land reserved.

There were many set backs along the way. The Pastoral Committee in Chester was not satisfied with one or two points on the plans. Although the Corporation of Sale were sympathetic to the problems of the church council making full use of the land allocated, any variation in the church’s plans would inevitably create a problem as further development plans for the surrounding area had already been drawn up.

The architect drew up new plans and these were submitted to the appropriate authorities. The plans for the new church were approved by the Church Commissioners and were now being prepared to be submitted for tender.

Negotiations were under way to purchase the land. The Corporation now wanted much more for the smaller site than had been originally quoted for the larger site. After further discussions and haggling by Rev. Hurlow, the land was eventually purchased for £3,000.

The Deed of Conveyance to the church authorities for the land on the corner of Norris Road and Budworth Road was signed and sealed.

Because of increases in labour charges and materials the cost of building the new church had risen to an estimated £12,000. The architect was anxious that work should commence at once to avoid further similar increases. The work started on the building in the autumn of 1961.

By early 1962 the dual-purpose hall was progressing steadily. Rev. Hurlow paid tribute to his curate, Mr Mack, whose energy and cheerfulness had been such a help. He thought that Mr Mack’s energy would be very well used in the new church area.

The hall was now complete - apart from the supply of electrical power. Negotiatons were taking place regarding the conveyance of a portion of the land for the siting of an electrical sub-station.

Substantial bequests and gifts had been received towards the furnishing of the hall. The notice board was complete (although still awaiting the insert). Electric power was connected and the building was officially handed over.

The Bishop came to open and consecrate the church on the 3rd February 1963 at 3.00 p.m. It was named “St. Francis”.

An article by the Revd. Ray Rossiter, M.B.E. (October 2004)

St Francis’ Hall Church in the Parish of Sale, St Anne Land was originally set aside for the building of a Church to serve the Baguley Estate in Sale Moor as far back as 1939, but the building of houses took priority and the plans for the Church were shelved. It was not until 1954 that the land now occupied by St Francis’ Hall Church was finally set aside for the purpose. It was left to the Revd. W.G. Hurlow, M.A., who came to the Parish as Vicar in 1957, to set the wheels in motion. It began with an allocation of £5,000 from the Diocese, but there proved to be many setbacks along the way, chiefly concerned with rising costs of labour and materials, and the plans were of necessity modified several times before final approval was made. For instance, the provision of a Priest’s house, against the time when St Francis’ might become a Parish in its own right, had to be abandoned and the whole building reduced in size in order to trim the cost to within the resources available. The cost was eventually reduced to £12,000 and building work began in the Autumn of 1961. When all was completed, the Church was furnished from generous bequest and gifts donated by Parishioners for the purpose, and the Hall Church of St Francis’ was consecrated by the Bishop of Chester, the Rt. Revd. G.G. Ellison on 3rd February 1963. It so happened that, while the Church was under construction, the Parish had a Mission conducted by a Franciscan, Fr. Silyn Roberts, SSF, and that is how the dedication of the Church to St Francis came about.

Responsibility for the pastoral oversight of the area served by St Francis’ Church was placed in the hands of the Revd. Charles Mack, who was Curate in the Parish at the time. There was a young, robed choir and the music was supplied by an ancient harmonium which had started life in a public house in Manchester. The congregation has never been large, having regard to the size of the population of the estate which it serves.

In its earlier years, St Francis’ had a Sunday School, a Girls’ Friendly Society Branch, a Branch of the Association of Church Fellowship and a Youth Club and the members of the latter made the first Christmas crib set which was in use for some twenty years.

It is significant that the periods when the Church flourished were those when it had a Priest whom it could call its own, when it would count on a congregation of some fifty worshippers. Advancing years, however, have taken their toll and the regular congregation now numbers about thirty. Now mostly well-stricken in years, this little band has faithfully borne witness throughout the history of St Francis’ Hall Church which has been a constant Christian oasis in the desert of indifference which is the Baguley Estate, and we thank Almighty God for their work and witness over the years.

Information relating to the land at St Francis'

19 December 1961
Conveyance of land from the Borough of Sale to St Anne’s PCC and Chester DBF covering the sale of land to the PCC for the building of St Francis (£3000).

The property was, “acquired and shall be used by the PCC for such purposes specified in Section 5 of the PCC (Powers) Measure 1956 as are charitable but subject nevertheless to the restrictions contained in Clause 4 (ii) hereof” and “in the event of a sale of the said property the net proceeds of sale and the income thereof shall be applied for the like purposes”. “4 (i) Not to do or permit any act or thing which might cause or grow to cause annoyance or inconvenience or nuisance or damage to the Vendors (now Trafford MBC) or their tenants or occupiers of the neighbouring property” and “4 (ii) Not to use that part of the said property which is coloured pink on the plan annexed hereto other than for the erection of buildings for a place of religious worship and for ancillary parochial purposes”.

The covenant also included a requirement that within 12 months from 19 December 1961 a fence, to a type, height and specification agreed by the Vendor) should be erected and maintained on the south and west sides. The north fence is a party fence. The Authority is to maintain the fence on the east side.

Witnessed by Revd WG Hurlow, FC Tyrell and JA Shaw (following a resolution passed at the PCC Meeting of 6 December 1961).

Schedule One
Reference to the area of land in pink and blue (6,306 sq. yds approx.).

Schedule Two
These sections apply when the building or land has ceased to be used for religious purposes and, in a nut-shell, means that the PCC would almost certainly have to sell the land back to the Corporation at “a price or sum to be assessed in accordance with compulsory purchase legislation prevailing” at that time.

Schedule Three
This schedule gives details of previous conveyances (1907, 1944 and 1948) which have been retained by the Corporation.

By a conveyance dated 27 Nov. 1963 a plot of land (28 sq. yds was conveyed to The North Western Electricity Board.

This is appended to the conveyance. Area shown is approx. 258’ by 220’ (948 sq. yds for Vicarage (Blue) and 5,358 sq. yds. for Church Hall, etc. (Pink)).

27 November 1963
Conveyance between Chester DBF, St Anne’s PCC and NORWEB for the sale of a plot of land, in fee simple, for the sum of £50.

The area of land equates to 28 sq. yds., as coloured pink in the plan, and has a right of way from Norris Road together with a right to lay underground electric cables. There is also access for maintenance purposes.

Witnessed by Revd. Winston Gordon Hurlow (Chairman), FC Tyrell and EW Pountain (Churchwardens), JA Shaw (Treasurer) and E Critchley (Secretary).

6 April 1971
Lease between Chester DBF, St Anne’s PCC and Trustees for the Scouts (R Seddon, GR Kemp, EK Hartley and PFT Haeck).

Rent of £1/yr in arrears. Plot of land is as indicated on the plan. Lease is from 15 August 1970 for the term of 21 years. Various other covenants apply, e.g. plans and specifications to be first approved by the PCC, buildings to be used for the Scout Group, let or hire for a charitable, religious or educational purpose, lettings or hirings should not exceed 48 hrs., keep premises clean and tidy, keep buildings in good repair and condition, permit entry by nominated person from the PCC, repairs can be executed by PCC and cost recovered, keep insured, erect and maintain a gate, not to assign or underlet, etc. Area is 82’6” by 241’.

At expiry of lease, if required by PCC, remove all buildings, etc. or “peaceably to surrender and yield up to the Church Council or the Board the demised premise ...”.

The Guardian - 3 April 1958
Council are asked to ‘help build new church’

The Rev. WG Hurlow (vicar of St. Anne’s Church, Sale) is negotiating with Sale Borough Council for assistance in the building of a new church on the Corporation’s Baguley Lane estate, Sale Moor.

Writing in the April issue of the church magazine, Mr. Hurlow says: “I am anxious that our town council should realise it is a community responsibility to provide spiritually for the people in the new area. Shops, schools and community centres are not enough. I am sure the Corporation will see it that way”. Mr. Hurlow says it is hoped to begin work on the new church soon, and adds: “Our architect has designed a building which will indeed be a most wonderful acquisition for the new estate”. The hall is to be built first, and until money is available for the church this will be used for services on Sundays and other activities on weekdays.

A start has already been made on the new estate to bring the church nearer to the people. Questionnaires have been printed and are to be delivered to every home to find out the church people and “rouse them to some sort of action”.