Richard Knill Freeman

Bolton architect

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Mawdsley Street Chapel, Bolton

Built 1869; demolished 1963

According to Readyhough, the Mawdsley Street congregational church was opened in 1808 and replaced in 1870 by Cunliffe and Freeman’s building. In 1926, to allow for widening of Great Moor Street, the frontage was moved back 22 feet.


Readyhough, Gordon; Bolton town centre, A modern history; 1998

Bolton Evening News; Monday 26 April 1869; p.3 (Thanks to Neil Darlington)

Left: Drawing of the original building

Below: A photograph probably taken at the time of demolition showing the 1926 work in which the pediment seems to have been lost

The Bolton News gave a detailed description of the building: “The main front, to Great Moor-street, is sufficiently far advanced to show that the design will be bold and effective, with sufficient to relieve it from any approach to heaviness. The chief feature in the elevation is a fine portico, entirely of stone, rising to an altitude of about 56 feet. There are two massive pilasters on either side; two minor ones on each side within the recess the arch; and the bases are laid for two columns brought forward to the front, each column being over two feet in diameter, worked out of one solid stone, weighing the rough upwards of six tons. The centre jamb dividing the main entrance panelled, are also the side jambs, and each is relieved with carved trusses, above which will be a moulded cornice, the whole being completed by a fine semi-circular arch springing from the elaborately carved Corinthian caps of the inner pilasters. The four main pilasters will also bear Corinthian capitals, the largest of them weighing some four tons when worked out. On each side of the portico are wings relieved with windows, trussed and filled with patent bricks. The quoins of the wings up to the level of the lower cornice, are channelled at the joints, and above the cornice they are plain; the lower windows are square-headed, with carved and moulded trusses, and the upper windows are semi-circular with moulded head, and relieved by a bold and effective key. The Mawdsley Street front is exceedingly neat, and contains two entrances, the one nearest Great Moor Street leading the galleries and the body the chapel, and that at the other end to the vestries and the gallery for the organ and choir. The base course round the building is formed of Bolton stone in two courses, and the surface is of brick, with an upper base carried through in stone from the Darley Dale quarries, and from which rise five lower windows, with architraves, jambs, and heads, finished with swell frieze and cornice; the upper or gallery windows are seven in number, similarly treated to those in the wings of the main front. The elevation to Back Mawdsley Street is somewhat plainer, five of the upper and lower windows having brick arches with stone keys; the wings, however, and the windows in them, are treated somewhat more elaborately, in brick and stone intermixed. The front to Bold-street contains an entrance to the vestries, and to the minister's room. The wings are similar to those in the other fronts, and the remaining portion of the elevation is carried out with blank windows in brick with stone labelling. The interior of the building is not sufficiently advanced to enable a judgment to be formed of the effect of the arrangements. We may state, however, that the pulpit, which is to supplied by Mr. James Gregg, of Blackburn, will be of Caen stone with serpentine marble pillars, and will be placed at the Bold-street end the chapel; the main gallery to Great Moor Street will be 11 pews deep and at the sides the pews will be four deep. The fittings are to pitch pine varnished. The roof is formed six pairs of massive principals in pitch pine with oak king posts; and if the weather proves favourable, it probable that the building may be covered in early June. The general style the exterior is Italian, from the designs of Messrs Cunliffe and Freeman, architects, of Wood-street; the builders are the well-known firm of Messrs. John Statham and Sons, of Pendleton, near Manchester; the superintendent the works being Mr. Charles Goodwin.”