Fr. Thomas Singleton (PP 1922-1926)

  • Born 1880 in Chipping
  • Trained at Oscott Ordained 11 Aug 1907 at St Mary, Blackburn
  • 1907-1910 St Peter and Paul, Bolton, as curate
  • 1910-1916 St Alban, Blackburn, as curate
  • 1916-1922 Our Lady of Grace, Prestwich, as curate
  • 1922 St Augustine’s Manchester.
  • 1922-1926 St Luke’s Irlams o’th’ Height, as Founder parish priest
  • 1926-1943 St Anne, Blackburn, as Parish priest
  • Retired in 1943,
  • Died 30 May 1946

 

The Parish of St Luke's was created in 1922, originally planned as a chapel of ease for the parish of St James, Pendleton. Bishop Casartelli decided that of the twelve new parishes to be created during his bishopric one certainly should be sited at Irlams o'th' Height. October 1922 was memorable - not only for Fr. Singleton but also for the district to which he had been assigned for at long last the people of Irlams o'th' Height they now had their own parish made up of areas of the parishes of St James and St Mary's, Swinton.

On his appointment as Parish Priest he found himself the spiritual father of a small community of 200 Catholics. He also found himself with no parish church, no school for their children and no presbytery for himself. For a short while he resided at the home of the O'Shaughnessy family in Temple Drive Swinton.

The search for somewhere to say Mass was more difficult but a temporary success was achieved, with the securing of the Salford Borough Council's approval, for the use of the hall in the Public Library in King Street, for Sunday Masses.

A daily Mass centre was now the problem and in December 1922 Fr. Singleton bought a house, 51 Moorfield Road, which was to be used for the daily Masses and also as a home for the parish priest located more central to the parish. The first daily Mass was said there on December 23rd but as the Public Hall in King Street was not available for Christmas Day, the three Christmas Day Masses were also said in the house. The average attendance at each of the Masses was around 100.

The Public Hall was now becoming quite church-like with its Sunday Masses and an ever increasing stock of church furniture but its use could only be temporary and Fr. Singleton made great efforts to secure a suitable plot of ground for his much wanted church. At this time also Fr. Singleton was negotiating to buy land at the corner of Stapleton Street, Swinton Park Road and Farm Lane to build a junior school. He finally decided, with foresight to purchase the whole extensive plot for a church, presbytery and school. The cost was £2,450 and the final agreement was reached on April 29th 1924.

The long awaited day arrived, when on December 14th 1924, two years to the day when the first Mass was said at the Height, the new church was opened at the 11 am Mass, with due solemnity, by the Vicar General, Mgr. Provost O'Kelly with Fr. Singleton as Master of Ceremonies. Now with a church that Fr. Singleton and the parishioners had longed for, they were able to create a fine Choir and parochial Societies, including a very necessary branch of the St. Vincent de Paul Society.

An event of great educational significance also took place during Fr. Singleton's time at St. Luke's. This was his participation with local Salford parish priests, in April 1923 to discuss the possibility of creating a Catholic Grammar School for boys in this particular part of the Manchester/Salford area.  Fr Singleton wrote in the parish log "About the middle of April there was a meeting of the Salford's Parish Priests to discuss a secondary school for boys for this end of the town - a lovely house and grounds was selected at the top of Weaste Lane, opposite Claremont Road. The price asked was £5000 - later reduced to £2400 (+ ground rent £50 p.a.) The de la Salle Brothers were invited to take it and accepted, & the offer was closed."

The purchase of the house, 'Hopefield' with its extensive grounds then went ahead. The Christian Brothers took charge of the school in August 1924 and De La Salle College, Pendleton opened in September. Fr Singleton wrote "Sept 13. De La Salle College opens with 85 boys in Weaste Lane"

When Fr. Singleton left St. Luke's in March 1926 to take up an appointment at St. Anne's, Blackburn, he could certainly have looked back upon the heavy responsibility imposed upon him in 1922, as a task well performed; and those four years he spent at Irlams o'th' Height must have been among the most satisfying years of his life. It had been a testing time for both him and the parishioners and neither had been found wanting. Ill health, unfortunately, was to seriously affect his later years until his death in May 1946.

 

Can you help?

We are looking for

  • Photographs of Fr Singleton.
  • Photos of The Public Hall in King St (now the Library) in the 1920's,
  • Photo of Moorfield Rd in the 20's.
  • Photos of the St Luke's Church in the 1920/30's.

Parish History Group

If you would like to help research the history of the Parish or have any stories or photos then please get in touch. history@ourladyofhope.org.uk or speak to Paul Ashton, Stephanie McDonough or Pat Murray

We have some specific requests for information

  • Photos of our Assistant Priests/Curates
  • Photos and stories of the Charter Players
  • Photo of James O'Garr  (1891-1979)
  • Servicemen of WWII (your parents/grandparents/great-grandparents ?)
  • Early photos of Ss Peter and Paul