Church of St James with St Thomas
Hardman Street Poolstock, Wigan
Part of Group: No
At Risk: No
Historic England Ref: 246 (Link)
Church. 1863-6 (dated 1866 on tower). By EG Paley. Founded by James and Nathaniel Eckersley (of Eckersleys Mills, Swan Meadow Road)
The church was consecrated on the 15th September 1866 by the Lord Bishop of Chester. The church was erected by Mr. Nathaniel Eckersley, MP, to the memory of his father, mother, and brother at an expense of £15,000.
In compliance with his wishes, the architect EG Paley adopted a Perpendicular style of architecture, with French details, in the building; comprising a nave 78ft x 24ft and 48ft high, a chancel 40ft x 24ft, with aisles and chancel aisles and a tower 169 ft high; and accommodation for 700 persons. The interior exhibits a good deal of carving and ornament.
Wigan Observer, 8th November, 1867.
On view in the shop of Mr. Johnson, watchmaker, Wallgate, a handsome clock intended to be placed in the interior of the new Church of St. James. It is gothic in character and the design has been furnished by Mr. Paley, the architect of the Church.
Mr. Eckersley and his family were-ever to the fore in liberally subscribing towards educational, religious, and social movements. The district of Poolstock especially always had a corner in Mr. Eckersley’s warm heart, and his name will ever be revered by its inhabitants. In 1850, in conjunction with his brother, he built the Poolstock Schools, which are very commodious, and in which thousands of children have been equipped and sent out to fight the battle of life. Mr. Eckersley and his family frequently visited the schools, and a large share of the prizes were annually given by them. Then again, St. James Church, the gift of Mr. Eckersley, will always stand out as a splendid monument and testimony of his great interest in the welfare of the Established Church. This Church, which is one of the most ornate in the district, must of cost Mr. Eckersley many thousands of pounds. It was built and endowed by him at his sole cost, in memory of his father, mother and brother, and the foundation stone was laid on the 3rd September, 1863, by his son, Mr. J. C. Eckersley, J.P. The ceremony was performed in the most unostentatious manner possible, Mr. Eckersley wishing to avoid any public display. His remarks made at the time are so characteristic of a man that we re-produce them: -
“I have thought fit on the present occasion that the ceremony should be performed with the least possible display, feeling that at the commencement or a structure to be dedicated to the glory of God, it would be more becoming to act with simplicity. After the excellent prayer which has been offered by worthy and reverend brother-in-law (the Rev. C. T. Quirk, rector of Golborne). I will not delay you with any lengthened remarks, but there is one thing to which I particularly wish to draw to the attention of the workmen who may be engaged in this building. I desire earnestly to ask them that they will at all times remember the scared character of the work in which they are engaged, that they will abstain from the use of all offensive and profane language, and they will constantly remember they are engaged in a work to be dedicated to the glory of God”.
Before separating Mr. Eckersley, instead of providing the feast to the workingmen, usual on such occasions, promised them an additional half day’s wages. Subsequently, Mr. Eckersley added a beautiful reredos. The esteem of the inhabitants of this district was amply demonstrated on the occasion of the memorial service for the late Lieut. Eckersley, who was killed in Burmah, when the sacred edifice was crowned. It was certainly an impressive ceremony that of unveiling the memorial to the gallant young soldier, the pride of his father and mother, and will not soon be effaced from the minds of the congregation of St. James Church.
Information provided by Andy Lomax