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Saint Columba's Church

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By Colin Barnsley

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First Published 12/6/2022
Last Updated 15/6/2022


A brief history of St. Columba's church - from land purchase in the 1950s until the site's onward sale around the turn of the century.


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Fig. 1 St. Columba's Church, 1970s
© United Reformed Church Archive
Click On Image To View


Back in the 1800s - when the junction of Stanley Road and Long Lane (Wilmslow Road) was still the location of the Hurlbote turnpike - the field where St. Columba's church came to be built was owned by William Thompston, and continued to be used as pasture into the 1950s   .

Jen Strachan, daughter of Reverend Basil Barkham told me how the church came to be established.

"In the late 1950s, whilst my father was Minister at St. Mark’s in Wythenshawe, he was requested to look to set up a church in Handforth. Planning permission at the first site proposed in Handforth was not accepted so an alternative site was sought and approved, for land just into Heald Green.   "   


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Fig. 2 Tithe Map 1844 of the field where St. Columbas Church was later built
© Cheshire Tithe Maps Online
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Fig. 3 Plaque unveiled a the foundation of St. Columba's Church
© United Reformed Church Archive
Click On Image To View


In 1958, the foundation stone for St. Columba’s Presbyterian church was laid.  

"A number of people were seconded from Wythenshawe to help establish the church.  The first minister appointed was the Reverend Graham Black.   "

As this commemorative plaque shows, the church opened in 1964   .


In 1972 the Presbyterian Church of England and the Congregational Church of England and Wales merged to form the United Reformed Church    .

“In the early 70s I had my tap dancing classes in there. Pam Cunliffe used to be my teacher. She lived opposite our house on Wilton Ave."
- Helen Morgan, Facebook, 2022

“I used to go to 7th Heald Green guides there from 1990-1994 on a Thursday night. We only had a small group of us. 8 I think at most. I would also carry the guide flag to some of the church services. Usually at Christmas, Easter, Christingle, Remembrance Sunday and such."
- Charlotte Clegg, Facebook, 2022

“I was married there as was my brother too.
Also used to run the disco back in the day early 70s."

- Janine Linda Keeler, Facebook, 2022

“I was christened there at end of 1979."
- Andrea Silverwood, Facebook, 2022

“My youngest son Andrew used to go to the nursery run by Mrs Kehoe."
- Joan Tingley Gibbons, Facebook, 2022

“My parents got married there."
- Samantha Clarke, Facebook, 2022

“Myself, Mum and Dad used to go to the odd Jumble Sale & Coffee morning here in the 1970/80s. Is where I bought a Batman doll and car for something like a pound today. Exciting times as a child in those days."
- Terry Gibson, Facebook, 2022


"[Towards the end of the 1990's], the decision was taken to sell St. Columba’s, in order to carry out more building work at the former Long Lane Congregational Church site (now United Reformed).

The St. Columba’s property was sold to an agent, who subsequently sold it on to the Cheadle Muslim Association.   "


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Fig. 4 St. Columba's United Reformed Church, c. 1999
© Eric Holmes / United Reformed Church Archive
Click On Image To View the Church Service ; one of the last at the church ; from which the illustration is taken

The Future of the Site
The mosque opened in the former St. Columba's buildings, in January 2004    . Planning permission in principle for a new mosque was obtained in 2017 (MEN, 5/9/19), but it took some time until revised designs were accepted   .  Building work on the new Masjid started on 9/8/21    .

A separate article about the subsequent use of the site and the re-development as Cheadle Mosque is being prepared.

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