St Andrew’s Purlwell was dedicated on St Andrew’s Day, November 30th 1910.For many years, members of Batley parish resident in Mount Pleasant had wanted their own church. Services had been held occasionally in houses before a Mission Room was built in 1880. It proved inadequate, and in 1901 an iron church was brought from Morley and added to it. This was the first St Andrew’s, and was known as ‘the tin church’.
But still people longed for a proper stone building. There was a fast growing population and the many mills promised prosperity for years to come. They reckoned that 6000 people would soon be living there; the little tin church could not meet the needs of so many.
Spurred on by the Bishop and by their own hopes, a group of influential men drew up plans for raising the cash. They themselves gave generously, and soon they had enough to buy the site which Batley Corporation sold at 2 shillings per square yard. These rich men gave about half of what was needed; the rest came from grants and the pockets of ordinary folk.
The Architect was asked to do the job for at most £7000 and to provide a building to seat 600. A century later, this seems very optimistic: then it seemed reasonable.
Building began early in 1909. Four corner stones were laid, each decorated with a different cross. They stood for St Andrew; St Paulinus who brought a mission to our area; St John for the medieval Knights of St John had been landowners here; and the cross of Iona, that great cradle of Celtic Christianity.
Initial plans had included a tower. Fortunately funds did not allow for this, for its appearance in the drawing is unattractive and maintenance would have been costly. The final bill of £9700 was cleared in 1912.
The interior is little altered. The chancel screen was installed as a First World War memorial. Stained glass was added. There is a small exhibition space, a nave altar and a refurnished Lady Chapel. This, despite the bomb which fell in December 1940, made most of the church unusable for nine years.
After ninety years of independence, it is once again part of Batley parish, but it still has its own church council and loyal hard working congregation.