- Manchester Climbing Centre -
The former St Benedict's Church

When you ride into Piccadilly Station from South Manchester the line passes the spectacular Gorton Monestery and then St. Bennett's Catholic Church, on Bennett Street in Ardwick. 

The images above and below are shown here with the permission of David Dixon

St Benedicts was built in 1880 to a design by J. S. Crowther.  Crowther is regarded as a gifted church architect and he was indeed responsible for a number of outstanding churches around the country.  Among his achievements was the restoration of Manchester Cathedral in the 19C.

St Benedict's is a massive and imposing building with a church that has an attached school house and presbytery.  It benefitted from the support of a sole benefactor, the local wealthy merchant, John Marsland Bennett.

Sadly, as with the Gorton Monestery, declining local populations resulted in a serious fall in attendances at St Benedict's and in December of 2002 it closed.  A newspaper article in September 2003 said of this, "When St Benedict's Church finally closed in December last year, it was an exceptionally sad day for the many parishioners who had fought long and hard to save it from extinction as a place of worship.

In its heyday, the famously High Church parish church (it advertised "Mass" rather than the more usual "services") attracted people from all over Greater Manchester fond of candles and incense.

But that was in the days when Ardwick was a bustling neighbourhood with terraced streets - and nearby Hyde Road a busy shopping thoroughfare. In the end, only about 800 people lived within its immediate vicinity. So it was doomed."

Today St. Benedict's is home to the Manchester Climbing Centre, an impressive facility aimed at experienced climbers and novices looking for exercise and a little adventure.

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