St. Joseph the Worker
sits at the centre of our local community of Northolt, West End. We are
close to the busy White Hart Roundabout connecting all the main roads in the area, and it would be easy to take a quick first
glance and make a judgement about this iconic building. It is not the prettiest church to look at from the outside, but inside is spacious,
flexible and light.
The Church Buildings
The church of St. Joseph, serving the West End area of Northolt, was one of three 'daughter' churches of the 15th century St. Mary's, Northolt established in response to local population growth due to development during the 1930s, and extensive council housing building after 1945. St. Joseph's started in 1942 with mission services in temporary premises off Watery Road, demolished in 1944 to make way for housing. The congregation continued to meet in a variety of buildings, including Arundell School and the church house in Hawtrey Avenue.
The first permanent church, a brick-built dual-purpose hall behind 'The White Hart Pub' in Ruislip Road was dedicated in 1959. In 1963 land in Yeading Lane was purchased for the erection of a new church. This modern structure with a separate bell tower, together with the adjacent vicarage, was designed by Murray and Maguire architects and completed in 1969. It is the 'humanist Brutalism' tradition, i.e. it is designed to be socially aware, complementing both its surroundings and welcoming the church congregations and users, but true to the construction materials - 'brut' is a French technical term for rough concrete.
Externally, the bulk has the advantage of a monumental form but the splays in the lower walls draw it back to relate with the scale of the adjacent houses. Internally, despite the substantial height round the walls, the projection outwards - seat or ledge - at ground-floor level gives a human scale.
The building comprises a bright, airy, flexible worship space, a separate Lady Chapel, a baptistry area, a hall with a kitchen and a vestry area with a sacristy.
In the early 1990s the old baptistry area was turned into an attractive entrance lounge and the kitchen in the parish room was extended and re-fitted creating plenty of space for meetings in small groups and coffee after services. By 1992 the parish had flattened the original concrete altar and removed the raised pulpit and re-ordered the altar area creating a spacious sanctuary area with an elegant looking, modern moveable altar, lectern and font.
This was shortly followed by the replacement of some of the high rise windows in the roof to create electric opening windows to help with ventilation in the summer months.
Throughout the 1960s, 1970s and 1980s, St. Joseph's has been firmly rooted within the Anglo-Catholic tradition for its style of worship with the rich enhancement of liturgical bells and smells, altar servers and a robed choir. It was in the late 1980s when St. Joseph's found 'new life' and began experiencing Charismatic Renewal. This developed progressively over the next 15 years and St. Joseph's became famous all around the country for its unique Anglo Catholic and Charismatic worship and became a model for other churches. St. Joseph's was one of a handful of churches in the Church of England that could boast using the Good News Bible on a Sunday morning with the Roman Catholic Lectionary, but it got the congregation reading the bible!
In 1994 St. Joseph's felt a strong calling from God to open ourselves up to others to come and experience what we were experiencing and after a lot of prayer and planning had taken place 'Sunday Night Special' was born. Sunday Night Special was a monthly praise Eucharist in the evening which featured the unique blend of our Catholic, Charismatic & Contemporary style of worship. Sunday Night Special experienced growth after growth and within just a few years it was attracting hundreds of visitors from all around the country.
The Dovetail Centre & The Community
In 2000 the existing entrance lounge, entrance area, parish room and toilet block had extensive renovation work done to create the Dovetail Centre of today. The Dovetail Centre was a community project which existed to serve the community of Northolt West End through the work and activities of its volunteers. Established in 2000, it provided a decade of opportunities and a place of meeting for local people regardless of gender, age, race, culture, religion or sexuality. It enabled local people to develop self-esteem, self-confidence and new skills by taking part in the running of the centre or its project.
Today, we are very proud of our heritage and our roots that have strengthen over the past 50 years. We still describe ourselves as modern Anglo Catholic in our worship & Charismatic spirituality, our Parish Masses still see us using incense, with our worship of God centred on the
Mass, we have modern worship music and charismatic expressions
with a sacramental and liturgical focus. Each week, as we meet with
Christ in the pages of the Bible and experience his presence in the
Eucharist, so there is also opportunity to see his transforming presence in our lives through prayer.