Land was bought in 1864 for a new Catholic Mission, to be called St Laurence. The first Rector was Robert Wright Brundrit MA, he lived in Conway Cottage on the corner of Conway Street and Park Street.

On the feast of St Laurence (10th August) 1865, the Earl of Denbigh laid the foundation stone for a school, part of which was to be used as a temporary chapel, this was opened by Bishop Brown on 21st October 1866. The school opened on 7th January 1867.

Collecting for a permanent church started in March 1872 and on the 7th September the following year, the Lord Bishop of Liverpool (Bishop Brown being ill) laid the foundation stone for the new church.

The first Mass in the new church was said on 1st November 1874, although the official opening of the church was not until 5th September the following year when Bishop O’Reilly of Liverpool sang High Mass in the presence of Bishop Brown.

When the tunnel for the new Mersey Railway was built in 1886, the foundations of the church were damaged. On 16th of May the church showed signs that it might collapse, so the church was closed, never to be re-opened.

The railway company was responsible, the church claimed £15,000 which the railway company disputed. The court awarded the church £7,911, the railway company paid £3,711 in cash, the balance being made up of shares in the company. These proved to be worthless as the railway company went bankrupt shortly after.

On 17th March 1889 Bishop Knight laid the foundation stone of the new church, which was built at right angles to the previous church. The new church was designed by Edmund Kirby and was opened on 12th January 1890.



In 1947, Birkenhead Corporation described the church as:

“perhaps the best piece of ecclesiastical architecture in the town”

The church saw parishioners come and go as different building schemes were implemented. The population of St Laurence’s parish was 2,000 in 1864 rising to 5,000 in 1951 and dropping to below 2000 in 1983.

In January 1984, Canon Byrne, the then Parish Priest, gave an up-to-date picture of the parish:

“We have a large and beautiful church in good condition , two new half-empty schools and a flourishing parish centre. Catholics number 40% of the whole community and are now down to 1,900 because of demolition. Sunday mass attendance is 500."



10 years latter in 1995 the parishioners received the News that had been on the cards for some time, the church was to be closed and demolished. There was just time to arrange a farewell Mass, which filled the church to capacity, before it closed. Demolition started the next week.

The old infant school hall was converted into a new church, with some of the fittings from the old church, the new church seated 160 compared to the 800 of the old church.



This was not the end of the problems for St Laurence’s, the number of parishioners continued to fall, by 2000 it was down to 900 and in 2002, St Laurence parish was amalgamated with St Werburgh parish, then in 2010 the school was also closed.

references:
Through a Gridiron Darkly - Fr Kevin Byrne 1978
History of the Diocese of Shrewsbury - Canon E Maurice Abbott 1986
Shrewsbury Diocesan Archives