FX Velarde

The first in a series of posts on regional architects

(1) - Francis Xavier Velarde was an architect born in Liverpool and who worked almost exclusively for the Catholic church in the diocese of Shrewsbury, with works in Shrewsbury, Cheshire and the Wirral. He also had notable pre-war works in Liverpool and Blackburn, the latter St Gabriel's is considered nationally important and a 'milestone in the development of the modern movement in church architecture'. His works in Liverpool, St Matthew's and St Monica's (Bootle to the north of the city) also were well received at the time. St Monica's church designed in 1935 would be his last work for 16 years, when in the 1950's he re-emerged in the architectural world it was with his own distinctive style, however he would not enjoy the profile of his pre-war career and many of his post-war works are little known. His notable post-war work was the shrine of our lady of Lourdes in Blackpool built from 1955 as thanksgiving for the little bomb damage the area received. After the war he designed 12 churches, most of which were built in the instantly recognisable style of Velarde with many of his motifs.   




Motifs shown above - the heavy use of sculpture (including as mullions between windows), small windows often with simple round arches set in pairs, use of brickwork as the primary building material and finally the distinctive tower- with brick base, stone cut bell openings and copper pyramid top.  

He also did some work in London with the church of st Luke and St Edmund of Canterbury, the former a church with twin west towers, the latter a more modest affair. 
After his death in 1960 the practice continued under the name F.X.Velarde Partnership however it only designed one significant building, St Patrick in St Helen's however it not like any previous church by Velarde and is unexciting and non-descript modern church without the motifs and style of Velarde's churches. 



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