Home Home


Search this site:
1. The Arno Motor Company of Coventry 1908-1916, by Damien Kimberley
2. The Beech on Wheels, by Derek Robinson and forum member Foxcote
3. A brief history of Saint Osburg's, in pictures, by Damien Kimberley
4. The Brough Superior, by Damien Kimberley
5. Coventry Volunteer Fire Brigade - Illustrated London News, Jan 4th 1862
6. Coventry's Great Flood - London Daily Graphic, 2nd January 1901
7. Coventry's Rich Heritage, by Pete Walters
8. Coventry, the Home of the Cycle Trade - 1886 magazine article
9. Coventry, the Silk Trade and the Horsfall family, by Ian West
10. D-Day and Monty's Staff Car, by Paul Maddocks
11. The Dragoon Cycle Company of Coventry, by Damien Kimberley
12. Edwin Brown, Victorian Animal Artist, by Stephen Catton
13. The First Tudor Feast, by Richard Ball
14. The Great Flood of December 1900, and the lost Bridges, by Damien Kimberley
15. Henry Cave, and the 'Lady' Autocar of 1899, by Damien Kimberley
16. Let's talk about Rex, by Damien Kimberley
17. The Lion Bicycle Company of Coventry & Wolverhampton 1877-1882, by Damien Kimberley
18. Miss Bashford, a Teacher's Tale, by Simon Shaw
19. Motor Panels (Coventry) Ltd, by Damien Kimberley
20. The New Bablake Schools - 1889 article
21. New Drinking Fountain at Coventry - 17 Sep 1859
22. Not Forgotten, the 1939 IRA bomb attack, by Simon Shaw
23. Phil Silvers Archival Museum, by Paul Maddocks
24. Proposal for St. Michael's Campanile c1890
25. Public Baths - The Building News, Jan 24th 1896
26. The Saint Joseph the Worker parish in Coventry, by Terence Richards - Part 1
27. The Saint Joseph the Worker parish in Coventry, by Terence Richards - Part 2
28. The Saint Joseph the Worker parish in Coventry, by Terence Richards - Part 3
29. A short history of Coventry's Theatres and Cinemas, by Bill Birch
30. Sixty Years of Cycling - 1897 magazine article
31. The sound that almost killed my Dad in the War!, by Paul Maddocks
32. The Tapestry and its Hidden Secret, by Paul Maddocks
33. Transport Museum pt.1 - How the Queen's 1977 visit sowed the seed, by Paul Maddocks
34. Transport Museum pt.2 - New Hales Street Entrance in 1985, by Paul Maddocks
35. Transport Museum pt.3 - Creating the Blitz Experience, by Paul Maddocks
36. Transport Museum pt.4 - Coventry's Land Speed Record Cars, by Paul Maddocks
37. Transport Museum pt.5 - The 1987 F.A. Cup Winners' Sky Blue Bus, by Paul Maddocks
38. Transport Museum pt.6 - The Royal Cars, by Paul Maddocks
39. What links a Spitfire's landing gear to a baby buggy? by Paul Maddocks
40. What links R2D2 to a Coventry Hydrogen/Electric cab company? by Paul Maddocks
41. Whitefriars Gatehouse and Toy Museum, by Paul Maddocks
42. WW1 and Wyley of Charterhouse, by Paul Maddocks
43. 1930s Austin's Monthly Magazine articles, by John Bailey Shelton MBE
44. Plan for the City Centre - The Architect and Building News, 21st March 1941

The Saint Joseph the Worker parish in Coventry, by Terence Richards - Part 3

The earlier years - On to the end of the 1970s - Halcyon days.

At this point in the writing of the Saint Joseph the Worker parish history, it is distinctly relevant to cite, and emphasize, the greatness of Father Michael Francis Jordan. A true Christian, he was born on the 20th of February, 1929, in Smethwick, Staffordshire, and ordained to the priesthood on the 12th of June, 1955, becoming the third parish priest of Saint Joseph the Worker on the 25th of January, 1969. Father Jordan suffered a stroke on the 1st of April, 2009, but was to return to his priestly duties until the 2011/2012 period. Following his retirement from his role as the parish priest, Father Jordan went to live at a house in Abercorn Road in the Chapelfields area of Coventry then Saint Joseph's Residential Care Home in Coleshill, Warwickshire. The writer's 71st birthday was on the 11th of May, 2018, and, on that date, Father Jordan went to Heaven.

The third parish priest of Saint Joseph the Worker arrived with his housekeeper, Ms. Pamela Read, who was from the south of England. Individually and jointly, the arrivals were to be an invaluable asset to the parish for the ensuing decades.

From the outset in 1969, Father Jordan was strikingly different to any priest who had gone before in this historical journey.

During his time as the parish priest, the above named incumbent?'s sermons were masterpieces that were also consistently long enough to cover all the vital points but short enough to retain interest. Characteristically - in the later years of the priest's ministry, for example - the sermons would begin with something that was topical at the time. That was instantly attention grabbing, and, in that context, Father Jordan said to the writer, in those later years, that a good beginning would enable the rest of the sermon to "fly".
    ?Additionally, because of his reference to the relevant passage, it became evident that the parish priest admired the concept that was expressed from the beginning of chapter 3 of The Old Testament book, Ecclesiastes, namely: "There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under heaven: a time to be born and a time to die . . . " - and so on.
    It is confirmed that Father Jordan's preaching was at an elevated intellectual, and spiritual, level, while he also demonstrated that he both understood everyday life and had down to earth common sense. During one of his sermons, he spoke about the advocacy, by whoever, of having a society without a police force. Confirming his opinion of that notion, Father Jordan's words were: "That's ruddy ridiculous".
    The above sermons' written drafts were known to exist as recently as the earlier years of the 21st century. They should have been published as a compilation. Although some of the sermons were preached many years previously, it is not inevitable that they would have become dated and, therefore, less relevant or irrelevant. Rather, they would have remained relevant, because, implicitly, eternal truths do not become dated.

Father Jordan also introduced the concept of having teams for reading the epistles and bidding prayers plus leaders for the hymn singing, establishing worship patterns which, essentially, lasted into the 21st century.
    The writer read the epistles and the bidding prayers at some masses, leading the hymn singing at others.
    In those earlier years of the parish, a reader and the leader of the reading teams was the late Mr. John Haydock, a former schoolteacher at All Souls primary school who lived in Charter Avenue. Among other readers in the 1970s were Hugh Brady, the brothers David Conry (deceased) and James Conry, Mr. M. C. Cronin, Peter Deeley, Hugh Dinan and Christopher Street (one of the sons of the previously mentioned Mrs. Street). George was the forename of another reader. The reader John Mulvenna might also have been performing the role in those years.
    Hugh Brady and his wife were Irish. He had made himself wealthy in the U. S. A., and he, his wife and their children lived in Cannon Hill Road.
    A sibling of the above mentioned Conry brothers was Kieran, who went on to become a Catholic bishop. The mother of those siblings was the late Mrs. Elizabeth Conry of Cannon Hill Road, who was an extremely fine human being.
    Mr. Cronin was a solicitor and the head of the Kenilworth based law firm that bore his surname. In 1975, for example, the aforementioned reader and members of his family attended services at the church. In the above year, or around that time, Mr. Cronin gave an excellent reading of words from Isaiah, chapter 55.
    Peter Deeley was, or was yet to become, the head of a well known local building company. Patricia, his wife, was a barrister and, again, she attended masses at the church, being also a capable singer during the hymn singing alluded to below.
    Hugh Dinan might have been employed in the insurance sector. In the early 1970s, and possibly before, he drove a distinctive bubble car, a type of vehicle of the time.

It is confirmed that the new parish priest was very enthusiastic about singing. Consequently, there was a significant amount of it, not always in the form of hymns, during the services. ???For example, following one mass, held at whatever date and in whichever parish church, the writer was informed by his late mother that Father Jordan had sung the gospel during the aforementioned service. The priest believed in the use of the microphone for singing, once commenting to the writer about those whom he deemed to be too proud to use that technological aid. Ultimately, it was ?also ?to become known that Father Jordan played more than one musical instrument. In the earlier time of ?the priest's ministry at Saint Joseph the Worker, the writer learned that the relative newcomer played the guitar. The knowledge was gained when the writer was jointly informed by the parishioners Mr. and Mrs. O'Connor at their home in Cannon Hill Road. Both husband and wife were Irish, the former being a dentist. It is thought that Father Jordan played the guitar in the usual right handed manner, even though he was left handed. He is remembered once singing It's a Lesson Too Late for the Learning in the church, while accompanying himself on the guitar.

In addition to caring for Father Jordan and otherwise being of assistance, Pamela Read also contributed to the life of the parish by teaching around 300 children for their First Confession, First Holy Communion and Confirmation.

The parish had already contained people from the Cannon Hill Road area - the aforementioned road itself plus Orlescote Road, Tutbury Avenue and Merynton Avenue. In 1969, the nearby Cannon Park private housing estate was in the initial part of its development. Over the years, the flourishing parish of Saint Joseph the Worker would also receive by parishioners from that new source and elsewhere.

At whatever specific dates in 1969, there were one or more parish gatherings in the church where there was singing and music. Among those who performed, were Brian Gallagher (born in August, 1947) and John Bolton (pronounced Bollton) Handley (born in September, 1946), two young men who were of the Assumption parish and who would accompany the writer in singing and playing musical instruments at Christmas midnight mass in 1969.
    N. B. Because of his second forename, John Bolton Handley was known to the writer and one or more others as Bolt' (rhymes with jolt).
    Additionally, at a parish gathering, two, or all three, of the Maguire sisters from Tutbury Avenue are remembered singing Jug of Punch, and, at least, one of the siblings provided guitar accompaniment. In order of age, the Maguire sisters were Bernadette, Patricia and Sheila. They were English, but their father was Irish and their mother was Welsh. Bernadette and Pat have lived in Spain for decades, while Sheila has lived in New York for a similar time. To, at least, Bernadette and Pat, the writer is likely to be still known as "outdoor collection Terry" - a legacy of him calling at their home when he was an outdoor collector in the 1960s.
    The late, sincerely missed, Maurice Kenny (1946 - 2016) might have been present at one or more of the above gatherings as well.
    It was also possibly in 1969, and no later than 1970, when the writer, Brian Gallagher and John Bolton Handley sang and played musical instruments at a small parish gathering.

So far as possible, the parish history has been, and is to be, of a chronological format, hence it is written here that, in the latter part of 1969, a covenant scheme was in operation, one of the organizers being the parishioner, Mr. Bill Dinan, the father of the reader, Hugh Dinan. Mr. Dinan senior and his wife, Juanita (known as Rita), lived in Cannon Hill Road.

It might have been during the period approaching Christmas, 1969, at another time of that year or, referring to the bingo matter outlined below, in 1970, when Father Jordan requested help, in a musical context, from the writer. Whenever the request was made, the writer subsequently communicated it to Brian Gallagher and (possibly) John Bolton Handley. Brian Gallagher's spoken response was: "Oh, anything for that bloke".
    The writer's above named friends of those days each played more than one musical instrument. John Bolton Handley was an excellent banjo player. It is thought to have been in 1969 when Father Jordan said to him: "It's very attractive, the banjo", to which the musician's benignly ironic reply was: "It is, if you can play it".

It is confirmed that the writer, Brian Gallagher and John Bolton Handley, performed the song, Lord of the Dance, at Christmas midnight mass in 1969. The writer sang the lead and played the guitar, Brian Gallagher played the guitar and John Bolton Handley played the banjo. Those men accompanied the writer in the singing of the choruses. The rendition was in the musical key of E, and the performance was warmly received by members of the congregation. At whatever subsequent time during the service, Brian Gallagher sang the Our Father, while playing the guitar, and he was accompanied by the writer, also playing the guitar, and John Bolton Handley.

Bingo was being played in the church in 1970, for example. The sessions were popular and well attended. It is remembered that they were held on Thursday evenings. In the aforementioned year, Father Jordan made a written request to the writer, asking if he, or his group, could sing and provide music at one of the bingo sessions. The priest's action had been taken because of a licencing matter. When the writer communicated the request to Brian Gallagher and (definitely) John Bolton Handley, it is confirmed that it might have been then that Brian Gallagher made the "anything for that bloke" comment. Accordingly, on a subsequent evening, soon after Father Jordan's initial request, the writer and the other two men performed at one of the bingo sessions.
    Notwithstanding its popularity, the bingo was eventually ended by Father Jordan because, he advised, it was not paying its way.
    N. B. Brian Gallagher emigrated to South Africa in November, 1970, while John Bolton Handley eventually became a schoolteacher.

At Christmas midnight mass in 1970 the writer performed What Child is This?, singing and playing the guitar. It is thought that a choir also sang at the service.

At separate times in the early 1970s, two young men, Christopher Achenbach, who was still at school, and Robert Benson, played the keyboard to accompany the hymn singing at Sunday morning masses. The late Mr. Benson, the father of Robert and a convert from Methodism, also had involvement in leading the hymn singing.

Again, at Father Jordan's request, during whatever specific year in the 1970s, the writer was one of those who attended a meeting about trade unionism and management that was held at the church. Father Jordan might have been present at the meeting. One of those who attended is thought to have been Mr. Deeley senior, the father of the reader, Peter Deeley. Another of those present was a man who had some sort of trade union connection. At the meeting, contextual opinions were exchanged, while the union representative also said that there could be the discrimination of the majority by the minority.

In 1972, the church wardens were under the leadership of the late Mr. Bob Jones. The writer was briefly a church warden during this period. The late Mr. Jack Preece might also have been involved in the role.

During an evening in the autumn of 1974, the writer visited the church, for however long, and donated clothing to a jumble sale that was being held there. The writer had lived in Perth, Western Australia, during the back end of 1971. One of the items that he donated to the jumble sale was a white Australian style hat, with the pin up on one side brim, that he had purchased while living in the southern hemisphere. The hat was bought that evening by the previously referred to Mrs. Brady of Cannon Hill Road, who showed herself wearing it to the writer.

A choir sang at Christmas midnight mass in 1974.

There had been one or more dances held at the first church in whatever year, or years, from 1966 onwards.
    As another example of how the Saint Joseph the Worker parish was flourishing ?during the 1970s, on the 22nd of January, 1975, a parish social and dance was held at the former Canley social club in Marler Road. Father Jordan was present, and the event was well attended by the parishioners. There was live music, provided by a group/band, and dancing. One or more of those providing the music held at least one quiz during the parish gathering. The memory is of a pleasant evening where people enjoyed themselves.

Members of the teaching profession also attended the church services during the mid 1970s.

There was amusement at the church as well.
    In 1978, the writer was again engaged in the role of reading the epistles and announcing the hymns. At one Sunday mass, thought to be a morning service, the writer announced the opening hymn as Father Jordan, though on the altar, was merely preparing to begin the mass. The hymn began. Father Jordan did not panic and soon formally commenced the service. Fortunately, the congregation was none the wiser. At the end of the mass, the writer and Father Jordan had a brief, good natured, conversation about the matter.

Father Jordan also advised that, from 1969 to 1980, Sunday mass times were: 9 a.m., 11 a.m. and 5 p.m., and that the church attendances during the period were around 350.
    Part two of this parish history also provides information about mass times and attendances at the first church.

As this historical journey nears its end, it is confirmed that the parish flourished from 1969 to the end of the 1970s. During that time, the church remained a haven of true Christian love. Goodwill was manifest among the parishioners - whether in the church itself or elsewhere. Indeed, it would have been hard to find a nicer church anywhere.

It is further confirmed that, from its beginning in the 1950s, when it had catered for the extensively working class Roman Catholic population of Canley, the parish that was to be named Saint Joseph the Worker had grown, thrived and been enriched by newcomers.

Looking back to those earlier years, there can be fond thoughts of some very great people - whether they are still on earth or in Heaven. It has been the writer's privilege that they ever crossed his path.

May God bless them.


British History Online.

The Holy Bible - The New International Version (1979). London: Hodder and Stoughton.

Jones, R. (2012, 2015).

Jordan, Father M. F. (2013).

King, P. (c1966).

O'Connor, Mr. and Mrs. (c1969).

Richards, Mrs. E.

Saint John Fisher church (2012).

The Saint Joseph the Worker website.

Date: 2019.

Part 1 | Part 2 | Part 3

Associated pages....
Home | How this site began | Bibliography | About me | My music | Discussion Forum | Steve's website | Historic Stoke, Coventry | Orland family website
Top of the page

Website by Rob Orland © 2002 to 2024