St Walburges Catholic Church is one of Preston’s most notable landmarks. The church’s spire climbs 94 metres into the sky, its the third tallest spire in England and the tallest on any parish church. Earlier this month the church held its Winter Fayre and opened the spire to the public, I just had to climb up.
The church was built in the mid 19th century by Gothic revival architect Joseph Hansom, designer of the Hansom cab. Inside the church seats 1,000 people and has recently been threatened with closure.
For the past four years this Grade 1 listed building has been home to Peregrine Falcons, who have returned each year to make their nest and nurture their young. The birds can fly up to speeds of 200 miles per hour making them the fastest animals on earth.
When we lived close to the church I used to sit in the back yard and watch the parents train their young by catching and dropping pigeons for their young to catch, there would be an almighty squawking sound as they swooped down.
Here you can see one of Preston’s old mills in the distance, Tulketh Mill, this view is looking away from the city towards the north and west.
And here south of the church towards the railway station and beyond. We could only climb halfway up the spire, the steps finished just above St Walburges giant bell. Back in the day to get any higher people used to pull themselves up to the top of the spire via a rope pulley system whilst they sat in a whicker basket.
We were only too pleased to pay £2 each to climb the spire’s stone spiral staircase and get a falcon’s view of the city. I hope the church raises enough money over the coming years to pay for restoration work and to keep this beautiful Gothic landmark open.
St Walburges Catholic Church, Weston Street, Preston PR1.