Discarded Treasures

The series

In this series I will be picking out stunning, special abandoned locations and writing a whole post on them. I will be covering history, photos past n present and the explore. I want to try and bring more than just some photos of these places I visit, most of them have a wonderful history.

St Josephs Seminary

Bernard O’Reilly

Bernard O’Reilly

St Joes (as its known) is a college in the north of England which was built between 1880-1883. Back in 1880 Bishop Bernard O’Reilly founded the seminary which was to serve the North West of England, with the college formally opening in 1883 and based in the geographic centre of the Diocese of Liverpool.

The first Junior Seminary of the Diocese was founded at St Edward’s College in 1842 as a Catholic school under the direction of the clergy and was established in Domingo House, a mansion in Everton. Its President for the next forty years was to be Monsignor Provost John Henry Fisher.

When the junior seminarians moved to St Joseph’s in 1920 the school was taken over by the Christian Brothers (who also ran St John Rigby College in nearby Orrell) and continues to this day and now serves as the Liverpool Cathedral Choir School.

In recognition of the heritage owed to St Edward’s College one of the two chapels at St Joes was consecrated as the St Edward the Confessor Chapel.

The original college, photographed in 1883 (front)

The original college, photographed in 1883 (front)

The seminary was closed during WW1 and reopened in 1919 along with a junior seminary. The second phase of construction commenced in 1923. The design was in a different style to the original buildings, however it was equally as grand. Landscaped gardens and sports facilities were also completed by 1927. A new chapel was added in 1930 along with 14 sub chapels. The final addition to the site was a science block.

Although St Joes flourished until the 1960s, the rapidly changing social climate in that decade led to a sharp drop in enrollment. In the early 1970s, the northern bishops decided to consolidate the activities of St Joes and Ushaw (another seminary in the northeast) and from 1972 all junior seminarians in the north attended St Joes, and from 1975 all senior seminarians attended Ushaw.

Aerial view of   St Josephs Seminary

Aerial view of St Josephs Seminary

Even as the only junior seminary for the north of England, St Joes continued to suffer a decline in enrollment, and by the 1980s was no longer a traditional seminary but a “boarding school for boys”.

By 1986 the number of students was down to 82, of which only 54 were Church students, and it was no longer viable to educate them on the premises so from 1987 the remaining students attended St. John Rigby College in nearby Orrell for their schooling, an arrangement that continued until the very last of these students left St Joes in 1992.

The election of Archbishop Patrick Kelly saw the controversial decision to close St Joseph’s altogether and after being used for a short period as a conference centre in 1999 the property finally closed its doors and the Grade 2 listed RC Seminary was sold on to be redeveloped into into private housing and apartments.

Since then it has been left abandoned….

St Josephs Seminary - The Guardians

St Josephs Seminary - The Guardians

I have been to St Joes four times over the last 4 years and each time the place just gets more decay each time, the most recent visit was a couple of weeks ago and the building is now looking the worst I have seen it, some floors are close to collapse and some roofs have fallen through.

Although natural decay makes more photogenic images, its a concern that this stunning building will crumble away soon and the owners don’t seem to care as they are doing nothing to save the place.

Here is a gallery of some of the photos i have taken……