It's Hometown 1958
PROBLEMS OF A CITY OF BRICK
OVER CROWDING, slum clearance, war damage, transfer of industry, all these things have helped to build up the " new towns," the trading estates—the vast cities of brick and concrete which are now a feature of 20th century England.
Such a " city " is Harlow in Essex . . .
Some 40.000 people came to live in new town Harlow. the stark brick satellite city by Epping Forest where young couples excitedly found that for the first time they had a home all their very own. They were the homeless of the condemned areas of London and the others who found jobs at Harlow itself.
Six priests serving, for the moment, four parishes at Harlow, told me they thought the Catholics would amount to about 10 per cent, some 4,000 all told. But Mass attendance seems to be barely half that number.
Where are the others on Sunday mornings?
"The men are on their hacks under their cars," said one of the priests. "the wives are doing the washing they can't do during the week when they work to add to
their husband's income." East London and the industrial towns of the country have unloaded into Harlow an impressive cargo of "leakages" that is taxing the imagination of the six priests, who are there to get them into the Church's net again without delay.
Light industry, useful for women but hardly giving a basic wage to men, high rents ranging from 50s. to 70s.. food dearer than in London—these considerations add to
the anxiety to get the TV, the frig.. the car, the "posh" bedroom suite, all those things Harlow home-makers never had before. And the children, still in their early years, need clothes and shoes.
That is the truth about many Harlow citizens: It is that plus something else: the energetic handful of Catholics who are now helping to build the f50,000 "miniature Coventry Cathedral". an original cruciform structure to he dedicated to Our Lady of Fatima. glass all the way round from ground to roof, with a spear-like turret reminiscent of the Coventry design. But it will have no zig-zag walls.
A Catholic architect, Mr. Gerald Goalen, designed the church, and placed the altar at the crossing, where 500 people sitting in the nave and in the transepts, will easily see it. Work is in progress; the church should he complete in
s. under two year
It will have a hanging baldichin, with drapery around it varying in colour with the seasons of the year. "In the past six years we have been bringing in a large number of a new area". Catholics to ea". said Fr. Brian Foley. who is starting to Green n build a hall at the Tye reen district of Harlow. "that does not create a parish right away". It must take two or three years In rid people of their nostalgia for their old parish, "where Father so-andso was so nice". Comparisons will be odious until people find their new spiritual home in a churchless parish at Harlow.
Itis in hard, brick, materialistic, cold surroundings like those of Harlow that a Catholic often finds the softening influence of his Faith.
In the dim interior of a terraced house in Lancashire it is the picture of the Sacred Heart, and the literature from travel agencies tasking Lourdes a special attraction for the annual holidays. that edify and impress. In Harlow it is a remarkable love for Our Lady, to whom will he dedicated this remarkable "cathedral". In order to lift their minds above the brick and concrete around them, Fr. Burgess tells his people the following story:— in July. 1957, 10 men from Harlow walked all the way to Avlesford and prayed that the Bishop would permit the building of our church. His Lordshipwrote to us on the feast of Our Lady of Mount Carmel, July 16, calling for a parish meeting to discuss the plans. "On the feast of the Immaculate Heart of Mary, August 22, he wrote to say we could build it at cost would h the st of f40.000. It have been too Small at that price. At the end of our Fatima Novena, October 13, His Lordship agreed to our plan for the f50,000 building now being put up." Consoling as is this story, the fact is that there are many cars in Harlow. An increasing number di men find work there is not remunerative. They drive off to work in London. Train services are poor.
Hence the Sunday mornings on their backs under the car.