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History

History

When the civil airport at Whitchurch opened in 1930, it was envisaged that it would become an important crossroads in international travel and indeed it did play a significant role in the Second World War. However, because of the urban expansion of Bristol which eventually linked the city with this outlying area, the City Council revoked its decision and opted to close Whitchurch and to open Lulsgate. Already in 1947 Bishop Lee had intentions for a Catholic secondary school in south Bristol and his diary records that on 23 March he visited a site in Knowle.

When in 1954 St. Thomas More school was opened to serve the north of the city, it was at first thought that its counterpart in the south should be dedicated to St. John Fisher. However this name gave way to St. Bernadette as the year of its opening (1958) coincided with the centenary of the apparitions at Lourdes. The opening ceremony was performed by the American born Apostolic Delegate to Great Britain, Archbishop Gerard P. O’Hara, on 21 October 1958.

The first Mass centre in the district, served by the clergy of St. Gerard, Knowle had been at the Hengrove Youth Centre in Fortfield Road, but when the school opened Sunday Mass was celebrated there. In 1968 St. Bernadette was opened and blessed, serving the now independent parish of Whitchurch, Hengrove and Stockwood.

The distinctive design of the building, with its pointed silver metallic roof, still catches the eye of the passing motorist. The Architect was James Leask of the Nealon Tanner Partnership, Bristol, and the shape is described as a double hyperbolic paraboloid. It is a tent-like structure, reminding us of the temporary nature of our sojourn in this world. In 1982 a striking suspended crucifix of Christ in Glory by Frank Roper of Penarth was added to the sanctuary. It is made of a metallic alloy and, although large, weighs only twenty pounds. A primary school serving the parishes of St. Bernadette and St. Gerard was opened in 1971. The church and the two schools are built on the same campus.

Excerpt from ‘The Diocese of Clifton 1850 – 2000’‘ written by Canon J. A. Harding

PARISH PRIESTS OF ST.BERNADETTE’S 

1968 – 1975

Fr Pat Cronin

Fr. Patrick Cronin

1975 – 1978

Fr.Bill Mitchell

Fr. William Mitchell

1978 – 2006

fr harding

Fr. J A (Tony) Harding

2006 – 2015

frchristopher

Fr. Christopher Whitehead

2015 – To Date

CURRENT PRIEST

FrMatthew

Fr. Matt Anscombe