In 1860 it was decided to establish a third Catholic Mission in Blackburn in addition to St Alban’s and St Anne’s for those who lived in the ‘Nova Scotia’ district of the town.
There is a curious legend attached to the formation of this new Mission. It tells how Father Richard Dunderdale came from St Anne’s Manchester to investigate the possibilities of a new Mission in Blackburn. He found what he considered to be a suitable plot of land in Dean Street. However, he could not think of a way to get £500 for building the church. Disheartened, he took the train back to Manchester. During the journey he spoke to a fellow passenger about his need for money to build the proposed new church in Blackburn. The stranger listened sympathetically and the next morning Father Dunderdale received a letter containing a cheque for £500. This Good Samaritan was Mr John Sparrow.
On 13 October 1860, an ‘Iron Chapel’ was erected in Dean Street. This chapel was dedicated to ‘ Our Blessed Lady the Mother of God’.
On Whit Sunday 1864 Bishop William Turner laid the foundation stone in Sumner Street of the Gothic Church of St Mary’s. The architect was Mr John Cundall of London, and it cost about £5,000 to build. On 4 May 1865 the Church was opened by Bishop Goss of Liverpool. A side Altar in honour of St Francis was added in 1887.
St Mary’s was situated in an old part of the town and a programme of demolition for most of the houses in the district began around 1968. By the early eighties nearly all the houses that formed the parish were gone. Finally on 4 November 1987, Bishop Patrick Kelly concelebrated a Mass of Thanksgiving. After a while, the Church was demolished.