© Mike Berrell (2012)
Historically, Waterhead village lay in the ecclesiastical Parish of Prestwich cum Oldham, but as the population increased many local people felt that Waterhead needed its own Church. Following the great Reform Act of 1832, the village was assigned to the new Parish of St James, although the nearest Established Church was St John the Baptist, located about ½ mile away in Hey.
In 1843, the Prime Minister, Sir Robert Peel, passed an Act of Parliament ‘to provide better provision for the spiritual care of populous parishes’; namely, a population exceeding 4,000 souls was sufficient to create a new parish. Oldham’s rapid increase in size because of the influx of workers meant the subdivision of the large ancient parish of Prestwich.
The Peel Act also created Church buildings which were inevitably called ‘Peel Churches’, and although the minister was paid by Parliament money to build the church was raised locally by the first vicar, Rev Patrick Reynolds.
The first stone was laid in 1845, and the finished church was consecrated on Trinity Sunday, 5 July 1847 by the Bishop of Chester.